I like him a lot, but I don't feel like I have much to give in a relationship. He wants to wait, I have PTSD and I'm not so sure.
December 22, 2012 3:22 PM   Subscribe

I like him a lot, but I have PTSD don't feel like I have much to give in a relationship. He wants to wait, but I'm not so sure.

So I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in early july and I met this great guy little less than two weeks after that. It was a random encounter over the internet. We have been talking almost everyday since, but I don't feel ready to meet him at all. My plan was if we are still talking after a year, then we could meet. that's what I'm comfortable with.

The relationship has gone from fun and carefree to more serious lately. We both admitted to having feelings last month and its clear that this relationship has romantic potential. I like him, we relate to each other well, share values and laugh a lot. He's quite dreamy actually. But hes so much more open about himself and he talks much more about things than I do. I'm distant and it happened before that I made myself unavailable on purpose for a few days (kind of a lame move I know). He picked up on something being off, and he said he wanted to be there for me. I told him I liked him a lot and that I didn't intend to break things off but that I needed space and wanted to try a short break. He had an emotional reaction, I could see he was tearing up a little and that caught me off guard. I understand that caused a lot of uncertainty and came out of nowhere for him. Of course though he respected it and we took little more than a week apart.

He's understanding and he knows about where I am right now. I explained about my disorder when I couldn't go with "fake it till you make it" which was my choice of behavior at first when I though it wouldn't last. Let's be real, long distance we-met-on-the-internet stories don't have the highest odds of success.

Since we never met in person and live in different countries (I'm canadian, he's british) I want to keep things friendly and ease up on the emotion side of things, maybe focus on really getting to know the person more than making thinks fluffy and romantic. He dosen't seem to share those views. Also I don't mind being exclusive to him, but I mind the official label, so we discussed it and came to an understanding. He needs/wants me to open up and, well, I feel a bit smothered. He does caring things like phone on a regular basis, sent a christmas gift (so did I) he sent flowers on my birthday and once "just because". Its a really nice gesture :) He mentioned me to his friends and close family, I did too, but they are very protective of me and disapprove the whole thing. Which dosen't help the relationship at all.

Don't get me wrong though, it's still awesome and I feel really lucky, I've never had a guy pursue me like that before and I think he's great. the thing is, I don't know how to react, I'm extremely ambivalent towards relationships, I take a long time to get to know people, I really don't open up easily. I don't enjoy talking about myself really. I've had issues in relationships for that before; me being too laid-back, bit distant, even not jealous enough I've heard. I like things to be low drama. I may have intimacy issues. I've been through abuse before so I guess that has something to do with it all. I plan on going to therapy over the next months for the whole ptsd thing. We talked about this, he says he wants to wait for me to be ready. But me being ready wont magically mean it will all work out.

Basically I'm glad we're apart, he's not. I feel it's going a bit fast, he feels the opposite. So whats the deal? I worry about his feelings and I want to make it obvious that I do care and want him to feel special. But I already feel like I'm pushing my limits on opening up and being there.
Is this a recipe for disaster or making it up to him until I feel ready is worth a try?
posted by proximacentauri to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You have an illness that you are trying to treat ... and you are in a relationship that is making that treatment really complicated. You started your correspondence with this guy right after your diagnosis, and 6 months later you haven't entered therapy yet but you're talking with this guy every day and his needs are trumping your treatment. Him saying wants to wait until you're ready is going to put pressure on you to "recover" quickly.

You might consider that being "exclusive" to a guy you've never met and don't have any near-term plans to be with IRL might be related to your PTSD and the "intimacy issues" you refer to. He's safe because he's not really there. You make yourself unavailable and he comes after you. This makes you feel good in the moment but it's not so great in the long-term.

He needs/wants me to open up and, well, I feel a bit smothered.

Honor your feelings. You have limited emotional resources right now, you should be spending them on yourself. You deserve it.
posted by headnsouth at 3:39 PM on December 22, 2012 [13 favorites]

Don't overthink it. Be as honest with him about your feelings as you have been here. If it's really meant to be, he'll deal with it. Stay comfortable.
posted by unSane at 3:44 PM on December 22, 2012

In a similar situation, my codependency klaxon would be blaring.

Listen to your gut: your PTSD is not mine, but my basic reaction to people and situations has been one of the most reliable indicators for me of when there's something to be wary of.

If you are currently in therapy or have communication with a professional counsellor you can trust who is aware of your diagnosis, seeking out their opinion couldn't hurt, y'know?
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:48 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have to say that it seems like the two of you want different things. He wants more, you want less, so neither is happy or getting what they want. That doesn't sound like a very good situation to me. And it's my understanding that PTSD is very, very hard on relationships; so maybe you need to take some time off of this thing with him and work on your own issues. I totally understand how wonderful it can feel to be pursued, but stepping back to protect yourself and the other person jumping through hoops to get your attention again isn't a super-healthy relationship dynamic.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:14 PM on December 22, 2012

I don't have any way to know what your particular PTSD issues are, but I am aware of how it affects me and some of my friends. This isn't like a broken leg: ah, that's broke and here's how to fix it.

You will do well to discuss this with your counselor. Many people think PTSD is some sort of attitude problem. They mean well, but they just don't get it. They think they can help you by patting you on the back and "being there" for you. When that doesn't work, well things get complicated in ways that become extra burdens to deal with. As I said, I can't speak to your version of PTSD, but one thing that is similar to my world is the periodic need for personal space. Your friend doesn't seem to understand how that works, and believes it has something to do with him.

Relationships can survive PTSD. Friendships can survive PTSD.

If you discuss this with your couselor (s)he'll help you sort through some of the issues you have brought up here. In the end, of course, you will make the decision. Sometimes it's hard to see things clearly when your emotional compass is spinning. Tell your friend you need some time to process this, and that you hope he will understand. Please don't take it personally if it turns out that he isn't able to understand--that's on him, not you.
posted by mule98J at 11:42 PM on December 22, 2012

He's over-emotional in every way that is not helpful. It's been a fun six months, but it is time for you to end it and move forward with your life.

Can I be honest? You are pretty vulnerable right now, and the tearing up and demanding more of your time is emotionally manipulative, even if he doesn't mean it ti be. I think IRL you will find this person to be immature and controlling.

Lastly, doing the internet thing is sucking up HUGE amounts of your time and attention that could be spent on IRL goals and activities. If you have goals and dreams, spending all of your free time interacting with someone you will likely never meet through a computer monitor is NOT going to get you where you want togoin life. Step away from the computer monitor. Step away. Go outside and do something, anything. Turn off the computer and get on with your life.

It's been a learning experience. Now it is time tomove on:)
posted by jbenben at 6:55 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it! it's clearer what's going on now. Like mule98J said, it's not simple and he dosen't seem to get that there's something big going on. A little contact would be fun but we're so not on the same page there. Yes some codependency seems to be at work, and it's uncomfortable.
I am on the wait list for counseling, I can't wait to start it's been ages :/ So I guess I'm going to be really clear and honest with him. When I will be ready to be with someone, I will know and things wont be so fussy all the time ^^
posted by proximacentauri at 2:43 PM on December 27, 2012

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