• 💖 [Donate To Keep MyPTSD Online] 💖 Every contribution, no matter how small, fuels our mission and helps us continue to provide peer-to-peer services. Your generosity keeps us independent and available freely to the world. MyPTSD closes if we can't reach our annual goal.

Relationship Dating a combat vet suffering from PTSD and withdrawal. Help!

Confused1

New Here
I started dating a combat vet 4 months ago and he means the world to me. He made me feel in ways I’ve never felt for anyone. He’s made me feel safe and protected. We laugh the whole time we spend together. He’s become my best friend. I think I’ve fallen in love with him.

However, he mentioned very briefly when we were first dating that he has PTSD but it manifests in nightmares and sleepwalking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought it was controlled and he was going to therapy. Over time, I noticed more and more that he would randomly become unresponsive. Sometimes for days. I didn’t know that isolation was a symptom of PTSD until I did some digging. Before I knew it had something to do with PTSD, I would get really upset with him because I told him time and time again that ignoring me was the one thing I hated most. I’d rather him tell me something I didn’t want to hear than to be ignored. He assured me each time that he wasn’t ignoring me and he just got caught up with things and would pretend like nothing ever happened.

As our relationship deepened, the ignoring would get worse. During the week he would tell me how much I mean to him and no one makes him feel the way I do. In fact, one time I said he forgot about me and he said “don’t say that! I never forget about you, ever! You’re always on my mind. ALWAYS! I’ll be done with work in an hour.” After that text, I didn’t hear from him for the next 48 hours. I know he’s very stressed at work and his work ethic is impeccable so that might be part of it.

Last night, we made plans to see each other and we were excited, he told me that I’m all his until he went unresponsive. I’m getting ready and I’m texting him to confirm but no response. I wait an hour and I call him, he doesn’t answer. I texted him that he’s made me cry (because me crying is his kryptonite), no answer. I know he saw the message because he was active on WhatsApp a few hours later. At this point, I’ve made the decision to give space and walk away.

I’m falling apart. I love him and want to be supportive but I can’t tell if it’s PTSD or something else. He assures me that he’s head over heels but he ignores me more frequently and is pulling away from me. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks. We’ve never gone this long without seeing each other. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me understand and enlighten me on what’s happening.

P.S. I’ve always respected his space. When I found out it’s a PTSD symptom, when I notice him ignoring me, I give him space and don’t contact him until he does. He always comes back but there must be a better way to manage him ignoring me
 
but there must be a better way to manage him ignoring me
Right?!?

There may, or may not, be.

***

Speaking as a sufferer? The ONLY person I always answer the phone/door for is my oldest friend. Who prefers being told to f*ck off, go away, not now, later, can’t talk right now (or possibly for the next year)… than to be screened/ignored.

She’s the only person, in my entire life, who doesn’t get hurt/offended if I answer, to say I can’t talk right now. Politely, rudely, whatever. EVERYONE ELSE I have ever met? Takes offense. Or gets hurt.

So? She’s the only person I answer for.

Everyone else? Either gets a coded reply, (which is something I set up fairly early in my serious relationships) or gets ignored. And I’ll get back to them when I can.

***

Speaking as a supporter? What MY needs are, and theirs? MY wants are, and theirs? Almost never align. It’s more of a Venn diagram, and attempting to find the narrow edge of common ground, where both of us can be …okay, if not entirely happy… with the place we can agree upon.

***

Speaking as both a sufferer AND supporter? Do not attempt to have this conversation when the person with PTSD is in a hard place. Wait until they’re good, and everything is amazing, and THEN rough it out. Expect a few bad episodes to tweak out the details.

If they’re new at this? That won’t work. If they’ve been doing this for awhile? It will.
 
@Friday I really appreciate your response. That makes a lot of sense. I’ve been trying to educate myself as much as possible since this is a relatively new relationship and sometimes my initial reaction is to respond as if he’s of sound mind and logic but clearly, with PTSD, those same rules don’t apply. Also, speaking to friends about my situation who have zero experience with PTSD aren’t great sounding boards.

It’s interesting, I was reading another thread where a sufferer was saying that they absolutely hated when someone would ask “how was your day?” because it would not only remind them of their frustrating day but also make them feel guilty of burdening others so they would opt to just ignore. They said they were more likely to respond to a low maintenance text. I had a total “AHA!!” moment because every single time I would ask my guy “how was your day?”, he would ignore. In 4 months, I don’t think there’s been a single time he would respond to that question and I called him out a few times. He would always say “oh I didn’t notice??” but still wouldn’t answer the question.

