In a relationship, healthy communication is required to get things going. Communication and understanding forms the basis of strength and safety of a relationship. Every communication determines the closeness or the distance that two people involved in the relationship are having. But this is different for childhood trauma survivors. “When you’re in a relationship, every interaction is a dance between connection and distance. But since childhood trauma survivors are often stuck in a mode of self-protection, it inevitably prevents them from being able to connect in healthy and meaningful ways,” wrote Therapist Morgan Pommells as she explained how childhood trauma survivors struggle with couple dynamics in a relationship.
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“While pursuers may seek out validation and closeness in their adult relationships, withdrawers are focused on retreating and creating emotional distance. This is what happens when your emotional needs weren’t consistently met,” Morgan added as she noted down the common couple dynamics that trauma survivors struggle with.
The pursue-withdraw dynamic: In this kind of relationship, the pursuer often makes demands, and tries to avoid conflicts of all kinds, while the withdrawer tries to stay away and shut down as a way of protecting themselves from any kind of harm.
The pursue-pursue dynamic: In this kind of dynamic, both the people involved pursue each other – this results in blaming each other frequently for the problems in the relationship, rather than teaming up against the problems and finding solutions to address them.
The withdraw-withdraw cycle: One of the most worrisome relationship dynamics, the withdraw-withdraw dynamic consists of two people who frequently withdraw and shut down in case of conflicts and disagreements. This, over time, results in loss of intimacy and understanding, which results in disconnection.
“Neither one of these forms of self-protection are wrong, but both of them can create emotional disconnection and a ton of pain,” Therapist Morgan Pommells added.