Relationship Why this romantic tactile man turned into the Ice Man in the space of a couple of weeks?


Sheila Maclean

Hi there, I think I know what you're going through, here's a bit of a story re a 67 year old PTSD sufferer.

My ex-neighbour and I became close over the course of 3 years. He lived with his partner of 16 years a few minutes walk from my house. The arrangement was not an intimate one and each had their own rooms. We grew close and he told me he had PTSD and the various incidents in his life which had caused it. Nothing was said but both of us were growing closer. He said he wanted to be 'normal' and come off his medication.

Then one day he said he loved me and had never felt like this before, despite his and my age. We had a few 'dates' and he discussed the prospect of getting a place of his own. We talked about holidays and breaks in Scotland, he was prone to getting into verbal arguments with people and one incident followed another.

After about 3 weeks without his medication he was 'not doing well' and his anger level was becoming evident. He started saying mean things to me which he had never done and blamed me for the slightest thing as though it was a massive incident. He was stood down from a volunteering job because of an angry outburst. A week later his partner threw him out because of his anger and arguing. He asked if I could drive him to his own house with some of his stuff. I was secretly glad as he was now 'free' to pursue our relationship, or so I thought.

For three weekends I ferried his books, clothes etc from his partner's house to his own house as he didn't drive. To save a journey he suggested I stay the night - which we had talked endlessly about 'when things were settled'. When his anxiety levels rose I begged him to go back to the doctor and get help, medication and psychologist/psychiatrist help.

Settled back in his own house he seemed to shy away from me. He asked if I had brought a nightie with me. I kinda thought...hmmmm...why would I need a nightie... Any love making I knew might not be straightforward because of his PDSA, we had talked about it and I said I was ok with this, it would take time and I was willing to wait for the right time. The second weekend I stayed, he took his dogs out a late night walk and was gone. I went to bed as it was getting late. After about an hour, say around 11.30pm I heard him come in. He didnt come upstairs straightaway but stayed downstairs for another hour. When he eventually came up to bed he got into bed and turned his back on me and stayed at the very edge of the bed. I asked him what was wrong and he said angrily he didn't want any confrontations. I replied gently saying it was just a question. He said quietly I love you but my anxiety is through the roof and I can't handle it. He eventually went to sleep leaving me confused and heartbroken. After everything we had said to each other, and done, this was how it was.

After that day he cut off all contact with me, two months later I have not heard from him, he is a facebook friend and always responded to any posts I put on, but now there is nothing. No Whatsapp texts (which used to go on all day). My daughter messaged him asking innocently if we had fallen out, he replied saying no, its just that I'm angry all the time and the only way I can handle it is to be on my own.

So the point of all this is, can you understand this kind of situation as someone who also has PTSD. How could someone I was so close to for 3 years and had plans for the future cut me out of his life, physically and mentally, so comprehensively. After my daughter messaged him he replied to me saying he was coming back to see his ex for a few days and would I like him to pop in but if not then that's ok.... I didnt' reply. He ghosted me, I felt utterly betrayed and can't see that I can ever trust him again and for my own emotional health I cannot risk this feeling of being used then dumped. I do not know what he can possibly say to me that will ever mend my broken heart. Can you relate to any of this story? I'd like to know why this romantic tactile man turned into the Ice Man in the space of a couple of weeks.
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Hello. I can relate to several aspects of what you have written. My partner of 8 years is going through something similar right now, where he started making up things and blaming me for things and has pulled away a lot. He told me he needs space and I'm giving it, and he texts me once or twice a week, not a lot, but at least there's that. I've been worried sick about my man and trying to make sense of everything for the past several months. My partner was someone who couldn't go an hour without talking to me before his PTSD relapsed and he always wanted to be near me, and now he barely works up the energy to text me pictures of our cats and 1-3 words a couple times a week and he threw me out of our home because he said I make him feel too much and he can't afford to break down and cry all of the time. It's a huge change and I am struggling with it a lot and just hoping that he gets on medication and can get things under control for himself. A lot of people here have replied to me and helped me make sense of isolation and how he is trying to stay in control of his own emotions and triggers and it isn't really me or anything that I did.

You say you want to know why your romantic, attentive man suddenly turned cold, but he really told you himself and you already know. He has PTSD, he went off of his medication (clearly was not the right move, sadly), and he told you flatout that he loves you, but his anxiety is through the roof and he can't handle anything right now. I also have PTSD and it's really hard to deal with any extra stress while you are triggered. I'm not someone who isolates so heavily with my PTSD, but I do need things to be quiet and calm and I don't want other people to see me struggling or to see me lash out (against myself or them).

PTSD takes a lot of self work to manage, often both medications and therapy and understanding what is happening within you in the first place. If your man went off of his medication, it was sadly a huge step backwards and if he cold turkeyed off of something like an antidepressant, anxiety med or such without consulting his psychiatrist and a therapist, that can cause a lot of serious health complications and mood swings.
It sounds like he’s just symptomatic and you’ve probably never experienced it at this level of intimacy before. It’s always a shock the first time. People think they know what PTSD looks like, but it’s not what you’d think.

He had a med change, broke up with a long term partner, and moved houses. Sounds like enough to set him off. Isolation is a coping mechanism.

He told your daughter that you didn’t fall out, he just needed to be alone because he’s angry. Take him at his word and don’t take it personally.
with the yaddahs of my own ptsd blahs, i often have nary a clue what is bubbling in my own psycho cauldron, not even in the past tense. i am very likely to increase my social distance with someone who claims to understand. how can YOU understand something i don't understand myself? at such time, outside expertise sounds especially spurty and confusing to my already befuddled brain.

the good news is that i absolutely adore people who will gently encourage me to take all the time i need to sort it out and assure me that they are there for me, whenever i am ready to close the social distance once more.