How to I healthily progress a relationship?

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Hello all!! I'm running on bad sleep so hopefully this makes sense. I have been talking/building a friendship with someone I met on a dating app (we were both generally looking for friends) since August. I'm moving to their location, or was planning to, with my parents. But, long story short, my parents took too long and were affecting my mental health, so I'm moving by myself tomorrow. I went down last week and stayed with this person (we can call them L) for a week, found a place, a probable job, it's been a whirlwind but I really couldn't have done it without their support and love.

They are the loveliest person I have ever met. To give you one example, I had an anxiety flare at one point, and they made sure I had water in a no spill lid next to the couch I was crashing on, turned off the lights for me, and made sure I had food for my meds. I have never felt so safe, so understood, and so seen with a person. I tell them this often. Usually I get tired or irritated by hanging out with people, but when they had off work we just hung out constantly, and it felt so natural. So right. So EASY. I didn't have to force anything. We could talk for hours without issue. Just back and forth. Eventually we even got into our flirty witty banter which was just so fun.

When I was driving "home" I already missed them (but I also know this was in a healthy way, not a "I can't think about anything else" in fact it's the first time I've felt this way about a crush. It's real and I know it). I told them I already missed them and they said same, and how it was weird coming home and I wasn't there. I told them back in February I had a crush but wanted to see how it felt in person first. They said they felt similarly. And not I've met in person, it feels even better. I have never loved someone like this. I don't even have the words to describe it other than it feels right.

L is very considerate about my personal space and knows the trauma I've been through, but if they accidentally touched me I felt safe enough to lean into it and leave it there. I gave them tons of hug (I'm fully vaccinated too btw!), and they thanked me for that and said the last person they were like that with was their ex. It seems like they have some stuff to work through with their exes, and I could tell stuff was coming up with me around because they would bring it up more than they usually do. They would say they aren't ready for a relationship, despite talking about being in one, and our relationship and friendship dynamic already feeling like one. They're in therapy so I'm hoping they will work on that.

I realized I've never been attracted to someone sexually either before L. Before, I had to use drugs and alcohol in order to initiate things, too fast, too soon, and making myself traumatized too. I also before really didn't want to be gay, so I thought being with men would somehow make it not so (even tho my family is sooo supportive) so I have a lot of horrible experiences and sexual trauma. It brought up stuff for me I'm going to work through in therapy and on my own. I've been in therapy around 6 years now so I'm able to work on triggering things myself.

I guess my question would be, without just drinking and then making out, how the h*ck does one progress a relationship? I'm giving myself time, but I'm just so confused. I think I would have to show how I feel to L before they are willing to do anything (they are so respectful and flirt by saying they'd marry someone aka me indirectly, not anything sexual). I feel like I can't find the word to show them, either, because I've never experienced this before. Thank you!
 

Friday

Moderator
I guess my question would be, without just drinking and then making out, how the h*ck does one progress a relationship? I'
1. Don’t use the FF button of drugs/alcohol as a pattern to attempt to duplicate/force things forward. ((I know, I know... WTF do I use, then???)) Dugs/alcohol speed things up for most people. Largely by erasing other considerations. Like someone saying they’re not ready to be IN a relationship, right now.

If you just want to f*ck them, and don’t care if you’re actually in a relationship with them? It might work to force the issue, putting on blinders to everything else by attempting to duplicate the DGAF of drugs/alcohol. Or it might end things on the spot. Or be a one night stand. Or friends with benefits; if sex & friendship is on the table, but a relationship is not. Or manipulate them into being in a relationship before they’re ready to be (which usually ends in tears). Regardless, you won’t have any idea about what happens next, because you jumped the gun, to get them into bed.

To NOT pattern off of drugs/alcohol/DGAF? Pay attention. To what they say, what they do, and to what you think/feel. To what’s working/not working in your life/lives, rather than numbing out or living in hope/imagination? So that if/when you sleep together? It’s on purpose. And you know (or at least have a durn good idea) about what happens next, because the 2 of you are on the same page. (Or at least say you are / think you are.) As opposed to jumping in blind, and letting the cards fall where they may.


Usually I get tired or irritated by hanging out with people, but when they had off work we just hung out constantly, and it felt so natural. So right. So EASY. I didn't have to force anything.
2. Pattern off of THIS ^^^ What you’re already doing. What’s easy & coming naturally.

