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Relationship Friend with PTSD is Isolating


New Here
Hi all.

I'm new here and have been working to educate myself about PTSD, especially the tendency to isolate when faced with huge amounts of stress. Presently, someone new has come into my life that shared with me their PTSD diagnosis. When we first started talking, they mentioned that they would disappear sometimes and that once they even did it for seven months. I didn't believe it at the time, but they are currently isolating and I am struggling to show them support without suffocating them and giving them the proper space and time to deal with the amount of stress they are experiencing. We have been on one date, and while I would love a relationship with them I will settle for friendship for the time being while they do what they need to do.

Our lives are intertwined with mutual friends that are important to the both of us, which is how we met. Those friends are aware that this is a tendency of his and have advised me to wait it out, and that this is his version of self care. I want to be supportive to him, and after reading A LOT of the threads I think I've taken a lot of the right steps to do that, but I think what I need is some encouragement and maybe a reminder that it's okay to worry about them.

Getting him 'better' or 'helping/fixing' him is not my goal, although it is something I hope happens for them (not the fixing part -- I hate when people say that...Who they are as a person especially when not feeling as they are currently is truly, TRULY amazing). So far my approach has been every few days I just send a quick message to check in on them, no conversation required or expected, and then keep going. He usually responds to say he's okay/alive and just focusing on work, etc, and I never push. When we first started talking I adopted the rule of "He will tell me things when and if he wants to". Still, I'm hoping this is not causing more stress for him and that this is an acceptable approach in general...Advice would be so greatly appreciated.

Romantic or platonic, I really care about this person and hate seeing them suffer.
From the sufferer side?

I'm a huge isolater - to the point that I used to just take off until I felt calmer. Sometimes days. Some of us do it for months - or even years.
If it was me it sounds like you are doing the right things. You are educating yourself on what ptsd is, how people cope, how you can help. That's huge

Checking in occasionally to make sure we are alive is usually acceptable - especially if it's just a quick thing that has no strings or emotions attached. I isolate because I can't handle the emotions I'm having - so I don't need anyone else's to think about. It will put my brain into overload and make me cranky (lol ya. understatement there!)
Listen to his friends. Believe them when they say this is what he does. Don't think it will be different for you if you are in a relationship (that's a biggie)

Hubby and I have set rules on how long I can be gone, how long I can go without contacting him, blah blah. But that's taken YEARS of work to get to - and I still struggle.

When we first started talking I adopted the rule of "He will tell me things when and if he wants to".
This might be problematic because he may or may not tell you things. I rarely share what is going on in my head, or where it came from, or what happened in my past with my supporters. So if you are hoping for an explanation you may not get one - and the supporters here have taught me that can be really hard to accept.

Your friend may have no idea what the impact is on others when he isolates. I had NO idea about how my behaviors affected my supporters until I came here and learned from the supporters here and it was quite a wake up call for me. I can't really change my responses, but I have learned to be more mindful about how I'm doing things Your friend may get there - but it may take a crap ton of therapy.

But again - it sounds like you are doing the right things! Maybe later, when he's in a better place, you can have a conversation about isolating in general and how it affects both of you?