Starting or Nourishing Romantic Relationships After Brain Injury

Starting and Nourishing Romantic Relationships After Brain Injury
Question: 

Could a person with TBI start and have a healthy romantic relationship? My friend/boyfriend (who has a TBI) can go from bringing me flowers and telling me he loves me to other times thanking me for dinner like I’m just any friend of the family.

Answer: 

The answer to this question is — yes. Following brain injury, individuals can — and do — start and maintain healthy, loving, committed relationships. In fact, in studies investigating the stability of romantic relationships after brain injury, results have shown couples have less of a likelihood of separating than do couples in the general population¹,². However, this answer also comes with an asterisk.

In order for people with a TBI to maintain healthy, loving, romantic relationships, they will need support, encouragement, and understanding from their partner. While this sounds like a recipe for the success of any romantic relationship, there are specific ways in which people with brain injury will need to be supported. There are also commitments the people with brain injury will need to make to themselves, their partner, and the relationship, in order to sustain relational happiness and security over the long term.

The partners of people who has a TBI must first educate themselves about how brain injury impacts an individual. In addition to the frequently cited TBI challenges related to thinking such as memory, attention and concentration, and problem-solving, individuals with brain injury often experience changes in behavioral, social, and emotional functioning. In a relationship, partners often read the emotional and social cues of their partner in order to gauge the stability of the relationship. However, after TBI, some disruption in emotions and challenges with communication are to be expected. People who understand brain injury can learn to interpret changes in their partner’s mood and their partner’s willingness to interact socially in new, more accurate ways. Education can also help partners not to personalize behaviors that may be more related to brain injury than a reaction to or reflection of the relationship.

In addition to building a knowledge base about common symptoms of TBI, partners can learn strategies for new ways to de-escalate an argument, identify early signs of their partner’s stress or anger, and share their own needs for emotional response or connection with their partner. Again, while these may be important skills for any romantic relationship, the way in which a partner de-escalates an argument when their spouse has a TBI will be different from the approach used by couples where brain injury is not a concern. Reading information written for caregivers, attending family member support groups, and meeting with a therapist who has familiarity with brain injury are all solid ways to build an effective skill set.

Of course, maintenance of a healthy relationship always requires the dedication of both partners. People with brain injury can improve the likelihood that their relationship will succeed by attending therapy focused on emotional regulation and compensatory strategy development. Additionally, by focusing on building communication skills, asking for help, and focusing on the positive, survivors can enhance the emotional connection they have with their partner.

Finally, when a couple enters into a relationship after one person has had a brain injury, they may want to consider taking a proactive stance by attending counseling with a couples’ therapist who is familiar with TBI. Both emotional and physical intimacy can be impacted by brain injury. Couples counseling can assist both partners in developing strategies and coping skills that can enhance the intimate connection both individuals feel with one another.

Posted on BrainLine April 12, 2013. Reviewed July 26, 2018.

About the author: Emilie Godwin, PhD

Emilie Godwin, PhD, LPC, MFT is a faculty member and licensed clinician at Virginia Commonwealth University, with a specialty focus on couples and family counseling after brain injury. Currently, she serves as the Family Support Program Coordinator for the VCU TBI Model System projects.

Emilie Godwin

Comments (143)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

I’m a veteran with blast TBI this article clearly applies to people with mild TBI. What do you recommend for people who are mocked and laughed at in social situations?The psychologists at the VA don’t have an answer.

My girlfriend and I have been dating for roughly 7 months. Before her recent concussion we never argued or held onto things. Whenever we disagreed or the other person said/did something that didn't feel right, we always expressed our concern and talked things through. Since her concussion, that has all changed.

I work in the legal field, and many of our clients (past & present) either dealt with or are currently struggling with TBI/concussions, and I thought I had a pretty clear understanding of what to expect. Unfortunately, that simply isn't the case. My girlfriend is seemingly always agitated now. She is very sensitive to what people say and do, and her depression was triggered early on and has not subsided (or at least, not in any substantial way). I try to say and do things that (I think) most people would see as helpful, expressing my support and understanding; yet, most of the time she picks what I say and do apart, and it ends up leading her to feel more alone. She feels that I don't support her and don't understand.