Part of my lack of understanding is that he hasn’t been forthcoming about the extent of his PTSD. Or maybe he isn’t aware? Any time I’ve asked him about what I now realize are all symptoms of PTSD from reading the copious, insightful threads, he’s been dismissive (but fortunately in a loving way).

Thanks again for the insight! I think the way things were left off, it was clear I was extremely hurt but I haven’t contacted him since and he hasn’t reached out either. This is the longest we’ve gone without speaking. Would it be wise for me to reach out tomorrow in a brief text letting him know he doesn’t have to respond but that I care about him very much and miss him deeply and I’ll always be here when he’s ready? Or should I just stay quiet and wait until he reaches out?
 
I started dating a combat vet 4 months ago and he means the world to me. He made me feel in ways I’ve never felt for anyone. He’s made me feel safe and protected. We laugh the whole time we spend together. He’s become my best friend. I think I’ve fallen in love with him.

However, he mentioned very briefly when we were first dating that he has PTSD but it manifests in nightmares and sleepwalking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought it was controlled and he was going to therapy. Over time, I noticed more and more that he would randomly become unresponsive. Sometimes for days. I didn’t know that isolation was a symptom of PTSD until I did some digging. Before I knew it had something to do with PTSD, I would get really upset with him because I told him time and time again that ignoring me was the one thing I hated most. I’d rather him tell me something I didn’t want to hear than to be ignored. He assured me each time that he wasn’t ignoring me and he just got caught up with things and would pretend like nothing ever happened.

As our relationship deepened, the ignoring would get worse. During the week he would tell me how much I mean to him and no one makes him feel the way I do. In fact, one time I said he forgot about me and he said “don’t say that! I never forget about you, ever! You’re always on my mind. ALWAYS! I’ll be done with work in an hour.” After that text, I didn’t hear from him for the next 48 hours. I know he’s very stressed at work and his work ethic is impeccable so that might be part of it.

Last night, we made plans to see each other and we were excited, he told me that I’m all his until he went unresponsive. I’m getting ready and I’m texting him to confirm but no response. I wait an hour and I call him, he doesn’t answer. I texted him that he’s made me cry (because me crying is his kryptonite), no answer. I know he saw the message because he was active on WhatsApp a few hours later. At this point, I’ve made the decision to give space and walk away.

I’m falling apart. I love him and want to be supportive but I can’t tell if it’s PTSD or something else. He assures me that he’s head over heels but he ignores me more frequently and is pulling away from me. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks. We’ve never gone this long without seeing each other. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me understand and enlighten me on what’s happening.

P.S. I’ve always respected his space. When I found out it’s a PTSD symptom, when I notice him ignoring me, I give him space and don’t contact him until he does. He always comes back but there must be a better way to manage him ignoring me
I hear you. Of course you are confused- that is normal.
My reply may not be of help.
In this instance - you aren't going to feel okay - your heart needs mending - it is okay not to be okay- stay strong. Shall leave it to the experts in this community to answer your questions - just know you are not alone in your confusion and how you feel.
If you did not feel how you feel right now you would be no more than a robot.
Sometimes the "space" sadly widens the gap.Counterproductive.
Stay strong . You got this!

I started dating a combat vet 4 months ago and he means the world to me. He made me feel in ways I’ve never felt for anyone. He’s made me feel safe and protected. We laugh the whole time we spend together. He’s become my best friend. I think I’ve fallen in love with him.

However, he mentioned very briefly when we were first dating that he has PTSD but it manifests in nightmares and sleepwalking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought it was controlled and he was going to therapy. Over time, I noticed more and more that he would randomly become unresponsive. Sometimes for days. I didn’t know that isolation was a symptom of PTSD until I did some digging. Before I knew it had something to do with PTSD, I would get really upset with him because I told him time and time again that ignoring me was the one thing I hated most. I’d rather him tell me something I didn’t want to hear than to be ignored. He assured me each time that he wasn’t ignoring me and he just got caught up with things and would pretend like nothing ever happened.

As our relationship deepened, the ignoring would get worse. During the week he would tell me how much I mean to him and no one makes him feel the way I do. In fact, one time I said he forgot about me and he said “don’t say that! I never forget about you, ever! You’re always on my mind. ALWAYS! I’ll be done with work in an hour.” After that text, I didn’t hear from him for the next 48 hours. I know he’s very stressed at work and his work ethic is impeccable so that might be part of it.

