My partner forbids me from any sort of intimacy with my other partners because she gets panic attacks

I have been dating this married couple for 7 months now. My girlfriend suffers from ptsd and has frequent panic attacks. She had a panic attack over us and physical touch, which was okay and we stopped. She had a panic attack over me and our mans intimacy. Again it was okay and we stopped. But now it seems that she doesn't want either of them to be intimate with me. She says that I could either leave or find a fourth to be intimate with. I don't know what to do.

This is a really tricky situation. When you’re dealing with trauma and panic attacks, it can be hard to balance between sensitivity and care for the person who is suffering, while still honoring your own needs and boundaries. It sounds like you’ve been bending over backwards to accommodate your partner, but what is being done to make sure you are getting what you need and want? What work is she doing to manage her own health?

Let me be clear: having symptoms of a mental illness is not in and of itself manipulative - but it is possible for someone to use them as a cudgel to make unreasonable demand. It is easy to believe that whoever has the strongest or most intensely expressed feelings should always take priority, but that is a fallacy. “Because I had a panic attack” is not an immediate, inarguable conversation-ender that obligates everyone to do what someone wants. Everyone deserves to be heard and respected, including you.

Your girlfriend has a right to relationships that are not abusive, coercive, or dismissive of her pain. But she is not entitled to a world where everyone acquiesces to everything she asks. Panic attacks are horrible, but they’re also entirely survivable, and there is a big difference between “feeling unsafe” and “being unsafe.” Your girlfriend has a right to safety. She does not have a right to a world free from discomfort. She needs to be willing to work with herself and with her partners on managing her anxiety - and this means a lot more than simply ordering the cessation of anything that triggers a panic attack.

It is okay for you to tell your girlfriend that you’re no longer able to be in this relationship exclusively on terms that she sets, which she can change at any time. Give her space to explain what, specifically, is triggering these panic attacks and how those underlying feelings can be addressed rather than tiptoed around. You can ask her what she would need in order to work towards being okay with you having intimacy with these other people. If she is only willing to date you under these terms, you’ll need to decide whether it’s time to accept her invitation to leave.