Starting or 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

Emilie Godwin

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.

Comments (55)

I have been dating someone for 3 months who had a accident 13 years ago.
The first month was loving and spontaneous and he would show lots of affection.
But for the last two months he rarely shows any affection or instigates physical contact.
Jbhbe spoken to him about this and he said that he did not even realise.
I honestly thought that something was wrong with me and it's made me feel very self conscious.

I have been in a 6 month relationship with a man that had a Subarachnoid hemorrhage 3 years ago. He told me how it effected his memory and gave him bouts of E.D. I honestly thought the E.D. might be the biggest issue (and I really wasn't that concerned if it was) but to me that isn't even a problem (to him it is a reminder of what he lost) because it rarely happens. His emotional swings and memory issues are the biggest issues. He was cheated on by his ex wife (prior to the stoke) and has major trust issues. I have always been an independent person and he takes my independence (or what appears as of lack of need to him) as me having someone else in my life. No matter what I say or do it turns into an argument that ends up becoming escalated and confusing. Things I said are either not remembered at all and I am "cold" because I ignored his feelings or if they are remembered then the whole conversation is twisted and not at all received correctly. I get frustrated trying to explain because it seems no matter how I try to carefully phrase things to be honest yet as positive as possible it is rarely received as either. If I tell him that he doesn't remember something I said he gets angry and accuses me of picking on him for his memory issues. I feel like I am spinning my wheels. Finding this blog has definitely helped me "feel" better but I still don't know how I should handle things differently. I was seriously considering never telling him the truth about how I am really feeling and putting on a happy face all the time....even if I don't feel that way. I am not sure I can do that, but is that what is required to keep the peace? I've been searching online for a support group. How do I find one?

These posts break my heart. I fell down the steps when I was 20 (12 years ago) and was in the hospital for a month with a severe TBI. I show no physical evidence and am treated as such in society and by family/friends.

Internally I am sometimes on top of the world, cocky, arrogant, just crushing life and feel great. And within minutes can be hiding under the covers for months, scared of my next thought. I relate to a lot of the comments above and feel disgusted at the way I have treated people. I've done my best attempting to get help, and fall off track often. The struggle to find help again gives me so much anxiety that I usually don't get very far.

This site is helping me so much. I am reading things that sound just like my situation, when I thought it was just me.

Dating a man with a TBI he suffered 20 years ago. We are just at 5 months now. He was charming, a dream come true. This all lasted for about 3 months. He told me about the injury at the beginningbut said other than some short term memory issues, there was nothing to really know. He wanted to plan a future with me. He joined me at several Christmas invites. It was so wonderful. All of a sudden, he changed. I didn't understand. Looking at it now, I think I overwhelmed him and I had no idea I was doing it. He even has accused me of controlling him at Christmas ... but I invited him and he said yes to all of it ... but now he will say things like I was trying to control him.

He has wanted to break up a couple of times, but then was texing the next day that he loved me. The last two months have been a rollercoaster. We will spend some time together and it's wonderful... two days later, he gets frustrated out of the blue and says he wants to break up. Says he is'nt fit to have a relationship - Will even block me from his phone. Then a few days later, be back telling me he loves me. He is in really dark place. I'm trying to get him to concentrate on our friendship. we love each other but I am learning a lot from this.

Thank you so much to all of you who are posting, those with TBIs, you are making this easier to understand. I want to understand. I am starting to think that he maybe is afraid that I will see a side that I won't love so he is in this mood. I know most of it has nothing to do with me but it's so confusing sometimes.
Will I ever get that wonderful man I loved so much at the beginning back, even for a while?