Last night, we made plans to see each other and we were excited, he told me that I’m all his until he went unresponsive. I’m getting ready and I’m texting him to confirm but no response. I wait an hour and I call him, he doesn’t answer. I texted him that he’s made me cry (because me crying is his kryptonite), no answer. I know he saw the message because he was active on WhatsApp a few hours later. At this point, I’ve made the decision to give space and walk away.

I’m falling apart. I love him and want to be supportive but I can’t tell if it’s PTSD or something else. He assures me that he’s head over heels but he ignores me more frequently and is pulling away from me. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks. We’ve never gone this long without seeing each other. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me understand and enlighten me on what’s happening.

P.S. I’ve always respected his space. When I found out it’s a PTSD symptom, when I notice him ignoring me, I give him space and don’t contact him until he does. He always comes back but there must be a better way to manage him ignoring me
Thought of your post when I heard this quote :" I exist in two places - here and where you are ".

I started dating a combat vet 4 months ago and he means the world to me. He made me feel in ways I’ve never felt for anyone. He’s made me feel safe and protected. We laugh the whole time we spend together. He’s become my best friend. I think I’ve fallen in love with him.

However, he mentioned very briefly when we were first dating that he has PTSD but it manifests in nightmares and sleepwalking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought it was controlled and he was going to therapy. Over time, I noticed more and more that he would randomly become unresponsive. Sometimes for days. I didn’t know that isolation was a symptom of PTSD until I did some digging. Before I knew it had something to do with PTSD, I would get really upset with him because I told him time and time again that ignoring me was the one thing I hated most. I’d rather him tell me something I didn’t want to hear than to be ignored. He assured me each time that he wasn’t ignoring me and he just got caught up with things and would pretend like nothing ever happened.

As our relationship deepened, the ignoring would get worse. During the week he would tell me how much I mean to him and no one makes him feel the way I do. In fact, one time I said he forgot about me and he said “don’t say that! I never forget about you, ever! You’re always on my mind. ALWAYS! I’ll be done with work in an hour.” After that text, I didn’t hear from him for the next 48 hours. I know he’s very stressed at work and his work ethic is impeccable so that might be part of it.

Last night, we made plans to see each other and we were excited, he told me that I’m all his until he went unresponsive. I’m getting ready and I’m texting him to confirm but no response. I wait an hour and I call him, he doesn’t answer. I texted him that he’s made me cry (because me crying is his kryptonite), no answer. I know he saw the message because he was active on WhatsApp a few hours later. At this point, I’ve made the decision to give space and walk away.

I’m falling apart. I love him and want to be supportive but I can’t tell if it’s PTSD or something else. He assures me that he’s head over heels but he ignores me more frequently and is pulling away from me. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks. We’ve never gone this long without seeing each other. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me understand and enlighten me on what’s happening.

P.S. I’ve always respected his space. When I found out it’s a PTSD symptom, when I notice him ignoring me, I give him space and don’t contact him until he does. He always comes back but there must be a better way to manage him ignoring me
Giving your loved one "space" does not mean there is a guarantee they come back- absence makes the heart grow fonder - not always !
Familiarity breeds contempt- sometimes ! Yes there is a BETTER way than ignoring you- it s called negotiating with you. It looks like the two weeks could be longer .
Thing is your loved one wants you to care , wants you to reach out , however it is a double edged sword - how would you reach out and care and express that if you are also being SO respectful of their desire for " space".
This is the paradigm! Stay strong .
One day at a time.
 
And just maybe the loved one does not want to be in a relationship. And you realize you weaponized your crying against him, not the best sign of a mature relationship. While love is a good thing, it is also a major stressor at the best of times. Slow waaaay down. Declaring love after only four months isn’t wise for anyone PTSD or not. If he is disappearing four months into the relationship, making promises he cannot keep, then he doesn’t seem ready for a relationship. The best way for you to cope with him being absent is to continue with your own life. Go out, have fun, maintain your own circle of friends. If/when he returns, in a better place, have that conversation to set boundaries, and stick to them. Your needs are important too, but you are responsible for having them met. What you see now may be what you will be seeing for a lifetime.
 