I've been doing what I can to read up on depression (from a significant other's standpoint, because I too suffer from depression, but I need to see it from her side when she's suffering) and being a significant other to those with TBI/healing from a concussion. It seems like I am do most things "correctly," but I have to remember to show her more support (much more than your average person needs to feel). I have to remember to keep showing and telling her how much I love, admire, care and understand her. And most importantly (on my end), I have to remember that if she seems "off" - not as loving. Not as caring. A bit distant and (seemingly) lacking the want to be affectionate and/or physical - that it is most likely not me and/or us. She's just simply adjusting and trying to heal.

This has been the hardest part for me. I internalize things very easily, and when she seems distant it can make me close off a bit from her, and the spiral begins.

We are on a break and trying to figure things out. I hope beyond everything that we can. That I continue to deepen my understanding of her needs, and that she sees my efforts, so that when she is more healed we can continue on as (close to) we once were.

I am a survivor of 2 TBIs and a medical professional...I am a psychiatric nurse and brain injury specialist. I was studying for my PhD in neuropsychology before I died in a car accident in 1994. I definitely shouldn't be here, but...here I am...it took decades for me to figure out anything. My intellect has for the most part recovered...so they tell me...but it's the psychiatric and affective symptoms that are most disabling. It's been 30 years...I still struggle with anger and irritability, deep depression, emotional lability, and executive symptoms that effect my supraordinate understanding of linguistics...so I will miss the point of verbal interplay which effects my relationships...fortunately im quick enough that I can listen to what was said and run it back a couple times and think about it and occasionally catch the joke...but not always...especially if I'm fighting neurofatigue or my memory is just not cooperating. I also practice compassionate empathy...I may not always feel in my heart emotions...but I know how I should act...because I do care...I just have trouble processing emotions...I have them...including love and compassion and all of them it's just like they're all in a big...jumble...and processing is slow...especially for emotion.
I say all this to explain because it's important to understand we don't do it intentionally...I wish I could fix everything. I also do understand how much pain it causes in people I love...it's like after I was hurt...the only processor they had to give me to replace mine that was broken...was from the 1980s...
This is true for many of us...it's not that we don't care or want to be with you...it's that feeling takes time...and understanding your takes time also.
How can you help? Say exactly what you mean...be literal. Take your time with us. Give us time to process. Show us what you mean. Important though, don't patronize us...we are not stupid...it's the management of our intellect that's the problem. Understand that we do love...it's usually the input or output that's the problem. We also are more scared than you are or...don't want to hurt you. Our insights into our own problems or our own worth...typically isn't so great. Slow and steady and persistent...not stalker persistent but reliable persistent...be there and show you mean it.
After a TBI, let alone 2...with seizure disorder...my confidence was history...I am married and have a fantastic wife. I am so fortunate and blessed...but it's important for me to remember and to help...I still struggle every day with many of these issues...we as survivors need to do our very best to help as much as we can to help those who we love and want in our lives to understand also. I run a tiny youtube channel: Detours: Understanding Acquired Brain Injury. I try to teach these kind of things and I urge other survivors to share their knowledge and experience too. I ramble, I know...that's also a brain injury symptom too... :-} if I can answer any questions, don't hesitate to ask in here or on my channel... Thank you... :)

Trying to date someone with a TBI and I'm not sure if he actually wants me to persist in this Rollercoaster. I really care for him but in less than a month he seems to want to end it the day after every date...
I'm a nurse and I understand the struggle for the person with TBI and I really want to be there for him, but I feel I'm overwhelming him instead.

I was with some with a TBI for a year and engaged to him then I recently left him a year ago and I didn’t understand him so now that year has passed I started looking into other support groups and found a group of woman here in my area that understand and can help me be a better person for him I recently reached out to him and expressed how much I love and care for him still and right now he just wants to remain friends. Now I’m in a situation wear Im not sure how to fix the situation but I know that what I am doing now I should if done then… So people with TBI have so my struggles every day and if this is the person you want to be with then try to find as many resources as you can to understand the person so you can have a healthy relationship.

Hi. I saw this and wanted to share with you. I am 43 and I suffered a severe tbi in 2015. I'm sure my ex and the man I'm with now could tell you I have made them feel the same way. I can tell you the man im with learns about how tbi affects me and us. The willingness to learn alleviates me from feeling as if I have to teach him. I often thought I'd never date so as not to burden any man with my seeming disinterest. My memory. My seizures etc. I can be extremely loving and attentive one day and disinterested and quiet the next. But through those different moods my feelings are just as real and even. I think it's great you gave this a chance. If I saw it right away I would have suggested a support group on fb. I hope you made the right choice for you. Take care.
Kristy