Having TBI is difficult, I've been bailed on cuz of it. You're with someone you love and things are going great but they don't want to put in the effort to understand and walk away for a downgrade in everyone's eyes. It's gotten to the point that I'm not meant to be with anyone, females don't want to put in the effort in my experiences

My husband suffered a TBI in 2008. He was successful physician which after the accident his license was taken away. Our lives have been turned upside down. He was in a day program for 16 months. Learning how to speak, write and walk correctly. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday that this all happened. We have good days and we have bad days. And the days that are bad I just have to keep telling myself that this day will pass and hopefully tomorrow will be better. My husband and I have written a book that is called “The Real Deal”. We wrote this book hoping it would help one person. When my husband’s accident happened I searched for books to read. I was so afraid of the future and so was he. There was not many books out that I thought could help me. This book shows you a lot about what a brain injury survivor goes through and also the caregiver. I hope somebody reading this will find some part of the missing puzzle in the book. It is available on Amazon.

I am 1.5yrs into my relationship with a man with a TBI. He was hit by a car in 2015. I found this site in a desperate attempt to find others who go through the experiences of having a partner with TBI. I feel broken. I get very confused with my partner and some of the things he says. He will often contradict himself and his temper is dreadful. He often uses the wrong words for the context. I feel very suffocated in my relationship. I often walk on eggshells, in an attempt to avoid his anger bursts. I don't feel like I can feel any normal human emotional with him because he blows it out of proportion and it ends up being about him. Our entire life is based around dealing with his TBI. We have 5 children between us. I am the provider and then I organize the house etc. I get so tired overseeing everything. Today he told me that nothing he does is good enough and that I keep asking for more and more. I've come to learn that as a partner of someone with a TBI it is so important to do things in life that make you happy. Your TBI partner generally hates who they have turned into and the last thing they want is to see you restricting your life in order to align with their limitations. A TBI partner cannot give you the normal relationship life. They are simply unable to. Being with a TBI survivor means temper bursts, unstable emotions, contradicting their words, fatigue, inability to participate in some physical activity. If you are going to stay with a TBI survivor, you do need something for yourself. You need to have something that rejuvenates you. There will be an emotional gap with a TBI. It's not that they don't love you. They are brain damaged and their altered emotional state and often poor ability to communicate can cloud what that looks like. It's hard. It's so hard.

I have been living with a TBI survivor for just over a year. She has thus far moved out three times because of disagreements and she uses moving out as a weapon because she knows how much I love her and how it will hurt me. She just presently moved out three days ago, took what furniture was hers, etc. I am at a loss here and am frazed. I love her and want to be with her as I think she does with me. Another thing she does is manipulate a disagreement to make it seem like I am the bad guy and never sees her actions as causing the argument. She also has very explosive anger issues and is very controlling but she turns it around as if I am the controlling one. She's also very antagonistic and has absolutely no empathy when it comes to my feeling. I am at a loss here. I don't know if its even worth continuing in a relationship any longer with her. I feel there's absolutely no stability in her actions. One minute she lives here, a few weeks later she leaves and repeats the cycle... She also goes from hot to cold in that she's so in love with me to then breaking up.

Same exact situation here with my American boyfriend who also has a TBI. I love him so much that I can't just give up even though I do get often.

I'm so glad you posted this. I just came across this thread today and am sitting at my desk at work trying not to cry. I knew my husband was in an accident many years ago, I knew what happened, but I did not realize it was classified as a TBI. I never researched his injury, did not know that his unexplained behaviors, (most likely) cheating, lying, temper, strange stories, unable to hold a job, hatred for me at times, etc was not because of me. I left an abusive marriage and fell right back into another. I love him dearly when things are good, but never understood what happened when they are not. It's way too much to type and probably things I'm not ready to share. Does anyone know if there is a support number to call?

I met my boyfriend in 2016. He was my Prince Charming - successful, handsome, smart, funny, educated, RICH and with a wild side. I was the happiest woman on earth. I was sure he would be my husband one day. 5 weeks after our relationship started he suffered a car accident and got a TBI. I did not understand anything about TBI's, thought he would be better after a week or 2.

It is now 15 months later and he is still as bad (if not worse) than the first week. He has nausea, dizziness, headaches, irritability, loss of motivation, fatigue, negativity, ALWAYS wants to be alone. He became a different man. Despite this, I (have been trying to) stay with him because I know the real him is in there somewhere. It's so confusing because one minute he is planning his life with me and the next he is acting like I do not even know him. The biggest problem is that he does not think, admit or talk about how this has impacted our relationship. He claims that he is the same person he always was, that he just has headaches and can't handle loud places/sounds.

