Guide on Dating Someone with PTSD

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People are able to adapt to different circumstances: with changes in our life, we ourselves change. And this is for a reason, as such changes help you to survive, no matter in what conditions you find yourself. However, some life events can cause a serious mental disorder known as PTSD. What is it? How can this affect a person's life? Is it possible to combine PTSD and dating relationships? Let’s consider these and other issues about PTSD dating!

dating a woman with ptsd

What is PTSD?

PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is a holistic complex of symptoms of psychological disturbance that arose as a result of a single time or multiple external traumatic impact on the human psyche (sexual or physical violence, continuous nervous tension associated with distress, dishonor, compassion for the suffering of other people, military actions, natural disasters, etc.).

PTSD is characterized by increased anxiety, on the background of which a person occasionally experiences bouts of extremely lively recollections of a traumatic event. These bouts oftentimes arise when people deal with triggers (irritants) that are associated with PTSD recollections (crying of a child, the smell of petrol, screeching brakes, the hum of a plane, etc.). 

The causes of post-traumatic stress disorder can be classified as:

  • "Trauma of the Past". In this case, the cause of the development of PTSD can be: severe traumatic injuries in the past, the experience of pain, horror, and suffering during a car accident, natural and man-made disasters, hostilities, relationships insecurities, sexual violence, etc.
  • "The trauma of the Present." PTSD develops due to the fact that people who are accustomed to particular living conditions suddenly find themselves in a completely different environment, which is perceived as unacceptable and intolerant. An example is a situation with a successful businessman who instantly loses their business and livelihood.
  • "Trauma of the Future". In this case, the source of PTSD development is the expectation of possible or inevitable terrible events in the future. For example, the progression of a serious incurable disease or the expectation of a vitally important surgical intervention, which is delayed due to certain reasons.

Symptoms of PTSD you can notice in your partner

PTSD is a psychological disorder that requires the intervention of a specialist, but not all people can realize that they are suffering from this syndrome. There are a number of factors that indicate a person has PTSD: 

ptsd and dating relationships

1. Overall anxiety

It finds expression at the physiological level (backache, stomach cramps, cephalgia), in the mental sphere (permanent concern and anxiety, paranoid delusion, for example, baseless fear of harassing), and at the emotional level (constant feeling of fear, pang of guilt, self-distrust, etc.).

2. Lack of emotions

It happens that a traumatized person completely or partially losses the ability to emotional manifestations. If your partner experiences PTSD, it may be difficult for them to establish close and friendly ties with other people. In addition, joy, love, creativity, and playfulness are usually not available to people with post-traumatic stress disorder. This is felt even when women looking for men online

3. Uncalled memories

It is the most evident symptom that signifies the presence of PTSD in your partner. Perhaps your beloved has already complained to you that eerie, unpleasant scenes connected to a traumatic event suddenly pop up in their mind. Such memories can occur both while sleeping and during normal conscious wakefulness. In waking life, they manifest themselves when the environment in some way reminds your partner of what happened during the traumatic event: a scent, sight, or noise as if coming from that time.

4. Avoidant behavior

Your partner avoids thoughts, feelings, and memories that are associated with traumatic events. For example, they do not go to places where it happened, do not meet people who are somehow connected with an unpleasant experience, and so on.

5. Negative self-image

People with post-traumatic stress disorder often live with a chronic sense of guilt. For example, they believe that they could prevent the development of negative events or somehow influence their outcome. At the same time, they feel defective, destroyed, and broken.

6. Life with a sense of threat

This symptom is especially evident when dating a veteran with PTSD. You may notice that your partner is extremely vigilant, always waits for danger, and reacts sharply to ongoing events, even if they do not pose a threat. At the slightest suddenness, your beloved makes rapid movements (falls on the ground at the sound of a low-flying helicopter, switches head round when someone approaches them from behind, and so on). 

Dating PTSD woman guide

Dating someone with complex PTSD requires a special understanding, patience, and attentiveness from a man. To help you cope with this rather difficult task, there are 7 useful tips on dating a woman with PTSD.

1. Support a loved one during anxiety attacks 

Re-experiencing a traumatic event can activate intrusive, stressful memories. During bouts of panic, your girlfriend may feel as if she is again at the scene of an accident or is watching what is happening from the side. If your beloved has a panic attack, don't ask her too many questions but just be there for her and make your lady feel safe. Try to support your loved one in every possible way but do not be too intrusive and try not to overdo it with care. This is one of the best tips on dating someone with PTSD from abuse.

