General Supporter Question

Livinginhope

Confident
I would really value some input from those of you with more experience than me. Brief recap if you didn’t see my post in this thread a few months ago: I met a great guy at the end of last year who has been a paramedic for twenty years and was in the air force before that. He was diagnosed with PTSD about ten years ago and is having treatment. We really hit it off and became close quickly and then, as seems quite common, he abruptly pulled away and said he needed to clear out and deal with bits and bobs before he could truly let anyone in. He stopped taking my calls or answering my messages but he didn’t block me.

So, I read a lot on PTSD; I read some books he’d talked about; and I found this forum. I took a step back, tried to absorb what I had learnt and told him that I respected that he knew what he needed. I said I would be happy to reconnect if he wanted to, and that I’d message from time to time to say hi.

I did what I promised, sending him funny things every few weeks, never asking anything from him. After a month or so, he sometimes started to respond. It slowly increased month by month, although he still didn’t respond to everything. But I was over the moon.

Then Coronavirus arrived and obviously everyone’s world got thrown upside down. For him, as a paramedic, it must have been unbearable at times.

I kept messaging every few weeks, sending things I hoped would make him smile and telling him to look after himself. Mostly I got short responses or a few kisses back.

Then about five weeks ago, he sent me a much longer response telling me that when this is all over we’ll appreciate what we have in our lives and that my messages were keeping him going. A few days later he messaged saying again that he wanted me to know how much he appreciated my messages and asking if we could maybe meet up again after lockdown ends. Obviously I said yes!

For a few weeks he responded often, asking for a new photo of me, sending me photos of his house and a letter of thanks he’d received.

Then, suddenly again, he stopped responding. It’s been almost three weeks now. I’m still sending messages (about one a week) but getting nothing back.

So I guess I’m asking ‘What is he thinking?’ I’m going to stick around but it is hard to be caught in this push-pull. I’ve read so much about the stress cup now that I suspect it’s overflowing, and I know I shouldn’t take it personally.

Most days, I can deal with it. But some days it just really sucks!! And I know that everyone here will understand that. I just hope he’s coming back....
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
@Livinginhope I moved this question over into its own thread so you can get more of the responses you’re looking for.

It’s hard to say what he is thinking... if he isolates when stressed, he could be particularly stressed again. If he hasn’t asked you to stop contacting him, I would assume this has less to do with you and more to do with his mental state.

Try backing up a step and thinking of it in terms of him just needing some space to feel better instead of “not wanting to talk to you” or a “push/pull”. Don’t take it personally. Isolation is a coping method that sufferers need to work through on their own, and it really has zero to do with others.

Just be warned that if this is how he copes with stress he’s going to do this A LOT. You have to decide if you want to continue on with a relationship if this is how it’s going to be.
 
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Livinginhope

Confident
@Livinginhope I moved this question over into its own thread so you can get more of the responses you’re looking for.

It’s hard to say what he is thinking... if he isolates when stressed, he could be particularly stressed again. If he hasn’t asked you to stop contacting him, I would assume this has less to do with you and more to do with his mental state.

Try backing up a step and thinking of it in terms of him just needing some space to feel better instead of “not wanting to talk to you” or a “push/pull”. Don’t take it personally. Isolation is a coping method that sufferers need to work through on their own, and it really has zero to do with others.

Just be warned that if this is how he copes with stress he’s going to do this A LOT. You have to decide if you want to continue on with a relationship if this is how it’s going to be.

Thank you for your response. Sadly, I think he is definitely an isolator. I've thought about it a lot, and how it will impact me moving forward (if we do). This is so tough, isn't it? And just the tip of our particular iceberg I'm sure!! I really appreciate your thoughts. I've spent hours and hours here and have learnt so much from everyone. Most days, I get on with my life and try not to let it affect me too much - yesterday though was a particularly tough day ?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Isolation is tough.... it’s not how somebody typically acts if they’re interested in being together, so to outsiders it’s confusing as all git out. Is he ghosting? Did he lose interest? Is there somebody else? Is he dead in a ditch somewhere? All kind of thoughts will run through your mind.

And just because somebody has PTSD doesn’t necessarily mean they’re just isolating either. Lack of communication happens for 100 other reasons that have nothing to do with PTSD. So cue more confusion.

Sometimes you just have to listen to what they say and watch for patterns of behavior. He’s not being hostile. He didn’t ask you to stop contacting him, he didn’t say he didn’t want to see you again. I’d say it’s reasonable that he’s at least interested in maintaining a friendship.

Times are crazy right now, and as a first responder during a pandemic and civil unrest, I’d venture to guess he’s more than a little tweaked currently. Give him a little time and see if he comes around.

