How to Tell Your Partner About Your Trauma

When you find a new partner with whom you are truly inspired, it is assumed that it will be solid sunshine and a rainbow. But for people with past trauma, a dark cloud hangs over each new relationship: they will inevitably have to tell their new love about the horrors of their past.

If you are in this position, you have probably spent a lot of time thinking about an important point. What if your new boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t want to deal with your old problems? What if they don’t understand? On the other hand, your relationship can suffer if you’re not honest, especially if past trauma from a previous relationship affects the way you feel about your new boyfriend.

Be comfortable with yourself first.

A common tip for anyone joining the 12-Step program is to avoid dating throughout the year in order to focus on recovery. This guide is, of course, hotly debated . You can’t choose when you fall in love, right?

However, there is wisdom in this: when you are experiencing something traumatic, you risk introducing your problems into a new relationship or opening up before you are ready, distracting yourself with a new lover and as a result, you cannot fully heal. We will not give you a hard time frame, but you should try to the best of your ability to work on healing before contacting anyone else – for your own benefit and their benefit.

Danielle Sinai, a 29-year-old writer and journalist from Brooklyn, told Lifehacker that before she started a relationship with her current husband, she was diagnosed with herpes and was devastated.

“I thought my life was over – and literally wanted it to be,” she recalled. “I had suicidal thoughts for at least a year because I truly believed herpes was a death sentence, so to speak, and didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. My mental health really took a turn for the worse that year; my pre-existing depression, anxiety, PTSD – things got worse. It affected me much more than I expected. “

She worked through her feelings by researching and writing about her diagnosis.

Caitlin, a 29-year-old merchandising supervisor and makeup artist who declined to give her last name and whereabouts for obvious reasons, recalled that after breaking up a psychologically and physically abusive relationship, she used martial arts lessons to regain her sense of control. …

Whether you start posting (or hiding) on ​​forums of people who have been through what you went through, seeing a therapist, keeping a diary, talking to friends, or treating in some other way, make sure you are in good free space. before worrying about others. Try not to rush into the relationship. You and your health come first.

Of course, you cannot predict where or when you will meet someone, so don’t berate yourself if you do.

Plan what you say

The long-term effects of the injury will sometimes be evident. You may be visibly distrustful of your new boyfriend or girlfriend, be nervous, or react to triggers in front of them. In other cases, the scars are completely invisible, and they may not know that you have gone through something.

Only you know your exact situation, both in regards to the source of your trauma and in your current relationship, so only you know exactly how to approach the inevitable conversation. Regardless, plan it out as best you can in advance.

Be as open as possible. Carrying out your soul sucks, especially when you don’t know how someone you care about will react. Sinai recalled that she was “afraid” to tell her current husband about her herpes because “he was perfect” and she didn’t want to “lose him.” However, remember that you are telling this person your entire life story because you want to share this life with him.

Don’t get obsessed with what you will do if they react badly or fail to offer you the support you need. It’s difficult, but keep in mind that you deserve a partner who will support you, so don’t delay telling them your truth for fear of rejection. This rejection can be positive because it allows you to separate from someone who cannot provide what you need and ultimately find someone who can.

What’s more, revelation about what you’ve been through has serious potential to strengthen your partnership, especially if your trauma manifests itself in distrustful behavior. It is much better for the other person to know everything that is comfortable for you to share, so that they can understand why you might act in a certain way and be with you if, say, you return home stressed after a therapy session or experience memories or panic. … attack.

Try to stay calm

This is the hard part, but don’t get into the conversation with the drama knob all the way up, and don’t regret telling them your story. Your trauma plays a cruel joke on you and tries to convince you that you will be rejected, so you are forgiven for letting this panic seep into the conversation, but you take comfort in the fact that this person seems to like you enough that you want to do your relationship is more serious. Do not worry. You do the right thing for yourself and your relationship, and sometimes it can be difficult.

Sinai remembered the day she told her husband about the herpes diagnosis that made her suicidal: “I put it off, which I’m very ashamed of now (but we were careful, and no, he still doesn’t have herpes) and, finally, After several months of dating, we went to visit my family in Los Angeles. For some reason, sitting in my grandmother’s backyard all over the place, I suddenly felt a sense of guilt and decided that I should tell him right now, – she recalled. “And I did it completely wrong – my diagnosis was still recent and I still felt very ashamed, so I kept repeating, ‘I have to tell you something really terrible,’ ‘I’m really sorry,’ [and] “You will hate me” – through hysterical tears. It took me 20 minutes to blur out that I had herpes, and he literally laughed! He said, “I thought that something really bad happened. Why did you make such a big deal out of this? “

We can’t promise that everyone will discover your revelation as quickly as then-boyfriend Sinai, but we can promise that the conversation will be smoother if you ground yourself first, remind yourself why you are doing this and don’t let the outcome determine your happiness. You are important and you got it.

Have a conversation

Just because you tell your new partner about a past trauma once does not mean that you will never have to think about it again. In fact, the best scenario and outcome we hope you get is that you find yourself in a relationship in which the other person tests your well-being, recognizes and avoids your triggers, and constantly supports you.

Kaitlyn, the makeup artist, actually ended up dating the man who owns the gym where she started practicing martial arts after leaving an abusive relationship. When she first spoke to him about the class, she was open about why she wanted to learn how to protect herself, so by the time they started dating, he already knew the basic version of her story.

“Since then, he gradually listens to my stories, and I open up when I know it’s finally time. I had to believe that it would continue to be a safe place for my soul to rest. I was scared of even the thought of being so fascinated by someone who seemed to be just right for me. He is kind and listening. I have nightmares and panic attacks. From the very beginning, he just hugged me while I cried and spoke when I needed to talk. We had open communication from the very beginning and we never stopped working, ”she said.

Remember you don’t have to say what you don’t want to say.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first time talking about your trauma or engaging in an ongoing conversation, remember that you never need to reveal more than you want to. Remember, too, that the person you are talking to loves you and wants to support you, but they too can get hurt.

“There are certain things he would rather not see, like pictures of the aftermath, and I respect his decision,” Caitlin said of how much she tells her boyfriend about her previous abuse and its aftermath. “As long as we are partners, I know that this part of me is difficult to see. I respect him and he respects me, but our communication is always based on honesty and openness. “

It works both ways.

Just as you expect your partner to listen to you, you need to listen to him. It can be difficult to realize that someone you love has gone through severe suffering, so give them mercy and be willing to work together. Communicate if they ask something too aggressive or say something too critical. Stick to your boundaries and respect them. Then step forward and allow yourself to fully know yourself.


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