The Pain Of Past Trauma And How It Can Affect Relationships

Past traumas can be defined as any events that posed a threat to your physical or psychological well being, and they can sometimes have a detrimental impact upon relationships if you don’t seek professional help to deal with their consequences.

Here are four ways in which past trauma can have a negative impact upon intimate relationships:

  1. Past traumas can trigger ‘fight, flight or freeze’

If you experienced a trauma in your past that you haven’t been able to deal with, or still struggle to cope with despite your best efforts, then every time you find yourself in a situation that reminds you of that past trauma, you are likely to fall into a state of ‘fight, flight or freeze’. These states can be damaging to relationships, and here’s how:

2. Fight

You might find yourself attacking your partner either verbally, physically or both, and they may find themselves feeling blamed for the problems you’re experiencing, whether real or imagined. Your behavior may become controlling and you might find it very hard to let things go.

3. Flight

This state may see you having trouble dealing with problems, or avoiding them altogether, and you may feel like running away from intimacy or emotional situations.

4. Freeze

When you enter a state of ‘freeze’, you may feel helpless and unable to act or cope, you may even begin to shut down and emotionally and physically distance yourself from your partner.

You may experience a response centered upon a feeling of shame

Shame is a destructive emotion, and even more so when it is felt by one member of a partnership. Making you want to hide your feelings or encourage thoughts of anger towards your partner, shame can make you keep important elements of yourself a secret. It’s common for someone experiencing intense feelings of shame to attack those close to them or mask insecurities by overcompensating. Overall, it can make you want to step away from a relationship instead of working to save it.

Strict, inflexible beliefs about relationships

Past trauma or even having had a distressing or dysfunctional childhood, can shape the way you deal with future relationships, and if you haven’t dealt with those traumas, you might find it very hard to trust others and to resist the urge to control them. Rejection may become a legitimate fear, causing you to avoid relationships altogether, or to push away current partners.

Selecting partners that aren’t right for you

If you’re in a relationship with someone who is not treating you with love or respect, then you may feel unable or unwilling to object to their behavior, and may simply put up with it for fear of being alone, or through a misguided belief that a dysfunctional relationship is to be accepted as is instead of working to transform it.

If past trauma is having a negative effect upon your relationships, then it might be time to book yourself in for an evaluation from a mental health professional. There is no shame in admitting that you’re struggling to cope with a terrible event from your past, and by coming to terms with this and seeking help, you can begin to give yourself the respect and self-love that you deserve, along with the ability to make wiser decisions about relationships.

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