General Ptsd boyfriend constantly breaks up with me - is something else going on?

RavenK

New Here
I’ve been friends with and dated a retired marine; Honorably discharges due to a head wound, for about a year on and off and in that time he’s either decided to cut me off or break up with me a handful of times. And alway comes back. He told me when we first met he had ptsd and I understood that because I suffer with depression and anxiety myself.

So I never shut him out because he was mentally ill. I knew the basics about ptsd. The anxiety, the flashbacks, and that they push people away due to the disorder, but he pushes me away or gets upset with me if I say or do something that makes me feel like I don’t want to be bothered with him or like he’s not the focus of my attention.

Say if I don’t answer his many phone calls. Or if I don’t call him on my lunch break from work, which I regularly do if he’s awake. It’s like a switch was flipped and he goes from this grown man to this needy toddler with separation anxiety. Which isn’t the problem in itself. It’s that he lies about the real issue. Instead of admitting that he feels neglected, he fabricates another reason to be upset with me and lash out at me to make me feel hurt because I hurt him. He immediately goes into this manner of thinking that just because I did one thing that upsets, everything else is bad too. Like he just focuses on this one specific event that hurt him, even though we’ve had plenty of happy times together. It’s like the relationship just has to be the way he pictures it or it’s no good.

So we break up, I’m hurting and he’s just cold as ice to me.

But he’s calling me afterwards like nothing happens. Like if you just broke up with me, I’m upset. I don’t want to talk to you. I try to talk to him anyway because I know it won’t last and I know it’s not him, it’s his disorder. But even after the break up, he’s still telling me things to deliberately hurt me. As if he’s trying to get back at me for hurting him, which I never intentionally try to do.

If I ignore his calls, he eventually comes running back to me like some child that’s been spectated from their mother too long, and wants to be especially affectionate with me. It’s like two sides of him. I’ve recently read that PTSD sometimes be comorbid with NPD or BPD and I wonder could be suffering from one these and what I’m seeing and dealing with is the subtle manipulation they use to keep you around?? I’ll admit, he comes off as very narcissistic. When it comes to him protecting his feelings, he couldn’t care less about anyone else’s. But when he has this episodes, they seem to always stem from him feeling neglected or he’s not getting the attention he wants.

Can anyone share experiences with either a narcissistic or bpd pwPTSD? And what would be the best way to encourage him to get some help without making him think somethings wrong with him?
 
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Sweetpea76

Moderator
Honestly, I wouldn’t go looking for zebras when you have a horse right in front of you.

Those behaviors, unfortunately, can be plain ole PTSD. Well, not necessarily “PTSD”, rather how he’s reacting to his PTSD.

Welcome to being a supporter… you’ll spend a great deal of time in WTF-land. It can be overwhelming when your partner is symptomatic, and there can be some times when you’re not sure if he’s lost it or if *you’ve* lost it.

It takes a while to figure out his own particular brand of PTSD. What he’s like when he’s symptomatic, *is* he symptomatic or just being an ass, what causes him to be symptomatic, how he responds to stressors, how he responds to triggers. It’s a learning process. I’m still learning after almost a decade.

Lashing out, black and white thinking, and the push/pull dynamic are very, very, VERY common reasons supporters come here. You are not alone. Honestly, I’d stop worrying about comorbid disorders too.
 

PandaPower

Learning
I'm sorry you're going through this.
To be honest, you could have been talking about me.
It's weird, but at least in my case, in a weird way it's a sign of progress? In that, it shows that I've moved from absolutely 0 trust for anyone (1 mistake and you're out type thinking) to some sort of limbo land where i have the "must keep self safe" kind of push back response, and then after that I have developed enough connection with my feelings to realise that I do value and want this person around and care for them, and attempt to fix things by talking about them . But unfortunately because my staying in relationships and talking about things muscles are not really developed I don't often know how to do this, and sometimes I don't know what I don't know. For eg, it took me several years of trying to hurt people as a way of making them realise that I'm hurting (a very misguided cry for help) to get to a place where I've realised what I'm doing and how damaging it is to the dynamic and the other person.
At the same time, I don't believe that if I express myself it will be safe, so it's a bit of a catch 22 and it can appear to be no way out and that leads to the push pull behavior.
Whether you choose to stay and work with this is your choice, my ex did not, and although I have angry feelings towards him for other reasons, I understand and respect his choice to walk away . What would have helped me is knowing upfront that this behavior is hurtful and boundaries being set, for eg ending conversations if he says hurtful things (don't give extra space or tolerate behavior you won't from others because of the diagnosis). And also modelling of healthy communication, for eg saying that it's okay to be upset about things even if they seem petty and you're around to work through issues no matter how small they seem. Maybe he's also sitting on angry feelings for too long, and they become muddled up, so encouraging more frequent communication can also help. these things need to be said repeatedly over time for progress so also check in with yourself to see how much patience you have for the dynamic.
Also, is he not in therapy? I don't know what you could say that might get him to consider therapy, it's usually such a personal motivation and decision. But it makes it much harder to have a healthy relationship if he's not seeking help.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
ya..... ptsd sucks. Like @Friday said -it's a selfish disease. It makes us unreliable, unreasonable, sometimes just general pains in the ass.

