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Why Do I Keep Finding Myself in Toxic, Abusive Relationships?

If your latest relationship began with an explosion of love bombs and crash-landed in yet another long line of explosive, toxic, abusive entanglements, you’re not alone. Patterns like these are fraught with disappointment and frustration, particularly for highly successful individuals who dominate the workforce. While your personal life might suffer as a result of focusing on career fulfillment, that has little, if anything, to do with this pattern. 

The Past Influences the Present

Many people walk around, completely unaware that their present-day life is influenced by their past. When someone has failed to integrate past traumas, their life may be filled with triggers, for example. They may say, “I’m fine,” or “I don’t even remember, it was so long ago.” Unfortunately, forgetting the past does not mean it has stopped impacting you. Rather, your childhoods shape you. Relationships patterns, world views, belief systems, and develop cognitive blueprints are adopted in early childhood. Unless you’ve stopped to examine your thought and relationship patterns, you’re almost certainly operating on outdated models. To put it another way, adults who forgo self-transformation work like psychotherapy or coaching are interacting with the world from their five-year-old self’s POV.


It’s the toxic and traumatic relationships from childhood that cast a heavy shadow on adult interpersonal relationships. A trauma bond, a deep connection with one’s abuser, is one early abuse pattern that almost always persists until healed. Trauma bonds originally form when a child’s primary source of attachment and support, their primary caregiver, is also their abuser. Unfortunately, this type of bond remains deeply embedded in a person’s unconscious relationship patterns. Unless and until they heal the abusive bond and trauma from childhood, they will subconsciously seek out a partner that reminds them of their past. The love in a trauma-bonded relationship can feel intoxicating. The partners typically fall hard and fast. When the lust dies down and the love goggles are removed, they begin to see their partner as they truly are. Below are some signs that can help you determine earlier, rather than later, whether you have fallen into an old trauma pattern with a romantic partner.


4 Signs You’re Repeating Trauma in Your Relationship


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We’re all aware of what it feels like to fall in love, but wouldn’t it be nice to know if you’re about to repeat your past before it’s too late? If you’re in a relationship that’s exacerbating past traumas and keeping you in a trauma bond, you might notice one or more of the following signs:



1. You Constantly Feel Triggered 


Do you work on maintaining peace in your home, but no matter how hard you try, arguments ensue on the regs?  arguing or fighting, There’s nothing wrong with arguments, but how often are they occurring? Every day, or once in a blue moon? If you’re routinely fighting, angry, upset, unhappy, or disappointed with your partner, that might be a sign that you’re being triggered. What’s causing you to feel so triggered? Past traumas surface in the present in the form of triggers. If you were abused earlier in life and you’re dating or married to an abusive partner, that person’s behaviors are subconsciously reminding you of your past. Couples therapy is an important place to begin to untangle why this is happening and who’re issues belong to whom.

2. You Constantly Mirror Your Partner’s Trauma

When the trauma bond is strong, mirroring one another’s deep wounds can be extremely painful if you lack the insight and tools to manage your emotions.  You might see painful parts of yourself in your partner, and visa-versa. As Carl Jung, the famous psychotherapist said, “We never see others, instead we see aspects of ourselves that fall over them. Shadows, projections, our associations.” Meaning, what we see in others is truly a reflection of our inner shadow, the parts of our inner selves our conscious is unable to perceive. This is especially true in intimate partnerships. 


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3. Communication Meltdown


When you’ve grown up in an abusive or toxic household, chances are that your caregivers were unable to provide you will supportive tools like strong communication or boundaries skills. Unfortunately, these are key to cultivating and maintaining a healthy, happy relationship. When you and your partner lack these tools, working together collaboratively towards a shared vision can prove near impossible. The good news is that you and your partner can both learn how to communicate with one another in non-violent, supportive, effective ways 



4. All of the Above.


When communication breaks down, you’re being triggered, and you have an inability to regulate your nervous system, it’s impossible to function within a relationship. When two people are struggling with these things, it’s a minefield. Only when both partners are willing to recognize their role in the dysfunction and do the work necessary to heal do toxic relationships stand a chance.


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No one consciously seeks an abusive relationship. However, when you’ve failed to resolve past traumas, they will inevitably show up in your present. There’s no need to continue living this type of dysfunction. It’s unimaginably hard to break these cycles or consider leaving, especially when you love someone, no matter how abusive they are. It takes courage, support, and above all, self-love. You can find these, with time, and help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional, today.

Zahara Jade
Written By

Zahara Jade, M.A. supports successful souls on their journey to awaken from an existence steeped by trauma into an authentic, pain-free, purpose-fueled life.

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