Surviving a trauma can leave a lasting affect on the victim, as well as their loved ones, long after the ordeal ends. Whether your trauma is emotional or physical, you may find yourself dealing with a slew of emotions, including sadness, guilt, and anger. As you move through the healing process, it may take a while to feel completely comfortable with being intimate again — even if you are involved in an otherwise healthy, long-term relationship. By having a clear understanding of some of the things no one tells you about intimacy after a trauma, however, you can help yourself heal.
No matter how long ago you experienced your trauma, you should know that it can have an impact on all of your romantic relationships going forward. As Good Therapy mentioned, trauma survivors often experience a decrease in relationship satisfaction as well as difficulty with intimacy and communication. Understanding that your partner may need help determining the best way to be present for you, that you may not have the energy for intimacy, and that being intimate may even trigger memories of trauma from your childhood can help you put things in perspective and give you permission to allow yourself the time you need to heal properly.
1. Your Partner May Need Help Too
They may not have gone through the same traumatic experience, but your partner may need help during your healing process as well. Your partner may be feeling frustrated because they don't know the best way to help you deal with your grief. Talking things out with a therapist can help them understand the best ways they can support you. As Good Therapy pointed out, your partner will be much more effective in helping you if they are in good mental health.
It's worth noting, however, that it's not your responsibility to help your partner heal. You can give them the push, but they have to be willing to seek out therapy on their own.
2. You May Not Have The Energy For Sex
For some, memories of their trauma causes them to have difficulty sleeping through the night. If you are experiencing nightmares as the result of a traumatic experience, you may not have the energy to be intimate, as Psych Central mentioned.
3. You May Have Unrealistic Expectations
Experiencing trauma is similar to being betrayed, which is why it's normal to want to feel comforted and safe in a relationship after experiencing a trauma. But as Psychology Today noted, you may be placing unrealistic expectations on your partner in your desire to feel secure. Don't expect them to be a mind reader. Your partner will have no idea what you need, if you don't keep the lines of communication open.
4. Close Relationships Help
When you've experienced trauma, it's not uncommon to want to be alone. You may want to close yourself off from others because you are ashamed, or because talking about your experience is too painful. But you shouldn't close yourself off completely from the rest of the world. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs, maintaining close relationships with others is a good way to offset feelings of loneliness and protect yourself against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
5. Intimacy May Trigger Childhood Trauma
You may think that a traumatic experience from your childhood is long in the past, but it may still have an impact on your romantic relationships in adulthood. Even if your experience occurred during your childhood, your intimate relationships as an adult can trigger unresolved feelings, according to HuffPost.