It is extremely difficult to talk to him about how I feel because he makes me feel guilty. Like my feelings of sadness, disappointment, frustration should not matter because HE IS THE ONE going through the pain, NOT me.

Can someone please tell me if this gets better? I don't know if I can take much more.

I m reading all the comments but I can’t find someone who share a good treatment .. anyone knows a good place to treat a brain injury with success?

Thanks for the article
Been with my bf a year this Halloween and I know he has his brain problems. He used to play rugby and has had around 14 concussions. He is 36 and works 17 hour days and never gets rest. We are an amazing couple and I love this man. When he triggers it’s bad. Work triggers him immensely and sometimes I do
I can say something wrong one day or we have an disagreement and he will take it out of perspective and flip and say I don’t love him. He will say he’s not good enough etc and make it sound like our relationship is bad
The next day we always talk and he cries and holds me and says he can’t live without me and he’s sorry his brain is whack. It is scary even he says he’s scared he will be like these nfl players and kill someone or him self.hes an amazing man. He is hardworking and loves me. This past Thursday I could sense it and he did start drinking after his 17 hour day and we did fight over something I had said. I kept on fighting and I tried stopping but he was in his head and it gets to yours too. The next day after this fight which was 2 days ago we did talk and we r fine now. I’m learning as a partner to not keep fighting after he says mean things and it’s hard. I’m a crazy Italian and I spout out the mouth. I have gotten so much better. I love him and I’m trying to be there and let him know that I am here for him. It’s tough and he gets insecure and he even had suicidal thoughts And it’s happened every argument we have when he triggers. We have had probably six bad arguments when he’s having a bad day with is mind. Sorry I’m rambling I don’t really talk to anyone about this. We r great and it’s a learning process and I know it’s probably going to get worse as well but I’m trying and I’m by his side.
Sorry a long comment and scattered. But I don’t talk to anyone about this and this helped

All i can say is I thought I was the only one. This chain is helpful in validating and articulating an experience that words fail to convey. I married a man two months ago after a short courtship who has TBI. He masked the level of his impairments until after we were married. And then he also misrepresented his battle with alcohol having said he was in active recovery. After married he began drinking and the anger and emotional imbalance has been a living hell. Yet, something inside me presses on and there is a neuroscience treatment center that has programs that help people with brain injuries in every way possible - addiction, behavioral stabilization (I call it jekyl and hide syndrome). We are waiting to hear if he will be admitted and praying to get through each day at a time. I have hope. I can't imagine what he is going through. But it's very hard on caregivers. There are support groups for people with TBI and for families of those with a loved one who has it. I encourage everyone here to keep supporting each other. I felt alone but I am seeing that it's not all me.

I'm dating my BF of almost one year. In 2002 he received a TBI. We started dating in August of 2016. I had no idea how TBI was 24/7.Living with someone who has TBI can be so unpredictable. One minute he planning a future, the next he thinks we shouldn't be together bc he thinks I'll eventually leave him anyway. His ex wife cheated on him so now he has these thoughts that I'm going to do the same thing. He says he can't get those thoughts out of his head. He says he loves me one day nd then the next he says its too hard to be in a relationship, then the next day it's fine. We moved in together about 4 months ago. Does a person with TBI need more time to be alone? He blames himself & what happened to him as reason to not continue on those days. He says "I'm a loner-I was meant to be alone". Yet this man pursued me for a while until I went out with him. It started out so great. I feel like he was trying to hide a lot of what is going on inside him. I told him I only want to help him. He thinks I'll get sick of him. It's like he wants to give up bc he doesn't want to get hurt again. I just started researching about TBI. He seems so happy and energetic one day & the next he contradicts a lot of what he said the day before. Do I give him more space? Do I keep letting him that I do love him & I'll stand by him? I would never hurt him. Help. I really feel in my heart we make a great team. Can I help him get over those obsessive thoughts?

