Effects Of My Past Trauma In The Relationship

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Written By:

Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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Trauma can be understood as an exposure to a distressing event that changes the way we perceive the world. It distorts our perspective of the world. Trauma has a long lasting impact on all areas, especially relationships. Trauma acts as an anchor that brings the quality of your relationship down. 

The anchor represents the various negative thoughts, negative memories and negative feelings that can often hamper us from experiencing total satisfaction and well-being in our relationships. Trauma is the part of the iceberg that lies below the ocean level and influences almost everything above. As long as we have this huge block of trauma holding us back and anchoring us down, we will never be able to sail comfortably through the sea of life. 

Let us understand the various areas that are probably holding back your happiness in relationships

  1. Safety and Trust Issues - 

When something traumatic happens, our sense of safety is disrupted. We are immediately pushed into survival mode as our body is exposed to a dangerous situation that threatens our physical being. It becomes difficult for us to develop trust over others again.  This is mainly because trust involves vulnerability and once this vulnerability is exploited, we become reluctant to become vulnerable again. 

This can cause problems to our relationships because trust is the bedrock of any relationship. If we don’t trust to feel safe enough with someone then it can create a very unhealthy relationship. This might also create room for more trauma to occur. For example, if someone is cheated on by their partner, their ability to feel safe and trust another partner is disrupted. This can cause problems to their future relationships as well because they will develop anxiety and stress based on their trauma. 

  1. Negative Belief of Self  - 

Trauma can severely fracture one’s sense of self as well. Once we are exposed to something traumatising, our perception of the world is fractured. For example, if a person has been subjected to repeated emotional abuse, then there are high chances that the abuser’s voice becomes the internal voice. Have you ever beat yourself up over a tiny thing? Do you consider yourself to be your biggest critic? If you reflect on this, where do you think this originates from? Chances are that you had a family member or an authority figure who constantly spoke to you in the same manner you speak to yourself. 

This negative belief system also impacts relationships as it creates room for a lot of insecurities and disinterest to emerge. You might feel disinterested to do anything fun with your partner because you deep down feel that you are not worthy of love. Becoming self-aware about the fact that this is the result of trama is the first step towards the action needed to reduce the impact of the trauma. 

  1. Negative Thoughts and Emotions - 

Another prominent impact of trauma is repeated thoughts, a racing heart, and flashback memories. You might re-experience symptoms in the form of intrusive thoughts or flashbacks. As a result of this trauma, you might feel constantly startled in your relationships. This can result in the form of jumpy behaviour, and being distant with your partner. This re-experiencing ends up stirring a lot of negative emotions as well. We might find ourselves becoming overwhelmed, irritable, depressed, furthering reducing our well-being. 

How do I know if this is impacting my current Relationship? 

As mentioned before, anchors are weights that bring you down. If you have the above anchors, then chances are high that they are impacting your current relationships. But how? 

  1. Withdrawal - 

The first area that is impacted by trauma is a person’s social life. Trauma can cause a person to withdraw from social situations. They might isolate themselves from their support systems and even find it difficult to form new connections. This can be harmful in the long run because the withdrawal serves as a reinforcing factor for worsening the impact of their trauma. They are more likely to feel lonely, depressed, hopeless and anxious. 

  1. Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms - 

Trauma also gives us a range of unhealthy coping mechanisms that serve as a blanket to protect us from facing these situations again. One of the most common coping mechanisms that occurs as a result of trauma is avoiding. People tend to avoid distressing situations as it can evoke distressing emotions in them. Long term avoidance as a coping mechanism can pose a serious problem to relationships because conflicts are never discussed and just pushed under the rug. This can lead to further conflict and create unhealthy relationships. 

Another coping mechanism that occurs as a result of trauma is aggression. Has your partner ever snapped at you for something when they got triggered? Or have they ever raised their voice when you begin discussing something sensitive? Aggression is an unhealthy coping mechanism that is often used as a shield to protect people from experiencing their actual emotions. 

  1. Seeking Negative Patterns - 

Childhood traumas are likely to create anxious/preoccupied or avoidant attachment styles and this manifests itself even in the adult relationships that people have. Those who have an anxious/preoccupied attachment style are likely going to be anxious partners who require an excess amount of validation and attention. These occur mostly as a result of erratic presence of parents in their child’s lives. Naturally, people with such an attachment style are going to seek out negative patterns in their relationships and will likely choose partners who are erratic in their presence. 

On the other hand, those with an avoidant attachment style are likely to be dismissive and unhealthily avoidant in their relationships. This mostly occurs because of neglected parenting in the early stages of the child’s development. People with such an attachment are going to find it difficult to be intimate with their partners. These people too, seek people who are like them. 

Both styles are a result of some distress in the childhood that can heavily impact adult relationships and cause them to repeat negative patterns. This is mainly because such attachment styles make the person believe that the unhealthy is familiar and it’s so it’s “safe”. When partners enter a “healthy” relationship they are going to find it unfamiliar and might even find it difficult to stay in such relationships, hence repeating the negative patterns. 

If you notice yourself having these behaviours or notice the same in someone else’s behaviour then it is likely that you have some unresolved trauma tht is effecting your relationship. We are here to help you build the ability to trust again so that you can restore the love in your relationship. 

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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