When do you tell a guy you have PTSD? Would he be okay with taking it slow or would it be a deal-breaker?

I have PTSD from child abuse, I'll spare you the details. My PTSD kicked in when I was about 18, which is when I moved out. I am now 20 and although I am successful in other areas of my life, I'm scared that my lack of experience and my PTSD inhibits me from dating. The only intimacy i've experienced is when I was kissed at 15, and nothing else. The PTSD also makes me sort of ultra-sensitive to touch, in the sense that even someone accidently grazing my hand makes me jump.

I'm no beauty queen but I'm not exactly unfortunate looking, I do receive attention from men, but I usually panic and can't make eye contact and I suppose this discourages them, I don't mean to but It's my instinctive reaction.

My question would be: What is the correct way to respond to a man who shows interest in you and and what point do i explain my PTSD, I know it's not a first date topic but I don't want to waste a man's time if he doesn't want to take things slow with regards to phyiscal intimacy and emotional intimacy. It may take me a considerable amount of time for me just to be able to hold someone's hand, and a year or two before I would be okay with having sex (this is an estimate). Is it even reasonable to expect guys to take it slow for my sake?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I think you're going to have to bring it up pretty damn fast. The reason when you 'panic and don't make eye contact' they vanish isn't because they hate you not making eye contact, it's because they misinterpret it as a lack of interest.

    Similarly, if you're not comfortable touching someone, they're going to interpret that as 'no interest', very soon, within a couple dates if that.

    Most will probably back out, and that's disappointing perhaps, but it's better that they do then start dating you and quickly find they can't handle it and are pressuring you or miserable.

    A couple other points:
    - for a lot of guys, lack of affection is probably a bigger short term issue than lack of sexual contact
    - for most guys, if you're a virgin, intercourse does NOT need to be a short term goal if they're at all serious about you. The more important timelines are to get comfortable with and enjoy affection, and to get comfortable with and enjoy sexual touch. The second can come later then the first. You would have, potentially, a loooong time between sexual touch starting and sex without them feeling deprived. I mention this mainly because you mention time to sex. I'd guess even without PTSD, many guys are fine with waiting a year for a virgin to have sex, it's the in between steps that are more the issue.
    - go ahead and warn them of a long time line. But between you and me, i don't believe it. Oh i believe you could date for 3 years and make no progress. But if you get a therapist or use techniques you've learned or learn them yourself and steadily work on this, this isn't a 'one year' project. Overcoming anxiety takes actually working on the issue, and working on it steadily is much more effective than working on it on or off. If you -want- to be able to enjoy affection with a partner, i BELIEVE you could be there in a weekend or two. What you need is a plan, understanding of how to work on anxiety issues, and a partner who is willing to be sensitive, careful and practice practice practice. Baby steps.

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    • That makes sense, thank you, I guess I haven't actually tried to be okay with it or been in a situation where it would happen so it was just speculation on my part. The idea of therapy makes me nervous (opening old wounds and such) but I know it will be necessary at some point. Thank you again, I appreciate you taking the time to explain :)

    • There are types of therapy where you reopen old wounds and some people... Feel compelled to do that.

      Personally I don't think you -have- to.

      What you need is far stricter behaviouralist type help. You don't actually need to know why you feel anxious. Just recognize and overcome and build confidence that you will handle any anxiety. And that itself reduces future anxiety.

Most Helpful Girl

  • I would just tell him str8 up.

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What Guys Said 7

  • Most any decent guy will understand, so when you are comfortable, have a conversation with him and explain what is going on. Speaking for myself, my wife has a number of issues from her childhood, and while she hasn't received a diagnosis of PTSD, there is definitely damage there from abuse in her childhood. I am patient and understanding and when she wants to talk we talk, which sometimes means I just listen, other times I provide insight and advice when she asks for it. Regardless I am always patient, understanding and there for her. Has it been easy? No, has it been worth it? YES! Hang in there and don't compromise yourself fearing that he won't understand and or respect you. If he doesn't then you need to move on and find someone who will.

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  • first off, PTSD isn't anything you should be shamed of so dont feel as if you are wasting anyones time. you should progress at the speed you feel comfortable with.

    secondly, any decent man worth your time will wait for you.

    lastly, I hope you manage to get your PTSD under control. my PTSD is a result of something entirely different to what you experienced so i can never know what you went through, but as a fellow sufferer i know how hard it can be to integrate with society.

    if you want to talk feel free to message me :)

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    • Thank you very much, I know what it's like to live with it and I wish you all the best in dealing with it also. And likewise, if you ever need a chat I'm happy to listen :)

  • I've had it. My uncle died of a heart attack in my house in front of everyone, i haven't been the same since. Go with your gut and tell them to take it slow

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    • I'm sorry to hear that, sounds terrifying, I hope you are coping a little better

  • Just whenever yoou trust the guy should be soon enough

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  • Whenever you feel comfortable

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    • Is it something a guy would want to know up front? Would he be okay with me bringing it up maybe a few weeks/months in?

    • Depends on the guy you shouldn't say anything if you're not comfortable but a guy should always make you feel comfortable

  • plenty of my friends have PTSD from seeing combat in iraq..

    want me to introduce you?

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    • what if you know someone is gonna touch you... still jump?

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    • I may jump initially but I would be able to keep my arm where it is, I would just be conscious of the touch the whole time, at least until i get used to the person.

    • isn't that weird? that consciousness of sharing an armrest... dealt w/ this on the entire flight from nyc to la once. i'm stubburn n refuse to give in over an armrest.

      overall i think you're fine. don't create a problem where one doesn't exist.

  • I don't mind taking things slow. I sometimes want to move slower than the woman. However it depends on how slow we are moving. It needs to feel like the relationship is moving forward.

    I am not sure about explaining about your PTSD. I would just be vague and say that you prefer to take things slow. Talking about PTSD too early in a relationship would make you sound like you have too much emotional baggage.

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    • Thank you :) It's a very fine line, I'm always conscious of giving information away but at the same time it's hard to mask, they notice it when I do certain things like jump a mile in the air at the sound of a dog barking haha

What Girls Said 4

  • I have it to and I found the best way to deal with it in relationships is to be honest.

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  • I also have PTSD and I was wondering the same thing...

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  • All depends on the guy, any emotional baggage for me is s deal breaker but it the person cares about you he will understand

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  • I have PTSD from sexual abuse when I was a kid. When I started dating my first boyfriend at 19, I brought it up in a casual conversation. He was perfectly fine with it and when I was ready and okay with him I controlled what happened.
    No matter what remember it happened, but it doesn't define who you are. Let them know so that way they don't think they did something wrong. If they have a problem with it, forget them, they are not worth it.

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    • Sorry for what happened to you, and thank you, that is very reassuring.

    • Your welcome
      Good luck hun 😉

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