The good news is that these trauma-based dynamics are healable with the right professional support. The most difficult adult dynamics occur when partners trigger each other simultaneously. We call this a "double-trigger", and they are surprisingly common. Here's how it happens to Robert and Janet, a married couple:
- While talking about the upcoming company party, Janet innocently shares her feelings. She says, "I don't like those big corporate parties."
- Robert is reminded of his mother, who told him, when he was 7 years old, that he couldn’t go to his friend's party. This caused him anguish and feelings of separation, loneliness, and being controlled.
- Robert reacts to his traumatic memory of being disempowered by his mother in the same way he did as a child, by rejecting his feeling of dependency. He responds to his wife by saying, "Fine. I'll go without you."
- Janet hears these words in the same way she heard her father say something similar when he walked out the door when he abandoned the family, which caused years of chaos and uncertainty. She suddenly feels the same feelings: desperation, panic, and a sense of being abandoned.
- Janet responds to her feelings of rising panic by yelling, "You always do that to me!" She is reminded of all the times Robert pulled away or threatened to leave, and screams, "I hate you when you do that!" She escalates the drama by reminding him of all the times in the past when she felt abandoned.
- Robert feels completely overwhelmed, because his father often went on tirades about his behavior in his youth. He feels his own panic rising, and he reacts the same way he reacted to his father. He collapses into silence, looks down at the floor, and pulls into himself, waiting for the storm to pass.
- Janet sees his collapse, and this behavior reminds her of her father, who reacted the same way to her mother, just before he left the family. She reacts again….
- … and a giant mess ensues.
Neither partner is in a condition or position to help the other. They've both been hijacked by their subconscious neurological defense strategies, which helped them survive the perceived threats when they were young.
If sudden reactions occur frequently in your relationship, either because one or both of you get triggered, there may be unresolved trauma issues lurking in your subconscious memory. Until they're resolved, Sudden Reaction Syndrome can easily disrupt the harmony and security in your relationship.
We use the LoveStyle Profile Quiz™ to help our clients identify their primary childhood bonding pattern and survival strategies, which we call your LoveStyle™. When Sudden Reaction Syndrome occurs frequently and with extremes of behavior, one or both partners may have the Traumatic LoveStyle™.
Once you understand how your early childhood patterns impact your relationship, you can unwind the unhealthy patterns, and find your way back to healthy and secure love.
Take the free 5-minute LoveStyle Profile Quiz and discover your unique LoveStyle by clicking here.
If Sudden Reaction Syndrome is causing suffering in your relationship, and you don't know how to break the cycle, we strongly recommend reaching out for help from a professional trauma specialist. They can assess the impact that past traumas are having on you and any of your relationships.
Whether you or your partner is the one who usually reacts first, educate yourselves about how to keep from being triggered. Learn how to bring each other back into a safe and calm state. Our program, 5 Keys to a Secure and Passionate Relationship, is a good place to start, especially if you study it together.
As you can see from the ACE study statistics, you're not alone. Around two-thirds of all people have at least one type of trauma in their past. The good news is, with the right support, you can learn to rewire your brain toward a safe and secure relationship.
Note: This article is intended to educate the public about the LoveStyles and the impact of childhood trauma. It is not designed to analyze your personality or provide professional diagnoses of medical or psychological disorders or diseases. It is not a substitute for professional advice. If you feel triggered or overwhelmed in a way you can’t resolve by yourself, contact a professional therapist, psychologist, or counselor who can help you address your concerns.