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Girlfriend Of Combat Veteran With Ptsd

Discussion in 'Supporter Relationships' started by Lmarie, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Lmarie

    Lmarie New Member

    Hi, so I've been in a relationship with him for over a year, and I feel lost. I wake up in the morning, and ask myself how am I going to make it through the day without breaking down.

    When I first meet him he was great, loving, affectionate, sensitive, everything you can think of, but slowly things have changed. He is distant, cold, isolated, not affectionate, pretty much everything he was when I meet him no longer exist. He is someone I do not know. I feel as if he does not feel.

    I am deeply in love with him, and want to support him. But he tells me he wants his space to work on himself, and cannot give me what I need in a relationship. I understand that he cannot provide me with what is considered a "normal" relationship, but I don't want to accept that. I want to remain next to him, offering support regardless how lonely, unloved I feel.

    I know I need to work on how his PTSD effect me, but what do I say to him if he does not want me there? Any recommendations on what information I should research that will help me with how I'm feeling lonely, unloved? anything would help.

    I just don't know what to do.
    KyGirl31, dms and Luz like this.
  2. celia

    celia Member

    Hi Lmarie,
    You know, what you are feeling is very real. I am going through it too. I miss him everyday. Don't understand how they can reject love, when love is what heals everything. I heard a quote the other day (during my searching for answers time)-

    Being offered a gesture of love is like being offered a portion of God.

    So where do we go? How do we keep on loving someone as they are no matter what their need is when we can't have it returned?

    I know how you feel Lmarie, we want the guy we met in the begininng. We ask ourselves, what did we do for him to have to take time away to find out what they want and where did my loving charming handsome, smart, affectionate boyfriend go? We were just in love a few days, months, ago.

    I am stuck here trying to be good, peaceful, faithful, hopeful for a miracle but then I'm freezing my life from moving forward because my heart is broken. There's no one who understands...and I often feel like a fool. I don't want to take the chance of him returning and then disappointing him or make him feel bad that I moved on. I also don't want to lose the chance of being with a wonderful guy I once knew and that once loved me like no other.

    One thing I know , I fall into a trap of feeling worthless, unwanted, scared, alone, broken , and beat myself up for mistakes I made when I was naive to PTSD. Time will eventually heal. It is completely alright for us to allow ourselves, the days to be in our room, shut the world out and cry . We are also responsible for getting out into the world and making positive things happen for OURSELVES. We are loveable just as we are and we are good people. I constantly have people giving me signs that I'm a good , loving woman , and I deserve the best.

    Lmarie, my heart feels just like yours right now. Don't give up on yourself and at the same time don't give up on love. I will try to do the same. Its very difficult and some days are harder than others.
    You take care and keep finding peace within.

    Celia
    aj1, KyGirl31, dms and 3 others like this.
  3. woo-sah

    woo-sah New Member

    I can relate.

    Having a very similar situation, I cannot offer any answers. I can only share in what you are feeling. My heart is with you. I can also validate that, despite what your (my) mind is saying, the heart cannot be persuaded with the same logic.

    It is repeatedly advised for us to take care of ourselves (thank you all for all the great advice, by the way). I have done this by beefing up the beauty and exercise regimen, having deeper conversations with friends and family, beautifying the house more, and purchasing a few treats for myself. I wish I were eating better, but my apetite has taken flight.

    I have also been searching within in order to, regardless of how things go with him, take something from the whole experience: self-improvement. I am learning to have a deeper respect for emotional health. I am reading more and more about what a healthy relationship is, things which should be obvious, but that I have not been living, not ever. And the more I study, the more my mind says “yes, that is perfectly logical. That is what a healthy relationship is and your relationship is not that. I will now move on and be perfectly content and fulfilled either being single or with someone else. No problem.”
    But then…

    There is something that will not release me. I am haunted by the way he was so loving and into this, and then abruptly, with no warning, was suddenly gone. No contact. No explanation that made sense in comparison to how he behaved just shortly before that.

    I know that reaching out to him only pushed him farther away. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time, but now see that I was perceived as an intrusion. Oops. He wants to go through this alone. For my own sake and for his, I must let him. It is an exercise in discipline to release him when he needs me to, while being compassionate if/when he surfaces.

