We all want to go into new relationships, whether they be romantic or platonic, with a clean slate, but that can be hard because we’re inevitably affected by our past experiences.
Your past traumas can negatively affect your current relationships, and while your past experiences can help inform your decisions, there’s a difference between using them as a lesson and giving them so much credence that they hurt a current relationship.
It’s difficult to recognize when your past traumas are negatively affecting your present. Here are a few ways that past traumas might influence your current relationships.
1. You constantly doubt others’ love.
Love isn’t completely unconditional. In order to truly love someone, you need to treat them with respect and understanding, and they must do the same. But trauma takes this idea a step too far.
With this mindset, not only is love conditional but it’s based on extremely minuscule things. If you didn’t text them that day you might fear that they’re upset with you or that they love you less. If you don’t look your absolute best one day you might fear that they’re not attracted to you anymore and therefore don’t love you.
This can leave you in a constant state of anxiety, worried that any small thing you do could lead to you losing someone you care about. You can never truly be seated in the relationship because you’ve already assumed that you’re close to losing it.
When you’re feeling this way, it can help to share this fear with your loved one. It should be made clear that their love is not contingent on such superficial things.
2. You avoid conflict at all costs.
Past traumas can make you believe that all kinds of confrontation are in some way forms of abuse and therefore it’s better to just avoid any type of difficult conversation. This might lead to you being afraid to voice your discomfort about something.
You might be hesitant to set necessary boundaries with someone because you fear that they will become upset with you. Avoiding conflict at all cost does not prevent toxicity and instead, it intensifies it.
Waiting to voice your displeasure until you absolutely can’t hold in it any longer will only lead to fighting. Difficult conversations are an inevitability in any close relationship. They don’t mean that the relationship is in trouble; quite the opposite.
If you’re both willing to respectfully communicate even when the subject is uncomfortable, your relationship will only grow stronger.
3. You have the need to please everyone.
Some insidious ways that people pleasing can manifest itself is an inability to say no, a need for praise or approval, and a tendency to give significantly more than you’re receiving.
The problem with constantly striving to please people is that it’s often at the expense of your own needs. It can lead to you being overworked because you consistently take on what people ask of you with no consideration of your own time.
Or you feel like people don’t truly know you because instead of voicing your opinions, you tell people what they want to hear. It’s easy to assume that your loved ones will be upset with you if you tell them you can’t go out tonight, or you don’t agree with them on something.
But in actuality, a healthy relationship is defined by boundaries and mutual respect. You should both be able to disagree with them and know that, even if they are upset or disappointed, that doesn’t mean that they love you any less.
If you recognize these behavioral patterns in someone else, do your best to empathize. If you notice yourself behaving this way, try to give yourself some understanding.
It’s hard to undo the effects that trauma has done, and the people you are truly close to should offer you the grace to do so. Be open and honest with them about how you’re feeling, as honesty is the first step to healing.