You’ll have to decide if you’re willing to wait and for how long. It’s OK to say all this is for the birds though. My partner is an isolator too, and I’ve been with him for years. I can respect his need for space when he needs it, and his short isolation periods don’t bother me. However if he’d bugger off with no communication for an extended period of time I would consider him gone and move on with my life. That’s not the kind of relationship I need. The relationship has to be healthy for everybody if it’s going to work long-term.
 
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Livinginhope

Confident
Isolation is tough.... it’s not how somebody typically acts if they’re interested in being together, so to outsiders it’s confusing as all git out. Is he ghosting? Did he lose interest? Is there somebody else? Is he dead in a ditch somewhere? All kind of thoughts will run through your mind.

And just because somebody has PTSD doesn’t necessarily mean they’re just isolating either. Lack of communication happens for 100 other reasons that have nothing to do with PTSD. So cue more confusion.

Sometimes you just have to listen to what they say and watch for patterns of behavior. He’s not being hostile. He didn’t ask you to stop contacting him, he didn’t say he didn’t want to see you again. I’d say it’s reasonable that he’s at least interested in maintaining a friendship.

Times are crazy right now, and as a first responder during a pandemic and civil unrest, is venture to guess he’s more than a little tweaked currently. Give him a little time and see if he comes around.

You’ll have to decide if you’re willing to wait and for how long. It’s OK to say all this is for the birds though. My partner is an isolator too, and I’ve been with him for years. I can respect his need for space when he needs it, and his short isolation periods don’t bother me. However if he’d bugger off with no communication for an extended period of time I would consider him gone and move on with my life. That’s not the kind of relationship I need. The relationship has to be healthy for everybody if it’s going to work long-term.

It helps so much to get insight from those who have first hand experience. Thank you. Yes he is obviously under huge pressure at the moment and I'm willing and able to give him space.

Long term, I could deal with isolation if a) the non-symptomatic times were healthy and good for us both, and b) I knew he was not dead in a ditch and intended to return at some point. I have a full life (in non-Corona times!) and really don't want to live in someone else's pocket, so I think we might be able to make it work.

But until we can get closer and until he feels ready to talk more about how this might look for us, I'll just carry on as I have been...thankfully I still have plenty of work, lots of friends and family and numerous cups of tea to keep me going!! ? Thank you again.
 

Catm

New Here
I am 72 years old and this is my third marriage. I was married to my current husband at 38. While he was in the Marines, life was great. After he retired life turned into a living hell from his verbal explosions. I got him on therapy and meds. We are both still in therapy and on meds. Unless your man was in therapy, maybe a support group and on meds, I would say not to go there unless he seeks help. Then take it verrrrry slowly, not moving in together and keep your own life and friends. As much as I love him, it has not been easy.If he is not willing to chase you a little, you will end up carrying everything and that gets old pretty fast. I don’t know how old you are or if you have aspirations for yourself or spending more time with your close women friends. One of my exes was a psychiatrist who said an oft quoted saying among mental health professionals, a family is a unit run by its sickest member. Ask yourself what you truly want your life to be. I have learned the hard way that not everyone can fit into what we want no matter how hard we try to mold them. I wish you all the happiness in whatever you decide to do.
 

Livinginhope

Confident
I am 72 years old and this is my third marriage. I was married to my current husband at 38. While he was in the Marines, life was great. After he retired life turned into a living hell from his verbal explosions. I got him on therapy and meds. We are both still in therapy and on meds. Unless your man was in therapy, maybe a support group and on meds, I would say not to go there unless he seeks help. Then take it verrrrry slowly, not moving in together and keep your own life and friends. As much as I love him, it has not been easy.If he is not willing to chase you a little, you will end up carrying everything and that gets old pretty fast. I don’t know how old you are or if you have aspirations for yourself or spending more time with your close women friends. One of my exes was a psychiatrist who said an oft quoted saying among mental health professionals, a family is a unit run by its sickest member. Ask yourself what you truly want your life to be. I have learned the hard way that not everyone can fit into what we want no matter how hard we try to mold them. I wish you all the happiness in whatever you decide to do.
@Catm Thank you for your reply and welcome to the forum. I've learnt (and am still learning) so much here from supporters like yourself (and from sufferers too). Things have moved on a lot since this post, but we're currently stuck again in a misunderstanding, and his withdrawal. It's a very difficult thing to live with, isn't it!

I am taking it slowly. Very. Lockdown has been my friend in that respect. I honestly don't know if I'm able to stick around for ever, but I know that I want to give it my best shot at the moment. I have great friends, a wonderful child and interesting work. I also have a really good therapist. So, I feel well supported and stimulated by my life away from him.

I know this will be tough. I know too (from the great people here) that I have to keep busy and fulfilled, which once COVID has finally gone will be a lot easier to keep regulated.

I know too, this will be my life with him if I stick around. He is in therapy, and very willing to seek help generally. He is actively attempting to help himself. So all that is great.

Time will tell, I suppose. Thank you for your insights. It's always good to hear from others. I hope you've found some peace and happiness x
 
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