Your relationship sounds a lot like mine. It's so frustrating. I feel helpless but can't give up on him. He gets ideas in his head that aren't real and can't seem to let them go. He says mean things to me until I have to walk away. I was previously in an emotionally abusive relationship and find it very hard to not feel like I m putting myself through another one. I read about TBI when I feel like I can't take it anymore. That's why I'm on here tonight. It's good to know that we are not the only ones suffering.

It's been 4yrs ago since severe TBI and he says he can't show me affection. He is afraid I'm going to leave him. He says he is living in the past where all his ex-wives have left and comparing me to them. He says emotional abuse is not as bad as physical.

I'm lost want my loving husband back.

My husband and I have been married for over 21 years and he is a completely different person after severe side effects from predisone and having a siezure while getting off of that medicine. He is not the same man. Something is missing. I feel like I have lost my husband. There are ridiculous arguments every single day. He's military and now getting out. All of this happened in September and he is finally getting a referral for TBI evaluation. I've been begging people to help. No one is listening to me. He argues that nothing is different and I'm the enemy.

Lisa, I can't put myself in your shoes but I can fit into your friend/boyfriends shoes. I suffered a TBI while in Europe in 2008. Its been nearly 10 years and I function just like your friend. My wife has been WONDERFUL, why she has stayed with me, I'll never know. She never knows what tomorrow will bring. Your friend needs you now more than ever before. Good luck and hang in there.

I am only just coming to the realization after 3 failed relationships that it is not possible to have a supportive relationship with TBI. TBI is worse than a life sentence. It ruins everything good. It's too hard for AB people to understand the need for rest and sleep and to live with the constraints that we have to to be able to function, survive and work. I'm tired of having to apologize for being punched in the head multiple times during domestic violence. Life for me ended on that day. This is worse than being dead. It's like being tortured slowly daily knowing you will always have to be alone.

My partner was a regional manager for several shopping centers he was in a accident & went into coma for 2 years he woke up 12 months ago, had a memory loss his partner divorced him & took 1 million off him she & taken her children, I'm a security officer I met him he looked fine, talks fine his a very loving person but I noticed he snaps & angry & screams repeating my words I'm very patient with him he forgets days, times, what is said, he even imbarrases me when he talks to items around the house & ask them not to move infront of family he will not understand a full conversation he gets confused, frustrated & angry he snaps scream etc: then apologizes for his doing later he wants me always by his side like a little child I love him I'm willing to look after him for the rest of his life.
My girlfriend was in an accident about 4 months ago. The doctors said she had a bruised spinal cord and post concussion syndrome. We had a perfect relationship prior to the accident, but now she wants nothing to do with a relationship and shows no emotion about ending our relationship. I see a lot on here about how people are dealing with tbi but not much about recovery and recovery time. Do people fully recover from these issues? Does anyone have any stories that end happy? I could use some help dealing with this. Any comments would be appreciated. Thank you.

Recovery is possible. Perhaps not 100% but maybe 80% for someone with a mild traumatic brain injury at least. I don't know if for TBI. It takes proper hydration, proper nutrition, proper rest and proper therapies to get to that point. It will take time, patience, perseverance. Look into neurogenesis and learn about proper nutrition. I will start off by letting you know that the worst ingredients are flour (wheat, rye, barley) and man made sugar (white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup) Stay away from those even if you dont have an injury, they are highly toxic to any human being.

Food is NOT toxic! Diet cannot cure tbi! Your comment is harmful.

My son has a TBI from birth. He's the sweetest guy I know. Very calm and laid back and he just turned 21 and he loves women but wants a girlfriend so bad he often moves to fast. He doesn't understand that he needs to get to know a woman and date her before he can claim her. lol. It makes him so sad when girls don't like him. And it makes me sad too! Because I know if they knew who he really was they would love him. If only one girl would be patient with my big handsome guy...😏

My friend suffered a brain hemorrhage and her partner left her because it affected her speech, I don't suppose you know any good dating websites I could possibly get her on has she has lost all confidence thanks Vicky x

My relationship with my girlfriend at first was good. But about 6 months in, everything I say and do is scrutinized. I work too much (average 44 per week), everything I say. I am at a point that I am afraid to speak, then it is turned on me because these things hurt me. Or I try to rationalize, no baby I work, I work from home and that does not help. I am so frustrated, hurt, confused. Even though deep down I know not everything is my fault, hearing that everyday is taking a toll. Help me, I do love her. I am female also.