    Is it fair to me (you)? No. Are my needs being addressed? No. Would I actually resolve to live that way if I had the opportunity? I really don’t know right now. What I do know is that, even though this is bad for me, I will build stronger resolve and restraint. That will be good for me (you).

    I don’t mean to make this about me. I just wanted to share that in case you can take anything from it which might bring you peace.
    HimOrMe, FortMillian, dms and 4 others like this.
  4. Lmarie

    Lmarie New Member

    Celia,

    Thank you for your kind words. I've been trying to remain hopeful, and work on myself, although my schooling is added stress. I must remain focus, or at least attempt too. I know how it feels that you cant reach out to others because they don't understand, and I spend many days feeling like a fool as well.

    But I do know that I love him and that is what keeps me here. I hope you have better days.

    Leila
    celia likes this.
  5. Lmarie

    Lmarie New Member

    Thank you for sharing your feelings and similar experience. I know its hard to let go of someone you care about, and the memories you hold on to. I know it is a unpleasant experience to have to go through, but i do know that the memories i shared with him, keeps me from moving on. I know i need to work on self-improvement.

    Allowing him space is warranted, so I've given him that. Not sure what will happen.
    Leila
  6. lanagirl28

    lanagirl28 New Member

    Ah, I'm still in the same situation. I am so hopeful for you! Keep in there. I truly believe in women's intuition, so that's sort of how I retain any hope at all. I know there's the other site, mycombatptsd, but I've often thought that it would be great if there was more communication on some sort of boards between the significant others and the men on the other side (when they're willing ;)) of combat PTSD because it seems most of these situations are very similar and these situations can be different as the men are also dealing with things stemming from how they were trained in the military.

    I just wish sometimes we could hear more directly from the men who either are experiencing similar situations or have worked through them and are at a further point. Plus we are sort of a newer generation as there are so many combat veterans returning home with PTSD. Anyways, sorry I'm rambling!

    I think it's so important that we give them the space necessary and woo-sah, I agree that this is a test in discipline as sometimes I pried too much just because I was so eager to be there for him. This has definitely been a lesson in being able to let go more often... It's a lesson I wanted to learn in order to improve my relationship I just didn't think I'd learn it in the midst of our sudden break up. I wish all of us the best, I really do! And our men!
    StrongHeart and HollyB like this.
  7. woo-sah

    woo-sah New Member

    Lanagirl, I agree that it would be great to hear more from people who have experienced the other side of this. Sometimes they are kind enough to share, and that helps so much. There are so many common symptoms and effects of PTSD, and so much common confusion and misunderstanding on our end.

    Hope you all are doing well, taking care of yourselves and filling your days with as much joy as possible. At all times, please make sure to love yourself.

    I have to tell you how much I admire your dedication and ability to remain hopeful. It speaks volumes for your character and loyalty. I can't pretend that I don't have any hope at all (I mean, I am here), but I am at the same time allowing more and more space for recovery and grieving.

    If things do work out with these guys, they will be so lucky to have you. Lucky that you didn't just give him the finger and go on your merry way. And if not, their loss will be another fortunate man's gain, I assure you.

    It's now been two months since he began to drift away. As I notice that I am finally feeling okay with this, I hope that he has also been healing. I feel selfish sometimes when I think about how I whine and cry because of my loss, when that is only one pain. He has a mountain of burdens to sort through and process. I reserve my hope for him, praying that God speaks to him in very deep ways to pull him through.

    Best Wishes.
    MoeX likes this.
  8. HopeForever

    HopeForever New Member

    I can't offer advice, but just that I know what you are feeling and going through. Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since I've seen him, 2 weeks without any communication. Its sooo hard, especially because he's the most loving, sensitive sweet man I know..who loves and adores me for me. I think that's why he's being so distant because he wants to protect me..in his eyes, he's not the person that I see/love. It just totally stinks, doesn't it?
    dms, MsST36 and celia like this.
  9. HopeForever

    HopeForever New Member

    This is exactly how I feel..this "haunting" feeling that I can't shake.
    celia likes this.
  10. Lmarie

