Does trauma cause problems with building new relationships?

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    Hi everyone,

    I put my title as a question because I have posted a lot on my attempts to find a new relationship. This is something I have really started to think about, because I look at this topic in the forums, and it has a massive amount of posts compared to any of the other ones.

    I’ve come on here quite often and talked about my difficulty with starting dating again. I’ve dated a few women, fell for one of them, and avoided getting involved in what could have been a bad relationship. I know starting over again, after being with someone for almost 20 years, is going to have it’s hiccups. But is that previous relationship still affecting how things are going when I try to find a new one?

    I look back on my marriage now and I know it wasn’t a good one. We bickered way too much, and her infidelities made me harbor resentment, even though I said I forgave her at the time. Now that I really don’t have much to do with my ex, I feel like I am much calmer. Everything with her was high strung tension and the drama was always extreme if something didn’t suit her. Overall, I feel that I am a better father and person since she has left me.

    Our marriage finally came apart because I found out she had been cheating on me for at least a year. It wasn’t the first time. Two years into our marriage she did the same thing. We went to counseling and stayed together. I fought too hard for that marriage. Now I think of all the pain that it caused me staying with someone who would readily cheat on you not once, but several times. I start to wonder if my self confidence was so low that I would allow myself to live with someone like her.

    I’ve had some short relationships and I don’t know if my marriage hasn’t affected how they played out. I’m starting to feel that I am too eager to move forward with someone and I am scaring them off. I spoke quite a bit about one woman that I truly cared about, but was I too much for her?
    After my marriage ended, my emotions came flooding to the surface, and I was more in touch with them than ever in my life. I’m more open about how I feel and I’ve talked more freely about how I feel. Sometimes I think that it is a bad thing to do. Not like it’s bad to say how you feel about something, but the timing of it. I wonder if the trauma of going through a very bitter breakup and emotional upheaval it brought about, is causing me to want to build something better with someone, too quickly.

    I’ve basically stopped looking online to find someone to date right now. Having reflected on what happened in my previous relationship, it made me think that I need to feel more complete in other areas of my life.
    How do you guys feel about a topic like this? I’d like to hear.


    Absolutely. We cannot move towards a new relationship until we repair the hurt and pain within ourselves. If you still. Feel even a modicum of resentment or hurt from your ex wife (and who wouldn’t?) then it will affect how you process relationships. Will every woman be like your ex? Is my behavior a catalyst to how others perceive me?
    Steve, I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said you ned to be more complete in other areas of your life. Putting all of our focus and attention on an area where we feel we have failed is a trap. You concentrate on love relationships because you feel so dejected and broken over your divorce. That is normal. You now can see that it isn’t about getting a love interest but finding the things in life that makes you the joyful and whole man you once were. When you become healed from your resentment and pain, when you focus on the joy in your heart because of your well rounded life, women will be attracted and drawn to you for the man you are in a healthy place, not the man you are from a broken place.


    Hi Steve,

    I agree with Tir. I’ve been through my own doses of relationship trauma and trust me, going through your healing process first, before starting anything serious, is good for you in so many ways. It’s a tough balance though, because no one wants to feel alone while they are healing and going through major changes and upheavals in their life. Sometimes when we are hurting, we feel pulled even more strongly towards new relationships, because our need for love/belonging/connection/understanding/support are greater than ever. If you have solid, loving, supportive relationships in other areas of your life (such as friends or family) now is the time to turn back to those. These people already know you well, so talking about deeper issues and emotions won’t be as weird with them as it would be with a date or new friend.

    I’d also suggest seeing a therapist. It’s not for everyone, but you’re already asking yourself the questions a counselor would ask and help you find answers for. It might sound ironic, but couple & family therapists (CFTs, MFTs) also specialize in helping individuals heal from divorce and damaging relationships. Individual therapy feels a lot different from couples therapy, but not in a bad way. Especially if you want someone to talk to who can actually give good relationship advice.

    Wishing you peace & healing,


    Hi Jessa,

    I just want to say that it’s been a long time since my marriage ended. Over 3 years now. I just haven’t started to date until recently. I did take counseling earlier on, after it happened, and it did help. I have been a little more active with things I enjoy doing for quite some time and I have been getting together with friends on a more regular basis.

    I might talk to a counselor again soon. Just to air things out and see if they notice something about how I am approaching relationships that isn’t helping me. Mostly, I think it is a matter of me enjoying the process of getting to know someone new, and not worrying about if things are going to go somewhere.

    Sometimes, it is helpful coming on this forum and release how I am feeling about a subject. A lot of the time, I get some very good insights from people on here.

    I’ve learned so much over the past few years since my marriage ended. I know I don’t want to bring what I lived with so long into another relationship. I don’t want to relive the mistakes of my past or be with the same type of woman again.

    Eventually, I will get an opportunity to be with someone that will care about me as much as I care about them. For now, I’m not going to worry about it.

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