How To Survive Relationship PTSD


Hey, girl. I get it. That last relationship did a number on ya and you went all, "Men are the living worst. I'm swearing them off. Relationships are for the birds. I'm never going to let myself be hurt like that by anybody else, EVER, for the rest of eternity."

But we all know that life choice is not sustainable. You know what it is? It's a fast track to cat lady status. It's the AP course curriculum for Miserable, Party of 1.

So now you're trying to get back out on the dating scene. Good for you. Get it, girl. You're just Tindering your little black heart out. You're going on a couple dates, guys are attractive, maybe not marriage material, but HEY, this whole dating thing ain't so bad, right? And perhaps you're even in a new relationship with a solid guy that's making things nice 'n easy.

All efforts are to be congratulated. Kudos.

Ride that wave, woman. Because—and here comes the not-so-awesome news—the love lesson is on its way.

You see, you're inevitably gonna smack right up into a trigger that sketchily reminds you of all the emotional stretching you had to deal with in your last relationship.

You WILL be reminded of what it felt like when he cheated, or when he didn't love you back, when he was manipulative, when he consistently chose himself over you, when he let you down, when he betrayed your trust. Then you start to think: What if the new one does the same thing?

It's Relationship PTSD. It's not pretty and it could derail any progress you're making.

Symptoms of PTSD:

Re-experiencing the traumatic event

You become locked in a fear-based line of questioning, always on hyper alert, waiting for him to eff up the way the last guy did. And guess what? Self-fulfilling prophecy, my dear. You'll focus so heavily on it that you'll drive yourself nuts, and bring him down into your spiral. You could end up recreating the same type of relationship, not because he's a douche, but because you didn't give the relationship its own space to develop.

Avoidance and numbing

This translates to the old cut and run. It's easier to run away from dealing with the potential for heartbreak/pain/emotional distress than it is to risk it, EVEN IF IT COULD TURN OUT AMAZING. Please refer back to: Cat-lady status.

Increased anxiety and emotional arousal

You're too damn sensitive when normally you’ve got things under control. You can't trust him even though he's shown you absolutely zero reason for the distrust. Like, it's the second date and you've already got a tracker on his phone because the last guy you were with lied about where he was all the time. Yeesh.

You know, because there's a reason for all this. A method to the mating madness, if you will. There are loads of lessons about letting go, releasing attachments to a desired outcome, being comfortably uncomfortable outside of your comfort zone, forgiveness, being ok with uncertainty, falling in love with vulnerability, and more. These are prerequisites to any real, adult relationship.

In the meantime, here's how to deal:

Get present. Succumbing to Relationship PTSD is all about living in the past. You gotta let that go. Get out of your head and into the present moment. It's a new guy, a new you, a new opportunity. Don't let the past dictate the present.

Breathe. And stop. For real. And give it what you got. (Q-Tip might have been on to something...)

Have a cocktail. (But maybe don't have six because that most likely ends with you aggressively drunk-texting. That's when things get weird.)


Pour yourself a half carafe of wine and watch Real Housewives. Those women have a real problems.

Gratitude. You're learning a lot, and if listening, making massive strides in personal growth. That's may-jah. Give it up to life for being kinda awesome and helping you out with these teachings.

And my fave: Listen to your intuition. Never forget that first feeling, gut reaction, ping, initial read on a situation that let you know exactly how this was going to serve you. You can always refer back to that intuitive insight when you're about to make a fear-based decision, run away or freak out.