Relationship Not Sure Whether to Try Again

A

Anon1

Hi folks,

I've been so encouraged by the posts on this reddit, thank you!

I wondered if anyone would comment on this - I'm not sure what constitutes a 'normal' bar for a C-PTSD relationship, and what is actually not right.

My C-PTSD partner and I have been having some difficulties, and - although we've broken up at the moment - my instinct says that things haven't fully run their course.

I want to try to inform myself of what's reasonable to expect in this kind of relationship, so that my next decisions are wise ones for both of us.

The initial relationship lasted a few months, but it was an emotionally intense, very intimate time; and we moved quicker than my better judgement (my mistake - I could've had better boundaries).

They broke it off a few weeks ago, and asked for space (it seemed like it was getting quite co-dependent, and I'd set some boundaries that they were a bit resistant to).

At first, I struggled to give them space - just because I felt so emotional about it (I really liked them) - but after a few days, I apologised for being a little intense, and let them know that I'd focus on myself and move forward; but that they could always feel free to get in touch, if they'd like to.

Recently, they've started to instigate contact again.

I have a feeling that they might suggest trying again. I'd also like to make wise decisions, and also to process what actually happened with us... because some of the situations that occurred between us left my head spinning a little.

A number of things happened, but the one that stands out was when they were driving me home from somewhere. I made a goofy joke as we passed a pedestrian - reminding them not to knock into them (the joke being that - of course - they'd know not to bump into a pedestrian).

They suddenly became very intense, and started driving me in the other direction.

I didn't know where we were going, and they refused to turn the car back toward the direction of my place.

They pulled into a parking space after a short time, and tried to make me apologise (and say other things too, but it wasn't clear on what they really wanted to hear). They kept asking if I had anything to say to them, kind of... trying to make me say something...

At first, I was really struggling to work out if they were joking, because it seemed strange; but they were clearly tense and upset.

Eventually, they softened and did take me home.

The next day, things seemed fine and normal (though I was a bit shaken up by the event), but they suddenly seemed to 'shut down' out of the blue, and cancelled an event that we'd planned a while ago, and that we were both looking forward to.

This happened with no explanation, and they didn't seem to mind that I was clearly hurt.

They sort of 'went through the motions' of listening to me, but they didn't seem to be connected to my feelings at all.

A few other things happened over the last few weeks of our being together... lots of sudden tears if I set a gentle boundary, sudden (but usually quick) outbursts of frustration/anger (which usually involved calling me names/swearing at me).

At one point the joked about beating me up if I did something specific... and I guess they were definitely joking, but it became hard to fully know whether they were actually *just* joking, or if there was an edge to it.

They were also exploring their sexuality a lot (their trauma was related to this), and they could often become hyper-sexual, and kind of... push on both our boundaries. When we were clear headed, we discussed what we both wanted, but they'd often try to 'push past' those things in the moment.

They'd be horrified to hear this spoken out loud to them, but I sometimes felt as though things were starting to edge towards being non-consensual, now and then.

After we broke up the first time, it was because they wanted to work on themselves. I gave them space as they requested, but then they told me that they really didn't want space and that they'd shut down if I gave it to them. Later, they told me that while this was going on, they also dated two other people in the same week. Then they told me they wanted to work on themselves again. Then they told me they wanted to get back together. And this all happened in the space of two weeks.

To be clear, I take real responsibility for not being more vocal and for not setting clearer boundaries.

I really wanted to treat them gently and to not shame them. Them opening up to me was a huge deal for them, and I wanted to make sure that I was creating a safe space for them. But I didn't create a safe space for myself, and - to be honest - it's not keeping them safe if I enable things which I feel are wrong.

It's just really hard to know what to do when things happen unexpectedly, and you're thinking on your feet - and you're emotionally involved.

I guess it'd help me to know if this kind of thing is normal and expected, or if it's actually a sign that the person may not be ready for a deeper relationship just now.