I do identify that I behave like your new friend. I can only tell you from the brain injured perspective. For many years I lived in a different “world” and in one quick second I became someone I did not recognize. Feeling overwhelmed is my companion. In the emotional world there are 5 freeways going into a single way creating one traffic jam. I can not “park the cars” nor can I process all these emotions. Do I stay? Do I run? Be alone? Not alone? All this is felt like a tsunami of fear. I don’t know what I feel or how to explain it but I am acutely aware that this is not the person I once was and I feel embarrassed. I have lost a lot and if I do show you maybe you will be another loss. Grief appears again mourning the person I used to be. So how do you work with that? Well don’t coddle me as I feel devalued. Don’t go too fast as I am trying to grow into the new me. Tell me you like me for who I am today. Tell me you like me and you also recognize the brain injury. Look for cues that I present ie. agitation in which I might not be aware of. This usually means I need a rest. Move slowly. Let me grow into you. I have to know you are really safe. I was extremely independent with a busy medical career so don’t try to caretake me. I know I can not function in someways at your level but I am trying. I don’t know if this is helpful or not but I thought if you had a glimpse into the world of the invisible disability perhaps it might be insightful. I know it is hard on both of you. Shame is often something I feel when seeing how I am now and how confusing it makes the one I care for feel. Good luck to you both.

I'm a survivor of a hit-n-run 21 years ago. Left with a long list of injuries my TBI was the most severe. Since I met someone in 2018 our relationship has been a continuous rollercoaster. We both contribute to our demise but my TBI takes the cakes. I don't understand (and most likely never will) why my temper gets way out of control and the words that come out of my mouth are ( there is no explanation) I'm getting to the end of my rope. I need a TBI specialist in my area. Thank you.

I resonate with this so so much. I was partially ejected from passenger window and my lower half pinned as the driver of car I was in hit a Yukon and passenger side took all impact. Driver broke his arm. I suffered the severe brain bleed, collapsed lung punctured lung, lacerated spleen, compound femur break and compound hip break as well as tibia. I was in coma for quite some time and had to learn a lot over again. The biggest most prevalent thing I deal with is agitation and aggression. I've learned that being overestimated especially by others expecting too much in a normal day. I feel I can never adequately express that (picture our brains being a glass) my cup takes a third of liquid (information) and theirs can be filled to the top. I'm learning to keep strong boundaries. Others are not always going to keep us in that " safe place" so we have to. I wish I could speak more about this and hear about your struggles and strengths and things that help you.

I understand. Really! I too am a brain injured person who has some pretty out there responses with respect to anger and crying. When the anger hits it is like a lightening bolt. I feel so embarrassed and ashamed when I wonder “who the hell was that?” That’s not me. It is however and it is part and parcel for survivors living with brain injuries. I was told that there are “triggers” in which 5 lanes of traffic suddenly go into one and the result is either “fight” or “flight.” We can’t help it. There is help. A neuropsychologist or neuropsychiatrist, TBI counsellor can help to give you tools. I have become familiar with tight chest, rise in emotions before I blow so that I can remove myself into a quiet place. It is frustrating when it is hard to process but for me I think my brain just gets overwhelmed and I don’t realize it. I wish you the best of luck

