The Bachelorette finale was Monday night and — spoiler alert — Becca Kufrin chose controversial contestant Garrett Yrigoyen over fan-favorite Blake Horstmann. Kufrin and Horstmann had been a solid couple all season, leaving fans (and Horstmann) confused as to why she dumped him in the end.
During the After the Final Rose show, Horstmann asked Kufrin for more clarification on her decision. After stressing several times that he did “nothing wrong,” Kufrin said something very interesting. She mentioned that Horstmann tended to “get more in [his] head” during filming, and that made her worry about how he would be able to handle issues that could come up in their future, like a family member’s illness. “That’s when I just started to question the longevity of it,” she said.
Many fans weren’t impressed at this portrayal of anxiety, and they spoke out about it on social media:
People having anxiety DOES NOT make them too unstable for a relationship. This is why we need better understanding of mental health in America. #TheBachelorette
— Alexis Kaisharis (@AlexisKaisharis) August 7, 2018
Honestly really angered by the way the bachelorette portrayed anxiety. Just because you’re anxious does not make you an unstable partner, crazy, too much, etc. Emotions are valid and Blake actually communicated his in a healthy way by being transparent. #TheBacheloretteFinale
— Victoria Copeland (@Victori97611147) August 7, 2018
— jules (@wellheyitsjules) August 7, 2018
I’m REALLY having an issue with the fact that Becca basically implied that Blake’s anxiety made her think he wouldn’t be a reliable partner in the future. 😡 #TheBachelorette
— Sanaa Raj (@sanaa_raj) August 7, 2018
I love becca but that explanation about not being able to handle a sick child or something because of his anxiety in the final weeks was absolute bullshit #thebachelorette
— m (@selenasheaux) August 7, 2018
having anxiety does NOT make someone a bad partner, parent, or person. shame on becca for suggesting otherwise. #TheBachelorette
— tanti, duchess of sussex (@heyimtanti) August 7, 2018
For the record, having anxiety does not make someone a bad partner, Mayra Mendez, a psychotherapist and program coordinator at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “This is a very common condition, and it’s not an unusual thing that makes you nonfunctional or bad in any way,” she says. Talia Wiesel, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai, agrees. “Having anxiety does not make someone a bad partner; It simply makes him or her human,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Having anxiety actually means that someone cares, Alicia Clark, a psychologist and author of Hack Your Anxiety, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “People that are anxious care, and they care deeply,” she says. “In that way, anxious people can be fantastic partners because they care about you and things going well, and are tuned into what they need to do to protect the things they care about.”
Being able to communicate that you’re struggling with anxiety, like Horstmann did during several times on the show, is also a sign of good mental health, Clark says. Acknowledging anxiety about a particular situation shows that someone understands their emotions, can communicate them effectively, and knows when they need to speak out about it, Clark says.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between having anxiety in certain situations, like when you’re on a reality dating show, and suffering from a bona fide anxiety disorder. Moderate levels of anxiety can be helpful in a stressful situation because it can motivate someone and help fuel them to find a solution, Clark says. People with an anxiety disorder, on the other hand, tend to have anxiety that is more persistent and long-lasting, and it may even be caused by factors that may seem to other people to be disproportional, she says.
If your partner tends to be anxious or suffers from an anxiety disorder, there are a few things you can do to help them. Listening to their fears, and being supportive and nonjudgmental is important, Wiesel says. “Validate what your partner is feeling, even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they are saying,” she says. It’s important not to criticize your partner for feeling anxious, as that usually only makes the anxiety worse, Clark says.
It’s also a good idea to try to help your partner come up with a solution for the issue that’s causing their anxiety, Mendez says. “Ask them, ‘What can you do about it?’ and if they can’t come up with anything, ask them how they’ve tackled similar situations before,” she says. Patience is also crucial, Wiesel says. “Your partner’s anxiety can be trying at times, and conversations about the same topic may be repeated,” she points out. “Don’t lose your temper or try to fix your partner.”
Above all, remind your partner that they can handle the stressor that’s triggering their anxiety. “Not wanting to handle the situation is not the same as not being able to handle it,” Clark says. “Telling your partner ‘I know this feels really crummy and it feels like you can’t manage this, but you can,’ can go a long way toward helping.”
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