View Full Version : Does my boyfriend have Tourettes?

12-08-10, 02:29 PM
My boyfriend and I have been together for about a month and spent a lot of time together before we made it "official". It would not bother me if he does have Tourettes but I feel uncomfortable mentioning his twitches and tics(?). There doesn't seem to be any correlation between activities and when these tics happen. For example, on a 4 hour car ride while I was driving, they were pretty bad. Sometimes it happens when we're just sitting watching TV together but then other times, like when we lay in bed and watch TV, he doesn't do it. His tics include a facial spasm where he blinks and kind of contorts his lips so his top lip sticks out, a swallow/moan/grunt, sniffing/exhaling through his nose forcefully and flexing his right arm.

He has never made any mention of doing any of this and I've never asked about it. He is also a little self conscious so I'm afraid that if I bring it up to him, it will make him feel bad. Should I mention it? Or ask questions to understand it better? What if he's never been diagnosed? I am friends with his 2 sisters on Facebook but have never met them in person. Would I be overstepping my boundaries if I asked one of them about it? It is not in any way going to change how I feel about it, I just wish it was something that we could talk about. It's almost like an elephant in the room to me but I have no idea how he feels. Do people with Tourettes know that they have these tics or are they so used to them that they don't notice?

Sorry for the jumbled questions. Any advice/help is much appreciated!

12-09-10, 10:50 AM
17 people have read this and nobody has any insight? Advice? Suggestions?

12-09-10, 04:52 PM
You know him, we don't. How does he respond to deep conversations and criticism? You know better than we do if he might respond poorly.

We also can't diagnose him here based on one short post. Do some research into Tourettes and see if it fits the bill. Maybe leave some info out for him to read if you really feel he might have it and won't react terribly.I would not go behind his back to his sisters though.

12-13-10, 02:57 AM
I was cruising for information and I saw your post, so I had to register.

Tourettes tics are something that are difficult to understand by people who don't have them. The "grunting" you described indicates that he has the much less common "vocal" expressions (blurting out curse words is a different manifestation that he clearly doesn't have). Most people simply have the face twitches/tics, shoulder shrugging, or body movements.

You don't need to ask anyone, this is his case. You should understand that they aren't uncontrollable, but they sort of are... Imagine you had an itch. You don't HAVE to scratch it, and it may even go away, but when you don't scratch it, it comes back. When your boyfriend tics, it is like an itch. Not scratching it would make any person feel like pulling their hair out. He has them frequently. So frequently, that he often doesn't realize he is doing it.

Now, in public situations, he may be able to resist for long periods of time, or maybe during sports, socializing, strenuous activity, he may not notice the urge or may not even have it. But if he is simply ignoring it, it is very uncomfortable. When he is relaxing and more "aware" of his body, they are very strong, and he is relaxed, so he tics.

Ticking isn't just a once time thing. Usually it happens in waves and the person tics until they get the one that just feels right, and the feeling subsides for a while. Sometimes they become very strenuous, sometimes, not so much.

It sucks for him. Other than the need to clear his throat of something that isn't there, or the need to move a muscle that isn't actually uncomfortable, he probably also experiences strong stress headaches from his facial/neck tics. By the end of the day, if you ask, he probably often has a horrible headache, and that probably makes him tic even harder, making it worse.

I am on high doses of add meds. My job requires focus, calm social interaction, and long attention spans. I have neither. I also experience similar tics without the vocalizations he makes. I have my whole life. They have improved somewhat with add meds, though I can't say scientifically how much. When I am able to focus on work, I am much less focused on my body, and tic less. Nonetheless, many days, my neck and head are so tight, and I tic so hard, that I want to just drink until I fall asleep (booze depresses the voluntary nervous system). I don't do this, but I have before.

If you want to help him, let him know that you get it, that you know it is uncomfortable for him, and that there are ways to deal with it if it starts to hurt. Breathing exercises and resting my neck to let my head relax helps. Talking, shoulder and temple rubs help alleviate tension and pain that make me want to tic harder. The vocalizations can probably be minimalized in similar ways, by breathing deeply and the knowledge that it can be distracting to you. He'll never break ALL of the habits, but he may be able to get over some of them.

I know this was a very long answer, but I had to give you some input, so you can get where he is coming from. Based on your description, I know he is often uncomfortable and embarrassed. If he acknowledges that you know, he may be more open to letting you know he is having a bad day, relax his eyes for a bit and breath deeply until the desire passes.

06-02-11, 04:42 PM
mine are really odd. they tend to come in "spurts" - for weeks i'll have horrible tics, where my eyes turn blood red from blinking so much, or my throat gets sore from doing the light coughs. then for weeks it'll subside, to the point i don't have tics at all! nothing, no tics whatsoever. then it'll start up again. you'd think i'd have this always, but i don't. how do i nail down what's causing this? it appears complete fortuitous but idk.

06-02-11, 05:19 PM
my son has been whistling every waking hour for about 3 weeks now and only stops to eat or talk. I wish he'd go back to singing the same 2 lines of a song over and over for about 8 hours, at least he sometimes changes the song....

... yes this is what is referred to as a complex verbal tic.

06-27-11, 08:17 PM
It really doesn't matter if you call it Tourettes or not. He could have a tic disorder or it could be Tourettes, does it really matter? My son has tics and has not been diagnosed with Tourettes but I'm sure he would be if I took him to a neurologist. His tics don't seem to interfere with his life right now so we just let them be. If you research tics you will find out that they are 'un'voluntary, not 'in'voluntary. In other words, the sufferer knows they are about to tic but stopping or suppressing it just makes the urge to tic build up even more. And, then they explode with their tics later on, whether it be after school, after a movie, etc.

If you like this guy, you can just go about dating him and accepting him for who he is. Talking to him about them would depend upon your level of intimacy and how close you two are and how you treat each other and respect each other. Just know that when you start talking to someone about their tics, it makes them tic even more. My son has told me that it's one of his biggest triggers is when we talk about it.