Sorry.to hear that mate I was attacked about 1and a half yrs ago now and was told it was told.by the hospital that it was only a mtbi but I had clear fluid and blood coming out both my ears and nose and had both the raccoon eyes and crescent bruise and they wanted to operate and cut out a triangle piece of my skull to relieve pressure and swelling but I seemed to be disappointed that I woke up and wouldn't let them operate for some reason. Everything I've read since says it was a severe skull fracture & close to death as I'd ruptured that clear sack in the middleof the brain but never mind that. I checked myself out as soon as the phyciatrist allowed me to so 5 days after with no information really . I didn't even get panadols so I went to the local doctor and said I needed some panadol forte or valium because that's what they where giving me in the Alfred hospital. They listened and said well there's nothing in the (system)saying I'd been injured even though I had discharge papers from the hospital. They said sorry don't get angry with us it's not out fault but you can sign these forms allowing us to request your medical information and I did that and returned 5 days later on a skateboard as i don't have a car and no one to help me. They said yeah sorry but if it happed Like you said it would be in the system and so I said what do you think I'm making this up. I have the hospital papers here and they where saying sorry maybe call them and come back when it's sorted. I started getting really frustrated as I said aww this is ridiculous I'm meant to be in bed and I've had to make 2 trips there and I just wanted to get rid of my headache. But the incompetent doctor who doesn't really understand english and misunderstands almost everything you say did what she usually does when she can't understand ....she says you book with new gp ....I think she's trying to tell me to make an appointment with any other doctor because I've never had miscommunication like that before with a doctor. And I said yeah I'll go once you've written a script for some painkillers and she said something and left and I was waiting for her for 10-15 mins when another doctor came in and said your going to have to leave and I said what I'm waiting for the lady to come back as I'd thought she went to check on what happened with the release of information form I'd signed . I was made to feel like a druggie begging for painkillers . At this point my head was hurting so much it felt like it was splitting open . I was asked to leave and I couldn't sit in there a second longer anyway as it all seemed like it was too much and I started sweating and as soon as I went outside I needed to throw up and my head hurt so much I can't even remember how I got all the way home. For some reason it took me about 2 months to convince doctors that I'd had a tbi as the Alfred hospital failed to enter my details correctly . I've received no help whatsoever and I received a letter from my doctors at beach St saying that I was banned from the practice and could no longer go there. I was genuinely confused and after being told I was lying to my face when there was visible bruising all over my face I was slightly irritated and I may have said to myself this is f'd up. I know that as soon as you swear your a worthless human but considering that irritability is a sympton of tbi's I feel I handled myself OK. Even still I've had any remaining friends give up or just don't want to see me anymore and it seems as though I have something stinky on my shoes as people just seem to want to get away from me now. It's the hardest thing about it all and even though you ask for help ...people really don't want to I've found out. So I know how you feel mate it's not fun hey and seems irreversible

Hi my partner received a concussion 6 months ago and has recently started to say she doesn’t feel a lot towards me (the last 1.5 months). This lines up with the same time she reported of low mood and she tells me she is feeling ‘yes/no’ with me. Our relationship was absolutely perfect and had no problems whatsoever so I don’t understand where the no comes from and she doesn’t either. She wants to break up as she thinks that’s how she truly feels but then she gets the ‘yes’ feeling and wants to be with me…. Is the ‘no’ concussion affected and is it common to see?

I do get your girlfriend as a person with a brain injury and believe me neither understands it. I know I am not the person I used to be nor do I think or act like that person either. In the emotional department, it was described to me as 5 highways merging into one causing a traffic jam of emotions in which your damaged brain can’t separate. I don’t know at all what I need because I can not sort or process. They do manifest as fear and I can’t tell if I need to be alone, not alone, go for a walk, get my pyjamas on and go to bed? I am hyper conscious that I am all over the map which makes me want to pull away. Or should I pull close? Should I put you out of your misery by breaking up with you? Oh dear, I can’t imagine life without you. For me it is part of it. Going to neuropsychologist or a counsellor for brain injury is very helpful. I can now just say “I feel afraid.” We don’t have to fix it. My partner will just say “Ok.” It will usually pass the next day but will of course reappear. I have come to know my cues. For example, tight chest, sighing, agitation. This just means for me, that my brain is tired. With help hopefully she will have a better understanding. Peer support groups are also helpful. You may find there is one for yourself. I wish both of you all the best. It is a long journey. She is new to herself and she is also new to you. Lots of love, support, patience and baby steps is needed.

I recently have fallen deeply in love with a wonderful lady with TBI we love to be with one another and we do make each other feel good.but after a few months of being together and having a great love life she gets upset and brakes up with me.i ask why and she won't tell me why.
I love her with all my heart but how do I show her and how can I avoid the pain one losing her every time she breaks up with me.she tells me I'm the best lover she ever had and she compliments me and she puts me on a pedestal. Then she re
Then she breaks my heart. how do I know that she loves me.
I'm writing a great job so that I can be her care giver.
I just need any help so I don't lose the best thing I ever had.

Please help
Sincerely
Jerry L Abbott

Jerry, my name is Kristy. I am 43 and suffered a severe tbi 7 years ago. Please make sure she is not making this choice FOR you thinking it's the right thing. We often times feel like a burden and don't want our loved ones to have to sacrifice certain things. I would also try to keep in mind that agitation anger and behavioral/personality changes are very prominent. I have cried at the behavioral seizures I've had and the ways I've acted to my boyfriend. I commend you for trying to learn and not just running away. Love is always worth the fight and though we aren't functioning at our "highest" we still have the ability to love so well. I wish you the best . I would love to hear if you are still in this relationship and any tools you have for my boyfriend.

