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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Barsky

Trauma Can Affect Your Relationships and Attachment Style—Here’s How

Trauma is not an experience exclusive to veterans and victims of violent attacks. Anyone can experience trauma that stems from a variety of different sources out of their control. Unfortunately, trauma can cause long-term effects, including anxiety, avoidance, flashbacks, nightmares, and more.

These effects can show up in everyday life and even affect interpersonal relationships. While it’s unfortunate that traumatic instances can happen to anyone, it is something you can heal from. Healing begins with awareness, knowledge, and patience.

We can start by looking at how trauma impacts relationships by looking at how it may influence our attachment styles.

What Are Attachment Styles?

Attachment styles are basically the way we create and maintain connections with others. There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.

Out of these, secure attachment is what many strive for. This attachment style is all about forming secure, loving relationships. These relationships are filled with mutual trust and acceptance. Intimacy is not feared, and each party is able to exist independently from each other, or without being totally dependent.

This is a very healthy attachment style. However, sometimes trauma can prevent us from achieving this. The good news is, you can work on it.

How Trauma Influences Attachment Style

Trauma is out of our control and not our fault. And everyone is affected in different ways. Let’s look at how trauma can influence attachment style and what that looks like using the other three styles mentioned above.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

An anxious attachment style is an insecure attachment style rooted in a fear of abandonment. It’s understandable that certain traumatic events may make you scared to lose your connection with others. People with this attachment style tend to worry about their partner leaving them and thrive on frequent validation that they aren’t going to be left behind.

Someone with this attachment style might get anxious when their partner doesn’t text back quick enough. They fear their partner doesn’t care about them, even if that’s not true. This can then affect your self-esteem and confidence. But there is hope. You can regain confidence in yourself and your relationship with a little help from trauma therapy and some time.

Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment

This attachment style tends to be rooted in a fear of intimacy. Certain events like sexual assault can understandably create this kind of influence. People with this attachment style often struggle to get close to others and find it hard to trust others in relationships.

As a result, someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style will keep themselves at a distance from their partner. They tend to be emotionally unavailable and prefer staying independent, only relying on themselves.

As with all insecure attachment types, it’s meant to protect oneself from experiencing hurt again. There is good reason for reacting this way—you experienced something you didn’t deserve. But you can work toward opening yourself up to others and being more comfortable with intimacy.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment

This attachment style isn’t as common as the others. This style is somewhat of a combination between an anxious and avoidant attachment styles. Those with this style simultaneously long for intimacy, but want to avoid it. This type of internal warring can be exhausting.

Someone with this attachment style might be hesitant to develop romantic relationships, while also experience an intense desire to feel loved. Some issues that can stem from this style are difficulties regulating emotions.

Certain traumatic experiences may make the idea of relationships scary, like having parents who were inconsistent with their expression of love, making it hard to trust. But you deserve to feel the love you desire, and you can achieve that love.

Finding Hope in Recovery

No one deserves to suffer the effects of trauma. And it’s not your fault if trauma affects your ability to connect with others. But just because you may be experiencing these effects now, doesn’t mean you have to forever.

Trauma therapy can help you take charge of your recovery journey. You can build important skills that will help you create better connections with others, so you can be happier, too. It will take a little time and work, but you can do it. Reach out today to learn how you can take back your confidence and overcome trauma.

Reach out to me today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.

To learn more about trauma therapy, click here.

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