How to date a human with PTSD and anxiety

I’ve been “on the market” for a partner for nearly two years now. There are some things I’ve learned about dating me (that I think generally apply to dating survivors of intimate partner violence, adult children of alcoholics, trauma survivors, and people with PTSD, depression, and anxiety) that I’d like to share.

  1. Do not think that you are entitled to my personal space, time, or body in any way, ever. Even when we are weeks into dating, you may not demand my time, attention, or physical intimacy.
  2. If I tell you something is triggering / traumatizing / or deeply problematic, don’t bring it up again until I do. Don’t ask me to repeat to you over and over again why it’s triggering / traumatizing / or deeply problematic.
  3. If you’re dating someone from an oppressed group, don’t try to tell them what you learned about their experiences via reading publications in college or graduate school. Don’t argue about their experiences / erase their identities by trying to debate their lived experiences as if it were time to show that you’re good at the Socratic Method.
  4. If I open up to you about something deeply personal, don’t then immediately compare it to something you’ve experienced and then say “oh, but I know those things aren’t the same.” Just — LISTEN.
  5. Do be available when you can, check in when you can, tell me how you are doing emotionally, let me know where your boundaries are, and communicate your needs to me. Just don’t expect things from me that I can’t give you while I’m wrestling with my own well-being.
  6. If someone tells you they’re experiencing suicidal ideation, or recently did, don’t assume it’s over, or that it’s fair game for you to share your own anxieties with that person.
  7. If you ask to spend time with someone going through depression or anxiety, and they tell you it would actually be better to give them space, give them space. Not everyone going through anxiety or depression wants to be seen in a vulnerable space. Some of us have learned how to get through it alone.
  8. Don’t project your past traumas on to the current relationship. DO express your desire to avoid certain experiences that have hurt you in the past. DO NOT assume that the new person will behave just like the old person. DO NOT make it the new person’s job to heal you of your past traumas.
  9. DO consult a therapist and keep that conversation confidential. DO NOT tell your partner, “I spoke to my therapist about X thing you do or do not do and they said X.”
  10. Do respect when a person from a minority, oppressed group, or survivor status tells you they need to end it. DO NOT guilt trip them, make it about yourself, or continue to contact them once it’s over.
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