Issue 86.6

Page 26

– On Dit –

Disordered Dating Words by Letti K-Ewing

CONTENT WARNING: Sexual assault, PTSD, mental health

A couple of years ago it seemed like I was diagnosed with a new mental illness as often as I experienced a breakup. I would eventually learn that the reason for these multiple failed relationships was in part due to my mental disorders, a kind of collateral intimacy that left both parties worse for wear. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (the winning combo I have been diagnosed with) each have profound psychological effects on an individual due to both disorders stemming from trauma. Aside from the often-tedious responsibility of simply keeping ourselves afloat to coast through life, throwing a relationship into the mix can capsize an already unsteady (or in my case, sinking) ship. I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at 19. This led to a disordered dating experience where I felt forced to learn my physical boundaries through trial and error. I once thought this cycle of “disordered dating” limited me, and all my future relationships, to be defined by only my negative experiences, and that positive experiences were very few and far between. I now know that this is not the case. But this knowledge was by no means a sudden revelation. Years of intensive therapy coupled with a strong support network of my closest


friends and family are what helped me reach the understanding that life after trauma is possible. Still, some days it takes boatloads of effort to cope but there is solace in knowing my experiences are part of a collective of people who are as similarly disordered as I am, and who have found stability despite their diagnosis. Patty*, 25, shared her experiences of how PTSD has affected her personal relationships after I made a callout on Instagram looking for contributions to this article. “My PTSD is related to sex, so I found I had to renegotiate my boundaries around sex…” said Patty. “My mental health has always affected my [sexual] relationships in different ways – sometimes my PTSD means that I’m hypersexual and I feel like having a lot of sex can somehow ‘erase’ my bad experiences.” I thought it was just PTSD that affected my romantic relationships. To a certain extent, it did explain a lot of my issues. It explained why I wasn’t able to trust my male partner at the time despite him being gentle, patient, and understanding. It explained my (still ongoing) complicated relationship with sex, and it explained the internal conflict between