Experiencing an overwhelming mix of feelings after a breakup is perfectly normal. Even after a healthy relationship ends, both partners are often left wondering about various aspects of the relationship, behavioral patterns, things left unsaid, and other unresolved emotions. However, when it comes to intense turbulent relationships, things can get confusing, and the feelings you were left with could seem overwhelming and even scary.
You might have conflicting emotions after your breakup or feel like a lot of negativity is suddenly coming to the surface, you may be suffering from post-traumatic relationship syndrome (PTRS). PTRS-related emotions go far beyond the ordinary sadness or anger many of us feel after a relationship ends. If you’re haunted by intense negative feelings that persist for months after a breakup and those feelings are becoming increasingly disturbing, you might want to look into the symptoms of PTRS, find out what causes trauma, what being traumatized means, and address your unresolved issues before entering any new relationships.
Post-traumatic relationship syndrome is caused mainly by the stress experienced in an abusive intimate relationship, including:
- Physical abuse, physical injuries, or threats.
- Sexual abuse, rape, sexual coercion, and other types of sexual assault.
- Emotional abuse, controlling behavior, possessiveness, manipulation, gaslighting.
Can PTRS Affect New Relationships?
Since abusive relationships are the most common cause of post-traumatic relationship disorder, it makes sense that unresolved issues from one or more toxic relationships can easily transfer to others. To some people, this could even be a pattern of behavior that they repeat over and over again, even though it typically ends badly.
Unresolved issues from previous relationships, particularly toxic or abusive ones, can significantly influence our behavior and thought patterns and cause misunderstandings and difficulties with new people in our lives. Most individuals suffering from various types of trauma tend to self-isolate and avoid sharing their experiences and feelings with other people, even close friends, family, or romantic partners. A romantic relationship can be a minefield in this regard, as the closeness, intimacy, and a lot of time spent together allow for numerous opportunities for seemingly inexplicable friction and annoyance.
People suffering from PTRS could experience significant problems with connection to new people and trusting them if they’ve been traumatized by a previous relationship that might have been abusive and never managed to liberate themselves from feelings of fear, shame, guilt, or anger. When these issues are left unaddressed, emotional and physical intimacy become challenging and negative thoughts of feeling not worthy will continue to be on repeat in your thoughts and messages that you say to yourself.
What Are The Negative Effects Of PTRS On New Relationships?
When you enter a new relationship with PTRS issues left unaddressed, hoping they would simply go away on their own isn’t a safe bet. Even if you’re not repeating the pattern of choosing abusive partners repeatedly, you might still feel isolated and alone in a relationship with a genuinely caring and devoted person. These feelings can sabotage an otherwise healthy relationship, as you may not be able to feel safe or still blame yourself for the abuse you were subjected to.
It’s difficult to open yourself to new love, connection, and trust if you still feel scared, helpless, or unworthy. For these reasons, some people who experienced relationship abuse avoid getting into new relationships and may even turn away from friends and family. The most common effects of PTRS that can prevent you from forming a new relationship or negatively affect the current one are your unresolved feelings that reflect in how you relate to others.
Some of the common ones include:
- Believing that you’re not worthy of a healthy relationship.
- Unconsciously repeating toxic dynamics and going from one unhealthy relationship to another.
- Having difficulty trusting even your family and close friends.
- Self-isolation caused by feelings of guilt and shame.
- Thinking that your loved ones blame you for staying in an abusive relationship.
- Not having any support because you’re unable to share your experiences with others fearing they wouldn’t be able to understand or that they would blame you for putting up with an abusive partner.
- Having trouble maintaining the sexual aspect of your relationship or completely losing interest in sex.
How Do I Overcome My PTRS Before My New Relationship?
The first step toward overcoming PTRS is to ask the question: what does being traumatized mean? Understanding what you are battling is a big step forward that will help rationalize your problems and help you to start thinking about them instead of just feeling the feelings that are provoked by your thoughts. Having a lot of feelings about traumatic experiences is perfectly valid and expected. Still, they can be so overwhelming that is is hard to start deconstructing what happened to you in a rational manner. Shifting out of unpleasant feelings requires changing your thoughts and behaviors.
Overcoming PTSD is not an easy process, but it’s necessary. Finding peace within yourself and coming to terms with what you went through can help you move on to better things in life, including close connections and healthy and loving relationships. To overcome the trauma of an abusive relationship, people usually go through some typical stages:
- Understanding what they went through and realizing that it is, in fact, trauma, and allowing themselves to call it that.
- Accepting that it happened and reflecting upon it, however painful it may be. This is best done with the guidance of relationship trauma experts or other professionals.
- Understanding the emotional scars and effects trauma has on your mind and body.
- Finding the strength and empowerment to go through It and emerge on the other side feeling more positive and hopeful about life.
Find The Support You Need To Overcome Relationship Trauma With PIVOT
Being able to process what happened to you with expert guidance is support is the essential step in getting through PTRS. Then, you can learn to deal with your feelings safely and flexibly until you slowly overcome them. Navigating post-traumatic stress responses and feelings can require challenging work, but realizing that you’re not alone can help you with the feelings of isolation so you can allow yourself to trust people again and openly talk about your experiences.
Our Glass House retreats offer an ideal intimate setting for small group workshops led by experienced experts. If you don’t feel ready to discuss your issues with others, individual coaching sessions are also available, and our relationship advocates can guide you through the process, respecting your pace. With the support of PIVOT’s knowledgeable and experienced experts, you’ll be able to find your way back to trusting, healthy relationships.