Relationship PTSD

PTSD and Relationships, Implications, Symptoms, Causes, C-PTSD (Complex PTSD) & Treatments.

PTSD and Relationships

Relationship PTSD meaning: Relationship PTSD (abusive relationship PTSD), also known as post-traumatic relationship syndrome (PTRS), is the reaction a person may have to one or more exposures to a horrific incident while in a relationship with an intimate partner. Verbal, physical, emotional/psychological, or sexual abuse in romantic relationships has all been demonstrated to leave permanent scars.

The sort of stressor that triggers PTSD and the emotional response to it are the primary indicators of the suggested subgroup of PTSD known as relationship PTSD. In other words, PTSD that only arises from an abusive relationship may be post-traumatic relationship syndrome (PTRS) rather than meeting all of the diagnostic criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.

relationship ptsd
Relationship PTSD test: Relationship PTSD, also known as post-traumatic relationship syndrome (PTRS), is the reaction a person may have to one or more exposures to a horrific incident while in a relationship with an intimate partner. 

Some PTSD symptoms are present in PTRS patients, but they frequently have more powerful emotional reactions that frequently result in unfavorable social interactions. Because PTRS is subtle and sneaky, you might not experience any signs until the relationship has ended. Instead of being caused by a single event, relational patterns and relationships themselves cause trauma.

You might discover that you feel more insecure than you formerly did, have a reduced sense of self-worth, or overthink relationships. Both PTSD and PTRS have the same fundamental effect: the conviction that the world is dangerous as a result of the traumatic event.

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PTSD in Abusive Relationships (PTSD From Relationships)

PTSD is characterized by intrusive memories, avoiding situations that can trigger the trauma, moodiness, and hyperarousal, a condition in which your body goes on high alert. These four symptom clusters last for at least a month and make it difficult for the patients to go about their everyday lives regularly.

An abusive relationship might result in PTSD since the terrible events that occurred there can make the symptoms persist even after the relationship has ended. In particular, physical, sexual, emotional, or a combination of these sorts of abuse might result in symptoms. PTSD can be diagnosed when these symptoms last for a while.

People with PTSD typically suffer intensely upsetting thoughts and feelings about their experience that last for a long time after the traumatic event has passed. A loud noise or an unintentional touch can trigger significant negative reactions in those with PTSD, who may avoid circumstances or people who remind them of the traumatic occurrence.

In addition to mentally replaying the abuse, individuals could become fixated on particular phrases or ideas and attribute the abuse to themselves. People who experience PTSD frequently struggle with relationships with those closest to them. According to a study published in the September 2018 issue of Clinical Psychology Review, both PTSD sufferers and their partners may lack both emotional and physical intimacy.

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PTSD relationships: PTSD is characterized by intrusive memories, avoiding situations that can trigger the trauma, moodiness, and hyperarousal, a condition in which your body goes on high alert. Call now and get mental health support.

C PTSD and Relationships – PTSD in Relationships and PTSD from relationship abuse (Complex PTSD Relationships or Complex PTSD relationship issues)

C-PTSD and interpersonal relationships (complex PTSD and intimate relationships): Complex PTSD and romantic relationships: People with C PTSD frequently experience emotional isolation and use emotional avoidance as a coping mechanism. Instead of coping with more delicate emotions, many people may shut down, drive those closest to them away, such as a partner, family, or friends, or attempt to superficially smooth things over this can be a difficulty that can affect complex PTSD from abusive relationship.

Complex PTSD and relationships (complex PTSD abusive relationship or complex PTSD emotional abuse relationship): In addition to feeling emotionally ignored, partners may feel perplexed or irritated. Unfortunately, many people with C PTSD (complex PTSD romantic relationships) may feel misunderstood by those in their lives because feeling unsafe is at the heart of emotional avoidance (complex PTSD triggers in relationships), which can lead them to further isolate themselves.

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What Causes Relationship PTSD? PTSD From Abusive Relationship

The relationship-related trauma Unlike typically diagnosed PTSD, which happens with a partner in an intimate connection rather than watching or experiencing a horrific episode occurring outside of an intimate relationship, PTSD may result from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

What exactly qualifies as a traumatic exposure that could cause PTSD as a result of an abusive relationship? In an abusive relationship, there isn’t just one occurrence that causes PTRS; rather, there are a number of incidents that happen over time.

