We all bring a little bit of our history into every single new relationship.
Even people who appear the most put-together on the surface have wounds from the past. It’s just part of being human.
But many of us don’t realize that our past trauma can contribute to relationship problems in the present. In fact, sometimes, we have no idea how much a history of trauma can affect our relationships until we get support in processing unresolved injuries from the past.
We’re finally reaching a point as a society where the stigma of seeking therapy to work through trauma is fading away. Of course, unpacking trauma can be challenging. But doing so can change your life for the better.
Consider a few ways trauma can influence your relationships.
Your Attachment Style
Each individual exhibits a slightly different attachment style. Any trauma that you experience in childhood can have an impacton the way you relate to and interact with others.
Your attachment style generally falls under four main categories: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, or fearful-avoidant.
If you find yourself clinging to your partner, pushing them away, or getting into hot and cold relationships, it could be a manifestation of your attachment style and, subsequently, your past trauma. The good news is with the help of a relationship trauma therapist you can develop a more secure attachment style.
Do you tend to shut down and put your guard up when you feel a conflict brewing? Or do you feel like you can’t hold back your emotions, and you eventually just blow up at your partner?
Sometimes we pick up these patterns from watching how our parents or caregivers handled conflicts. Or we may have experienced an absence of relating, leaving us without our own experience of positive conflict resolution. Either way, it may be important and helpful to learn healthy strategies of relating, especially when it comes to expressing likes, dislikes and needs.
You may find yourself constantly wondering if your partner is on the verge of leaving. You may feel nervous when they start hanging out with new friends, wondering if they are losing interest or if they’ve met someone else.
Insecurities like this can be a result of trauma as well. You may feel anxious that you’re not “enough” for your partner because of the way you’ve been treated in the past.
It’s important to get to the root of these insecurities to recognize your own self-worth.
Trouble Communicating Needs
If you have ever been in a relationship where your needs were dismissed or ignored, you may have a hard time expressing yourself to your current partner. You might even feel guilty when you ask them to do something for you. Or perhaps you tell yourself that what you want doesn’t really matter, only to get upset later when your partner is unsure of what you want from them.
Thus, learning how to tell your partner what you need and where you’re feeling unsupported is key to a happy relationship.
Commitment issues aren’t just a sign that you’re not quite ready for a relationship.
If you’ve fallen into a pattern of getting close to potential partners, only to push them away when things are finally starting to get serious, it may be because you feel undeserving of a stable relationship due to past trauma. You might fear that you won’t be a good long-term partner or that your partner will break up with you once they get to know the real you.
You may notice a preoccupation with finding the “perfect” partner. While some people aren’t worth your time, sometimes this fixation on “not settling” serves as a protection against experiencing uncomfortable vulnerable feelings that arise in intimate relationships.
If starting a relationship or getting past the initial phase seems like an insurmountable task, It could be due to trauma that has had a negative effect on your self-esteem.
Realizing that a history of trauma is affecting your current relationship? I am here to help. Contact me today to see if therapy is right for you.