Relationship PTSD & How You Can Begin the Healing Process

At some point and time, I think if you’re in your mid-twenties to 30s, you’ve experienced this by now.

What is Relationship PTSD?

Choosing Therapy’s Meagan Turner defines Relationship PTSD, or post-traumatic relationship syndrome (PTRS), as “the response a person may have to one or more exposures to a traumatic event within the context of a relationship with an intimate partner. Within intimate partnerships, the types of relational abuse that have been shown to leave lasting marks are verbal, physical, emotional/psychological, or sexual.”

As a single 30-something, I know I have. I didn’t realize it was an actual thing until I put some major thought into it. As your good good girlfriend, I’d thought I’d help shed some light on my discovery in hopes of helping someone that may not know what to look out for. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

In dating, I see now I’ve been doing it wrong since the very beginning. We’ve been misguided with ridiculous myths about men and their attraction to us. When you’re young and a boy picks on you, we are told “Oh, he’s only doing that because he likes you,” “When you ignore them, then they give you more attention,” etc. This sets a precedent that being treated badly early on is okay and, in fact, is a sign you should keep pursuing. For men, it creates a backward mindset, and they in turn believe this is the right way to show affections. If you couple this very early example with not witnessing proper expressions of love or no love at all by the time you reach the dating age, you’re already behind.

I know, that’s steep!!

How I Tried to Heal

So now here we are, a few nasty break-ups in, and still hopeful. We are now less fearless about the thought of love and a bit more self-conscious. In my case, arriving at my discovery of PTRS has been believed or not very recent. After my last long-term relationship, I thought I’d do the work, so I abstained from sex for more than a year. I put all my focus into my child and my career; was working out, and I lost a nice amount of weight; and was getting back into the activities I was in before my ex, and overall I was doing well.

However, I was very avoidant of my emotions and still didn’t realize I’d formed triggers. Almost 4 years after breaking up with my long-term ex and 3 situationships later, it hit me like a ton of bricks. A lot of situations and arguments from the short-term men I had tried my hand at dating if I had recognized that I had relationship PTSD. I had picked up the habit of self-sabotaging.

Self-destructive behavior is when you do something that’s sure to cause self-harm, whether it’s emotional or physical.

Gaining Additional Perspective

This was very hard for me to accept. After talking with the guy I was dating after things ended, I gained more perspective. I was looking for things to go wrong out of expecting disappointment. I gave no grace even to the smallest of incidents and became a woman that needs constant reassurance that I’m wanted because I’ve been looked over or blatantly not the choice of a person of interest. This is very common and goes very unnoticed. We camouflage it with the expectation that a man is supposed to reassure us that we are what they want. This is true; however, it is NOT their responsibility to make us confident. That is our job — read that again. Men can restore faith by being trustworthy and intentional, but ladies it is our responsibility to give a man the clear path to show us.

Trust Yourself

This brings me to my next point, which is trust. We have been lied to and cheated on OR started to become liars and cheaters ourselves that we now don’t believe anything that we are told. This creates unnecessary anxiety where there shouldn’t even be any. We are waiting for the shoe to drop because in the past it always has, right? So, in your mind, it’s only a matter of time. This is very discouraging AND damaging to the person in pursuit of you.

Imagine now the emotionally abused becoming a different type of emotional abuser. You break the spirit of the person who’s choosing you without even realizing it. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a guard up or proceed with caution while navigating relationships. I’m just reminding you that you can’t take yesterday’s pain into today’s relationship and call yourself healed. When you take the time to work on yourself, which includes unlearning the behaviors that got you to this point, setting boundaries, not accepting poor treatment, not playing guessing games, or allowing yourself to engage in a one-sided relationship. Unlearning is the hardest, in my opinion, when initially. earning. Once you change the trajectory and nature of HOW and possibly WHO you date, then the outcomes and impacts are much less severe.

My Advice To You

By no means am I a relationship guru — I’m just sharing a few lessons about my relationship PTSD that I’ve learned along the way. These adjustments have been very helpful to how I engage with men and rebuild my self-esteem. I no longer choose men who don’t choose me; therefore I’m no longer seeking that approval. See how that works?!

I’m still very hopeful I can have the healthy relationship I want. In the meantime, while I wait for it, I’m making sure that I am ready as well.

Until next time my good people,

That’s The Way ShayMo Sees It