As a brain injured person I must say that I was disappointed to see “anonymous “reply to you. Brain injured people don’t maliciously “toy” with your emotions. They have a complex injury of the brain. Anonymous’s answer implies that the brain injured are “normal” people with bad behaviour. So untrue. We are injured people who display the effects of our injury in ways that make us feel embarrassed and are foreign to us. It is never our intention to hurt anyone.

I have pushed everyone away because I do not know from hour to hour how my brain in going to be. I used to be a successful business female full of life and fun that all wanted to be around. Now I am reclusive with my two dogs. (I have no family)
Two and one half years of therapy...Better, but not me any longer. Getting to be hopeless with no desire to reach for a ring. ANY hope someone can hold out to me?

Oh, I so see myself in your lady friend. I will respond as someone who also has a brain injury. One day you are you then in one sudden sweep you are someone you don’t recognize. For myself, romantic relationships are challenging. I experience 5 lanes of highway merging into one and the result is fear. To run and remove the source of fear. I know that I am not the person who acts “normally” like the person I remember and out of embarrassment will also choose to push you away. Trying to communicate this “new you” is also a tremendous vulnerable risk so it is easier to reject you then experience any more of the insurmountable losses that you have already endured. The going back and forth is because I am relearning and I have to feel very very safe with you which will take such a long time. I have such difficulty processing emotions so you can put no demands on me and let me ease in on my own. Some days, I will feel ready then on other days I won’t. The brain injured me struggles to build a relationship with myself but a relationship of two? Baby baby steps. Let her call the shots. Notice cues that maybe her signs of stress. Communication is essential but she might not be able to tell you because she doesn’t know herself. Sometimes, I tell my partner that I simply don’t know what I need. I might want him close, or be alone, or burn off the abundant brain energy, or climb into bed and sleep. Read as much as you can on brain injury emotions. Let her know you are there and nothing she says will make you feel weird about her. I know my partner will never understand my world but I remember what it was like living in his. It is important to understand that we greave for the person we were and we are afraid. Don’t coddle us or expect us to function like a normal person. We are amazing people but there is a part of us that has been removed. Give us lots of space and room so that we can take a risk or we can try to grow into a more comfortable place. I hope this helps you by understanding the world for which we live in. I hope she is getting help and perhaps she is open to the both of you but let her call the shots. Just let her know that how ever she feels is ok. You love her for who she is right now and that you are around if she needs you. Don’t push. We often feel suffocated easily. Best of luck

You sound like a great person who doesn't deserve to have their feelings toyed with. It's your life, love you first knowing that you gave your all and someone out there is waiting for someone like you.
Best

I please beg of you to not reply to things you do not know about. If you are not willing to share your name then neither will I. Persons with a TBI, Mild, moderate or severe have no control over their emotions in the moment. They say things they dont mean and regret it later. How are you to know whether the fella in this question deserves anything or not? Those of us who care for our spouses or even significant others with any type of TBI or concussion ALL experience the same but different things with their behaviors. I have been by my husbands side continuously for the last 18 months since his motorcycle accident and although he says things that he doesnt mean I still stay knowing that he doesnt mean what he says. There is such a thing as NEUROPSYCHIATRY that can help with the moods, impulsivity and problem solving. You cannot tell someone who loves and/or cares for someone with a TBI that they dont deserve something, when you have no idea what their significant other is going through. Sorry but this is a very touchy subject for me as I continually struggle with being overwhelmed, having hurt feelings, always having to self-preserve on my own as a person suffering with a TBI cannot put themselves in your position. They do not have the ability to look at a situation from your standpoint. They only understand the situation if it happens to them. So until you can put true real experiences into the comments please just read and move on.

Prior to my accident and ending results of left temporal love, frontal lobe brain insurance right temporarily live PCS, i was in an 11 year relationship with our 6 year old daughter father. I did not remember anything or anyone prior to accident. We tried and it just didn't work out. I felt nothing for a man I spent 11 years of my life with, I eventually reported drugs and surrounded myself with negativity.
Then I found my now boyfriend whom is my positivity and my rock. He's patient and very loving because at times I can be very difficult. He has my back in everything I do. He doesn't critisize me or make fun of me. He don't take advantage of me and he loves me. We still have a long way to go but with him I found I want to continue to live he made me want life again.

What a compelling topic of conversation. Suffering from TBI myself I always wonder if im destined to be alone. Looking at the comment section of this site I've concluded that there's a strong possibility friendships, and romantic relationships will continue to elude us. I will also say that if you asked 100 people to spend time with you chances are at least one will say yes. Confidence is the key.