Then add in a head injury? Double whammy

But.
Ptsd (or any other disorder) does NOT give us a pass to be asshats, or cruel, or dismissive or just generally nasty people. Can we be forgiven for the occasional lapse? Sure - if we are doing something to change ourselves and get sucked into a deep hole that makes us lash out. Mostly because therapy sucks LOL.

Am I always easy to live with? Nope.
And that's when my supporters send me to my room. Ya, just like a cranky two year old.
Because while they understand why I'm doing it, they also understand that they don't have to put up with it.

That's something that I learned from the supporters here. I don't get to be mean just because i have ptsd because it is unfair those who love me.

If your guy isn't doing anything to change his behavior, doesn't see a reason to change, doesn't want to admit things are bad? You can't change him. All you can do is ask yourself if you are ok with the way this relationship is going - because chances are high that it's not going to get any better.

Which really sucks. But -- that's sometimes the reality of ptsd. 😢
 
I

Iamnotarobot

I’ve been friends with and dated a retired marine; Honorably discharges due to a head wound, for about a year on and off and in that time he’s either decided to cut me off or break up with me a handful of times. And alway comes back. He told me when we first met he had ptsd and I understood that because I suffer with depression and anxiety myself.

So I never shut him out because he was mentally ill. I knew the basics about ptsd. The anxiety, the flashbacks, and that they push people away due to the disorder, but he pushes me away or gets upset with me if I say or do something that makes me feel like I don’t want to be bothered with him or like he’s not the focus of my attention.

Say if I don’t answer his many phone calls. Or if I don’t call him on my lunch break from work, which I regularly do if he’s awake. It’s like a switch was flipped and he goes from this grown man to this needy toddler with separation anxiety. Which isn’t the problem in itself. It’s that he lies about the real issue. Instead of admitting that he feels neglected, he fabricates another reason to be upset with me and lash out at me to make me feel hurt because I hurt him. He immediately goes into this manner of thinking that just because I did one thing that upsets, everything else is bad too. Like he just focuses on this one specific event that hurt him, even though we’ve had plenty of happy times together. It’s like the relationship just has to be the way he pictures it or it’s no good.

So we break up, I’m hurting and he’s just cold as ice to me.

But he’s calling me afterwards like nothing happens. Like if you just broke up with me, I’m upset. I don’t want to talk to you. I try to talk to him anyway because I know it won’t last and I know it’s not him, it’s his disorder. But even after the break up, he’s still telling me things to deliberately hurt me. As if he’s trying to get back at me for hurting him, which I never intentionally try to do.

If I ignore his calls, he eventually comes running back to me like some child that’s been spectated from their mother too long, and wants to be especially affectionate with me. It’s like two sides of him. I’ve recently read that PTSD sometimes be comorbid with NPD or BPD and I wonder could be suffering from one these and what I’m seeing and dealing with is the subtle manipulation they use to keep you around?? I’ll admit, he comes off as very narcissistic. When it comes to him protecting his feelings, he couldn’t care less about anyone else’s. But when he has this episodes, they seem to always stem from him feeling neglected or he’s not getting the attention he wants.

Can anyone share experiences with either a narcissistic or bpd pwPTSD? And what would be the best way to encourage him to get some help without making him think somethings wrong with him?
I feel like I'm reading my own story. My boyfriend is an ex-Marine. Combat vet. He breaks up with me every month or two, and it's been going on for a few years now. It's heartbreaking. He tends to break up with me when I'm stressed or busy (I work long hours, not by choice, but not something I can easily change, though I'm working on it) or when my attention is off of him (me tending to a sick family member for a couple of days triggered one breakup). I don't have any advice to share in terms of getting him to get help. I've encouraged him to get help for years. I've always been there to listen or hold his hand when he's struggling. I even bought him a PTSD therapy dog. Just know that it isn't personal, and you're not alone. I'm sure you just have a big heart and lots of love to give; otherwise, he wouldn't have chosen you as a partner and friend. I've finally reached the point where I can't take it anymore, and I've accepted that I can't change his mind or behavior.
 
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