Things To Keep In Mind when Dating Someone with PTSD
Seeing someone romantically is rarely uncomplicated, and when dating someone with PTSD, a larger than normal amount of emotional baggage is involved. In fact, one of the most damaging aspects of this disorder is the effect it has on social ties. The closer the relationship is, the greater the challenges are likely to be.
Post traumatic stress disorder and dating do not go well together. Those suffering from PTSD often appear distant to their significant others, are subject to mood swings and struggle to communicate about how they are feeling. In a sense, talking about their mental state, and certainly the events that caused the PTSD in the first place, can make them feel vulnerable just when they are least able to cope with such feelings.
A Checklist for Anyone Dating Someone with PTSD
Don't Neglect the Social Aspect
A traumatic event will often cause those forced to go through it to shut themselves off from friends and family. Feelings of guilt, anger and fear can be major barriers to interacting with even familiar people, and if avoiding them becomes an ingrained habit, starting to socialize anew will simply be that much more difficult.
Encourage the person you care about to continue the same activities that he or she used to enjoy doing, especially those involving other people, such as dancing or playing sports. Let your partner know that you are there to support them, and don't try to force them to take on more than they can handle.
Practice Appropriate Communication
While being able to talk about their fears and thoughts can be a sign of progress in recovering from PTSD, forcing someone to open up is not the right way of achieving this.
A much better approach is to wait for the other person to reach this stage on their own and letting them know that you are willing to listen to whatever they wish to share. Once this is possible for them, the last thing they probably need or expect from you is an editorial - interest in what is being said is always welcome, but advice not so much.
Aim to Create a Safe Environment
It's one thing to know that you are safe in your home, in your neighborhood and with the people that surround you, but actually feeling safe on a gut level is something else entirely. If you are dating someone with PTSD, try to communicate to them that you will not abandon them just for that reason and that they can trust you with their emotions.
Something as simple as following a routine can help the world seem more familiar and less threatening. If someone has a comfortable mental space where they can retreat to at the end of a long day, the challenges they face outside of it will be much easier to deal with.
Take Care of Yourself
No person has bottomless patience, energy or strength, and there is nothing noble about destroying yourself for another person's sake. Occasionally, a person who is trying to help someone with PTSD will have to take a step back and deal with their own emotions. Remind yourself that there is nothing personal about the way in which PTSD can sometimes cause people to behave.
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It may, at times, be difficult to remember that PTSD is not part of someone's personality, but rather a disease that can sometimes change a person's behavior. It is also curable through talk therapy and sometimes medication, meaning that the person will remain long after the affliction is gone for good.