My Traumatic Relationship is Affecting My New Relationship

Unresolved trauma and leaving a relationship with an abuser can affect your new relationship. On some level, it can make you seem distant to your new partner, hard to reach, and emotionally distant. On the extreme, a past traumatic relationship left unresolved can make you abusive with a new partner. How does one recognize signs, and what can you do?  

Consider the following signs of unresolved trauma from an abusive relationship:

  • You are wary of intimacy.
  • You struggle to communicate your feeling about things that upset you.
  • You constantly struggle with anxiety
  • You disrespect yourself.
  • You reminisce about the past and even compare it with the current relationship
  • You are always looking for faults in your new partner and signs of abuse
  • You struggle to trust your new partner

If you struggle with one or more of these, understand that this is a normal response to leaving a traumatic relationship. First, congratulations on leaving that abusive relationship. You did the right thing to prioritize your physical, social, and mental health instead of hoping your abuser will change.

Now, you have found someone who loves you deeply and respects you. But it seems the ghosts of yesterday threaten your happiness. Take a deep breath and look at how you can be happy again.

Communicate with your new partner

Most persons who have survived an abusive relationship find it hard to talk to their new partner. Some even recognize it as a pattern of behavior their abuser exhibited. But, no. Communicating with your new partner is not traumatic bonding – unless you have been abusive towards him/her.

Instead, this is you involving your partner and sharing what you are going through. Humans generally cannot work with incomplete information, and when you do not talk with your partner, they may feel confused and left out. In turn, this causes them to be anxious about you and try to overcompensate – something that may trigger a bad memory.

When talking with your partner, you do not have to share every detail, especially if you feel uncomfortable. Take your time when talking. Let your partner know how you feel about them and how they can help. Sometimes, this is just about being there to listen. No pressure.

Find Professional Help If Necessary

If you and your partner agree that you need professional help, consider finding a reputable therapist near you. You may also contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline and talk to an advocate. Explain how you feel and ask for guidance and support.

Call the hotline on (800) 799-SAFE (7233).