Relationship Please help. My boyfriend is isolating from me

C

Confusedsupporter

This is my first post. My boyfriend suffers from childhood trauma and deployment 3 times in the Navy. I've been in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend for 8months. We both agreed we are in the healthiest relationship we ever been in. We were seeing each other every two weeks and we talk on the phone regularly. However around thanksgiving out of my insecurities I told him that I felt I liked him more than me, I know stupid to say. However once I said that he's shut down on me. I feel like that triggered him. He told me a list of things he noticed I do which made him skeptical of me and his heart didn't want this relationship like this anymore. After we spoke about this I explained everything to him in detail and answered all questions of doubt he had. Then he apologized and said he loved me deeply and he apologized and he wanted us the same. But since then he's been different. He's been isolating himself from me. I haven't seen him since even though our conversation hasn't changed. Weeks later he said he felt more stress was in his life and he felt like doing nothing more and more these days. That he felt like something he's been trying to suppress is resurfacing. He's been different even though he tells me he loves me, wants a future with me and wants to see me. He bought a ticket for me to come and see him, I felt like I had to practically beg for that, then the next day he got covid, which he canceled the ticket without even telling me. Since he's been sick he only texts me out the day saying he misses me and loves me but idk how to feel or think. Can someone tell me what's happening? Emotionally I'm suffering over here
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
What he is doing isn’t isolating. Isolating is when they disappear all together. What it sounds like is that you’re finally starting to see some real PTSD symptoms, and it’s freaking you out. In turn he’s feeding off your anxiety.

It sounds like you’re still in a fairly new relationship. You *think* you know what your partner’s PTSD looks like, but it’s a honeymoon phase. It seems like the 6 month mark or so is a common “wake up call”… that’s when the best behavior wears off and reality starts to show.

If he’s stressed he’s probably avoiding additional stress. Relationships are stress. Upset girlfriends are stress. Even the stress of being around people he loves is stress. If you are being emotional when he cannot manage his own emotions, he is going to avoid you.

What I would do is step back, chill out, and give him a little space. If he says he loves you, believe him. If he says he’s sick, or tired, or doesn’t feel like talking, don’t take it personally. That’s him managing his symptoms, not a statement about you or the relationship.

Being in a PTSD relationship is hard. You have to learn to self soothe if you want it to work. There will be times he can’t comfort you when your insecure. You have to be OK with that if you want it to work. It’s not for everybody, and that’s OK too.
 
C

Confusedsupporter

What he is doing isn’t isolating. Isolating is when they disappear all together. What it sounds like is that you’re finally starting to see some real PTSD symptoms, and it’s freaking you out. In turn he’s feeding off your anxiety.

It sounds like you’re still in a fairly new relationship. You *think* you know what your partner’s PTSD looks like, but it’s a honeymoon phase. It seems like the 6 month mark or so is a common “wake up call”… that’s when the best behavior wears off and reality starts to show.

If he’s stressed he’s probably avoiding additional stress. Relationships are stress. Upset girlfriends are stress. Even the stress of being around people he loves is stress. If you are being emotional when he cannot manage his own emotions, he is going to avoid you.

What I would do is step back, chill out, and give him a little space. If he says he loves you, believe him. If he says he’s sick, or tired, or doesn’t feel like talking, don’t take it personally. That’s him managing his symptoms, not a statement about you or the relationship.

Being in a PTSD relationship is hard. You have to learn to self soothe if you want it to work. There will be times he can’t comfort you when your insecure. You have to be OK with that if you want it to work. It’s not for everybody, and that’s OK too.
Thank You for your response. I found myself trying to pressure him to tell me what is happening and he ignores the question or stops talking and then text me normally the following day like nothing has happened. I pressured him again into telling me what's goin on, he assured me we are fine and then went off on me and saying all he wants is his PEACE. Then told me I'm a beautiful person and he's sorry to say this but he can't give me the love I'm wanting right now. After that a couple days later he called me like everything was fine and told me we never broke up. I've noticed a lot of emotional ups and downs. I'm a very logical person and stable emotionally, so initially I just want my partner to come clean and tell me what's goin on with me so I can be of help. But, what im realizing now from reading on this forum and from your response is I need to stop and calm down. I need to no not further agitate him. I understand what I'm doing is selfish, it just doesn't feel good to be avoided by your partner.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
In your mind the relationship is a priority. In his, he’s just trying to get by.