They would say they aren't ready for a relationship, despite talking about being in one, and our relationship and friendship dynamic already feeling like one. They're in therapy so I'm hoping they will work on that.
3. I would respect this. One of the things you like about them is that they show you respect by giving you space when you need/want it; showing them respect in turn would be giving them the time they’ve asked for (IE what they need/want). You would like to be in a relationship, but they aren’t ready. You can respect that, by going on as you are, until either they’re ready, or it’s time for you to move on.

4. It’s EARLY DAYS here. You’re in the very very beginning of just getting to know each other. Let that happen. Get to know them. After you do, maybe you’ll both want to be in a relationship together... maybe neither of you will, but you’ll still have a friend.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Pay attention. To what they say, what they do, and to what you think/feel. To what’s working/not working in your life/lives, rather than numbing out or living in hope/imagination? So that if/when you sleep together? It’s on purpose. And you know (or at least have a durn good idea) about what happens next, because the 2 of you are on the same page. (Or at least say you are / think you are.) As opposed to jumping in blind, and letting the cards fall where they may.
Thank you so much Friday. All of this makes so much sense, and is what we're already doing for each other!!
Pattern off of THIS ^^^ What you’re already doing. What’s easy & coming naturally.
This is a huge comfort to me!!
I would respect this. One of the things you like about them is that they show you respect by giving you space when you need/want it; showing them respect in turn would be giving them the time they’ve asked for (IE what they need/want). You would like to be in a relationship, but they aren’t ready. You can respect that, by going on as you are, until either they’re ready, or it’s time for you to move on.
I agree, and honestly, I am going through a major life change and need more time to feel comfortable even pursuing a relationship with them, as much as I have never felt this way before. I think there's some things I need to work on on my own, too. We both have codependency issues and I can be a project often and they are a fixer, and I want to make sure that IF something happens, we don't fall into this pattern. I think our friendship has been healing for both of us, though.
4. It’s EARLY DAYS here. You’re in the very very beginning of just getting to know each other. Let that happen. Get to know them. After you do, maybe you’ll both want to be in a relationship together... maybe neither of you will, but you’ll still have a friend.
It's so strange to me to like someone so much that I feel like I can take my time to know them. I don't have to prove anything or be anyone. And the friendship is amazing, too. Thank you again Friday!!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Ahh @Strangelongtrip , this sounds really nice and heartwarming! Whether a relationship develops or not, it sounds like an honest, genuine bond between the two of you.

I have no idea how relationships develop so don't have words of wisdom (all my relationships developed possibly the wrong way round), but everything you describe here sounds healthy? You share feelings, you're taking time to get to know each other.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
An update!! I am moved to my first apartment since last Wednesday and it's so close I can walk to this person's house. We've already hung out quite a bit, I think three times last week and maybe three this week? Maybe four? I have been having horrible pain and one day I said I wanted ice cream so they picked me up and took me to the ice cream place we both like. The people there thought we were a couple and the person we saw out shopping today thought we were too. I don't know how I feel about it yet. We go on walks together and sit in parks together and they're showing me all around.

They mentioned being in a relationship with me the other day then got flustered and quickly switched back to calling me a friend. We worked on some boundaries together and reworking how we communicate because now that we're in person we both feel more secure with each other and how we were texting constantly wasn't healthy for either of us. Now we're more present with each other for the most part. The other night slightly unprompted they mentioned the person I was most jealous of and told me they didn't have a crush on her, but she had a crush on them. It made me feel surreal, like it's not real life. I told them that they helped me work through some BPD symptoms without them knowing, and that I have never really gotten this close to someone and to please be patient with me in telling them my feelings because I am navigating something healthy for the first time in my life. They said they were more than happy to be patient with me and that they love being my friend and having someone who helps them navigate boundaries, and that they are so happy we help each other heal and grow. I am sort of confused sometimes about how they feel but honestly, I think they are too. Or maybe they are scared of sharing it. I am too. I think we can help each other out there. I think it'll take time. I keep putting pressure on myself to tell them now, to force something, but I think my lesson here is great things take time. I always rushed everything before. I am savoring it all.