    Lmarie New Member

    Sarah,

    I understand exactly how you are feeling:(. When the night falls, I realize here comes another day without him being apart of my life, and it's a painful feeling. He also is the most loving, sensitive guy I've known, and he has told me that he has become someone he does not know/like. I do know that he does seek counseling at the VA, so I remain hopeful because he holds my heart, and I have to educated myself by reading up on PTSD. I hope you can find some semblance of happiness throughout the day, because I know I try.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2013
    Junebug likes this.
  11. woo-sah

    woo-sah New Member

    I hope it doesn't come to this for you gals, but if it does:

    It does get better with time. My mind is beginning to win the debate with my heart. My self-esteem is finally returning back to normal levels. Hanging out with friends and family has been the only thing that leaves me in a good mood, so I'm now doing that as much as possible. It's difficult though, because part of me wants to sit around by myself and mope. My appetite is returning, with a little help from some protein powder from the exercise-nut store.

    I let myself pout and grieve, indulging in any of the kooky ideas that came around. Sometimes, there was the familiar physical pain in my chest, and sometimes a panic that came over me (usually in the middle of the night or upon waking up in the morning). I'm very embarrassed to admit that, not a minute went by that he was not in my thoughts. It does irritate me because I know that this is not the case with him. But again, he's got his traumas to cope with.

    While I'm not even close to considering dating again, I have been constructing a list of standards for anyone I might get involved with in the future. My friends have helped me and it's been fun for all of us. I'll share some snippets:

    Physical Standards:
    • No snoring over 25 dB
    • No crappy tattoos (cool tattos are fine, of course)
    Lifestyle/habit/emotional Standards
    • No outstanding warrants for arrest
    • must be intellectually stimulating (at least a little bit)
    • sorry to say, no PTSD
    Optional Features
    • takes my picture without me asking
    • good speller
    • unsolicited massages;)
    You get the idea. It's been fun and I hope that I stick to my new standards. I also have a list of my own characteristics that I want to change. That one's more of a chore and less fun, but a must.

    Hope that brings you all out of the funk for a minute. Best Wishes.
    Capricorn, MoeX, Myndi and 3 others like this.
  12. Junebug

    Junebug VIP Member

    Celia, your quote before about love is beautiful. But I think it's safe to say most sufferers don't feel lovable, by God or anyone else. Also, it's very common to have difficulties trusting God or 'communicating' after trauma. Or hard to reconcile it with a 'loving God', etc (for many people).

    Plus when trying to survive, it doesn't feel like wine and roses, even with the most loving or forgiving partner. :(

    Good for you Woo-sah, best wishes to you.
    Myndi likes this.
  13. myvetswife

    myvetswife Well-Known Member

    My hubby and me are married for nearly 20 years now. We went through really bad times. I had to safe his live more than once. Just berfore the last time I splitt up with him. Could not handly it anymore. He became an inpatient and realised he was having problems.He started working on himself.

    These days he doesn't take medication. He is out of therapy. He talks a lot more about his feelings. And he can tell me most of the times when his mood changes and why. Of course there a still days (!!) where he kind of falls back. But he is willing to pull himself out.

    If they really want to, they can make it.
    dms, Myndi, Renee5624 and 4 others like this.
  14. celia

    celia Member

    Dear myvetswife,
    This is a huge sign of hope for me. I can't sleep tonight. Woke up came to my computer and your email was there with an Angel like message. I miss him. Thank you and congratulations on 20 years.
    I'm sure you had a lot to do with his recovery / road to recovery. Peace and love!
  15. SammyJ

    SammyJ New Member

    I'm new to this website as well, and I just read through all your posts, and found them very helpful. My boyfriend does the same thing, and its to the point where I just feel lost and frustrated. Last night we were having an amazing conversation and laughing, and then within a minute he was very moody and kind of shut off. He appeared to be mad at me and brushed if off as something we could talk about later, and I have no idea what happened. I know in my heart there was nothing I said to warrant him being mad, but I still feel really bad. I also find that he has trouble letting go of past issues/fights and constantly reverts back to them and becomes upset all over again. Do any of you go through that? I dont know how to get him to let go of past fights and just focus on the present.
    dms likes this.
  16. celia

    celia Member

    Hi Sammy J,

    Yes, this is common. Letting go and being able to not hold a grudge and forgive has definitely been a challenge on his end of the relationship, although he has said and done rude things to me in the past...I am always doing the forgiving and the forgetting (somewhat). This can be really difficult.

