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Is Relational Trauma Wreaking Havoc on your Dating Life?

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Relational trauma refers to the emotional scars left by adverse experiences within early relationships. As covered in our previous newsletter, these wounds can affect our sense of self and expectations of others. In a romantic context, it can significantly influence how we navigate these connections. Whether it’s past heartbreaks, toxic dynamics or a string of negative dating experiences, what if unhealed relational trauma is subtly shaping your dating patterns and wreaking havoc on your dating life?

To clarify the influence of relational trauma on your dating behaviors, here are some common patterns with examples of how they manifest in dating scenarios.

  1. Conditioned to Chaos
  • Pattern: If someone grew up in unpredictable, unreliable, or chaotic environments, they might perceive these dynamics as “normal.” They may even confuse their consequent anxiety response as “love” or “passion.” As a result, they may struggle with calm, stable relationships.
  • Example: Sarah, whose parents had a tumultuous marriage, finds herself drawn to partners who create drama. She feels uneasy when things are too peaceful and often sabotages healthy relationships.
  1. Dichotomous Thinking
  • Pattern: All-or-nothing thinking—seeing people or situations as either entirely good or entirely bad—can stem from traumatic experiences.
  • Example: Mark, who faced childhood abuse, tends to idealize or totally devalue his partners. He may shower them with praise one day, only to belittle and blame them the next. He struggles to see the gray areas, leading to relationship conflicts.
  1. Inner Critic
  • Pattern: Unresolved relational trauma often leads to harsh self-criticism. Individuals may believe they don’t deserve love or healthy relationships.
  • Example: Julienne, who faced childhood neglect, constantly doubts their worthiness. When getting to know someone new, they agree to things that don’t align with their values, hoping to please and ultimately “win over” their date. These misguided attempts to earn love has led to a series of heartbreaks.
  1. Relational Sabotage
  • Pattern: Fear of vulnerability can lead to self-sabotage. When a relationship shows promise, old wounds resurface, causing destructive behaviors.
  • Example: Shakira, scarred by a past breakup, pushes away a promising connection by creating unnecessary drama. While she enjoys the company of her prospective partner, she sometimes questions her feelings, wondering if she “likes them enough” to continue.
  1. Constantly on the Go
  • Pattern: Some relational trauma survivors fear intimacy and avoid settling down. In an attempt to keep themselves safe, they prefer short-lived, intense connections.
  • Example: Alejandro, who lost a parent early in life, avoids commitment. He moves from one fling to another, fearing the risk of emotional closeness. While afraid of intimacy, he simultaneously feels the sting of loneliness.


Relational trauma casts a long shadow over our dating lives. Recognizing these patterns allows us to break free from destructive cycles. Healing involves self-awareness, therapy, and choosing partners who support our growth.

Remember, you deserve love and healthy connections. Break the cycle, heal, and create a brighter dating future.


  1. Tanasugarn, A. (2023). 10 Common Patterns Seen in Unresolved Relational Trauma. Psychology Today.
  2. 5 Ways Trauma Could Impact Your Dating Life. Psychology Today.

 “Remember, healing is possible, and your dating experiences can transform with self-compassion and growth.”


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