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The Paradox of Trauma Survivors: The Craving for Connection and Fear of Intimacy


People who have gone through traumatic experiences often find themselves stuck in a difficult place. They want to be close to others, but at the same time, they fear relationships and intimacy. This puzzle can be traced back to how we form relationships and bonds with others, often referred to as ‘attachment.’ 

Why We Need Others 

As humans, we are naturally driven to find and stay close to people who care for us. This is especially important when we’re young and can’t take care of ourselves. We need people around us for basic survival, but also for emotional needs like feeling loved, supported, and safe. 

However, for those who had an unsafe childhood due to abuse or neglect, there’s another conflicting feeling that comes into play. This is the need to protect oneself. 

What is the Need to Protect Oneself? 

When we feel safe and secure, we want to be close to others. But when we feel threatened or unsafe, we get ready to protect ourselves. This results in a constant tug-of-war between wanting to get close to people and needing to protect oneself. 

This internal conflict can cause a person to be always on edge or feel disconnected. It becomes hard for them to form relationships because neither of these states allows for connection. Connection happens when we are calm and emotionally balanced. 

How Does This Show Up in Adults? 

In our adult relationships, this conflict shows up in several ways. We often have a strong desire and need for companionship, but we also push them away or create a safe distance, sometimes without even realizing it. This can show up in small things like facial expressions, body language, and how close we let others get to us physically. This can be confusing for both us and the people around us. 

How to Heal After Trauma 

But there’s hope. We can teach our bodies to feel safe again. We can learn that it’s okay to connect with others in a safe and healthy way. Understanding why we act the way we do is a big part of healing. It’s important to remember that we are not broken. Our bodies are just doing what they think is best to keep us safe. 

Once we understand why we act the way we do, we can start to have more patience with ourselves. We can give ourselves the support we need to heal and grow, and start to live life the way we want to. Love This Therapy can help you on this journey, please reach out to us for a free Discovery Call at 604-229-4887. 

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