Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Relationship PTSD

If you've been watching "Episodes" and you've ever broken up with someone only to try and rekindle the flame after a bad break-up, you saw Sean and Beverly's attempt at make up make out and instantly knew, he couldn't go through with it. Not because he was a bad guy and couldn't get over his wife's cheating, albeit sort-of-kind-of-getback-at-you-sex. He kept seeing Matt LeBlanc's rumored an anaconda sized manhood shagging his wife. He was traumatized and still suffering from severe relationship PTSD or R-PTSD.

Sean is not alone. Many of us bring lots of baggage with us into new relationships. Divorced people and monogamous people in long-term committed relationships are the worst. We may as well has bags that say:


and so on and so fourth. We are a wreck!

I asked on Facebook what kinds of R-PTSD people  bring with them into new relationships and the responses were hilarious and sad all at the same time.

My friend "Lindsay" sent me an email saying that her ex-husband's mother was incredibly controlling. She's been dating her new boyfriend for a month and everything was going well. His mother called her to invite her to lunch and Lindsay promptly broke up with her boyfriend. "It was too much pressure," she confided in me. "He was great but I just had visions of her ruining my life and wearing white to my wedding and demanding to sing at my baby shower".

Lindsay may have over-reacted, but after 10 years with the same husband thinking that this was it for her, the thought of an overbearing mother in law who found her phone number by looking through her sons phone without any warning was one sign too many.

"Meg" wrote to me about a similar PTSD experience regarding Facebook. Her ex was having an affair with a woman on Facebook and as a result she tends to be incredibly overbearing with her new boyfriend about it. "I don't care, I don't have anything to hide so I just give her my password," her boyfriend Allan told me. Meg appreciated his patience, but admitted to me, "I don't want to be this way.  I don't want to be mistrusting, but I was with my husband for 8 years and that happened. How can I keep my guard down after just 9 months?" she asked.

I have no idea Meg. I will say that if you're new boyfriend is going to cheat on you, he's going to do it regardless of whether you have his Facebook password. This paranoia mostly affects you, the traumatized one, but also has an affect on your kids, your co-workers and your new relationship. Luckily for Meg, she's in a relationship with someone who lets her, as she herself said, "be crazy".

And thank God for those patient people out there who date those of us afflicted with Relationship PTSD, because we are a handful!

"Alana" confided in me that once a month she asks her boyfriend if he wants to break up with her. They've been dating for 5 years. "I just like to know where I stand" she told me.  And its not only women who suffer from Relationship PTSD. "Jacob" sent me an email the length of a novel explaining to me that his ex always use to come into the bathroom while he was pooping. True story. He said it bugged it him out so much that it lead to their lack of sex and eventually the demise of their relationship. He now has a locked door policy in the bathroom and says weekend getaway trips with girls he's dating have been pushed to the three month mark and beyond.

My friend "Erin" constantly asks her fiancé if he wants her engagement ring back.

On my end, I can tell you that as a fellow R-PTSDer, I too have my many moments of crazy. I am the most confident person in the world, except when it comes to relationships. I still wonder when I can call or when I can text or if its okay to post a photo or if he's going to realize I'm crazy at any given moment and tell me where my daddy issues and I can go.

But there is hope for us! Relationship veterans have to be in relationships with very patient people. If you're not a patient person and can't' take a little bit of crazy, then you probably should date someone whose never been married or in a committed long-term relationship that went awry. They might be a little saner or at least do a better job of hiding it. Because isn't that really what differentiates us anyways? Us veterans of relationship war to the table with all of our bags - labeled not willing to commit anymore time than we need to if you're not up for it from the get go.

But we're not all bad! There are many benefits to dating a Relationship Veteran.

*We generally cook better.

*We generally communicate more...much more than you may be accustomed to (It's something we learned in couples counseling).

*We are planners because we have been, but we're not making long term plans for while.

*We generally will be nicer to your parents (because anything is better than the in-laws we had that now hate us).

*We love your "alone" time because we miss ours.

*We love your kids, because they aren't ours.

*We tend to want to have more sex with you...because we've been married or in a long term committed relationship that went south and probably spent a lot of time...not having sex.

*We are generally more independent, because we've had to be.

So if you can take a little crazy, try dating a Relationship Veteran PTSDer. We keep it interesting...for sure.


  1. Dating and Facebook absolutely drive me up the wall. I worry and second-guess everything...what he posts, what I "can" post, why he's online and not talking to me (heaven forbid!!), who the h*ll that chick is that just posted a flirty something on his wall...sigh. No more mixing FB with dating til it's serious!

  2. great post! i'm dating someone who has r-ptsd (didn't know it had a name!), and the list of benefits is SO spot on!!

  3. There sure are some funny and WEIRD people out there! The poop story wins in this one.

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