Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can be hard to deal with in a relationship. It can be stressful at any time, but the closeness and vulnerability that come with being in a relationship can add to that.
It can also cause issues with trust, closeness, and communication. This is especially true if your PTSD is related to a past relationship or interpersonal violence. Despite that, having PTSD and being in a relationship are not mutually exclusive.
It’s still possible to have a healthy relationship with PTSD. You might just need to take some extra steps. Here are some things you can do:
1. Tell Your Partner About It
One thing you should do early in your relationship is to let your partner know that you struggle with PTSD. Yes, this will most likely be terrifying, but it’ll also be one of the most important things you do.
Have an open and honest conversation where you tell your partner about your triggers, boundaries and anything else you feel they need to know. I firmly believe that the more difficult it is to tell your partner something, the more important it is to tell them.
In most cases, your partner will respond positively and be open to whatever you say. If they don’t, it’s time to take a serious look at the relationship. Talking about this early in a relationship can uncover some red flags, so it’s beneficial to have this conversation.
If your partner isn’t familiar with PTSD, though, they might have some questions. You can try to answer those questions or lead them to a resource where they can learn more about PTSD.
Remember, the right person will accept you for you and won’t make you feel less valuable.
2. Take Things Slow
Doing things at a slower pace can be helpful when you’re entering a relationship with PTSD. It can help reduce the mental stress that relationships can cause. Try keeping things low-stakes and low-pressure at first. Go on walks, coffee dates, and other “low-key” dates.
This can help you build a closer emotional bond with your partner, which will build trust when it’s time to take the next step. You’ll likely feel more comfortable with them, which will help make those vital future conversations easier. It also gives your brain more time to process everything that’s happening and react to it accordingly.
3. Keep an Open Communication Line
Communication is one of the most crucial things in any relationship. It’s even more necessary when dealing with PTSD or any mental illness. Make sure that you and your partner are keeping an open communication line.
You might feel like keeping things in or ignoring your feelings will solve all issues. In many cases, those things end up causing feelings of resentment and hurt in the long term.
If your partner does something that offends or triggers you, make sure you let them know about it. Your partner should also feel comfortable coming to you and vocalizing their feelings. You’d be surprised by the number of things you can solve by just having a simple conversation. One way to do this is to schedule weekly check-ins.
Having PTSD or a mental illness doesn’t mean that you’re any less valuable or not worthy of love. Your relationship might not look like others, and you might have to take extra steps, but you can still build a healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationship with another person.
Don’t let your PTSD stop you from putting yourself out there!
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