2. Make your loved one feel safe with you

After a traumatic experience, it is often difficult for a person to feel safe even at home. Although you certainly cannot promise your girlfriend that nothing bad will happen to her again, you can show that you are always ready to help and protect her. Here are some ways to help a woman feel safe with you:

  • Discuss future plans with your loved one so that she feels that her future depends on her and that it is not limited to one life situation.
  • Always keep your promises. Seeing that you can be trusted, your beloved will learn to trust people again.
  • Make up a daily regimen that works well for you and your girlfriend and try to keep it. The regimen helps people with PTSD create the appearance of order in life and believe that they are able to control themselves.

3. Try to dispel the obsessive glum thoughts of your beloved

Your girlfriend can think about her own inferiority time and time again or regress to a stressful situation and blame herself for what happened. Therefore, encourage your beloved woman not to think badly of herself and not to paint her future in dark colors. Talk to the girl in a soft tone and show her your love and concern without judging her.

4. Help her to fall asleep at night

People with PTSD symptoms often have trouble sleeping. Of course, you are not able to control the thoughts that arise in the head of your beloved but you can create a calming environment that aids sleeping:

  • Practice deep breathing exercises together with your girlfriend before going to bed.
  • Try to reach a room temperature that your loved one feels most comfortable. Typically, the most favorable temperature for sleeping is around 18.3-22.2°C.
  • Turn off the TV, computer, and phones at least an hour before going to bed.
dating ptsd woman

5. Try to help your loved one to cope with irritability and aggression

PTSD can increase irritability several times. But you can help your loved one to avoid situations that can be upsetting and painful for her. If you notice that your girlfriend starts to worry or feel somehow uncomfortable, take her aside and offer to go for a walk elsewhere, or take her to another room if you are at home and ask her to take a few deep breaths.

6. Try not to do things that may disturb or scare your girlfriend

PTSD often results in excessive anxiety and rapid response to unexpected stimuli. Therefore, try not to do anything that could scare your girlfriend. When you come home, notify your beloved about this, or vice versa, inform her that you are at home when she returns. In addition, warn your loved one if you are going to do something that will be accompanied by a loud noise, for example, turn on a blender or drive a nail into the wall.

7. Do not violate the personal space of a loved one

You should be tolerant of your girlfriend's needs during the difficult rehabilitation period. Do not force your beloved to tell you about all her feelings and experiences. Just be there for her, and give your lady help and support whenever possible. Such concern can be expressed in hearty talks with your loved one in a cozy place, cooking her favorite dish, or simply walking around her favorite places.

Bonus: few tips on having PTSD and dating

To top it off, we’d like to bring to your attention some effective tips on dating with PTSD.

1. Tell your partner about the most common symptoms of PTSD

Since PTSD can completely change your behavior and feelings, affecting the rest of your family and relationships in general, your beloved person should know how PTSD manifests itself. Post-traumatic stress disorder can make it difficult for you to communicate with others and lead to withdrawal and desocialization. If you are in a love relationship with someone, they need to know about the characteristic symptoms of PTSD and ways to help you in the event of a severe bout of panic.

2. Feel free to ask your partner for support

People with PTSD are prone to frequent mood swings and inner distress. But you should not withdraw into yourself at the slightest memory of a traumatic event and endlessly torment yourself with inner turmoil. It is better to explain to your beloved what is happening to you and what you are feeling at this moment. You will notice how your condition improves significantly and all rueful feelings fade into the background. 

3. Practice relaxation techniques

Special breathing exercises are very effective sedative techniques that can be used to deal with bouts of negative memories. Breathe in deeply for four seconds, then hold your breath for four seconds, and after that, slowly exhale for four seconds. Repeat the exercises until you feel completely calm.

4. Discuss with your loved one the benefits of a special treatment regimen

Seeking professional advice (from a psychotherapist or psychologist) is a very important part of recovering from PTSD. The sooner you start treatment, the more likely you are to recover completely. Ask your partner to go with you to see a qualified specialist. Thus, you will feel more confident and safer.

Final Thoughts

It is always worth remembering that full recovery from PTSD is possible. According to psychotherapists, there are a number of successful treatments ranging from support groups and individual psychotherapy to medication and hypnosis. So, support your loved one and encourage them to take the first step towards getting rid of PTSD!

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