They're in regular therapy, they're very responsible, and in lots of ways they're really lovely. They have a gentle, good heart and - when they're doing well - they're so nice, and genuine.

We both want to marry and have a family, and I think they'd make a wonderful parent in their best moments.

It's just that... I started to feel unsettled, and like I was walking on eggshells.

I started to feel very anxious.

And - in truth - I started to wonder if some of the behaviours were actually a little abusive.

Any thoughts would really help!

I won't base any decisions solely off of your advice (so please feel free to speak openly), but some perspective would really help.
 
We’re not Reddit. In any way, or association.


Since no one is on their best behaviour all the time?
Thank you for pointing my 'Reddit' mistake out - obviously it was a typo.

- And I'm not sure what you're implying by your last question, but I'm perceiving it as being a little snarky. Forgive me if I'm wrong. If you're looking to help, would you mind clarifying so that I can answer the question a little better?
 
Not snarky. An honest question by a parent.
Sorry - I misread the tone, my mistake!

Yeah, it's just... I really like who they want to be.
And I see that they often manage to be that person with friends, and those around them.

But they'd cut their parents out of their life completely until just recently; and this person has snapped at me once or twice in front of their friends in a way that I think made the friends uncomfortable (judging by their body language etc).

So I'm not really sure who the 'real them' actually is.

I'm not sure if they're the charming person I've mostly seen with their friends, whether they're the person they describe themselves as when they talk about what they value, or whether the 'real them' is the person who behaves erratically and disrespectfully towards me at times.

They've often made it clear - and have often said directly - that they want to be with me, but then... it's also been mixed signals all over the place.

And I'm not sure if it'll ever change or get better, and whether I'm holding on hopelessly.

Or else maybe we could just give things one more try, and somehow make it all better so they feel more safe, relaxed and able to be their fun, lovable self.

It's real hard...
 
I have C-PTSD myself and have been in 3 relationships with partners who had C-PTSD too.

One lasted 15 years, one 3 - 4 years (depending on how you count the break-up phases) and one that lasted a bit more than a year, I think.

The first two were with partners who were a) undiagnosed and b) not doing trauma therapy.

The third was with someone who was diagnosed and who had done a ton of trauma therapy.

(I'm diagnosed too and have done and am doing trauma therapy.)

My biggest piece of advice to you would be: a person with C-PTSD who is not doing or who is not fully invested in trauma therapy and a person with C-PTSD who is doing and who is fully invested in trauma therapy are two completely different things... It's like night and day.

If someone's not doing trauma therapy of their own accord because they can tell how it's messing up their life and because they *want* to be better, both for themselves and for the people they care about - then do NOT get involved. They will cause you no end of grief.

If they're not doing trauma therapy of their own accord - I'd stay away. Sure, you can try to "convince" them to do trauma therapy... If you sitting down with them to have a serious talk about it, is what makes them say "Yeah, I've been thinking about doing trauma therapy and our talk about how my C-PTSD is impacting this relationship has made me realise that I finally need to take this step now because this relationship means a lot to me and I want to make this work" ... then that's okay. If they themselves get pro-active about seeking out trauma therapists, working out which insurance covers whom, interviewing the trauma therapists, to work out who is the best fit, etc.

If you have to endlessly convince them and you end up doing all the work of looking for a suitable therapist and they go there reluctantly and are always dragging their heels and only going there because you're pressuring/ nagging them to go... Then forget it. Unless someone's doing trauma therapy because they *want* things to change and they know they need to do the work... then it's useless.

Living with someone who's got C-PTSD and who is doing and who is fully invested in trauma therapy is hard enough. It's really difficult. It's a massive challenge. And there's no guarantees you will make it.

Living with someone who's got C-PTSD and is not doing/ not fully invested in trauma therapy is like 50 times as hard and will most likely (like 95% or more) yield no useful results.

That's my 2 cents.

Hope it's helpful in working out how big a mess you may be getting into - whether it's a manageable mess or an unmangeable one.

