Relationship Question for Supporters in LTR....

For those of you in long term relationships with PTSD sufferers how did you manage the push and pull? How many times did you take a break or step back in order to give your partner space and quiet to heal?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
No breaks here. If he bailed for a long period of time I’d consider the relationship over and move on with my life... and we’ve been together for close to a decade. I can do *brief* periods of isolation when he needs them, but he needs to be a part of the relationship if he wants to be in a relationship with me.

I love him madly, and he’s my favorite person I didn’t birth, but I won’t make myself miserable just to keep him around for part of the time. I’d grieve and move on.
 

Friday

Moderator
I’ve been in a couple longish term (2+ years living together), & quite a few seasonal (6mo or less living together), with other people with PTSD. I was married for 11 years, but PTSD wasn’t their brand of crazy. Aside from that I’ve dated IDFK how many blokes with PTSD. Mostly just looking at the LTR to follow...

how did you manage the push and pull?
They all looked different.

The one constant in those relationships was me... and that’s really the only thing that looked the same.

For example, if “push” = being an asshole, cheating on me, dropping off the planet* for weeks/months with no warning, or in any other way crossing my boundaries? We’re done. Finis. Full stop. People who push THAT way? (As defined by : Anything I don’t f*cking tolerate.) Didn’t make it out the gate. At best they were flings. They never even made it close to LTR territory.

Similarly, people who “pull” by picking fights? (With me?) That’s how they chose to raise the intensity & focused attention level? Also didn’t usually last long. I’ll go toe to toe with anyone I rate spending my time on, but I only find that fun with a very few very rare individuals. I have virtually no tolerance for squabbling & petty bullshit; and the ways *I* like to raise the intensity level are in the bedroom, adventuring, or pouring energy into a mutually desired goals... not by fighting amongst ourselves. <<< Ditto bullshit emotional games. I don’t play. Not those games. Not ever. Not even with my enemies, by preference, although I can. Not ever, full stop, with someone I either owe -or once owed- my allegiance to. I’ll probably never understand people who suddenly view their exes as fair game. f*ck that noise. With a sandpaper condom.

So the only constant in the PTSD-Tango? Is where I drew my own hard limits.

My soft limits, on the other hand, are a wide and varied country!
🤣

Which means I can, and have, dated a really wide variety of needs/wants/desires in the way of isolation & intensity. As long as they didn’t stray too far out of that zone, and start nearing my hard limits? No problem, or few problems, easily sorted. <<< I’m including the seasonal-blokes in this list, also, as the reasons we broke up had nothing to do with our own personal intersection of push/pull, intense/isolate.

So I’m a pretty simple creature : How do I manage the push/pull? By being honest. This is what I need. This is what I want. But where that known quantity (for me) intersects with the men I’ve dated? <low whistle> In a huge variety of amazing and wonderful ways. Differently with everyone I’ve dated. Because they’re different.

That doesn’t mean I always know in advance what I’m cool with / kosher with, or exactly where my limits or desires lay. It does mean I say that, when that’s what I know. And we play it by ear. <<< That also means I’ve been played a couple times, by people for whom lies/manipulation is their bailiwick, it gives them the keys to the castle. But for the most part? My judge of character does me solid, and I’ve dated damn fine men who don’t do that.

How many times did you take a break or step back in order to give your partner space and quiet to heal?
Meaning break up? Once. At most. I don’t do the break up and get back together thing. Either we’re together, or we’re not.

How many times did you take a break or step back in order to give your partner space and quiet to heal?
If by step back... you mean send them off to go clear their head -or wave g’bye- for a couple weeks, an afternoon, the autumn, whatever? Depended on the person. For some that’s a daily thing. Others? Weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually. For most there’s a kind of combo. Almost everyone has their own unique sort of pattern that keeps them vital. Learning those patterns, and if that works in my own life, is just one of the many pieces in play when I’m dating someone.

The only difference between the long term & seasons was how easy/practiced we were at it. There’s discussion in the early days of a relationship -and waiting to see if the person means what they say, and says what they mean, or are playing bait&switch- that’s simply not necessary after a couple years, unless something is different about this time.

Shorter relationships we’d probably only done the isolating thing a few times, aside from daily stuff; longer relationships we had yearly/ seasonally/ monthly/ weekly/ daily patterns fairly well down.
 

Freida

Sponsor
I'm an isolator and a runner
Always have been

And I had no idea that was an issue for my supporters until I came here and learned that it bothers them. That was interesting to find out because it had never dawned on me. Because it's what I've always done so I just expected people to accept it.