I almost feel like I am daydreaming most times. I just think about when I got on this site, and how I never thought I could live on my own, or find healthy love or friendship, or be happy. I'm in a really bad pain flare (and it's causing mood swings. I also had a flashback from a massage so it's not helping that it's pelvic pain) and they carried all my groceries and helped me get through the shopping and are slowly learning when I'm hurting I need to get out fast. When we were at the ice cream place they found excuses to touch me, adjusting my hat, leaning close in, handing me things to hold and lingering a bit longer when our hands touched. I keep second guessing myself that this isn't real, because it can't be, or maybe I'm even reading into things. But I don't think so. I think it'll just take time. They talk to me a bunch about being in a relationship in abstracts and describing how they would want a relationship, and most of it is just me being like....I would want the same thing. It's all very odd to me. I feel out of place but also good. I think it's going to be okay.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Just had to come back in here and say that I asked them to be direct about how they feel about me and they just see me as a friend then proceeded to gaslight me tell me that I never told them I had feelings even though I said I did multiple times, and that this is just how they are with all of their friends, they flirt with them and are romantic and such. They go on couples things and dates and such and I wasn’t special the entire time. They didn’t see me as someone any different. They also gaslit me and said that they thought I just hung out with them a lot because I didn’t have friends in the area (I already have more friends than them here and they’ve lived here for 4 years) when they suggested we hung out most of the time.

They said they didn’t even know I was flirting when I was SO obvious. They then told me to calm down when I got upset and that I could talk about it later and in person. I’m not meeting them in person I don’t feel safe and they’d just try to therapize me. They did that crap that’s basically like I’m sorry you feel that way. They didn’t even have any emotion over me saying that I was done with them. They said it would upset them if we weren’t friends anymore but nothing else.

I told them to return my key to my apartment and I’ll text them if I’m interested in being friends again. I’m going to maybe text them today and tell them I have no interest in being friends with someone who is so horrible with communication and has such bad boundaries with their friends.

I feel almost as bad as I did when I broke up with my abusive ex. I feel like I was abused. They are so toxic. I was absolutely manipulated and controlled and told lies. They made me feel crazy over and over. This is the first time I’ve really trusted someone to be myself in dating. I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong that I always get hurt. I don’t know why I keep attracting people like this and what’s wrong with me.

I can’t stop crying and I just feel so horrible. I can’t even sleep well. I’m trying to just be nice to myself and such but I just want to know why I’m so broken. I feel like what I’ve been through has made it so I can’t have real romantic relationships. I think I may go back to just having casual stuff I can’t get involved.

Everything is too good to be true always.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
I'm literally having PTSD symptoms I haven't had since when I broke up with my abusive ex. I feel so ashamed I basically just let this happen again. They apologized over and over and it's just. I needed to communicate better but I was so clear and they didn't understand me. it feels like I was cheated on. like this whole time I wasn't special and I thought I had fixed this I thought I wouldn't fall into something like this again I thought I was better.
 

Friday

Moderator
I feel almost as bad as I did when I broke up with my abusive ex. I feel like I was abused
I'm literally having PTSD symptoms I haven't had since when I broke up with my abusive ex.
On the upside? (At least they cut the crusts off this shit sandwich!)

You will most likely be feeling this every time you break up with someone, or a relationship doesn’t make it out the gate... for awhile.

IE breaking up sounds like it’s triggery.

So even though you weren’t abused? All of the leaving because of abuse is flooding back. As are all of the BIG emotions, and stress reactions, and overreactions (in the present, perfectly reasonable reactions in the past), and the -everything- tied into leaving your abusive ex has just kicked you in the stomach, and is trying to exist in the same space as the present.

Once it stops sucking so hard, it’s a useful thing to know, movin forward, in a lot of different ways. Not the least of which so that you aren’t afraid to start/end relationships for fear of being triggered. Knowing that triggers and stressors will be a part of dating, for awhile? Sucks, but also means we can get in front of managing them (DO be extra nice to yourself, right now! Take some time, blow off some stress, up the self-care, break out the bag’o’tricks!), & don’t miss out on some of the best parts in life by avoiding leaving a relationship that isn’t working, or avoiding getting into relationships at all.

This is the first time I’ve really trusted someone to be myself in dating. I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong that I always get hurt.
Why do you think you’re doing something wrong? Heartbreak is a thing. It’s not like healthy relationships end and healthy people feel awesome. People get hurt when relationships end. Not just romantic relationships, but friendships, too. And you just had a double dose of that; being turned down for a romantic relationship AND losing a friend. That’s gonna hurt. Even if you weren’t reliving leaving your abusive ex, and getting thumped with a big ole symptom spike. But you are, so it hurts 3 times over. Worse, this is your first go since your abusive ex, so being strangled with symptoms was a total surprise, and all the things you do in your life to manage your triggers and stressors weren’t engaged for this one.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
On the upside? (At least they cut the crusts off this shit sandwich!)

