Trauma has an immense impact on relationships, even if we don’t realize it at the time. Sometimes it can be years later before we’re properly able to reflect and see the profound effect that life events had on our romantic relationships.
As a matchmaker, many clients who have struggled in the past with the impact of their trauma on their relationships express regret that they didn’t recognize it sooner. That’s why today I felt inspired to list the 5 most common ways trauma affects dating, as gathered from my own experiences working with countless clients in their quest to overcome pain and find true, deep, and meaningful love.
Trauma takes an enormous toll on a person’s sense of worth, often laying dormant and pernicious roots of shame and self-limitation in the depths of their psyche. These can make it tough to assert themselves when faced with conflict or a potential breach of their boundaries. It may warp their perception of what a healthy relationship even looks like. Sadly, low self-esteem can lead to people lowering their standards when it comes to finding someone and settling down, because they simply don’t believe they’re deserving of more.
Trauma can understandably beget suspicion, jealousy, and a fear of abandonment, as manifested in one’s attachment style—that is, how we connect with our partner, and to what extent we trust and believe they’ll be there for us no matter what. Mistrust may lead someone to question their partner’s sincerity or intentions, and ironically cause tension when in reality the dynamic was secure, the relationship healthy. This lack of trust can even extend to oneself: People who’ve experienced trauma may doubt their own judgment, intuition, and capacity to make big life decisions.
Living in fear
Trauma activates the sympathetic nervous system, and the effects of this major psychological event stay with a person, often for life. Unfortunately, these effects are sometimes activated by events that the brain recognizes as similar to those that caused the historical trauma, even if in reality the situations are worlds apart. This oversensitivity to threat may lead a person to clinginess, paranoia, or intrusive thoughts such as overgeneralizing, catastrophic thinking, and dwelling on past experiences. In turn the person may become overly combative or defensive, quick to start fights, and unlikely to proactively seek resolutions.
Loneliness, or a sense of disconnection
Trauma can leave a person feeling utterly and profoundly alone, regardless of whether they’re physically surrounded by loved ones and those who want the best for them. This stems from a raw sense that no one would ever be able to understand or empathize with the pain they’re going through. Alternatively, trauma may cause dissociation from oneself, creating a sense of numbness, apathy, or emptiness. Dating is then tricky because it becomes difficult to connect intimately with a new person—because intimacy requires a lowering of our guard, opening up to allow our partner to see the unadulterated truth of who we are.
Someone who’s experienced trauma may struggle to lead a happy and meaningful life. The glass is half empty; nothing matters; it’s all pointless. Even when someone new comes on the scene, they enter the romance with a set of negative assumptions which become self-fulfilling, as they’re unable to let go of the past and give themselves fully to the future.
There’s no denying the reality of one’s trauma—but there is hope: You can heal. You may resist that idea—you may feel you’ve done all you can to process your life’s events—but there are always other ways to work through the implications of your trauma for who you are today. And by striving to self-reflect and attain a true and unfiltered understanding of your own mind, behaviors, and dreams, you can move forward—not forgetting the past, but accepting it, and channeling it into becoming a better and stronger person than ever. And a person ready to meet someone new, and to love and trust again, if that’s what you feel you want and need.
Maclynn International is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today!