Hi everybody!

I am also married to a man who suffered brain injury almost 8 years ago and we are married for 3 and a half years. 

I am glad I found this group where I can learn and share with people that are living with a person with TBI.

I seriously try to be patient, to do everything for him, but sometimes I am human, and I can handle the situation, not expression me, accept everything he says. I can even feel sad or treat him different that's he feels very bad and start hurting him and saying  he wants to die. To see him doing and saying this kind of stuff, hurts me a lot. I love him so much and after I met him my life change to better, the difficulty we have is big, but our love for each other is stronger and we keep trying to make our relationship work out.

Let's never give up on who we love, on who that's needs care, trust, and help.

I am the one with the tbi. An I know I am hard to deal with at times.... He sees the old me and I hate the new me. We fight all the time.....I feel like I talk a foreign language. I am so lost an depressed.... Nothing is the same.....

Shai, my girlfriend of 3 in a half years had an accident a month ago today. She is still in the hospital and from the day we met we both fell deeply in love. I promised her no matter what I will always be with her and there for her. I know she still loves me but I fear she also hates the person she now is. I also still see her for who she always was and try to reassure her that she is. This is all so new to me but I will be there for her no matter what I have to do. I know if it was me that had the accident she would be there for me.

She has severe brain damage to her higher brain the doctors say. She has her good days and bad days and I try to treat the bad days as good ones and just roll with the punches. I’m very depressed and feel helpless I pray all the time for her. Just know that your boyfriend does still love you. You need to love yourself too. I understand you suffer from a TBI but I feel your boyfriend is right -- you are still the person you were when you met. There are some differences now, obviously, but try to find that love for yourself, please. Before the accident, I wasn’t really a person with faith in God but this past month I find myself changed and pray for everyone but myself. I pray you find that love for yourself just like your boyfriend loves you.

Well said.

I'm 2 months into a relationship with my new partner who suffered a TBI 5 years ago! Hes' a lovely man and both myself and my kids love him dearly! My previous relationship before was very abusive so to meet someone like him is a dream! He can be so kind and funny! However it's not always easy! Things are very black and white with him at times. He's very rarely wrong and when he is he will never say! He always tells me to talk to him if things aren't ok but when I do he becomes defensive and it's easier just to never bring it up! He's very straight to the point and because of my past I'm quite sensitive so that's sometimes not a good combination! He can be very loving some days, like he's missed you and it feels great! Other times we hang out and he's never off his phone! He's constantly tired, lacks motivation and very rarely gets a full nights sleep which can make him really grumpy! Before reading this page I just thought he was lazy so it's been helpful reading these comments and I will try to be more understanding! My worry is that this is how it's always going to be and that because he's unable to change then I will have to "toughen up." I would never leave him though. I think I will just have to learn to adapt to the bad days and enjoy the good ones.

I am one year married to a man that I dated over 20 years ago. We reconnected, dated for 5 months, were engaged and married a couple months later. I knew that he had a TBI about 8 years prior but didn't really understand the effects. It's been a wonderful, yet challenging year. My husband can be very sweet and compassionate with me yet say horrible things about other people. His mood can sometimes turn negative and he is difficult to be around, almost irrational in his views. I am trying to learn more about TBIs and their long term effects. So far finding this site very helpful.

