Here’s How Trauma Affects Your Relationship (With Healthy Coping Tips)
Living with trauma isn’t easy as it can affect you and the experiences you engage in, even how you look at other people. The effects of trauma are far and wide and if you’ve been through a traumatic experience, then you know how the experience has changed how you look at the world.
This happens when you’re in a relationship (or even thinking about starting a relationship). The effects of trauma in relationships can cause strained relations, an absence of emotional intimacy, and even resentment.
Trauma, when it bleeds into a relationship, can change how you act with and around your partner. It not only affects you but your partner too. Read on to learn the hidden effects of trauma in relationships, how you can cope with them, and how you can support your partner if they are struggling with trauma.
How Trauma Affects Your Relationship
The hidden effects of trauma in relationships can look something like this;
1. It Changes Your Thinking
Having lived through trauma can change how you think about yourself, your loved ones, and even the world. You may begin to distrust everyone, especially if you’ve been harmed by a loved one in the past.
You may keep thinking that you can’t trust anyone or can’t let anyone in again after the betrayal. This kind of thinking will affect your relationship, eventually.
2. It Activates Your Fear Response
When you go through trauma, it activates your fear response aka the flight, fight, or freeze response. This response helps us survive. However, your brain might remain in this state after the traumatic experience has passed.
This can make you live in a state of hyper-alertness where you’re always looking for anything threatening. Even a slight bump to the shoulders might trigger your trauma.
3. It Makes You Feel Numb
Another downside of hyper-alertness is that you are more prone to experiencing dissociation where you feel a numbness in your body and emotions.
This is common in the case of chronic trauma, for example, childhood abuse or trauma. Our brain, in this state, helps us by detaching us from reality to protect us from harm.
4. It Makes You Avoid Certain Situations
Living with trauma can also make you avoid certain situations in the relationship that might remind you of the trauma. This can affect your ability to function normally as it tends to make you believe that the only safe way is to isolate yourself.
5. It Leaves You Feeling Isolated
Trauma can also leave you feeling isolated and may give you a difficult time knowing how others feel. You begin to believe that no one understands what you’re going through. This kind of pattern can cause emotional distance in relationships.
6. It Causes Anger In Relationships
After the traumatic event, you may feel a loss of control of your emotional response and might act in ways where you might not respond the way you should. This can make you feel angry and resentful and can also make you feel that no one understands you.
How To Cope With The Effects Of Trauma?
Self-validation can help you understand what you’re going through and can help you recognize your trauma while believing that you’re still affected by the experience.
2. Improve Self-Awareness
When you improve self-awareness, you become aware of how your body and mind respond to stimuli. This will allow you to think about your thoughts, identify your emotions, and even notice your responses.
3. Try Grounding Techniques
Exercises such as breathing exercises, 5-4-3-2-1 exercises, and other grounding techniques can help you stay in the moment, especially if you’re prone to flashbacks and dissociation.
4. Try Co-Regulation
Co-regulation is when you use your partner’s presence to feel grounded. Your partner can help by talking to you in a calm tone, validating your trauma-related stress, and even assisting you in self-soothing exercises.
5. Join A Support Group
Joining a support group can also help you come to terms with your traumatic experiences and how you deal with them in your day-to-day life and relationships.
6. Seek Professional Help
With the help of a trauma-informed therapist, you can come to terms with your trauma and how you can cope with it without ruining your relationship with your partner.
Here’s How You Can Support Your Traumatic Partner
If you’re dating someone with trauma or if your partner is living with trauma, then it’s normal to feel angry at not being able to help them. It can also make you feel unsure of how to help them. If your partner is unable to share their problems, then it can make you feel confused and upset.
Here are some ways you can support your traumatic partner;
1. Avoid Platitudes
Make sure you avoid offering platitudes to your partner such as, “You’re stronger than this”, “Everything happens for a reason”, etc. These kinds of phrases can make them feel invalidated and unheard instead of comforted as you might’ve intended.
2. Think Before You Act
Before you respond to your partner’s emotions, think before you act. If you’re angry, then calm down and control your emotions before you respond to your partner.
3. Be Compassionate
There may be times when your partner might not be in control of their triggers and might need time to give the automatic response before they can respond in other ways. Try to remain compassionate and understanding with them.
4. Be Patient
Learn to be patient with your partner. Remember, that healing is not to be rushed and is always full of ups and downs. Be patient and don’t feel discouraged.
5. Seek Help For Yourself
It is always recommended that you speak to a therapist for yourself when you’re living with a traumatic partner. A therapist can help you process your emotions and feelings and help you learn how to navigate the relationship without triggering your partner.
Trauma is something that can affect almost every aspect of your life and can cause mental as well as emotional problems. Trauma can affect your relationship and can prevent you from having a healthy and loving relationship.
If this is the case for you, then you need to give yourself a break and seek support from a professional if needed. Learn to talk to your partner about your trauma and if they are the ones living with trauma, make sure you support them through their healing.
I hope this article helps you learn how the hidden effects of trauma can affect relationships. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media.
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