    I have to make up for whatever has happened 10x...and then walk around feeling like an awful unworthy person. I felt watched and judged all the time.

    How do we love them despite this? I can't figure it out!

    I'm not in a relationship anymore, he's been on a deployment for 3 months and he cut me off completely. He's due back in 18 days and....I've given up any hope of him contacting me. Which may be just as well because I know it will be a trust issue from my side...who does this to people. Just cut them off and forget about you?

    How long have you been with your boyfriend?

    Lots of peace to you,
    Celia
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2013
  17. SammyJ

    SammyJ New Member

    Hey Celia,

    I'm sorry you're no longer together, and i cant imagine the anxiety you must be feeling with him returning so soon. From what i've learned, they never forget about us, it's just easier for them not to deal with the situation at all. Maybe its for the best that you two go your seperate ways, but if he does try to approach you-at least hear him out. maybe he has something that will help you heal your hurt.

    My bf and I have been together about a year now, and its tough. some days its sooo amazing, and then its literally like a flip of a switch. After last night he's been okay so far today, but still acting a little distant.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2013
  18. hopeforhealing

    hopeforhealing New Member

    I too am a girlfriend of a combat vet with PTSD. He recently (in June) retired from the Army and moved where I am. His official retirement did not come until Sept. however. It has been quite the struggle for me. It has been over 500 days since there was any intimacy in our relationship. I am hanging onto the memories of what we once had. He is withdrawn and "numb"... I am searching for information and or support groups to better understand. Today he started school. Going back to college, as his job in the army does not translate to the civilian world. It looks like I am not the only one dealing with this... but not being married, there is no support or group. :(
  19. Myndi

    Myndi New Member

    Ok, Here is my story. and a tip or two.

    I met my boyfriend a little less than 2 years ago. I fell in love with him at first sight. He told me about being in the war and what he does now etc. We dated for about a month, it was mainly physical. He intimidated me and I felt he had a huge wall of ice built that was not going to melt away. I wanted him so badly that I didn't mind the relationship just being physical and on his terms and his terms only. (he's that handsome) But after a month maybe a little over, he just left me. No calls, texts, emails..nothing. I was sad, I knew it in my soul he was meant for me. after a month or so I got back with an Ex and we tried it again for ten months and I just couldn't stop thinking about MY VET. I needed him but the way he was able to throw me away seemed so easy for him it scared me, he even deleted me from FBook.

    After my relationship status changed back to single (ten months) he sent me a message. It was like no time had went by to him. He didn't grasp how he made me feel. He mentioned dating and actually being boyfriend and girlfriend. I told him I was terrified of him but also that a day didn't go by that I didn't think of him. So we have been in a relationship for 5 months now, not very long but we have spent soo much time together. He admitted to having the PTSD and I am in healthcare and have also struggled with anxiety and depression, so I instantly felt relieved that it wasn't anything I did wrong, I was good enough, smart enough and Beautiful enough. He admitted that I was starting to melt the wall of ice and it scared him.

    These men that do these amazingly wrong things for US, for our families, for our rights, for our freedom, for our country feel inadequate. They feel undeserving of love and compassion, some soldiers go years and years training and learning and depending on survival, they lose that love, mercy, and compassion because that's what gets them killed. I never ask him questions and NEVER EVER PRESS YOUR VET. He will come around and open to you when HE feels it is time. There are often times I can sense him getting distant, I don't complain, I say "I understand" or "I love you" or "i'm always here" and that is it. He will soak that up and be like oh man, she doesn't deserve this. They lack compassion so we need to show Extra compassion.

