Am I Helping Or Making It Worse?

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Hi there,

I am new to this whole forum thing, so please bear with me. I have just reached such a point of desperation that I know that I want to move forward rather than stay in such a place of stagnation, and I know that the first step is talking about it. Basically I am seeking advice from those who have more experience with PTSD than I...especially advice from other combat veterans suffering from PTSD.

I am in a relationship with a very dear man. He is 26 years old, and has PTSD as a result of 2 tours in Iraq. He has been out of the military for 5 years, but has 80% disability due to PTSD. We first met about 5 months ago online, and things progressed very quickly. He had been single for 6 months, while I was about 3 months out of an emotionally abusive relationship. I was determined to not get into another relationship where I constantly felt depressed and burdened, and I also didn't want to end up as a "caretaker" of sorts again. (My last boyfriend had bipolar and was in and out of mental facilities and regularly made suicide threats...not good for me, to say the least.)

As we got to know each other, he did disclose to me that he had PTSD, but he told me that he had it fairly controlled, and that aside from getting angry at work, or if he felt that he or his loved ones were threatened in some way, that he was able to function fairly well. He was extremely affectionate and cheerful, always making me laugh. He would constantly give me reasons to smile, so much so that my friends and coworkers asked me what had changed in my life to make me so happy. Of course I gave the credit to my wonderful new boyfriend :)

About a month after we met, I relocated to a town that put me about 100 miles south of him...whereas before we had only been living 50 miles apart. I moved due to a job that I had signed a contract on before I even met him, and I told him from the beginning that it would be happening. It was a temporary job, anyway, so we knew that by the end of the summer we would be back to a more reasonable distance, and we also began discussing me moving to his town to move in with him and eliminate the distance. At any rate, we knew that we had 5 months to discuss it.

However, within a week, he had begun to have issues with the distance. One of my new coworkers sexually harassed me within that first week, and my protective boyfriend didn't like it. (Which is very understandable...)
I also found that my new employers lacked all professionality, and realized that it was not a good job for me. The sexual harassment issue, combined with an incident that involved the owner of the business driving drunk, I decided that I needed to get out of there.

We discussed it, and I told him that I didn't want to move to his town without having a job first. He said that he wanted me there as soon as possible and that he would support me until I could find a job. So...I rashly left my job and moved in with him.

Almost instantly I began to see a very different man than I had originally fallen in love with. He had a very short fuse with EVERYTHING...most minor annoyances would escalate to him yelling and cursing. He also became drastically less affectionate. I am a very loving and affectionate person, and he knew that from the beginning...and yet now it seemed to annoy him like crazy. Instead of wanting to focus on our relationship and getting to know me better, he now wanted space to "relax" and "do his own thing", which usually meant scrolling through his social media feed, watching TV, or playing video games.

I went along with it and tried to just be there with him even if we weren't specifically doing anything together. So, I would sit next to him on the couch and lean my head on his shoulder or hold his hand. He seemed incredibly annoyed at that. I also began to notice that the little things stopped entirely...we would go weeks at a time without him giving me a single compliment, even though I would dress up and do my makeup before he got home each night just to please him. I would try to hold his hand when we were out and about, but then he asked me to not touch him when we were out in public.

Now, I know what you're probably thinking as you read this...and no, I am not oblivious. Of course I began to wonder if he was just not into me anymore. I even asked him, and he got extremely offended and said that of course he was. He would still regularly tell me that he loved me, but his actions said otherwise.

Now, this is getting really personal, but for the sake of full disclosure, I will share it. I was raised in a very conservative Christian home, and had always clung to what my parents taught me about saving myself for the man I married. However, after my previously botched relationship, I was feeling a little jaded, and that combined with the feeling that my new boyfriend really was the one, I gave him my virginity at 22 years old. I felt like that was HUGE gift to offer him, and it was very special to me...he said it meant a lot to him as well.

However, after the first week that I moved in, the sex dropped to once a week. Then, slowly, it was once a month. When we do have sex now, it's all about usually lasts about 5 minutes, and involves minimal effort on his part. He rarely concerns himself about my needs, and the norm is for us to have sex with him barely even touching's like he does only what he has to in order to get the job done. I regularly try to initiate things with him, but he shows no interest. I can literally be stripping in front of him, and he just looks at his phone. And believe me, I am NOT unattractive...I get hit on all the time by other guys...I have had guys stop in their tracks just to look at me.

