3 Sad Ways A Traumatic Childhood Stops You From Having Healthy Relationships

What happened in the past doesn't always stay in the past.

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Childhood is the prime time for brain development and the time when people typically learn to have healthy attachments and a stable sense of love and security.

But, when a person experiences something traumatic during childhood, it can interrupt their brain development and change their sense of healthy relationships.

Every person deserves to have loving and healthy relationships that they can rely on for support throughout their lives.


However, survivors of childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect have a harder time forming healthy relationships because of their negative views of the people who have hurt them.

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Here are 3 ways childhood trauma prevents you from being in a healthy relationship as an adult. 

1 You are attracted to destructive relationships

It is not uncommon for someone who survived trauma to end up in unhealthy relationships. 

The survivors believe they need to fix the people that they are in intimate relationships. Or, they see signs of an unhealthy relationship and feel as though they deserve to be with someone who treats them poorly because someone in their past treated them poorly.


These unhealthy relationships end up re-traumatizing the survivor, but the person doesn’t realize it until much later in the relationship.

Chaos and/or abuse in an unhealthy relationship may feel familiar to the survivor. However, they believe that somehow this time is going to be different.

The internal chaos caused by the trauma may interfere with your ability to create realistic expectations for yourself and the other person in the relationship.



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2. It's difficult to regulate emotions 

If a survivor of childhood trauma has not allowed themselves to heal from their traumatic past, then they may notice some difficulties with regulating emotions.

Unresolved trauma can keep the survivor on high alert and make them more prone to react with anger or impulsivity.

Trauma can also increase fear and anxiety in situations that usually would not lead to negative emotions. These reactions often have to do with a hyperactive amygdala that results from past traumatic experiences.



If you are in a relationship, it is important to recognize how past trauma is affecting your ability to experience emotions as an adult.


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3. You have low self-esteem and self-worth

Survivors of trauma often look at themselves with disgust, shame, or a feeling that they are unlovable. The survivor questions their values and everything they believed in — including their own self-worth.

Questioning can cause some people to withdraw and isolate themselves from relationships and lead others to become extremely co-dependent on their relationship. Due to this low self-esteem and self-worth, often times people will begin to question their judgment and question who they are and what their identity is.

Feelings of unworthiness, invalidation, and disconnect from self are all signs that childhood trauma is continuing to cause a ripple effect throughout the survivor’s life and relationships.




It is important to recognize the presence of childhood trauma and how that trauma has continued to impact your life into adulthood. Establishing healthy boundaries and communication at the beginning of any relationship is essential to ensure both people in the relationship are on the same page.

If you believe your childhood trauma is adding to an unhealthy attachment to relationships, difficulty managing emotions, or low self-esteem, then it may be helpful for you to process the past pain with a therapist specializing in childhood trauma and PTSD.

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Amanda Wiegert is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor, certified EMDR therapist, and Master’s level certified addiction professional based in Maitland, Florida.