About 2 months ago I got into a relationship with a man who suffered a tbi and ptsd from the military. I am so in love with him and he says he loves me and i am the best thing that has ever happened to him. He has even asked me to move in with him already. Before we even entered into a relationship he tried to explain to me how these conditions have effected his past relationships. He was divorced after 6 years of marriage as a direct result of the impact these conditions had on him mentally and emotionally. I promised I would not give up on him or us, but now only 2 months in he has already cheated on me. He constantly contacts his ex and other women as if he is in desperate need of female attention at all times. It makes me feel like I'm never going to be enough for him. Emotionally he flips like a switch. We will have a great day together then as soon as we part ways everything seems to fall apart. I'm trying to hang in there and realize that none of this is either of our faults, but are symptoms of his condition. I'm not the type of person to give up on someone and none of my friends seem to understand why I feel the need to continue to be with him. It's frustrating that we argue and "break up" every few days. I want so badly to be a constant in his life that he needs so badly, but sometimes its hard to discern what issues are results of his brain injury, and which ones are actual character flaws or intentional (if any).

I was hit by a car dragged ten blocks thrown up ten feet and left for dead and fractured my skull and messed up vertebrae in my spine I am currently experiencing this tbi effect as well I also have the same issues only I don't cheat I get irritated and I have no support your husband lives and loves you if I had someone that has done as much as you have especially researching the effects and commenting OMG I love you too

I, nor my husband, knew he had brain damage. Though we had discussed how he had gotten hurt, I never and he never made the connection. Flat affect and retreat were two major symptoms I took personally. After a decade of marriage and children we divorced. I'm unsure how TBI can effect fidelity and gambling issues but we certainly had a lot of that in our marriage. He even hut me physically on a couple of occasions. I finally had jade enough and divorced him. We have children together and he walked out on his responsibilities stating he was happy and we should all be happy for him. He has placed our family in so much despair. I can't wrap my mind around what's happened

I married a man that has a TBI and I did not know it at the time.  If I had known what I was getting into, I would not have made that move.  We have been married almost four years now.  His short term memory drives me crazy.  His emotional outburst are extreme and violent. He has little or no emotions, like laughter.  Just flat. He does not want to participate in outside activities that I and others enjoy.  All he wants to do is watch ball games, police movies or WWII on tv.  It is really frustrating. I feel very alone.  We don't talk.  We don't even go to bed at the same time.  He sits up with tv until wee hours every night.  He won't consider going to counseling.  And, he has a gambling addiction.  I don't know what to do.  And, by the way, ours was an arranged married by a minister.  I only knew him for two weeks before I married him.  I feel stupid.

All relationships have valleys but they also have beautiful mountains. I am married to a man who has suffered a TBI after our marriage. I can say this, it isn't always easy, there are days that I question things, and learning to love and be intimate is a struggle. I took vows. Serious vows. For sickness and in health. I didn't just vow to love my husband at his best but also at his worst. People are so quick to validate leaving or abandoning people when things are no longer pretty. That isn't a marriage or a relationship. If you love someone, you love them. I have to ask myself, how would I want my husband to handle things if our roles were reversed. The answer is: Never give up hope. I do understand there are certain situations that you need to protect yourself and your kids. I agree with that. A person is worth so much more than the things they can do or provide. Their life matters whether it be to you or someone else. They matter!

My son was born with a developmental disability. At the age of 20 he was in a crash that resulted with a TBI. He is on his 3rd relationship since the accident 3 years ago. His girlfriend manipulates him into spending enormous amounts of money on her ($800/weekend ). He is unable to recognize that she is using him. As the parent of this 22 year old child, what can I do?

I am in a newer relationship with a tbi.... it feels like a daily struggle lately. Because of his injury he gets depressed. ...then he drinks. Of course because of his injury he has no filter or shut off to stop. He claims he's not an alcoholic.... just drinks to numb the hatred for himself. ...I love him. But I have young boys to think about

I am having a hard time finding any information dealing with overprotective relatives "ie" sisters. They meddle into every crevice of our relationship. The are constantly making up and spreading bad rumors about me. They have set my fiance up with an astronomical amount of money. Then accuse me of being with her to take it from her. In reality when I met her I didn't even know she was set up with money I just fell in love with her. They are completely narcissistic in their accusations against me. I have spent every bit of my money to take care of my girl. I love her dearly and want to be hers forever but feel such an impact on my nerves I don't know how to handle these interfering relatives. Does anyone have any advice?