You will most likely be feeling this every time you break up with someone, or a relationship doesn’t make it out the gate... for awhile.

IE breaking up sounds like it’s triggery.
That's very true!! I have been in relationships and had a lot of friend and romantic breakups since my abusive ex, but it's been 3 years since I've tried to date since the last "breakup" was with a toxic person and left me feeling like absolute shit. It hurt breaking up with friends, too (I've had a few other friendships where it felt romantic, but in those cases, I was clear that I didn't want that, but it was still hard). My abusive relationship ended almost 6 years ago now, and hey I mean I'm proud of the progress I'm making!!
Once it stops sucking so hard, it’s a useful thing to know, movin forward, in a lot of different ways. Not the least of which so that you aren’t afraid to start/end relationships for fear of being triggered. Knowing that triggers and stressors will be a part of dating, for awhile? Sucks, but also means we can get in front of managing them (DO be extra nice to yourself, right now! Take some time, blow off some stress, up the self-care, break out the bag’o’tricks!), & don’t miss out on some of the best parts in life by avoiding leaving a relationship that isn’t working, or avoiding getting into relationships at all.
Yeah that's really good to know and I'm not going to let it make me avoid stuff for 3 years again!! I'm young and single and just moved to a new city!!
Why do you think you’re doing something wrong? Heartbreak is a thing. It’s not like healthy relationships end and healthy people feel awesome. People get hurt when relationships end. Not just romantic relationships, but friendships, too. And you just had a double dose of that; being turned down for a romantic relationship AND losing a friend. That’s gonna hurt. Even if you weren’t reliving leaving your abusive ex, and getting thumped with a big ole symptom spike. But you are, so it hurts 3 times over. Worse, this is your first go since your abusive ex, so being strangled with symptoms was a total surprise, and all the things you do in your life to manage your triggers and stressors weren’t engaged for this one.
I guess I'm not used to actual heartbreak because I only came out 3 years ago, and haven't really dated. The last time I dated a guy I was over it in 48 hours because I had no real feelings lol. I can list all the things about them that I didn't like, at least, and that helps. All the stuff I was ignoring because I was chasing a feeling. And the feeling that they lied to me and betrayed me, because I told them VERY clearly (and has been confirmed by about 10 people in my life who I showed what I sent them and said there is no way they didn't know what you meant) how I felt and they reciprocated over and over. It makes me feel like I'm crazy.

(this part is mainly a vent but also sheds light on why I feel this way) On top of it, they had trust issues and needed to text me constantly and needed to know what I was doing at all times (even tho they passed it off as not needing it, they couldn't go 4 hours without texting me), they were very controlling (but always said it was out of care or love), were disappointed when I did something out of the parameters of what they thought was good for me (drinking coffee after 12pm, not eating vegetables all the time, drinking alcohol or smoking weed in a healthy way that was just about having fun and connecting with people, not recycling or composting or using reusable bags), and they were jealous of my friends who they thought were better than them in some way (so insecure). They also have only dated people younger than them which is weird to me, they're 2 years older than me. I know it doesn't mean much in our 20s but it's just a red flag for me.

Ok vent over. I have therapy today and will just take care of myself!! Thank you Friday!!!
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
Yes, heartbreak is always something. It’s very confusing and you always have this impression you could have done better, but it’s not because you’re having the limerence and the good understanding that everything will go easily. I got turned off by a guy I really did appreciate, it wasn’t even a strong experience of dating but I really felt ripped apart and destabilized, even if rationally I knew it wasn’t that important. Heartbreaks are difficult for everyone, PTSD BPD or not. Just the quantity of sad love songs in human history attest it lol. With BPD and the emotional dysreg that follows that, taking care of yourself during spikes is essential. And knowing it isn’t forever. And that even in healthy, loving relationship, you’re not gonna feel the love all the time and you’ll be f*cking pissed at them many many times too.

On the positive side to me is that you clarified the situation before it became a clusterf*ck. You have navigated your feelings and despite them being a bit more sweeping, they still did communicate as well as they could too. You’re in a case where no one is really at fault, it just didn’t work out. And it’s okay. Celebrate that you have experienced a nice progression, enmenshment and disenmeshment without a giant drama. That you went through the waves and surfed on it, true to yourself. That it healthy!
 
Top