Bless your heart. I have temporal lobe damage. It is quite the journey isn’t it. I did meet someone who is 14 years TBA and she was a vision of hope. In the meantime we carry on, one step at a time, growing into the new us and at times grieving the old us that was. It’s ok to be alone. If someone appears then they would have to be uniquely special. They are out there. God bless you. I wish you the very best on your journey

I have a TBI but I am a man that desires a relationship with a woman. I would do anything for her . I am lonely. I want a normal life. I want to be loved. I and anyone with a TBI does deserve love sex and a life. Reading these stories has really brought both joy and sadness to me. Glad for the ones that have found relationships and sad because I havent. I have a great personality and am very nice and caring for a woman. Before my accident I always had dates. I was an optician making and fitting eyeglasses before my accident. If anyone has any suggestions on how or where I can connect I would really appreciate it. Thank you

I have TBI too. Life can be so difficult at times for us. I’m wondering how you are now and how things have worked out for you. Hopefully, things are going well. I’m struggling in a relationship that I don’t think will work out, sadly. My partner does not understand TBI and has no interest in educating himself. It breaks my heart. I do not feel that he truly loves me because if he did, he would try to understand me. Sometimes I feel like I have settled in this toxic relationship because I feel like no one would want me now. TBI can really suck. It’s depressing too feeling very alone even with a partner I feel so alone. I’m happy for the ones on here who have loving partners who are supportive. I wish o had that. I read your comment, and I want all the things you do. You are alone and feel that way. I am with someone yet I feel as lonely as you do. I understand how you feel. You’re not alone in the TBI world, though. I think it would be nice to start talking with other people who have TBI. That would be helpful. We are a different group of people who can help each other. Hope you are well.

I have a 30 year old daughter with TBI, is there a safe place for people to connect..? She is also so lonely..surely there is a dating web site or something, a p,ace with no judgement where loving lonely people who have had a setback..can find kindred spirits.

My boyfriend had a brain injury from a car accident. When we met he was happy living life couldn’t stand to be away from me. We broke up and got back together. He goes through these moods where he wants to be with me then he don’t. Is this normal and can we be together and last. I don’t want to move on. He means a lot and I’m hoping that he can work through this and be how we were.

Reading everyone’s comments here made me feel good that I’m not alone. I’ve been chatting with this guy I’ve know for 6 months. At the very beginning, things were going good. We flirted every single day through text. Till two weeks later, he got into a car accident. The early stages of his concussion, he talked about us having a future together. At the time, I did not know anything about tbi and it’s symptoms that comes along with it. Anyway, things were going good and it started to go down hill. He isolated himself, we wouldn’t speak for days, he would get drunk and behave differently and text me talking about his ex and posting pictures with her. It made me kind of sad and when I confront him about it, he would lash out at me and tells me that he would never text me again and a few days later, we would text. It was an off and on situation. Now that I’ve learned more about his concussion, I can not put the blame all on him. His concussion has no filter and he can’t control the things he says and does. I’ve learned to be patient with him and give him all the space he needs. We really like each other but it’s scary seeing him going from the most romantic and nice guy in the world to a different person I no longer know. Thank you all once again for listening to my story and make me feel like I’m not alone. God bless

I need some help, please advise me on what to do. I am a severely TBI'd 47 year old man, who got injured 16 years ago. My wife and I have been married for the past 9 years, and she just started withholding her affections from me, because I don't know how to be romantic. She has me all wrong, though. I originally got married in the year 2000, and I used to be extremely romantic. But that marriage ended after I gave her 4 years, got injured, and then I received 4 years from her, before she filed for divorce. Another relationship that ended after 9 years. So, please help.

I am only months into a relationship with a beautiful, amazing lady with tbi. We had an amazing immediate connection when we met, we’ve fallen in love and I’m dedicated to her and us.
Before this relationship I knew nothing of tbi and her down periods which included her emotions and anger which were confusing and hurtful to me until she began to open up to me about the effects of tbi. I’ve been learning a lot. Including some interesting reading here with stories I relate to. I understand more now that when she’s angry that things aren’t as personal as they sound. I try to be as supportive and understanding as I can as I know I don’t know exactly how tough it is for her. Generally when she is down and frustrated I’m patient, try to say not too much but still helpful, try not to let myself get angry and ride it out. Am I handling things about right? Do people have particular suggestions?..

