9 Ways To Tell A Man With A Painful Past, 'You're Safe. I Love You'

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9 Ways To Say 'I Love You' & Make Men With PTSD Symptoms Feel Safe In Relationships

Many men have difficulty expressing themselves emotionally. Societal norms, gender stereotypes, and outdated perceptions of masculinity teach boys and men, both consciously and unconsciously, to repress their emotions and avoid deep discussions about things that happened to them in the past.

Those who've been in relationships with men who don't know how to verbalize or explain abuse in their past or the emotions associated with that trauma often find themselves feeling isolated and alone as they try to figure it out on their own. No matter how deeply you've fallen in love with him, marriages and relationships with men who show signs and symptoms of PTSD can be tough, and knowing how to say "I love you" in ways that make him feel safe may sometimes feel close to impossible.

As defined by the Mayo Clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is "a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event."

RELATED: How Loving Someone With PTSD Affects Your Life (And 6 Ways To Make It Easier)

As in any relationships, it's important that you remember to clarify things with him. If you're unsure whether or not something is a trigger for him, ask him to discuss it with you rather than reaching an assumption on your own about whether it is or isn't. In doing this, you open the doors for communication about difficult topics.

Try not to view his pain as "baggage."

As we get older, the more likely all of us are to have experienced serious pain in our lives. It's not anyone’s place to judge another for what they've been through, so don’t judge your partner or get frustrated when he can't tell you exactly how you can make things easier for him to deal with his traumatic past. Truth is, he likely doesn't know the answer himself.

And instead of using words, aim to use actions intended to show him what it feels like to be loved and accepted as he is. Treat him with same the respect and dignity you want to be treated with by him.

In order to help him feel safe, here are 9 ways to say "I love you" to a man with PTSD symptoms who's experienced his fair share of trauma and abuse in the past.

1. Learn what hurts him.

Pay attention to how he talks about certain people from his past. This will give you a little bit of background as to who contributed to his rough past and what to avoid so you do not hurt him.

2. Find his triggers through observation.

Make sure to avoid them. These may be actions or behaviors that you have to become self-aware and be cognizant of while you’re around him.

3. Don't judge or criticize him.

Accept him. Make your presence a safe and comfortable one.

4. Show him small gestures of appreciation.

Bring his favorite candy or ice cream home. Randomly buy him something small that you know he’ll love.

RELATED: 20 Crazy-Romantic, Creative Ways To Say 'I Love You'

5. Let him know you're thinking about him.

Send him random texts. Let him know that you are thinking about him, love him, miss him, and so forth.

6. Allow him his silence.

There may be times when he doesn't want to talk at all, and that's OK. If he's comfortable with you doing so, sit with him. Hug him.

Your non-verbal behavior will let him know you are there for him when he’s ready.

7. Go at a pace you both feel comfortable with.

You may want to move forward in the relationship and he may not be quite there yet, or vice-versa. Be patient. Time will make a difference for him.

8. Don't pressure him.

Don’t pressure him to talk about anything he’s not ready to. He may not be comfortable enough yet or he's having difficulty talking about his past in general. Show him this and you’ll earn his love and respect.

Make sure he doesn't feel like he comes with baggage. More likely than not, he already feels as if he’s lugging it around everywhere he goes. Show respect and acceptance. Treat him the way you want to be treated.

9. Be respectful.

If he decides to tell you something about himself or his life, do not judge him. Make a comfortable and safe place for you and your partner. You can also show respect by asking his opinion on something. It shows that you value and appreciate him.

If there are decisions to be made on his part, encourage and support his decision without judgment or criticism. Make sure to address things in a calm and respectful manner as his past may involve emotional abuse and disrespect. Make sure to be aware of how you are speaking and the manner in which you say it.

We often relate extravagant events and very important memories with love, rather than experiencing our partner's love on a daily basis.

For example, we’re likely to remember our partner asking to take the next step in the relationship and move in together rather than a brain games book your partner got you on a random Sunday.

It’s unfortunate because we expect big things, rather than the daily little things that add up to so much more in the end. We need to start appreciating the small ways people show each other love every day, rather than the sporadic huge moments every now and again.

Rather than simply saying "I love you", your love can be shown in a number of small but meaningful ways every day. All it takes is a little thoughtfulness and effort.

RELATED: 5 Ways People With PTSD Love VERY Differently

Brittney Lindstrom is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.