Dating someone with CPTSD? If so, you will want some tips to help your relationship thrive. In another post, I discussed Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) as it pertains to men. In a more general sense, it is important to recognize that anyone struggling with CPTSD will have issues when it comes to relationships. If someone you’re dating falls into this category, it really helps to know more about the condition and its fallout.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) results from experiencing or witnessing a horrific event. CPTSD differs in that it is caused by chronic, ongoing trauma — most commonly during childhood. With that in mind, this post will focus on the unique and challenging scenario of dating someone with CPTSD.
5 Things to Keep in Mind When Dating Someone with CPTSD
1. Try Your Best to Not Take Things Personally
People with CPTSD can come across as distant and detached. Being open and vulnerable feels dangerous. They use emotional disconnection as a coping mechanism. If you try to push past this defensive maneuver, they may shut down.
As a result, you may feel unheard and invalidated. This is where the hard part comes in. Their behavior is not related to anything in particular about you. You don’t have to take it personally. Yes, of course, this is easier said than done. However, it remains crucial to sustaining your relationship while they heal.
2. Understand the Role of Attachment
Imagine a child who experiences abuse or neglect or domestic violence — often at the hands of someone they know and love. Now, imagine them as an adult. It should be no surprise that they fear attachment. The painful lesson they learned early on is that attachments are unsafe.
This can be addressed, treated, and managed. But, in the meantime, it can be essential for you to understand your partner’s motivation for appearing afraid of commitment.
3. They Will Not Trust Easily
After reading the first two items, this one should feel obvious. Relationships are built on trust. One of you has been betrayed. Being expected to trust deeply can be triggering for them. Again, it’s hard not to take this personally but it’s almost certainly not about you.
4. Understand the Role of Self-Regulation
Does your partner seem to “overreact” often? Do you find yourself seeing their responses as disproportionate to the situation? If so, this is common with survivors of CPTSD. They have a very hard time regulating their reactions and emotions. This can range from total dissociation to sudden fits of acting out. They need help. From you, they need patience and understanding.
5. There Are Some Steps You Can Take
While your partner works with a therapist and does there work they need to do, you can do work, too. This may include:
- Setting and Respecting Boundaries: They are not the only ones with needs. You have every right to set and enforce your own boundaries.
- Talk About Intimacy and Sex: These are challenging areas for someone with CPTSD. Don’t let them go undiscussed and be allowed to simmer. This is especially important when it comes to consent.
- Be Reliable: Consistency is always an attractive quality. When dating someone with C-PTSD, having predictable patterns and habits is a powerful way to ease their mind (and yours).
- Safeguard Your Mental and Physical Well-Being: Practice daily self-care. Maintain regular sleep patterns. Engage in daily physical activity and exercise. Develop some relaxation techniques. Make healthy eating choices.
Therapy is Available For You, Too
The person you are dating — the one with CPTSD — needs professional help. In addition, as you navigate a difficult situation you can also benefit greatly from such guidance. I. would love to assist you and invite you to start that process; please read more about trauma therapy. Then, let’s connect soon for a free and confidential consultation.