Bless your heart. You are very special. As a brain injured woman I would say that you are right on cue. Please, never take anything personally. We do not mean to act or say the things we do. Sometimes we get a rush of 5 lanes of emotions merging into one and causing a traffic jam. We can not process this or understand what any of it means so we go into “fight” or “flight.” We often feel embarrassed and wonder “who was that person”. We often slip into sadness recalling who we used to be and it is certainly not the person who was screaming 5 minutes ago. We don’t know the new us but we are trying to learn to grow and accept this person while mourning the person we were. We are all over the map and we are aware of that and often feel ashamed. Sometimes we just want to hide under a rock. We do love you but currently you live in the old world we once enjoyed with you and then one day we woke up in a different world with someone else’s brain. It is a hard journey for both. I wish you both the very best

I'm in that now with my wife we been together 15 year's and married for 11 and now she doesn't feel the love or she say she can't give me love cause she feels nothing she fell out of love with me. niceness23@hotmail.com

My boyfriend just recently woke up from his brain injury; he knows his name and can move his extremities but forgot who his mom is at one point, so his memory goes in and out but hopefully that will go away when the pressure on his brain goes down. But anyway he hasn't seen me yet due to Covid and I was wondering if dying my hair was a good idea. I'm a bright blonde and always have been with him but I recently made an appointment for in about a month to go a little dark like a grey. Is that a good idea to do right now or I should get my answer once I see how is reacts with me.

I am in a 3-year relationship with my boyfriend that has a TBI. He introduced himself to me as someone that sustained these injuries when he was 18 years old (he is now 43). I immediately began to search for information about TBI so that I could understand it and how it affects a person. As we moved further into the relationship the things, I noticed in him made me also search on how to be in a relationship with a person with a TBI. I am as my wit's end now with doing my part to be a supportive girlfriend, but I am not going to keep letting him belittle me. He discredits my research and even my education (I have a BA in Psychology and I am in school for my Masters in Mental Health Counseling). I do not know what to do to make this relationship work. I fear it will be over soon.

I'm 16 and I've been texting this guy for 4 months now. He is really sweet and loves to make jokes all the time. He told me he was in a car accident last year and that he has a TBI. At first, I didn't think much of it, but after meeting him I did realize he was a bit different than what I expected. We had a great time together and I can tell he just wants to have the same experiences as everyone else, like having a girlfriend. I fully understand where he is coming from and I want to be the one to give it to him, but I sense there may be some struggles. I'm honestly just wondering what I should expect.

I’m in a relationship with a man who has TBI. We have a child together and he’s the sweetest person. He was hit by a car when he was 15 and in a coma for a week. He is impaired however and it seems sometimes like his maturity level is stuck at that age of when he got hit. Is it possible for him to grow as a person or will he always remain a 15 year old stuck in adults body?

I think he will readjust with time

I met a girl who was affectionate, giving, and loving about 15 months ago. She had a severe case of TBI 8 years ago from a boating accident. The first 9 months everything was perfect between us. We gradually fell in love with each other. She then slowly began to exclude me from family get togethers and vacations. She also texted, called and dated me less. Her father knew this before, but she “fills in the blanks” and believes her own negative versions of our conversations with each other. At first I thought that she was just pulling away from me because that she was just growing tired of the relationship, but after talking with her father I knew that she had a problem. She has had 2 relationships with men that each lasted 9 to 12 months prior to meeting me. She also has several chronic severe physical problems since her accident. She is also going through a divorce now from her husband of 16 years. Whenever I tried to talk to her about why she was pulling away, she would either ignore the question, refuse to answer, or tell me that she was stressed out and couldn’t give me more in the relationship at that time. After 15 months we broke up. I’ve sent her materials about TBI relationship problems since the breakup. I don’t think that she believes that she has a problem.
What can her father and/or I do, if anything, to help her realize that she has a problem?
What can be done to help her with her memory and perception problems?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. I have just met an amazing and quality man about two weeks ago. We did text eachother for about 3 weeks before meeting. When we first met he was honest about been in a car accident 6 months ago and sharing that he is in rehabilitation but just started a month ago. He shared that he has migranes a lot and severe pain in his back which goes into his leg. He and i really connect well, commumicate well and laugh a lot. We both really like each other a lot and he is wanting to see where we might get to. I feel confused because he is in early stage of getting physio, massage and not sure if now is the time for him to be thinking of getting into a relationship. We are only friends at this time. I feel torn right now and this feels a bit overwhelming for me. I am a support worker, support individuals with special needs and challenges and that is a mentally draining job already. Just wanting to share as i already care for this wonderful man but realize at this time he has nothing to give if we were to be in a relationship..feedback of anykind would be appreciated.

