Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Intimacy and Dating

I am wondering if having schizophrenia can effect intimacy and feeling of closeness with ones partner or spouse.

My boyfriend of 4 years has recently had a schedule change. He has said it is due to work but it kind of feels like a medication change and he is sleeping earlier than usual. He used to stay up almost all night.

He is doing well at returning texts and saying he is tired etc but I wish he would stay over or come just to sleep.

I am wondering if schizophrenia can make it harder for this type of closeness in terms of being able to spend the night or sleep at someone’s house.

Yes. In many ways.

Schedule changes are difficult regardless. Left to my own devices I’d more naturally follow a graveyard shift— less people to deal with, less sun to dazzle my eyes, quieter while I’m awake etc. Generally less stimulation is better for me.

Medication schedules vary even for the same drug from Psychiatrist to Psychiatrist. If a medication is sedating sometimes taking it before bed makes sense, it really depends on the medication and the person.

Controlling one’s environment is often important for people with SZ, sleeping or hanging out in unfamiliar places or at different times of day can be difficult. I find moving my desk in an office makes me hear different background noise or hear different mixes of officemate voices and it takes me a while to recover from changes.

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My daughter has had one date since being medicated 10 months ago. She is not really interested in a relationship at all. However, she really wasn’t much of a relationship seeker pre-sz either.

@oldladyblue thanks, that reminds me of a couple other things I wanted to say. First, as you say there’s a degree of disinterest or confusion about intimacy and dating, similar to what people with autism say. We might ask why would we want this, or look at relationships from a more utilitarian perspective.

Second, even if we want a relationship, we’re just plain bad at it. My prodrome started in High School which is when most people are figuring out and practicing relationships. Withdrawing into yourself isn’t a successful relationship starter strategy.

And if you recovery later on, you are missing important lessons you might have learned. For example, I never really learned to kiss properly. My first long term girlfriend didn’t like kissing for whatever reason, so we just didn’t. This made subsequent relationship transitions awkward, I often end up having what I call “the talk” before even kissing so as to explain/excuse. I’m beginning to suspect good kissing is only done by a select few, or is highly dependent on someone leading.

My advice to those in relationships with partners with SZ is never assume anything relationship-wise, we’re most likely ignorant of how they’re supposed to work. In recovery you always feel behind anyway, like Rip Van Winkle. This is just another aspect of this.

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daughter

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Your insight is very helpful, I think the past months he has done well at responding to texts, but not expressing feelings or emotions, he will not try coming over at a different time, or doing new activities.

It has been difficult to feel connected to him as he does not like to tell me what is going on in his life which makes it hard for me to imagine or make connections and piece together our relationship and experiences.

I wish there was something I could do to help him to enjoy more of life’s pleasures such as cooking together or going for walks.

@Thunderstorm_angel86 in reviewing other posts, I’m beginning to wonder if you are aware that blunting or absence of emotion is a symptom of SZ. It’s sometimes called ‘flat affect’, because the voice and facial expressions are ‘flat’ and expressionless. It’s one of the so-called negative symptoms. Negative because it’s something that’s missing instead of something that’s added like paranoia or hallucinations.

You may be seeking something that your boyfriend has difficulty providing. I think people tend to forget that Schizophrenia is a disorder of thought and emotion. The thought part is obvious to most people, that’s mainly the ‘positive’ stuff that’s bizarre and memorable. Negative symptoms aren’t as obvious, but can be insidious. You may have heard misinformed people talking about split personalities, because schizophrenia loosely means ‘splitting of the mind’. The ‘split’ is not referring to personality, but a split between thought and emotion.

This is not to say that people with SZ don’t have emotions, just that thought and emotion aren’t well integrated as in ‘normal’ people. I find I rarely have emotions ‘in-the-moment’ to borrow an acting phrase. I have to think about and process emotions for a while. I can feel things quite deeply at times, but prefer to do it in private as it feels as if I may lose control or make me vulnerable. I often try to find just the right song or movie or passage from a book that is expresses that emotion and I might obsess over it and read/watch/listen to it over and over again. I think that’s why I like acting. I get to visit the same situation and words and actions over and over again, until I understand the emotion of the scenes I’m trying to play.

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Very interesting Maggotbrane.

When my husband began displaying symptoms of paranoia a few years ago, I noticed that he was using some phrases that seemed like stock phrases that expressed his experience while avoiding anything that sounded too “crazy”.

When I asked about it, it sounded like he’d been doing online research to try to find things he felt captured his experience.

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I feel that reading information and books is one thing, but experiencing it is another. I find the information here to be the most helpful.

I have heard of “flat effect” and it is good you reminded me of the meaning on the “split”. I think what I was writing about last time is that a challenge in the relationship is staying connected in that emotional sense.

Though since the last entry I made and in the last 8 months he has really improved communication. He responds a lot faster and sometimes he uses a softer tone. Like yesterday night, we had seen each other a few days ago and he could not come over last night but he made the connection from the emotion of the previous visit to me wanting to see him again, he understood my feelings.

But it is hard to understand what he thinks or feels between visits because he doesn’t talk, or call, he hates texting. All I have is the emotional cues he give me when I see him. But I can tell if he is not feeling well, his texts sound more agitated.

I think at times it would be nice to hear from him his feelings.

@Maggotbrane, what kind of experiences/situations have brought you to having to process or deal with an emotion later? That is really interesting. I just re-read that.

This is less of a practical example, as it’s something that I brought into therapy some time ago. It’s the first example I could think of of how this works for me. I got into the habit early on in therapy of bringing in pictures, song lyrics and later sound and video clips since the advent of smartphones. My first therapist asked me to bring in family photo albums in my second session so she could see my development in pictures and see the progression of family dynamics.

One feeling I’ve often had after having developed SZA is being incomplete and behind in many ways, especially where romantic relationships are concerned. Edward Scissorhands came out while I was working my way through recovery and struggling with relationships. It’s one of my favorite films. When trying explain this feeling of disconnectedness and incompleteness to a new therapist, I used the following section of the movie to explain and experience the feeling.

Normally I’d show it as one continuous clip, but the YouTube search algorithm is not with me at the moment. The first clip is the text of the moment, and second clip is the flashback subtext and the third clip repeats the second clip and ties it back to the text of the moment, the audio is a little off and the picture is cropped so I prefer the second one, but it cuts off too soon.