(Edit to add: I just went and re-read your post a 2nd time and there's about 5 or 6 major red flags in there as far as I'm concerned where'd I'd be like "hell no" about pursuing a long-term relationship with this person or starting a family with them. Having C-PTSD is no excuse for that kind of behaviour, IMO, and it doesn't seem to be followed up with any real insight/ self-reflection and sincere apologies.)
 
Last edited:
I have C-PTSD myself and have been in 3 relationships with partners who had C-PTSD too.

One lasted 15 years, one 3 - 4 years (depending on how you count the break-up phases) and one that lasted a bit more than a year, I think.

The first two were with partners who were a) undiagnosed and b) not doing trauma therapy.

The third was with someone who was diagnosed and who had done a ton of trauma therapy.

(I'm diagnosed too and have done and am doing trauma therapy.)

My biggest piece of advice to you would be: a person with C-PTSD who is not doing or who is not fully invested in trauma therapy and a person with C-PTSD who is doing and who is fully invested in trauma therapy are two completely different things... It's like night and day.

If someone's not doing trauma therapy of their own accord because they can tell how it's messing up their life and because they *want* to be better, both for themselves and for the people they care about - then do NOT get involved. They will cause you no end of grief.

If they're not doing trauma therapy of their own accord - I'd stay away. Sure, you can try to "convince" them to do trauma therapy... If you sitting down with them to have a serious talk about it, is what makes them say "Yeah, I've been thinking about doing trauma therapy and our talk about how my C-PTSD is impacting this relationship has made me realise that I finally need to take this step now because this relationship means a lot to me and I want to make this work" ... then that's okay. If they themselves get pro-active about seeking out trauma therapists, working out which insurance covers whom, interviewing the trauma therapists, to work out who is the best fit, etc.

If you have to endlessly convince them and you end up doing all the work of looking for a suitable therapist and they go there reluctantly and are always dragging their heels and only going there because you're pressuring/ nagging them to go... Then forget it. Unless someone's doing trauma therapy because they *want* things to change and they know they need to do the work... then it's useless.

Living with someone who's got C-PTSD and who is doing and who is fully invested in trauma therapy is hard enough. It's really difficult. It's a massive challenge. And there's no guarantees you will make it.

Living with someone who's got C-PTSD and is not doing/ not fully invested in trauma therapy is like 50 times as hard and will most likely (like 95% or more) yield no useful results.

That's my 2 cents.

Hope it's helpful in working out how big a mess you may be getting into - whether it's a manageable mess or an unmangeable one.

(Edit to add: I just went and re-read your post a 2nd time and there's about 5 or 6 major red flags in there as far as I'm concerned where'd I'd be like "hell no" about pursuing a long-term relationship with this person or starting a family with them. Having C-PTSD is no excuse for that kind of behaviour, IMO, and it doesn't seem to be followed up with any real insight/ self-reflection and sincere apologies.)


Thank you - this reply is really helpful.

I read a lot about successful C-PTSD marriages, and it makes me hopeful that we could maybe have that.

But I don't know what happens in those marriages, and I don't know if my situation is 'standard' or if it's actually quite problematic.

I just find it confusing, because they've been in trauma therapy (art therapy in this case) for a number of years... and they seem really high functioning in a wide variety of social settings.

They can travel across the world without much problem, and when we talk about our problems sometimes, they're really balanced and logical (sometimes it feels a little like talking to a text book, because it's a bit like they're talking in the way they know they're 'supposed to', rather than it flowing naturally. But those conversations can take practice, so that's not unusual, necessarily).

On the one hand, they're pretty charming and charismatic (though not necessarily warm), and I just struggle to reconcile all of the different parts of things.

And I struggle to accept that it's a bad idea, because I've seen really good things too.

But your post was a helpful reality check.

Maybe I need to accept that - right now - it's not just me, and there might not be much that I can do...

Edit: it's especially helpful to hear from someone with C-PTSD, who says "No... C-PTSD isn't an excuse for some of that..."
 
Back
Top