Physical contact & panic & relationship?

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I'm just writing because I can't bear to read the articles about those things. They trigger me to a point where i just think I'm going to throw up because I'm triggered.
So here's what really bothers me: I'm in a pretty serious relationship. And I have no idea what happened in my past but I can't bear much physical contact. Sometimes none. And he takes it as I didn't want to hug him but that's obviously not the case.
I am afraid it's going to kill our relationship. Even though I think our relationship is way deeper than that.
I don't know what happened and that drives me insane. I got very few memories of something.
I would appreciate helpful answers. Thanks.

Seasons Change

Have u told him about your PTSD and maybe shared a few short articles with him? Have u slept with him? Do you know if you have always had a touch aversion? (Like do u have memories of a before PTSD time?)

Some people have significant sensory sensitivity to touch. And it is just their nervous system and at times is not related to PTSD. Look up tactile defensiveness.


Bottom line? It’s going to depend on how important physical touch is to him.

Touch being hugely important to you, means that he’d either have to share your aversion, or not particularly care one way or another, or fall somewhere in that spectrum. That’s actually more likely than not, if you’re in a serious relationship, because (speaking from experience!!!) people who feel & express love through touch, & people who find touch disgusting and repulsive; can rarely stand being in the same room together, much less in a relationship.

NO! -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 -Eh- +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 YES!

Another way to look at it is like this

Will Not Tolerate (hard limit - need) //
Hate (soft limit - want) //
Dislike //
Like //
Love (soft limit - want) //
Require (hard limit - need)

^^^Pretty much any & every conceiveable aspect of personality and life (who you are, what you value, likes/dislikes, what you need&want in life and out of life) will have it’s own little spectrum of how important it is to you. From socks on the floor, to having kids, to living in Prague, to the way someone gets mad, to physical touch, to income, to (a few thousand examples later). Most things? Most of us are going to fall in the “Eh” range. We don’t particularly care, one way or another. A lot of things we’ll like/dislike, but not so strongly that we alter the course of our lives in order to achieve or avoid it. SOME things, however, we’re going to feel very strongly about, one way or another. A giant part of dating? At least, dating with an eye on long term partnership, is learning those spectrums about our partners and ourselves. They don’t always, or even often, have to line up... sometimes it’s flat out better that they don’t line up. Strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, are often complimentary rather than conflicting. But where there IS conflict? Sometimes that can be managed, sometimes it can’t. But that doesn’t mean that either person is an asshole. Or that you don’t love them, or that they don’t love you. It just means things aren’t going to work. Or, at the very least, aren’t going to work the way things are.

How long have the 2 of you been together?

I ask because there are some really predictable phases most relationships go through... and lining up interpersonal & life priorities tend to hit / end relationships at the 6mo & 2year mark, respectively. The first 6mo seeing if the 2 of you get on, and the first couple years seeing if your lives work well -or could do- together. There’s another watershed at the 3year mark as the compromises people try to work around interpersonal & life-stuff misalignment have been given some serious time to work (and haven’t). So it’s one of those woethwhile things, I’ve found, to take a step back and look at where I am in relationship-arc-land. If I’m right around the 6mo or 2-3year marks? The problem is very likely to be smack dab in the middle of dealbreaker territory. If it’s been 5 minutes or 5 years? There’s either no deal on the table TO break, or this single issue is far more likely to be a symptom of a waaaaaaay bigger series of problems, rather than “the” problem, itself. So, for example, if you two have been together for 5 years? Whilst the problem may be the most obvious around touch-issues, the source is more likely to be feeling loved (or not), or having kids, or schedules, or whatever. So the solution doesn’t actually involve touch at all, because that’s been fine for years... but stepping up love languages/ care/attention; or sorting out kid-logistics, or changing schedules around, etc. to get unmet needs met. But if the 2 of you have only been together for a few months? The situation will be much more direct, and solutions simpler.
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Hello, thank you for spending your time with writing all of that.
We have been together for only 8 months.
Yes, we did have a lot of physical contact at the beginning and I always felt very twisted about that. But the feelings have gotten worse.
I am sure that our relationship will survive all this mess. It's just physical contact, right?
I'm not that pessimistic.... today.
Yes I told him about it and I'm pretty sure it's not just tactile stimulation that bothers me. I have a diagnosed trauma for one event but there has been a lot going on in childhood. I'm not sure what is related to what. And I don't want to describe it because it's still too new.


Are you in therapy?

It sounds like you might need to, at a pace and time that is right for you, explore what you can about this. Because your partner might need help understanding how to help and not trigger you. And you'll need to explain that to him as best you can.

I'm sorry this is happening for you. It sounds confusing and upsetting.

I'm someone who realised what happened to me in childhood , later on in life. When I was 24 memories came back. And more memories came back aged 41. So now I know. I think the memories surfaced when my brain decided I would be able to manage. So maybe for you, something is surfacing. It's a very confusing time when that happens.


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I don't know if this is valid for you or not but I have this same issue. Typically, it happens when I, for some reason, feel unsafe or have high anxiety. It comes and goes but my husband and I have discussed it at length and he understands that it is not personal. I had to sit him down and explain to him that I have a history of being cornered, restrained and otherwise physically controlled by other human beings and that there are times when his touch triggers these uncomfortable feelings for me. If I tell him I cannot hug him but that I do still love him very much, he gets and he backs off without pouting or anything.

I think that if you and your boyfriend are going to work while you are having these problems, communication and acceptance will be key. You will have to be crystal clear with him and he will have to understand what you are saying and what it really means rather than taking his immediate feelings as facts. If you pretend it is not a problem and continue to hug when it makes you uncomfortable, you will probably end up really resenting him and that will cause bigger problems. I've been there.


You might be an empath. Just finished reading Judith Orloff's book An empaths survival guide. She explains empaths have that extra sensory sensitivity, being an empaths is like empathy of steroid. You actually feel what other people feel. Like a super power. It can be a curse or a gift depending how you use it. Used to enjoy sex, sleeping in same bed as my wife, hugging and all. Now after ptsd, we haven't slept in the same bed for 2yrs, don't remember the last time we had sex, and I ended the relationship cause I was burnt and didn't want to handle more stress. So my recommendation, read that book or check reviews first see if it resonate with you and have an open discussion with your partner about what YOU need.
Yeah that sounds exactly what I'm experiencing every day. It's a curse and a super power. I always have been the therapist of everyone.
I am definitely going to read that book. It's on my Christmas wishlist.


I find the book an easy read and english is my second language. I told my ex to read the book as well so she can understand what I am going through. She said it helped her get a better picture and she is a bit more understanding.
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