Handling triggers during dating

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Sasha

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Handling triggers during dating
« on: December 20, 2018, 01:11:11 AM »
I am actively dating and am noticing a number of triggers and hyper vigilant reactions.

I am using dating apps, occasionally moving into texting and very occasionally meeting someone if it feels okay.

I feel very cautious of certain things:
• overfamiliarity
• pushing boundaries
• critical sarcasm (not the light kind)
• gaslighting

Last weekend I went on a date with someone who went to, in a fairly light hearted moment, ‘shush’ me by putting his finger towards me lips. I triggered hard as one of my trauma is repeated face slaps and I have troubles with hands around my face.

I told him not to do that to me again, and from my reaction he knew to say sorry. But I dissociated and spent 5-10 minutes struggling to keep track of what he was saying or making conversation. I felt like I don’t know this person and they have also freaked me out (inadvertently)  so I don’t feel safe to disclose what is going on. So I ploughed through, and then when I was feeling a bit more with it and after I felt like he had been supportive and that signs of danger had passed. I explained that I have a history of trauma and that t makes my brain go a bit slow when something triggers me. He was very understanding but I felt like I had to explain due to my behaviour change.

Anyway, he wasn’t right for me in other ways and it has made me think that maybe anyone who reaches out to touch me without knowing me will not be right for me? And maybe that’s okay? I am sure there are loads of guys who just wouldnt do that? I mean, shushing someone is quite arraigning anyway, right?

He was also suggestive about his sexual preferences and I noticed that when he said he liked being ‘dominant’ I felt very triggered. At this point I said I needed to go and I did leave the date, feeling terrible as I was very unsure if I was overreacting or not. It felt very forward for me.
 
Needless to say, I am not seeing him again. And I said a firm ‘not for me, take care’ etc by text.

Next up, tonight, I was talking to someone over WhatsApp who I haven’t met yet who seemed cool, until he made a joke that it seemed like I was ‘really into him’ coz I asked him about his work. I felt pretty stupid so I backed up and said ‘okay cool, i guess we can talk more when we meet on Saturday. Gonna go to bed now, night!’ and left the conversation to talk to another friend.

He sent me a message moments later challenging that I was still online. My friend said his could be flirty, but I reacted badly and felt affronted, maybe triggered as I have had controlling people monitor me in the past. I gave him a bit of assertive banter back and he got a bit more sarcastic and bantery  with me, and I felt really high alert.

In the end I called him out on all of it and told him what I had found uncomfortable. He apologised by my back feels put up. I felt in my gut that this doesn’t feel safe, but he kept saying that stuff gets lost in translation. He also said ‘but I put a cheeky monkey face’ and I felt like this was huge denial that he was being controlling over that message.

Anyway. My question here is around whether to trust my intuition? Or is my intuition screwed up? How can I tell the difference?

There are definitely people who don’t make me feel like this so perhaps this is the thing... perhaps these people who trigger me aren’t evil or anything too extreme, but perhaps they just aren’t right for me? Like, the banter and humour just doesn’t match up?

Just trying to work it out ....
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 01:15:11 AM by Sasha »

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Deep Blue

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Re: Handling triggers during dating
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2018, 01:58:16 AM »
Thatís tough,
Iíd say trust your intuition.  In my opinion, our hypervigilance can step in to protect us from future trauma.

May I suggest that the next time you go out, have a backup plan.  Like a friend you can text to say there is an emergency and you need to leave? In a show I used to watch, she would say she needs to feed her cat.  Good luck with this

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Sasha

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Re: Handling triggers during dating
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2018, 02:13:47 AM »
Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I think youíre right about the intuition as the more I think about it, I donít get this everyone. Some people I do feel safe with and it is the behaviour of others that is triggering, which is just something I donít want to overlook anymore in my life.

Thank you, I do have a back up plan set up and did use it this time. I will use it again if I am heavily triggered. However I also like to practice assertiveness and trying to engage with my feelings in the moment wherever possible, without making excuses, as I feel like this feels most empowering for me and helps with my ongoing recovery.

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SharpAndBlunt

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Re: Handling triggers during dating
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2018, 01:25:41 PM »
Hi, I'm going through dating too and I'm struggling a lot. I feel like the intuition is the best way. Even just getting to know friends can be tricky enough that way. I get triggered easily these days.

Everything you described by the way would have been enough to put me off too, so I think your intuition is good.

If you feel disrespected or controlled then I would say definitely walk away with a firm no thanks. I think you did the right thing.

Recently I've been getting to know someone and my own triggers led me to feel she was not right. But on reflection I think maybe my own expectations were not correct at that point. So, it's a tricky balance. I just try to respect others' as much as I can and if communication feels right and natural it's a big step forward. Potential dates failing on messengers can be a simple mistake but can also be quite a good warning sign imo.