Laura, I am finding that this whole subject around relationships after a TBI or stroke is quite a difficult one. Its perfectly acceptable if you were with this person prior to the incident but the views are different post injury. They become classed as a vulnerable person and open to exploitation and then anyone entering into their lives after the injury will be faced with this scrutiny from others. Human rights act says that they have the same rights as everyone else and should experience love and sex like everyone else. your needs will never be fully met and you seem aware of this and as two adults I am sure you can both work it out. We can't help who we connect with and
prior to brain injury would you both have had the same connection? you and
i can see beyond the impairment and love with our hearts and souls but for others they will never understand why anyone would choose to be with a person that is not able to protect or provide and will always raise the question ''what are you getting out of this''?

I'm seeing a guy who has TBI. It's been almost 4 years. He is in a home to help with learning I guess but his mother is somehow still his guardian. She doesn't want me involved as I want to be. Is it illegal if he sees me? She is his guardian but he's 22.
I'm confused... He seems normal to me. He's a very funny guy that makes me feel amazing

This is an eye-opening realization for me. I've had a TBI since 1990, when I was 15. Many of my gfs have told me that I wasn't happy with them, but I was happy with them. In 28 years my zero affect has set in more, I guess. I was smiling, but looked in the mirror and saw that I looked annoyed. What can I do?

My boyfriend and I have been together for six months. He recently was in a car accident and diagnosed with severe TBI. I guess my question is will he remember me when he wakes up? Will we be able to have the relationship we once did? Will he know that we loved each other and were in a relationship. We lived together and I love him very much. I just feel so lost and have never been in theis situation before.

I know how u feel my boyfriend got n car accident too I know he still cares bout me & loves me but I’m scared he will forget me & it’s frustrating having to deal with him forgetting everything like the wonderful times that was spend together or how he said he feels & it’s like he’s totally different person but I know he’s still n there somewhere but it’s hard to deal with & I’m scared I’m going to push him away or he will push me away without knowing it & it will be over & I don’t want it to be over

Hey, to help his brain return as much as possible to the "known self"... get him to listen to music that he uses to listen to right from as early to latest you and him can remember. Same with smells. Watch movies he used to watch as a kid etc... the brain is composed of billions of neurons. You want to stimulate as many of those as you can. I myself suffered a traumatic brain injury. Sometimes I taste something I haven't had since I was a kid and shed tears because it triggered long lost memories. Same with smells, movies etc...

A lot of those neurons got damaged. But neuroplasticity is always there. We have 5 senses that record information into memories.... just have to reconnect those pathways. Look at old pictures, music, movies, smells, go to places he grew up in and around so he can regain his sense of self. Hope this helps :)

April 26, 2009 my TBI occurred I was with the same girl since February 08 my relationship with that individual did not work out not saying that yours won’t but I changed as a person apparently she says I’m not the same she doesn’t know who I am anymore and I’m the reason relationship Didn’t work out I hope that’s not the case in your situation if you haven’t left him and you truly love him stand by him when I open my eyes after a 3 1/2 week coma and saw her standing there I remembered who she was I never forgot her I couldn’t speak but I knew who she was I hope he remembers you but it’s gonna take a lot of work for you and him to continue your relationship but if you love him you will make it through it

I have met a guy who has had a TBI he’s sweet but he gets so angry when he doesn’t get his way I feel that he LOVES me but when he’s angry, he scares me! Once he calms down he’s sweet again.

I am a TBI survivor so this is where I’m speaking from.
He may or may not remember you. Depending on the injury. He may remember things different as they were.. he may not remember anything.. or just pockets in his life (this is me). Due to injury of the brain he will probably be different in many ways. For example I was always very organized etc.. when I had my injury I couldn’t cook, talk properly, I relearned my daily routines, relearned to shower etc. Everything takes such a long time and understanding! If u can get counseling it would be best. For you and for your bf as well as for together when he can handle it. (But u should get it soon!). Hope that helps

Hi Jenna. Good insight. I too am in the first year of my tbi and just met someone I like. The thing is he didn’t know me before tbi so we are both getting to know this new person... me. I just started reading the book Feel Better Fast by Daniel G. Amen, MD. Chapter 7: love your secret weapon. Get it... read it, as I shall.
Faith, hope, love, patience and laughter. Make it be a journey you both travel.

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