You love them...but how do you keep going?...when you love them and they cause is heartache...

My husband and I have been married for 13 years.  We are now separated.  He sustained a TBI in 1991 and I met him in 2001.  We married in 2002 because we were pregnant, and he really wanted to try and make it work because he said he had never loved anyone as much as he loved me.  During our 13 years, he frequently reminded me that we were in this for our child and that we were working toward our relationship becoming more complete.  This affected me over the years, but I chose to let it go.  At the end we were in counseling, but it was too late, he was no longer in love with me.  For the last 1.5 years, we have been pretty much platonic (a lot because I wasn't into the sexual side of things) which I blame myself for and being on Zoloft didn't help.  When I speak on the phone with him, it's as if he is a stranger.  He is now focused on only himself and doesn't have to answer to anyone and this is how he wants to be.

Great article, I have TBI and am in a relationship. I love everything in my relationship but sometimes it can get hard with my effects. Its hard to control my anger, emotions and thoughts. But its all about having an understanding partner who can try to put their feet in your shoes and realize you aren't the person you act out to be in situations and can't control it sometimes. I love reading the comments of others because it helps me too.

I just got into an argument with a woman I was dating who has a TBI. I knew nothing about TBI before I met her. I wish I had known more about it before we started dating. I've learned that what they are thinking isn't always easy for them to communicate. Be patient with them...it's nearly impossible for me not to try to put myself in her shoes when she's at her worst. The depression of my own life and the emotion I directed towards trying to help her...it wasn't healthy. I'm realizing for me it was more about trying to make her life better trying to make her happy taking on all these feelings that I shouldn't. It's not healthy to think that you're the reason why someone else is happy. My advice to anyone with a TBI or dating someone who has one is to spend the first part of your relationship learning about how a TBI affects someone. Without that I think it's nearly impossible. It's very hard for some of them to communicate what they are actually thinking and that can cause lots of problems. It's going to take me a little while to get over this

As someone with a TBI, i want to say thank you to those that understand and stick by their partners. I also want to apologize on their behalf and my own. We aren't trying to be difficult, and we hate that you suffer with our trauma. But thank you so much for being the support we so desperately need!

I recently started dating a man who was born a "forceps baby" and suffered a skull fracture from the doctor who delivered him. He is a decent man and I very much enjoy being with him, but I definitely want to learn more about his disability so I can be the partner he deserves. He told me about his last relationship which didn't end well. He got severely depressed and was suicidal. I'm definitely concerned that he will have difficulty should we argue or things don't work out. Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you!

I've been in a relationship with my bf for 16 years and last year he suffered a TBI. We were engaged before this and it is difficult. There are days when he is the man I fell in love with and others he is a cruel stranger. I read the comments and feel relief to know I am not alone. We have two kids and they are dealing with the loss of their father as well. He is constantly depressed due to the TBI and physical complications that came with his injury. It is a daily struggle and I have thought many times about walking out and giving up. But I love him so I stick by his side as I vowed to do when I said yes to marrying him. Although I must also say that the comments from people in "long distance" relationships with TBI ppl are appalling. To truly understand the daily struggle, you have to be there. I am with my guy from morning meds at 6am to bedtime meds at 11pm. The only time we are apart is when I go to work. My bf requires 24 care and there are two ppl who provide this...me and his brother. A person with a TBI needs constant contact, support and love daily.

Dating someone with TBI can be hard. My boyfriend's emotions are up and down and each day I'm not sure what sort of mood he will be in. Some days he's really good and he's funny and really shines. Other days it's hard to identify causes but he will be cross and easily frustrated. Feel like I'm continually on egg shells with him. Don't always voice my own opinion as it can often lead to conflict. It's a confusing situation for both of us, but I won't walk away. It's his TBI, not him. I'm hoping as time goes on the angry/frustrated days will become less frequent...

Interesting article and thread. I struggle with a new relationship with someone with a TBI. I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster having questioned numerous times what is our relationship, friend, boy friend and girlfriend or something else. I too get from time to time a thank you for spending the day with him?? Odd behavior, rigid thinking.

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