    They feel undeserving, so WE must make them see they are deserving of our love that they did what they had to do to survive, to come back to us. Because that was God's plan. So there is compassion in you to be willing to sacrifice yourself for your family and for the rest of our country. Mine also mentioned that he should have died over there. I simply say "Nooo way! If you were meant to die, you would have, God has plans for you. Your meant to make us a fun happy life!" Every day is a battle for them inside their minds! So keep your VET busy :)

    P.S. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU!!!!! THIS RELATIONSHIP TAKES A VERY VERY STRONG WOMAN!!! PRAY PRAY PRAY!! YOUR ARE BEAUTIFUL SMART AND A HELLUVA GAL!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2013
  20. twopenny

    twopenny Active Member

    I'm in a slightly weird position, because I know exactly how it feels to go through everything that you're all describing, and more, as the wife of a former soldier who has combat PTSD, but I also know (as well as anybody can, since we're all different), what goes on in the head of a PTSD sufferer, because I have it too, although mine is from childhood.

    My hub and I were already living together when he started to show really bad symptoms, so he couldn't just cut me off completely in the way that he could have if we'd lived separately, but there were times when his body was in the bed next to me, but HE was nowhere in sight. He locked me out... he tried to hurt me (both consciously and not, physically and not)... there have been months on end where he was just a different person. He once accused me of 'constantly pawing' him for trying to give him a hug.

    It's taken a long time, I've made massive mistakes along the way (pressing when I shouldn't, questioning when I shouldn't, etc), but he's worked really, really hard to get better, and he's doing really well now. He's just had a bit of a blip due to redundancy, and we still get the regular 'something good's happened so now things are going to go boom' attitude, but it's so much better than it was. I also still get the 'you never signed up for this', the 'you'd be better off if I were dead', the 'I don't deserve you', the 'go on then, leave, that's what you want to do anyway'.... but not as often.

    We've now been together for 18 years (as of next month), and we're not in any immediate danger of splitting up, so things can work. It's really not easy, but then what is?

    The trouble is, since I'm now becoming more self aware, I'm realising that I do a lot of what he does. My spells of being cold and distant aren't as long or sustained as his, but they're just as cut-off. they usually happen either when I can't cope with my own emotions, so I subconsciously shut them off (even the good ones), or when I feel like I'm not good enough, or not deserving of him - when I feel like I'm being a burden, and he really would be better off without me, so I'm half-heartedly trying to make that happen without actually making it happen (if you see what I mean). Also when something he does triggers me (whether I know it has or not), and I'm actually reacting not to what he's said or done, but to something that happened 30 years ago.

    Anyway, in short, I know exactly how you feel, because I've been there, more times than I can remember, but if you can find a way to hang on, and to deal with it, then there is light at the end, things can get better, but only if you both work at it. I found learning to try not to take things personally worked for me. And to talk through things after they'd calmed down, and explain how it makes you feel, even if that wasn't his intention. and giving space - encouraging his interests if he's well enough to have them. encouraging him to spend time with friends without you, if he can.
    Making it clear at the same time that you don't know how he feels, because you're not going through the same thing, but that you know it's bad, and not entirely about you. (That last bit now strikes me as fairly heavily ironic in my situation, because I've apparently had PTSD longer than he has, so I really did know!)

    Sorry, rambling now so stopping.
    dms and Myndi like this.
  21. NewWife777

    NewWife777 New Member

    Wow! I see pieces of my relationship in all of these posts. I've been married for two months to a vet with combat PTSD and a TBI. I was the one who initially told him to get help. He went to the VA and he was diagnosed with a TBI as well as PTSD. He is on medication, but won't go to therapy. I love him so much and want to be there for him in every way.

    It's hard though because he pushes me away. I am learning to not press him as hard to tell me how he feels. But I seriously miss the physical closeness. If he had his way he would never touch me. I'm the one who greets him in the morning with a hug or I'll reach out to him with a kiss when he gets home from work. If I get upset and start crying he tells me my tears don't affect him. I can't talk to him about my feelings because he shuts down. To the outside world he puts on a normal facade and everyone thinks he is fine. I am so glad I'm not alone, and that there are other people going through the same thing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2013
  22. felicia

    felicia Member

    Goodness ladies. Are we all dating the same man? Well I guess mine is now over but everything said here I have gone through. I just wish I knew why they are so loving and caring at first and than turn in to machines with no emotion. If they knew they were cold hearted why did they get involved with us in the first place? My heart goes out to all of you ladies. You will search and search for answers but so far there is no cure. I'm sorry to say it but there isn't. Maybe one day in the future there will be. Best wishes to all of you.
  23. nmdayton