We use a few analogies to explain this to newer supporters. Imagine he’s out in the middle of a river swimming against the current in rapids. His head is barely above water and he’s furiously trying not to drown. You are in the shallows by the shore, dog paddling in the knee deep water. You are hollering at him to pay attention to you and come swim with you. Aren’t you important to him? Why isn’t he listening to you? Meanwhile he’s just trying not to drown.

Another analogy… you’re sick as a dog with a stomach bug. You’re in the bathroom retching your guts up and he’s banging on the door wanting to know what you’re doing. Why won’t you come out and eat dinner with him? You must not love him etc. Meanwhile you’re just trying to get through the night

Am I saying he is going to ignore your needs all the time? Not necessarily. If he does, he’s not healthy enough for a relationship. What I am saying is that when he is symptomatic he is just trying to get by. He’s not going to be worrying about making the relationship a priority.
 

EmilyHazel

New Here
In your mind the relationship is a priority. In his, he’s just trying to get by.

We use a few analogies to explain this to newer supporters. Imagine he’s out in the middle of a river swimming against the current in rapids. His head is barely above water and he’s furiously trying not to drown. You are in the shallows by the shore, dog paddling in the knee deep water. You are hollering at him to pay attention to you and come swim with you. Aren’t you important to him? Why isn’t he listening to you? Meanwhile he’s just trying not to drown.

Another analogy… you’re sick as a dog with a stomach bug. You’re in the bathroom retching your guts up and he’s banging on the door wanting to know what you’re doing. Why won’t you come out and eat dinner with him? You must not love him etc. Meanwhile you’re just trying to get through the night

Am I saying he is going to ignore your needs all the time? Not necessarily. If he does, he’s not healthy enough for a relationship. What I am saying is that when he is symptomatic he is just trying to get by. He’s not going to be worrying about making the relationship a priority.
This is a very helpful perspective to remind me to always recognize what my partner is working through, and that he won't always be able to reciprocate all that I need. I am 7 years into a relationship and still have times that I get caught up in how something trivial my partner said/did has made me feel, without remembering that they are trying not to drown in all their past trauma that's nearly suffocating him. Thank you.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
I am 7 years into a relationship and still have times that I get caught up in how something trivial my partner said/did has made me feel,

That brings up a good point too… It’s not always trivial either. Just because they have PTSD doesn’t mean they get a free pass to hurt your feelings. Sometimes that stuff hurts and it’s valid hurt.

It’s a learning curve. Not sweating the the small stuff is different than codependency or being a doormat. I have to watch that myself.
 

EmilyHazel

New Here
That brings up a good point too… It’s not always trivial either. Just because they have PTSD doesn’t mean they get a free pass to hurt your feelings. Sometimes that stuff hurts and it’s valid hurt.

It’s a learning curve. Not sweating the the small stuff is different than codependency or being a doormat. I have to watch that myself.
I agree that there's not a free pass. Sometimes I take a step back to consider if I need to address something that was said. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.
 

Friday

Moderator
Sometimes I take a step back to consider if I need to address something that was said. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no
Choosing your battles.

One of the best tricks I know for life, full stop.

Even if it’s especially true with toddlers, teenagers, close quarters, & the people we love best.

One of the upsides with loving someone with PTSD is that it’s far less about which battles to choose, and far more about when I choose to fight them.
 
Last edited:

EmilyHazel

New Here
Choosing your battles.

One of the best tricks I know for life, full stop.

Even if it’s especially true with toddlers, teenagers, close quarters, & the people we love best.

One of the upsides with loving someone with PTSD is that it’s far less about which battles to choose, and far more about when I choose to fight them.
That's great advise to keep in mind!
 
Top