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Considering a Relationship With Someone Who Suffers From PTSD

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I'd like to thank you in advance for being available to talk to about this. I'm active duty in the Air Force and I met a Marine veteran who just got out last year. We started talking in March and connected pretty much instantly.

He's a great guy and I really like him, there's just one little problem: He's suffering from PTSD and trust issues from a past relationship.

Long story short, his ex-fiancée used him financially for months after she decided she was going to leave him and he proposed to her.

I met him almost three months after they broke up. He's been straightforward about what he's been through, both because of his deployments and because of the past relationship. I really like this guy, and I'm amazed at how far he's come after everything he's gone through. He's going to get his degree to become a physical therapist and he wants to specialize in prosthetics.

The problem is that, while I'm completely fine with the fact that he wants to focus on school and getting a career and he isn't looking for a relationship right now, I feel like he doesn't understand that I really am willing to just be friends. I know it might sound corny or even stupid, but I care about him enough that, even if he's not mine, being his friend and seeing how he meets his goals is enough for me.

How can I get him to understand that I won't try to push some kind of agenda on him? I'm a very direct person, so he knows how I feel about him. I just want him to know that I want his friendship more than I want to be in a romantic relationship with him. Thank you for your time and your obvious interest in helping people with peculiar situations related to the military,

Sincerely,
Friend with PTSD and Past Relationship Issues

Dear Friend,

Honestly, I think being friends for now is best because you met just a couple of months ago. Giving the relationship plenty of time to develop will work to your advantage. Think about it: You've heard his side about his previous relationships i.e. "she did this," "she did that." You should come to learn about all of his undesirable habits, too. It will be better to discover this if you are not locked into a relationship with him.

You also need to learn more about his PTSD, his symptoms and how he manages them. This is imperative information. How do we know that his PTSD did not play a role in the break-up of his past relationship?

Now in your defense, I think that it's definitely OK for a woman to let a man know that she is interested. There's nothing wrong with that. However, my caution to you is that great marriages and relationships are formed between two people who are strictly friends before anything else so don't be in a rush to hook him.

Let me know what you decide to do and thank you for writing me.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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