    nmdayton New Member

    I'm so glad I'm not alone! Dealing with my boyfriend of 5 years can leave me feeling crazy and irrational and doubting myself at every turn. When we first got together he was so caring and affectionate, he would drop anything for the opportunity to spend a few more minutes with my son and I. He was easiest person to talk to and never judged me for anything I would say. A year and a half before we met my husband was killed in combat and he (the bf) really helped pull me through the worst of it and made me feel loved and safe and so easily took on the role of the only father my son has ever known. I can honestly say he became my best friend and I will never be able to put to words just how much he taught me during those first few years. But the last two years it's like someone flipped a switch. I got a job working nights and he cheated on me, and ever since, he is everything I'm reading here. He has been diagnosed with PTSD and his symptoms line up with the research Ive done but I can't believe that the PTSD just kicked in magically at that time after he had been out of the army for 3 years. I can't believe that my forgiveness and attempts to understand have only led to more betrayals (while not on the same scale) and more emotional withdrawal. When I try to honestly confront the situation he either shuts down completely or everything gets turned around on me and I'm the one apologizing and feeling beaten down.

    Now here I sit, 2 weeks away from having our baby boy and he's off somewhere "hunting" . I don't want this part of the relationship to ruin the friendship we built years ago. He is a wonderful father to my son and seems to be able to keep it together for him and be there but not for me. I just can't reconcile that. How come he can put his family, our son, alcohol and his friends first in life but I'm expected to be satisfied with coming second to anything and everything at a given time. Was all that love I felt in the beginning just an act? When I ask if he still wants to be committed I get "I'm here aren't I?". Very reassuring. I guess that's as good as "Of course I do! I love you! What am I doing that makes you question it?"… which is the response I would like to hear in my fantasy land where all men read minds and I have a pet unicorn that poops money and diamonds.

    I guess Im just wondering how much of this can actually be put on PTSD and how much of it may just be that he doesnt actually love me anymore. They kind of seem to look the same and sometimes people just fall out of love. I find myself thinking that the PTSD and his avoidance of all conflict is actually the only thing keeping him here.

    This is all just so not what i want for any of us. I want us all to find the paths in life that lead to happy places, even if that means were not getting there together.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2013
    MoeX likes this.
  24. LostMarineGF

    LostMarineGF New Member

    After a recent blow up with my boyfriend, this is the first time I have gone hunting online to find a support group. Reading this was the first happiness I have felt in days. The last few days have been filled with so much emotional pain, and psychological abuse. I am so glad to know I am not the only one feeling this way! I don't have anyone to talk to that knows what its like.
    dms and Disposable like this.
  25. LostMarineGF

    LostMarineGF New Member

    I got a job working nights and he cheated on me, and ever since, he is everything I'm reading here. He has been diagnosed with PTSD and his symptoms line up with the research Ive done but I can't believe that the PTSD just kicked in magically at that time after he had been out of the army for 3 years. I can't believe that my forgiveness and attempts to understand have only led to more betrayals (while not on the same scale) and more emotional withdrawal. When I try to honestly confront the situation he either shuts down completely or everything gets turned around on me and I'm the one apologizing and feeling beaten down.

    In response to this, my boyfriend has not physically cheated on me but a couple times he has sent inappropriate, vulgar text messages (sexting if you will). His therapist says it's his was a self sabotage. I worry that even though he says he would never physically cheat on me, that if I take him back after each screw up, the level will increase and eventually he will. But these types of texts have happened three times and it leads me to question the exact thing you bring up in the next paragraph! How much is PTSD and how much is just him being a shitty boyfriend and a cheater as we all know some guys just are??!!

    I guess Im just wondering how much of this can actually be put on PTSD and how much of it may just be that he doesnt actually love me anymore. They kind of seem to look the same and sometimes people just fall out of love. I find myself thinking that the PTSD and his avoidance of all conflict is actually the only thing keeping him here.

    This is all just so not what i want for any of us. I want us all to find the paths in life that lead to happy places, even if that means were not getting there together.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2013

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