themighty logo

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.