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Q: My girlfriend suffers from anxiety problems and has been on medication for them for a while. I understand this but I also think she is selective in how she uses it to get out of certain things she doesn’t want to do. For instance, despite us being together for three years, she has yet to go to any of my family’s holidays. She is fine doing things that she wants to do, but her anxiety gets her out of almost everything else. I don’t want to be insensitive, but she gets to call the shots more and more without regard to what I want.

A: But that’s the nature of anxiety: It feels bad and makes you not want to do things. I get it, though, that there’s a murky area between “Holidays with your family make me feel anxious enough to not want to do them” and “I’d rather not do holidays with your family, so I’m hereby anxious.”

Accusing her of manipulation won’t go far; try instead for better clarity about joint goals and priorities. If it’s important to you that she does, and she’s willing, then agree to work together on it. So in that case, overcoming the anxiety and pushing through the last-minute desire to bail becomes part of the goal all along, rather than an unexpected kink that wrecks plans (therapy can help too). But this will only work if you prioritise together – and perhaps get to the bottom of what she’s truly motivated to work toward, and what she isn’t.