How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success


How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Under stress, the human mind is vulnerable to unresolved trauma. When you or someone you know feels reminded of a traumatic event, you either freeze (become detached), fight (verbally or physically) or take flight (avoid and leave). Often you don’t know what happened inside of your own mind or someone else’s; what you see is a change in behavior which causes your relationship to suffer.

What is a trigger? 

A trigger is something that someone says or does that reminds your subconscious mind of a past trauma. Some people experience flashbacks or a reliving of the event after being triggered. These flashbacks happen a lot for people who have post traumatic stress.

Trauma Reactions

You can experience a trauma reaction from war, sexual assault, death, or any type of abusive relationship in which you felt your life was or is in danger.  Being a witness to other’s experiencing trauma can be traumatizing for some people. Empaths may be more susceptible to trauma reactions because of their sensitivity.

An example

Veterans who hear fireworks may feel as if they are back in the war. In that moment and time, their mind is occupied with a trauma image. As a result, they appear tense, angry, anxious or detached from the present moment.

When you do not heal past trauma it continues to be an energy that gets expressed. It often comes out in one of these three ways in relationships. 

3 Trauma Behaviors that Cause Relationship Difficulty 

Chaos-  Your relationships are unstable and chaotic. This energy is acted out and seen as dramatic arguments in relationships. For others who repress chaos within, the energy causes illness and chronic pain. Since your mind is overstimulated, you find it hard to focus and are easily distracted, similar to people who experience attention deficit disorders. You may turn to substances or have addictions.

Avoidance–  You feel fearful, overwhelmed or frozen. Another reason why you avoid is due to feeling numb. When you cut yourself off from feeling, you disconnect from the painful traumatic emotions but also the happy, pleasurable emotions of life. Since you find no joy in life, you stop maintaining connections. If you are in a relationship, you appear detached and don’t know why you can’t connect with others even when you are together. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

Over-reactive to life – You feel angry. You and others notice you have a short fuse and react impulsively. You feel jumpy and on edge because your brain believes it is under a threat, in psychology this is known as hypervigilance. This super reactivity is good in times of crisis, it is not useful in everyday life. Your outbursts can lead to arrests and legal difficulties. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

To Wrap It All Up

If you are experiencing these trauma behaviors you and your relationships do not need to suffer, seek out a qualified therapist who works with trauma. The good news is, trauma can be healed and you can have successful relationships.

Remember everyone is coming from their own perception and experiences. When someone is overly reactive, avoiding you or stuck in their own drama, it is not personal. It may be a sign of past unresolved trauma they have not healed yet.

Some people stay in these reactions their entire lives while others seek therapy. My advice to you is lovingly detach from them and heal your own wounds. With time and space, you will know how to respond to these types of relationships.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach for empaths and artists. Unresolved trauma is one of the many ways your energy becomes depleted overtime. Lisa specializes in working for professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, refill and rejuvenate their energies, Visit and get  FREE – 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now! 


30 thoughts on “How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

  1. Appreciating the succinctness and easy readability of your post, Lisa! Your offer an insightful checklist to use. I rented space here but NO longer, “Since you find no joy in life, you stop maintaining connections.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While working as a therapist, most of my clients had trauma issues so what you’re saying really rings a bell with me. I’m grateful for the strides the mental health fields have made in treating PTSD — especially with EMDR to support talk therapy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Andrea there are so many methods to treat PTSD (EMDR, talk therapy and even expressive art therapy, which is one of my favorites.) My hope is to raise awareness so people can recognize the effects and get the treatment they need. Thanks for stopping in to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I often lead trauma informed care workshops to teach others working with clients impacted by trauma how to support and empower them. All of the clients I work with have experienced trauma of some kind and approaching the world with love and compassion has been essential. I just taught my empowerment circle EFT tapping yesterday as another tool for their tool box. Thank you for this important article Lisa!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Lisa
    Trauma so often shows up for us in our relationships. I have personally caught myself bringing trauma into a relationship situation that was limiting me from experiencing joy and love. When I realized this, I knew I had to release this trauma because I could not live with such distrust, primarily for myself. I had to address my relationship with myself and once I did, i was much freer in relationships with others. Thanks for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krystal, Thank you for sharing your experience. With awareness, we can choose to heal. I am grateful for my own awareness. Although painful at times, they have given me the power to choose a different path. I glad you had the courage to go within and release the trauma. You are welcome.


  5. Such a great article Lisa! Our trapped emotions and traumas can have such a great impact on us subconsciously. When we are aware tapping into and healing these traumas can be so freeing! Loved this!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ever since I realized that there is a traumatic reaction capability built into everyone, and that the content of the trauma is almost irrelevant, I’ve been able to relax a little, and settle down, even when traumatic triggers are present. It feels really lovely, in fact, to be less buffeted about by my psychology.

    In other words, we all have circumstances and varying levels of traumatic scars. How I meet those circumstances, triggers, and care for those scars makes all the difference. I feel lighter. And that’s good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Healing has taken place when you can become a witness to your experiences in a detached manner. When people work through their trauma, they do feel lighter, happier and free. Thanks for stopping in to comment Sue!


  7. Another wonderful post full of advice and wisdom Lisa,
    I think many of us do not realise at times how we carry traumatic events around with us which we have buried deep within us..
    I know many times I have thought I have let go of such troubles, yet something acted as a trigger to bring the memory alive again, and with them the emotional response..
    Learning to confront these issues and speak about them to a therapist is something I have done in the past to great effect.
    I feel many of us are revisiting and clearing out the remnants of baggage we have long carried. Each use different coping mechanisms as we endeavour to clear our vibration once and for all.. For me certainly I know certain things have cropped up again from my childhood memory which were locked deep within.

    We have to learn to nurture ourselves as the healing process is not always instant, but we may pick at scars and make them bleed every so often until we finally allow them to heal over and disappear

    Many thanks again Lisa for your insights and apologies its taken me so long to respond and get to your post.. I have been in the process of nurturing.. 🙂
    Love and Blessings 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue. Healing trauma is similar to an onion, there are many layers. Each layer gets activated by some kind of external trigger. Although painful, it is for our highest good to bring us back to a new state of wholeness. As you discussed, self care is important as healing trauma is not an instant process. Thanks for stopping in Sue. I enjoy your thoughtful comments as you add richness to the discussion. I don’t mind waiting as it is most important that you care for you! Many blessings to you Sue. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I just learned that I suffer from PTSD. I suffer from all 3 trauma behaviors. I have noticed that I suffer from the “freeze” mood but never really understood what that meant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is amazing Jay how the mind protects us after a trauma. Freeze is one of the more confusing responses people with PTSD deal with, just like fight and flight it is the brain’s way of finding protection when it gets overwhelmed or overstimulated. I wish you well on your healing journey.


  9. […] Sensitive people can be more at risk to experience trauma through disturbing images and the news. With this information age, it is easy to encounter videos and social media posts you would rather not see. These pictures can remain in your mental field long after the viewing has taken place. If you are struggling with this, here are two blogs about the impact of trauma: We are Living in a Time of Trauma  and How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success […]


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