Hubby and I have been together 27 years. We've survived because he learned quickly that when I get stressed I bail. Doesn't mean it's right. Just means it's what I do.
I only learned about ptsd about 6 years ago - and finally things started to make sense.
And yep - it made the push/pull a lot worse because now I knew what I was running from and PTSD therapy is a nightmare.

So we set some ground rules.
for me....
I can take off when I need to
I have to text him at least once a day to tell him I'm ok
I have to tell him where I'm at. Not necessarily exactly well (like name of hotel) but name of the city/state/whatnot
I have to tell him how long I think I will be gone. This one is tough because I don't always know. It's really to remind me that I have a home to come back to.

For him
He doesn't get to ask any questions about why I took off
He doesn't get to give me a bunch of blah blah about being upset I'm gone or that I don't love him or any of that crap
He doesn't get to guilt me for going
He will continue on with his life while I'm gone (so I don't have to worry about him)

for us
When I get home we will review how it went.

These days it works pretty well - but much of that comes from what I've learned from the LTS here on this site. @Sweetpea76 and @LuckiLee and the others here were amazing at helping me see the damage I was doing to those around me. They gave me insight into a world I had no idea existed - that of the supporters.

I'm better now at isolating at home rather than having to get into my car and take off, but that is because hubby and my other supporters allow it. I may not come out of the bedroom for days, but I don't have to run from them because they know I'm here, I'm safe, and, most importantly, they know that they can't help me. So they leave me alone

And on the bad times that come every year? Now we plan for them. We call them my "runaways," the times when I have to go someplace where I can be alone. Then, when I'm better, I come home.

Until the next time.
Rinse and repeat
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I never used to think it was a bad thing to leave; on the contrary it seemed like the better choice for others, even maybe more so than for myself? But I can't say it involved thoughts of returning. But isolating is a little different, or like trying to find stable ground on a very caving surface. Just trying to manage. But, you know, if it's a relationship people have to show up for each other. So there's understanding, or trying to communicate, lots of forgiveness, some difficulties, and learning like @Freida said, something that uniquely works for both people. Lots and LOTS of trust, I feel.

I think more pressure, lack of consistency or lack of safety, doesn't feel very good. But just as equally, there is onus on the person with ptsd to show up too, and take the other person's feelings in to consideration. It's not a free pass to cause someone else pain or grief.
 
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I should also add that there are other factors at play in the last six months. An actual admittance and diagnosis of PTSD a dying mother and a child with undiagnosed mental health issues. His plate is full. Add a girlfriend that’s got a million questions and wants you time and attention.
I understand the need for quiet and healing.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
I should also add that there are other factors at play in the last six months.

In this instance, I’d challenge you to think differently. Instead of considering it a push/pull situation, consider it an adjustment because he’s symptomatic. He can’t focus on you and the relationship if he has to focus on something like being admitted to a treatment facility. This is one of those paddling upstream situations.

I know it’s easy to get caught up because from your perspective the relationship is high priority. His priority is survival, so the relationship is lower down on the list right now. When looking at it this way, it seems less about him pushing you away, and more about him putting his energy into getting his footing.

At this point in time it is up to you to decide how long you can realistically handle things the way they are, and what you need in a relationship in order to be happy. This may be the new normal for awhile.
 
In this instance, I’d challenge you to think differently. Instead of considering it a push/pull situation, consider it an adjustment because he’s symptomatic. He can’t focus on you and the relationship if he has to focus on something like being admitted to a treatment facility. This is one of those paddling upstream situations.

I know it’s easy to get caught up because from your perspective the relationship is high priority. His priority is survival, so the relationship is lower down on the list right now. When looking at it this way, it seems less about him pushing you away, and more about him putting his energy into getting his footing.

At this point in time it is up to you to decide how long you can realistically handle things the way they are, and what you need in a relationship in order to be happy. This may be the new normal for awhile.
I agree with it being more so about him gathering his bearings. He’s symptomatic and has made many references to having a full plate and needing time and quiet to heal. When I suggested we take a break so he can focus on his family and healing he got very angry with me. I wasn’t sure if he understood what I meant about taking some time so I pushed him to talk to me about it. He refused, putting me off for several days and when I pushed to clarify the matter he lost his mind and has refused to talk rationally since. I love this man and regardless of whether we end up together I care deeply.
My daughter said something to me that struck a chord, “What is grief, if not love, preserving.” That’s how I feel.
 
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