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My Past Makes My Boyfriend Have Panic Attacks

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From a young woman in Pakistan: Coming from a conservative society, I did not tell my boyfriend about my past physical relations, even though I know I should have. Instead I lied to him that they were non consensual. And he later found out by my ex about them, after I had lied to him about the problem for months. The one thing he asked me was not to break his trust or lie to him and I did the same exact thing. I was too scared to tell him because I felt I might lose him, although I know if I had told him beforehand things would have been okay.

We’ve been going through good and bad days after that. Recently he’s been in a very horrible position. He gets panic attacks at least 1-2 a day. Whenever I try to talk to him he starts this process of linking everything up and it starts to trigger his anxiety.

He sometimes lashes out and becomes very mean. For example, he would say that regrets meeting me and that he does not want to stay with me, but then right at the moment when it gets too much for him, he says something the complete opposite of what he said before. He also stops when he feels that I feel bad, and I might be affected by everything. I did lie to him a lot to hide this thing. The things I said to cover up have become a trigger point for him.

I really do not know how to handle this. He always had trouble letting go of the past. He says he feels powerless and weak and these feelings aggravate everything inside him. He hates certain aspects and they exist. I need some help in how provide for a positive environment and how to get him to relax. I tried sharing old memories and good moments but they sometime work and sometimes they don’t. He wont agree to a therapist, therefore, I cannot get him to take therapy.

I feel like I would need a lot more space to fully explain the situation. It’s a very long and complicated situation. I have only given the basic details. If there is a way please let me know.

My Past Makes My Boyfriend Have Panic Attacks

Answered by on -

A.

I’m sure this is very painful for you. But I’m not sure things would be different if you had told him the truth about your past involvements in the early stages of your relationship. His reaction may be about the fact that you broke his trust, which is serious. But I’m wondering if he is also struggling with the fact that you were with other men before him. If that is the case, you need to be talking about the difference in your histories and your values as well.

I’m sorry your boyfriend won’t see a therapist. You can’t fix his anxiety. If he could do it on his own, he would have done so long ago. From what you shared, his level of anxiety is serious.

Anxiety is treatable with a combination of medication and talk therapy.┬áHe doesn’t have to live with having panic attacks every day. Having that level of anxiety is a very, very hard way to live.

Unfortunately, there is little you can do at this point to settle him. Trust is easily broken and very difficult to reclaim. It is up to him to find a way to understand your motivation and to then forgive you if you are to move forward in this relationship. If he is unable to tolerate the fact that you had other relationships, that too is something for him to work through.

You can’t undo your history. He may be able to come to understand that history is just that — history. What matters is what you learned from it and the fact that you are choosing him now.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Past Makes My Boyfriend Have Panic Attacks

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). My Past Makes My Boyfriend Have Panic Attacks. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/08/11/my-past-makes-my-boyfriend-have-panic-attacks/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Aug 2020 (Originally: 11 Aug 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 5 Aug 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.