3 Signs Past Trauma Is Affecting Your Relationship
Do you feel yourself pushing your partner away even though you love them? Unresolved trauma from your past could be impacting your way of thinking.
When you have gone through a traumatic event, you may feel like you are in danger long after the event is over. Experiences of abuse, sexual assault, neglect, medical or car trauma, and other negative events can change your trust in people and the world. Often these experiences cause long-term feelings of anger or numbness. Your relationships can be affected when that anger or numbness gets in the way of communicating with your partner in a healthy way. Without even meaning to, your impulsive actions have the power to create a divide between you and your partner.
Here are three ways that past trauma can affect your relationships.
1. Triggered Into Traumatic States
Trauma has a way of rewiring our brains to go into a “fight, flight, freeze, tend or appease” fear response state. Anything that reminds you of the original trauma will cause your body to protect itself from re-experiencing it. Your body may go into panic mode and then you will do whatever you can for protection. This may make you quick to be defensive. You might say things to your partner that you do not mean, yell at them or lose your temper. Your partner may end up feeling attacked, rejected, or abandoned by your actions.
2. Unhealthy Responses to Shame
Unresolved trauma or being in a constant state of rejection can cause you to respond in very unpredictable ways. If your partner has ever made you feel ashamed for your actions, this can cause you to either hide your feelings or respond in rage. In order to mask your insecurities, you may unintentionally attack others or place blame on them to stay hidden. It could be hard for you to hear criticism, even if it is said with the best intentions. Instead of fighting for your relationships, you end up giving up on them to keep up this protective "wall."
Shame can lead to developing different types of addiction as you try to prevent yourself from feeling it. Drugs or alcohol used to mask feelings of insecurity are common as well as shopping impulsively or becoming a workaholic. If you continue with these unhealthy habits, you will likely often be unavailable to your partner. Your partner may feel like these new habits are the priority over your relationship.
3. Negative Beliefs About Relationships
Relationship trauma or growing up in a dysfunctional family can negatively shape your beliefs about relationships. If you have a fear of rejection or abandonment, you may not want to put yourself out there for intimacy. You may even want to reject others if you believe that they will reject you first. Trauma can make you believe that your partner will never understand what you are going through which results in you pushing them away.
Relationships are built on being open and honest with your partner. By not expressing your wants or needs to them, they will feel like they are not good enough for you to speak with or open up to.
If you are dealing with any of these negative patterns in your relationship, it is time to speak to a mental health professional. We need to learn to give the world a chance as well as the people in it. You are worthy of a relationship as much as anyone else. Do not let the trauma destroy something that is going so well with you. Otherwise, all we will have are the bad elements life brings us. By becoming aware of these signs of trauma in your relationships, you can learn to let your partner in. See the conflicts in your relationship as an opportunity for growth. Feel free to read more about trauma therapy and schedule your first consultation today.