She’s the only person, in my entire life, who doesn’t get hurt/offended if I answer, to say I can’t talk right now. Politely, rudely, whatever. EVERYONE ELSE I have ever met? Takes offense. Or gets hurt.
Yep - I have a couple of those too. they understand that "leave me alone' is about me, not them. Then they give me the time I need to figure it out - no questions asked
Part of my lack of understanding is that he hasn’t been forthcoming about the extent of his PTSD. Or maybe he isn’t aware?
He probably thought he was being honest. We live in a world of hiding our symptoms, pretending it's not that bad, unable to see the damage we cause with our isolation and outbursts. Trusting someone with the truth? Is going to take far longer than 4 months. That's the intense honeymoon stage, when everything is amazing. But when reality comes back so do the nightmares and flashbacks and constantly looking over our shoulders it's way easier to bail than to try to deal with people - no matter how much we care for them.

Having a relationship with ptsd means setting your own boundaries on what you will and will not tolerate - then holding to those boundaries. Will it work out? Who knows - but you can't predict that in any relationship. ptsd just makes it more problematic
 
Thank you to everyone for the great advice. This is definitely helpful to keep in mind. Although a relationship with a PTSD sufferer can be challenging, I think it can be very informative and rewarding as well. I’ve learned about things I can work on for myself.

UPDATE: With the advice I’ve received through this thread and many others on this site, I sent a light text message letting him know that he doesn’t have to respond but I wanted him to know that I care for him and miss him deeply and will be here when he’s ready. He responded almost immediately with open arms and we continued our conversations as if nothing happened. He’s been more affectionate and attentive than ever. I think he feels shame in what he’s dealing with and how he reacts so assuring him I’m a safe place without judgement and punishment helps.

Again, I have a lot of learning to do still and fortunately he’s actively in therapy but with patience and introspection, unless the supporter is losing themselves and needs in the relationship, it’s possible to be happy together.

I’ve been also listening to the audiobook version of Loving Someone with PTSD by Aphrodite T. Matsakis, PhD. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!

And you realize you weaponized your crying against him, not the best sign of a mature relationship.
I take full responsibility for this. I selfishly wanted to get an answer out of him. Any answer to calm my nerves. Unfortunately, I have an anxious attachment style where this relationship has made me think about how to address it. It’s not fair for me to expect him to make all the compromises when I’m not willing to address my own insecurities. I also treated the situation as him being someone who hasn’t dealt with significant trauma. I’m still learning 🤷🏻‍♀️
 
I started dating a combat vet 4 months ago and he means the world to me. He made me feel in ways I’ve never felt for anyone. He’s made me feel safe and protected. We laugh the whole time we spend together. He’s become my best friend. I think I’ve fallen in love with him.

However, he mentioned very briefly when we were first dating that he has PTSD but it manifests in nightmares and sleepwalking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought it was controlled and he was going to therapy. Over time, I noticed more and more that he would randomly become unresponsive. Sometimes for days. I didn’t know that isolation was a symptom of PTSD until I did some digging. Before I knew it had something to do with PTSD, I would get really upset with him because I told him time and time again that ignoring me was the one thing I hated most. I’d rather him tell me something I didn’t want to hear than to be ignored. He assured me each time that he wasn’t ignoring me and he just got caught up with things and would pretend like nothing ever happened.

As our relationship deepened, the ignoring would get worse. During the week he would tell me how much I mean to him and no one makes him feel the way I do. In fact, one time I said he forgot about me and he said “don’t say that! I never forget about you, ever! You’re always on my mind. ALWAYS! I’ll be done with work in an hour.” After that text, I didn’t hear from him for the next 48 hours. I know he’s very stressed at work and his work ethic is impeccable so that might be part of it.

Last night, we made plans to see each other and we were excited, he told me that I’m all his until he went unresponsive. I’m getting ready and I’m texting him to confirm but no response. I wait an hour and I call him, he doesn’t answer. I texted him that he’s made me cry (because me crying is his kryptonite), no answer. I know he saw the message because he was active on WhatsApp a few hours later. At this point, I’ve made the decision to give space and walk away.

I’m falling apart. I love him and want to be supportive but I can’t tell if it’s PTSD or something else. He assures me that he’s head over heels but he ignores me more frequently and is pulling away from me. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks. We’ve never gone this long without seeing each other. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me understand and enlighten me on what’s happening.

P.S. I’ve always respected his space. When I found out it’s a PTSD symptom, when I notice him ignoring me, I give him space and don’t contact him until he does. He always comes back but there must be a better way to manage him ignoring me
I have similar things with my veteran husband, I have ptsdbtoo. He is a doomsday prepper. I am returning to this forum
 
I love him and want to be supportive but I can’t tell if it’s PTSD or something else. He assures me that he’s head over heels but he ignores me more frequently and is pulling away from me. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks. We’ve never gone this long without seeing each other. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me understand and enlighten me on what’s happening.

