When Past Wounds Trigger You In Intimate Relationships

When Past Wounds Trigger You In Intimate Relationships

It is essential to not categorise a behaviour of your partner that might have triggered a past wound as ‘abusive’ or ‘toxic’

Somi DasUpdated: Friday, September 29, 2023, 08:43 PM IST
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Our close relationships, especially intimate ones, often bear the weight of our past emotional scars. To truly embrace their love and find happiness together, it’s essential that we don’t go back into our shell when they unwittingly trigger our insecurities which were a product of our deep conditioning or some major life trauma.

It can be really painful for both people when one suddenly pulls away in a relationship, leaving the other person confused about what caused the rift. The one who felt triggered might get upset and move on, feeling like they were the one who was wronged and not taking a closer look at the problem. Meanwhile, the person left behind feels guilty and lost, never really knowing what went awry.

At times, someone might not even leave the relationship but instead hold onto their grudges. These past hurts can resurface during future arguments, creating a cycle of triggers and reactions that confirm their fears, like “they don’t love me”, “they find me undesirable”, “they’ll cheat on me”, or “they’ll leave me because I’m a failure”. This eventually turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Our partners get the rough end of the stick when we neglect the essential process of self-discovery and personal growth. When we don’t take the time to fully understand ourselves, it becomes easy for our unaddressed issues and unresolved emotions to surface in our relationships. This can lead to difficulties and tensions within the relationship, as our partners often find themselves on the receiving end of our emotional baggage and unexamined behaviours.

Healing comprises two essential steps. Initially, it’s about acknowledging our less beneficial thought and behaviour patterns, frequently rooted in past trauma or ingrained conditioning. Subsequently, it entails becoming at ease with these patterns, enabling us to prevent them from dominating our reactions during moments of inattention. This process is the linchpin in breaking free from the cycle of triggers that lead to automatic reactions and self-sabotage.

It’s crucial not to hastily label your partner’s behaviour, which might have triggered past emotional wounds, as ‘abusive’ or ‘toxic’. This knee-jerk labelling can sometimes do more harm than good. In particular, consuming excessive content on platforms like Instagram that constantly pose questions like “Are you living with a narcissist?” or “Is your boyfriend toxic?” can exacerbate the situation. Such content often oversimplifies complex relationship dynamics and can lead to unnecessary anxiety and misjudgment. It’s more productive to approach these situations with open communication and a willingness to understand each other before jumping to conclusions.

(The writer is a mental health and behavioural sciences columnist, conducts art therapy workshops and provides personality development sessions for young adults. She can be found @the_millennial_pilgrim on Instagram and Twitter)

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