Now, the confusing part is that he says that I am the one, and he talks about our future...marriage is regularly mentioned like it's a given that it will happen. And yet he treats me like I am of no interest to him...he treats me with disgust, even. It has gotten to the point that we touch 2 times a day now...he hugs me when he leaves for work, and when he gets home. That is pretty much it. If we kiss, it is a peck on the lips, and if I try to initiate anything further, he cuts me off by changing the subject or pulling away.

What is going on? Is this normal PTSD behavior? Does he just lack the ability to be close to someone?[DOUBLEPOST=1401313521,1401313455][/DOUBLEPOST]I am sorry this is so is a very complicated situation, and I just felt the need to give as many details as possible.
This is the bad side of PTSD. This is, not ok?

I am 20 now, and have lived with it my whole life, and I have never seen war. But I cannot understand this behavior, and I would not call this "normal PTSD". I have known and met vets and they were not like this. If I was you I would find someone else. Easier said then done of course.

My grandmother talked about her abusive father, which sounds like him in many aspects, and I would say, if he treats this way it isn't ok. If you think you like him anyway, what about any future kids you may have? It probably will never change, and you can never ever count on abusers changing. He is neglecting you, textbook abuse right there.

My biological mother was very kind, and very wise. But she was attracted to pedophiles, drug abusers etc etc. It wasn't easy for me or my little brother. He has autism, and I have PTSD. I will never talk to her again even though grandma gets phone calls with her asking about me every so often.

I'm sorry if I come off as insensitive, or frank, it's just this reminds me alot of my own situation.


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Thanks for your honesty. I definitely am at a crossroads right now...just trying to decide if I can be the one who helps him through his journey to a healthier place, or whether or not I am just needlessly placing myself in harm's way.

The most disturbing part of our story took place 2 nights ago. I have definitely been struggling with the lack of affection, and with feeling like I always come in last in his world. In the beginning I would try to talk to him about it, and simply gently ask for a little more attention, but he would become defensive and angry and tell me that I was being selfish and demanding. He then just told me that he never wanted me to bring up the lack of affection issue again. So I didn't...I tried to work through it on my own. Unfortunately for him, there is no way for me to do that without it bringing distance between us. When your significant other brushes off your needs like that, you can't feel the same about your bond ever again. Lately my method of dealing with it has been to withdraw and do my own thing more often. I try to not be always available so that when he does get my attention, he values it more. This has made him angry, however.

Night before last, I went to bed before him. He regularly stays up until 2 or 3 in the morning, and I just can't do that. I wish we could go to bed at the same time, because I feel that not falling asleep together definitely impacts our opportunities for intimacy, but since he never makes a move on me anyway, I have given up. Anyway, I was asleep by 11 or so. He came to the bedroom at 2, and he was in a bad mood because he was trying to fill out an online job application and it wasn't going well. He woke me up by slamming the door and turning on all the lights, and proceeded to ask me to help him. I did, even though I was having a hard time staying awake hahaha. Then, when he was done, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. He then apparently wanted to talk, because he kept asking me questions. I was getting irritated by then, because I felt that he was being very inconsiderate. He then said "Why are you always so tense when we try to go to bed these days?" I asked him what he wanted from me, said I wasn't being tense, but just felt that doing my own thing was the best path to take since my affection and touch seems to irritate him. He got mad and said he was sleeping on the couch. I was totally fine with that and didn't try to stop him...which I think irritated him further. I was prepared to just go to sleep and let it be, figuring that he would cool off by morning. However, he then texted me from the living room, "Thanks for the great end to memorial day". Now that just made me seemed like he was trying to pick a fight, and I didn't know what he wanted from me anyway...if he had wanted sex, he should have initiated it before I went to sleep instead of playing video games for several hours while ignoring me. I jumped out of bed, stormed down the hall into the living room, and proceeded to defend myself! I told him that I live in confusion over what he wants from me, as every path I take seems to irritate him more. He cut me off and said that he "didn't want to hear any of my bullshit". I was not going to be dismissed like that. I was furious. I smacked my palms down on the back of the couch and yelled that I expected to be treated with respect and that I would not tolerate being written off like that. He went berzerk.

