How to Have Healthy Relationships When You’ve Been Abused
Summary: Do you find it hard to have a healthy relationship when you've been abused? If so, here are some tips to help you let them go and actually build a healthy relationship together with your partner.
Dealing with abuse during childhood greatly affects the quality of your life when you’re an adult. It affects every aspect of your life in such a way that it can prevent you from pursuing the careers, interests, and even relationships you truly want, or make you feel like you do not deserve to be happy. Whatever the case is, having a healthy relationship is difficult if you’ve been abused in the past. It’s not only hard for you, but also for your partner who has to have more patience and understanding of the issues you are facing.
Some problems can be intense mood swings, anxiety, paranoia and trust issues, and so on. Perhaps the abuse you endured when you were young has made you leery of your partner’s trust, so you spy on them, check their text messages and emails, all without consent. Maybe you have such high anxiety that you’re unable to do any activities together since you’re too scared to leave the home or show your face in public. Or maybe your mood fluctuates so much that you develop a love/hate relationship with your partner, picking at their flaws and saying how much you hate them, then immediately apologizing and saying you love them. This is very confusing for you since you may not know what your true emotions are, but imagine how your partner feels being a passenger on this rollercoaster.
Without a doubt, having a mental illness with a history of abuse makes a romantic relationship far harder. It even makes friendships harder since the same issues could come up. It may even make you feel lost, like you’ll never be able to be in a relationship again. However, that is not the case. What if I told you there is a way, but it takes time and finding the right partner?
The truth is, there are ways and it first comes down to you being able to realize what is actually happening now and what is from the past. If you’ve been abused and neglected, and it seems like everyone you meet is out to do you harm and betray you, then it’s understandable why you would feel the same from your current partner. While there is a possibility this could happen, you have to ask yourself why you are with this person to begin with. What made you trust them enough to start a relationship? And why has it gotten bad? Did they specifically do or say anything to trigger the memories from the past? If so, that’s your opportunity to talk with them about it. However, if you cannot find anything that they have done to trigger these emotions in you, then you could be living in the past. Past traumatic memories are coming back and putting you back in that situation. But, you’re not in that situation anymore.
It takes a very specific partner to deal with your ever changing mood swings and problems, so if your partner is still there through all this, what does it mean to you? Most people would’ve given up on you by now, but this person stayed since they truly care and will do whatever it takes to be by your side. Keep reassuring yourself of this to replace those negative thought patterns from the past since they are not the same situation you are in today. If this person is treating you differently from anyone else you’ve been with, treating you with respect and being patient, then that’s a genuine act of kindness and trust, which you have to realize and reciprocate. If needed, you both may need to do group counseling to help understand where underlying issues still are and what to do moving forward.
Abuse is not a reason you cannot have a successful relationship. Rather, you limit yourself by comparing the people currently in your life with those from the past. However, they simply are not the same people. It’s important to find genuine people who will love you no matter what, and if that person is in your life now, being patient with you and always reassuring you, then it sounds like you have met the right person to help you through these tough times to be better and stronger. Don’t let the past determine the future. You have control now, not the people who wronged you in the past.
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I have dealt with severe issues trusting people due to a past of abuse and abandonment. I thought people were out to get me since everyone would harm me. Many of these issues were addressed, but some still lingered, affecting my life in such a way that I would push people away. Yet, some still stayed, but I was still leery. Regardless, I know that in time I will continue to improve, as long as I let myself.