7 Pieces of Advice for Partners of People With PTSD

Having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the mix of a relationship has the potential to make things complicated. It can cause misunderstanding and misinterpreting of situations. Here are some tips on how to make it work from someone who has it.

1. Communication is key.

No relationship can work without communication, but it is especially important when someone is dealing with PTSD. Make sure each of you feel comfortable enough to talk openly and freely to each other.

2. Know their triggers.

Go out of your way to ask your partner what triggers their PTSD. Knowing will help you steer clear of accidentally triggering them, as well as let you understand them on a deeper level. It might be a difficult conversation for both of you, but it will benefit the relationship in the long run.

3. Don’t make the subject of PTSD a taboo.

Nothing is more invalidating than tiptoeing around a subject that just cannot be avoided. Don’t be afraid to talk or ask questions about PTSD. Making it a well-known conversation topic will take away the awkwardness and any misunderstanding.

4. Respect your partner’s privacy.

On the other hand, if your partner is not comfortable with talking about PTSD, respect their wishes. They will open up when they are ready.

5. Don’t blame or judge your partner.

Please, don’t blame or judge your partner for their traumatic experiences, triggers and reactions they have. They cannot help what happened to them.

6. Respect your partner when they want alone time.

Sometimes we just need some time to ourselves when we are experiencing intense emotions. I know it can be difficult to not stay by your partner’s side to help them through it, but giving them space when they ask for it is the best help you can give.

7. There will be mood swings.

Especially during times of trauma-processing or being triggered. Just remind yourself these have nothing to do with the relationship. It’s just part of the path to recovery.

Once you understand PTSD and your partner’s experiences with it, you can limit those moments of misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Things will become a lot less complicated!


Image via Thinkstock.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

woman sitting on a swing

When PTSD Turns Positive Emotions Sour

I am in my stage of PTSD recovery where my brain is processing all of my traumas. Emotionally, I am going from feeling intense periods of distress to being able to handle my emotions well. I have been experiencing more positive emotions lately. I know you’re thinking feeling more positive emotions must be a great thing, but it’s complicated. [...]
A woman with a long hair crying in the dark

We Can't Undermine the Effects of Racial Trauma

“Stop playing the race card. You are just another racist!” replied the commentator to an article that was written about me in reference to my involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement in my local newspaper. Me? A racist? We gain nothing by pretending racism doesn’t exist. We must talk openly about police brutality and [...]
Woman leaning on a tree

The Exhaustion of Being Triggered

Living with mental illness can be exhausting. Like, holy crap why do I always feel so tired and exhausted? Sometimes, I fight against my brain and berate myself for being exhausted because honestly it is a fair assumption I am not out setting world records in the 200 millimeter butterfly. Once I am done being [...]
Woman in car takes a close-up picture

The Secret Battle of a Person With PTSD

If you look at me, I look like an average 27-year-old. I’m engaged. I do things you would expect. If you look at me closely, you will see me fidget, my eyes flicker and my skin sweat. I look nervous. If you could look through my eyes, you would see I don’t feel like an [...]