We all know dating involves a lot of uncertainty. Most people experience some insecurity when getting to know a potential partner. Figuring out how to read another person’s signs and signals is part of the dating experience. It is sometimes exhilarating, sometimes baffling.
What about when the person you’re dating has been in an abusive relationship? Unfortunately, partner abuse is all too common in our society. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that each minute 20 people experience physical abuse from an intimate partner in the United States. The after effects of relationship abuse are long-lasting, and can make the ups and downs of love even rockier.
Here are 7 ways a person who has experienced relationship trauma may love differently.
We Can Have Low Self-Confidence.
No matter the type of abuse, the abused person suffers damage to their self-esteem. Our abusers were critical of us, and undermined our self-confidence. Sometimes we tell ourselves what our abusers told us, like “you’re no good”, or “how could anyone love you”, or “I hit you because you deserve it.” We need time to get over the damage to our self-esteem. You can help by understanding that sometimes when we are depressed it can be because we are hearing these thoughts. If you help us talk them through it helps, because we know you don’t see us like that.
We Are Sometimes Mistrustful of Kind Gestures.
Sometimes abusers shower their partners with gifts and compliments, as a way of pulling them in quickly. Then, when the partner is hooked, the abuse begins. If you give us a gift or a compliment early on, sometimes we wonder if you are like our abuser. We can’t help it, we’re just afraid. However, behind our fear, we are really grateful for your gift. It’s okay to ask us what is wrong. Sometimes we just have a hard time knowing why we react like we do, and sorting out our feelings.