P.S. I’ve always respected his space.
Just stumbled onto your thread @Confused1 . Can relate . I think life circumstances and timing have been twinning for us in parallels.
Just sending you the biggest and most compassionate hug . Hope life is better in 2024. Stay strong.
I hope he does not let what you both have together ,slip through his fingers.
 
@Brumbyinthesunshine thank you so much! Big hugs!! Everything in 2024 is wonderful so far and he’s been exponentially more communicative.

Something I’ve learned along this journey is how much trust plays a massive role between a sufferer/supporter. I mean trust is a big part of any relationship but even more so in one with a PTSD sufferer. I decided to give him all the space he needs without the fear of dealing with my anger/frustration. I’ve displayed so many instances of forgiveness, understanding, and love that he now is seeing me more and more as a safe space. We talk every day now, he calls me regularly, we see each other more often and I don’t have to ask him to stay overnight anymore (he just automatically brings his overnight bag with him).

I learned that I just need to be his source of peace. I do express to him when something bothers me but in a communicative and appropriate way. He receives it and becomes even more loving. A relationship with any degree of PTSD involved requires A LOTTTTTTTT of patience since the trust is built very slowly but it’s worth it in the end :)
 
I started dating a combat vet 4 months ago and he means the world to me. He made me feel in ways I’ve never felt for anyone. He’s made me feel safe and protected. We laugh the whole time we spend together. He’s become my best friend. I think I’ve fallen in love with him.

However, he mentioned very briefly when we were first dating that he has PTSD but it manifests in nightmares and sleepwalking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought it was controlled and he was going to therapy. Over time, I noticed more and more that he would randomly become unresponsive. Sometimes for days. I didn’t know that isolation was a symptom of PTSD until I did some digging. Before I knew it had something to do with PTSD, I would get really upset with him because I told him time and time again that ignoring me was the one thing I hated most. I’d rather him tell me something I didn’t want to hear than to be ignored. He assured me each time that he wasn’t ignoring me and he just got caught up with things and would pretend like nothing ever happened.

As our relationship deepened, the ignoring would get worse. During the week he would tell me how much I mean to him and no one makes him feel the way I do. In fact, one time I said he forgot about me and he said “don’t say that! I never forget about you, ever! You’re always on my mind. ALWAYS! I’ll be done with work in an hour.” After that text, I didn’t hear from him for the next 48 hours. I know he’s very stressed at work and his work ethic is impeccable so that might be part of it.

Last night, we made plans to see each other and we were excited, he told me that I’m all his until he went unresponsive. I’m getting ready and I’m texting him to confirm but no response. I wait an hour and I call him, he doesn’t answer. I texted him that he’s made me cry (because me crying is his kryptonite), no answer. I know he saw the message because he was active on WhatsApp a few hours later. At this point, I’ve made the decision to give space and walk away.

I’m falling apart. I love him and want to be supportive but I can’t tell if it’s PTSD or something else. He assures me that he’s head over heels but he ignores me more frequently and is pulling away from me. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks. We’ve never gone this long without seeing each other. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me understand and enlighten me on what’s happening.

P.S. I’ve always respected his space. When I found out it’s a PTSD symptom, when I notice him ignoring me, I give him space and don’t contact him until he does. He always comes back but there must be a better way to manage him ignoring me
Just remember that yes, ptsd has many symptoms across the board but, he's also an individual or rather he's trying to regain who he is as an individual. Talk. Be honest and don't let your own judgements cloud who he is as a person. I think those of us who suffer ptsd manage different symptoms differently, based on our individual mind set and experiences. Try to see that aspect when trying to understand or help him through it.

Something else I've experienced and I'm not sure if others do but, I lose track of time when symptoms are the worst. It could be weeks but to me it feels like only days. When I go dark for long periods of time. I am truly unaware of the passage of time. Maybe he gets sucked into his trauma like I did at times and his going off the radar is not personal to you but personal to what he's experiencing at the time.
 
Something else I've experienced and I'm not sure if others do but, I lose track of time when symptoms are the worst. It could be weeks but to me it feels like only days. When I go dark for long periods of time. I am truly unaware of the passage of time. Maybe he gets sucked into his trauma like I did at times and his going off the radar is not personal to you but personal to what he's experiencing at the time.
That would make a lot of sense! He does tell me he loses track of time/days when he’s overwhelmed.
 
Back
Top