The first thing he did was words, just an enraged yell. Then he grabbed the nearby floor lamp like a baseball bat and smashed it into the wall. Broken glass flew everywhere. My instinct at this point told me that he was coming for me next, so without thinking I hit the floor and covered my head with my hands. He thankfully passed me by but when into the kitchen and hurled the completely full trash can all the way across the room and into the wall. Then he stormed down the hallway to the bedroom...all the while hurling insults at me. I can't remember each and every word, but 2 epithets stuck out in my mind: psycho bitch and pathetic loser. (The former for smacking my hands against the couch, I believe, which he blamed for triggering his rage, the latter for crying...)

Anyway, I waited until he calmed down, and we talked it through. He seemed apologetic but it really shook me up. Now I am not even sure if that is something caused by PTSD, or if he just has an abusive streak and a complete lack of self control. Input?

Laura 2

@LadyAnne92 - welcome and thanks for bravely sharing your experiences. You sound like a very kind and supportive person.

I don't know if what you're describing is typical vet PTSD behaviour, but I do know that, as someone with PTSD, I would not dream of treating a partner like that. If anything, I'd be even more grateful and careful.

Please forgive me for lapsing into 'mother-mode' (I have grown children) but if you were my daughter I'd be encouraging you to end the relationship now, as soon as you can. I know that'll be difficult to even think about. But my rationale is this: if the relationship is this bad so early, it will only get worse. And you've done nothing to merit this inconsiderate, uncaring behaviour. Actually, no one deserves to be treated so unkindly.

This young man needs to get serious help and needs to stabilise himself before he enters into any relationship commitment. Please don't fall into the trap of thinking your love can save/change him, only he can change his behaviour.

PS @LadyAnne92 - just read your second post. This is not in any sense healthy, reasonable behaviour. Please, please get out now - before you get hurt.
If that is PTSD, its a nasty nasty thing I wouldn't go near ever, ever not with a 10 foot pole.

Firstly, God says love conquers all bad things. He can't love you, he has shown you that, he has neglected you, verbally abused you, made you afraid.

I bet at some point he will start to hit you. At this point your going to get PTSD yourself if you don't already have it.

I could go on and on about how against God this is, and I could go into some serious philosophy about how you can't help others without making sure your ok first.

Simply put, without riling myself up, your being abused and this is just wrong. I hope you can get away from him.

Lack of self-control by the way. PTSD requires being grounded, not controlled by your emotions and impulses.


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That is what I thought I would hear...I feel in my heart that I haven't done anything deserving of the way he has treated me, and also that no normal relationship is that unaffectionate, in spite of what he says. I know that our issues can't all boil down to me being selfish and needy, when in reality I try so very hard to fulfill all of his needs, including his need for space.


I'm on my phone, so I'll keep this brief. What you're explaining is (sadly) very very common with vets (and other people) with PTSD. I.e., too much closeness can be a massive trigger.

I suggest looking around on the forum more, where you'll (again, sadly) find heaps of similar posts, that will show you you're not alone, along with providing some good advice.

Additionally, @Alfred.Greene are you new to learning about PTSD? Because what @LadyAnne92 is describing is excessively common with PTSD.


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So since closeness is a major trigger, will it always be this way, or will things improve if I patiently wait and show him nothing but kindness and love?


Untreated PTSD also can cause us to not be able to regulate our emotions correctly, so therefore, what someone else might just be peeved about, we might go into a rage. (Or a better example, I'll sometimes cry when I'm just smiling at something and I'm in therapy!)

Chances are that with therapy he can get better. However, without therapy it is unfortunately probably not going to get better on its own. Additionally, therapy for this can take years. And... the whole falling in love really quickly can be common as when we're newly in love we think "this is the person I've been waiting for... my problems have been solved!" Well, over time, we learn that the person (who may or may not be the love of our life) won't solve our problems, only we can do that by being responsible and going to therapy.

Here are some old threads that should be particularly helpful (I found these by looking at the posts in this section with the most answers, so...they're not exactly isolated incidents):
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@bell No, I am not new. But I am not prone to anger with my PTSD, and I have not met many people who are veterans.

My situation is different then many, and similar to many.

Anne if you need anything else we are here for you.


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Thank you very much :) Right now just talking about it helps so much, as his method of handling our issues is to just act like it never happened. Never mind that I am trembling when he hugs me...he doesn't like to talk about these incidents after the fact at all. I am trying to figure out if that is because he simply lacks remorse, or if he feels so low and guilty about it that he ignores it to mask the discomfort.
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