It’s really common to have moments of self-doubt about how to have a relationship when you have trauma or difficulty trusting. But rest assured, there are lots of people who are in satisfying, loving relationships even though one or both (or more) have a history of trauma. With a clear set of tools, you can build a life and relationship that is joyful and fulfilling.
Focus on these 3 things: collaboration, consent, and courage.
If you’re in love with someone who has trauma, and they’ve discussed it with you, you can’t tell them how to heal or handle it.
And if you’re in a partnership with someone who is trying to be supportive to you as you heal, it doesn’t give you permission to demand whatever you want “because trauma!
Instead think of each other as collaborators with 1 goal:
We’ll do (or not do) what we can to live the life we want without re-traumatizing anyone.
When you are faced with situations that don’t have obvious solutions, check in with each other, agree on a destination/ goal first, then brainstorm ways to get there. There are no bad suggestions. what matters is that you both find the action steps that you’ve agreed upon tolerable and not painful. then follow through and check in again.
We usually talk about consent as related to hookups and the types of sex that someone is okay with. But consent doesn’t only belong in the bedroom.
If you’re in a relationship and one or both of you have trauma, discussion of what feels “ok” and “not okay” in all areas of life can save you a lot of stress.
For example, you might not want to be touched a certain way. You may want to set ground rules for arguments. Being mindful of consent might even look like asking if they’re okay with an extra stop on the way home instead of just taking the car in a new direction.
Surprises can be fun and joyful, but especially early on, get to know your partner and your preferences and tastes before making assumptions.
It’s tempting to think you can keep your emotions and thoughts to yourself and wait for things to “play out”.
But if you’re bothered by something, curious about your partner, or struggling with a specific trigger, courage is the thing that will get you to peace.
Have the courage to speak up, try things, and take important feedback.
With collaboration, consent, and courage, lots of difficult things can be figured out.