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4 Things to Keep in Mind When You're Dating Someone With PTSD

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Dating someone with post-traumatic stress disorder can be a struggle to say the least, but there are a few tips and tricks that can be used that will help ease a little bit of the bumps in the road. By no means is this the end-all-be-all, just a few things that I’ve learned in the process of trying to get back into dating.

• What is PTSD?

1. Take it slow and have patience. Having PTSD means having a bit of a high fight/flight reflex. Taking it slow can ease some of that inherent fear. It means being patient, and understanding that you shouldn’t take things personally when your significant other has reactions that are different than what you expected.

2. Build trust. Most assault survivors with PTSD have trust issues inherently. They were violated in a way that is difficult to recover from, and it may take longer for them to trust. Help them build trust, and again, be patient.

3. Believe them. If and when they trust enough to talk about their assault, and what has come after it, believe them. Be supportive, and don’t be judgmental. There is a stigma attached to having been sexually assaulted that makes it difficult for survivors/victims to speak up about it; that being said, when they do… listen.

4. Learn triggers. Instead of trying to fix things for your significant other, learn what their triggers are. Ask questions about how you should respond, or how to minimize accidentally setting those triggers off. It might be something as simple as avoiding a specific perfume/cologne, or something as complicated as needing to make sure you’re extra careful in crowded places.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, or in any particular order, but it is just a few things to keep in mind when dating someone who has assault-associated PTSD.

If you or a loved one are affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-0656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Originally published: September 29, 2016
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