PTSD may result from any instances of abuse or interpersonal stress, including:

  • Unhealthy relational patterns: Belittling, gaslighting, controlling, or criticizing repeatedly can constitute emotional abuse.
  • Physical abuse or domestic violence: Punching, hitting, or any form of purposefully injuring or attempting to cause harm to a partner is abusive.
  • Sexual abuse: Even within the context of an intimate relationship, any form of non-consensual sex, or sexual coercion, is considered abuse.

Given that everyone reacts to traumatic experiences differently, what you may find to be terrible may not be for someone else.

How Does PTSD Affect Relationships? Relationship PTSD Symptoms (PTSD from toxic relationship)

Signs of PTSD from a relationship (signs of PTSD from abusive relationship): Due to the fact that relationship PTSD often develops over time rather than as a result of a single traumatic event, it can be challenging to diagnose (the difference between Complex PTSD and typical PTSD). As a result, PTRS may include persistent feelings of insecurity, uncontrol, humiliation, or guilt, as well as thoughts that seem to appear out of nowhere and are challenging to shake. PTSD from relationship symptoms (PTSD symptoms from relationships):

Intrusive Symptoms of PTRS

Signs of relationship PTSD: Intrusive symptoms are symptoms related to re-experiencing the trauma, including:

  • Thoughts about the trauma that feel like they come out of nowhere
  • Flashbacks or feeling like you’re reliving the experience(s) in the form of images, intrusive thoughts, or daydreams
  • Nightmares or dreams about the trauma, whether in the context of the dream or just consistent negative or scared feelings in the dreams
  • Feeling extreme distress when reminded of the trauma by either the person in the relationship or a reminder of the perpetrator
  • Emotional responses that are overblown considering the current emotional stressor

Arousal Symptoms of PTRS

Arousal symptoms are symptoms related to the fear response, including:

  • Increased irritability with little or no provocation
  • Insomnia, particularly difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Hypervigilance or being “on guard” at all times but particularly when reminded of the trauma

Relational Symptoms of PTRS

Relational symptoms are symptoms that create stress in other relationships, including:

  • Difficulty trusting others or socializing
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • Jumping into a new relationship
  • Shame, guilt, or self-blame—all of which are common in trauma bonding
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Feeling that the world is unsafe

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Combat PTSD and Relationships

You can get help if everything you’ve read about relationship PTSD rings true for you or your circumstances. Finding a qualified and trauma-informed therapist is essential since relational, interpersonal trauma is more likely to result in a clinical PTSD diagnosis than non-interpersonal trauma, such as a natural disaster.

It’s crucial to get the right care as soon as you see a problem because studies of people with PTRS show heightened rates of substance addiction, self-harm, and suicide attempts or ideation.

Engaging in secure, loving connections with safe, loving people is the best approach to recovering from relational trauma. True to its adage, “love heals.” Through a mix of loving ourselves and receiving love from others, we can mend our relational love scars.

When we practice loving and receiving love, we open ourselves up to having “corrective emotional experiences” that lead to a revision of our limbic/emotional system. Our perception of ourselves as lovable beings is being revised, and our ability to connect with others in a secure and peaceful way is growing.

relationship ptsd
Finding a qualified and trauma-informed therapist is essential.

How Does PTSD Affect Relationships?

You didn’t choose to get PTSD or to have it affect your relationships, keep in mind. But even if you’re not constantly aware of it, PTSD symptoms can have an impact on how you interact with other people. For instance, PTSD may make it difficult to speak, which may make you worried about activities that foster relationships. PTSD can have an impact on both personal and professional relationships.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 5 to 10% of those with PTSD may experience difficulties in their relationships with:

  • Intimacy
  • Sex drive
  • Communication
  • Avoidance
  • Attachment

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Do I have PTSD from abusive relationship? PTSD After Abusive Relationship – PTSD After Narcissistic Relationship

PTSD from relationship trauma: Remember, you didn’t choose to get PTSD or to have it impact your relationships. However, even if you’re not always aware of it, PTSD symptoms can affect your social interactions. For instance, PTSD may make speaking difficult, which may make you anxious about engaging in activities that promote connections. Relationships in both the personal and professional spheres can be impacted by PTSD. How can PTSD affect relationships? These are some of the PTSD relationship problems:

Sexual interest

Your sexual life and desire may be complicated by PTSD. The kind of event that initially set off PTSD may have an impact on whether and how it affects you. Sex may rise to the top of your list of things to avoid in situations involving sexual assault or trauma. It could be difficult to trust a spouse or feel secure in an intimate setting as a result of this kind of trauma. This is an organic response to trauma.

Research also suggests that trauma may lead to hypersexuality in some situations. Despite being a contentious subject, hypersexuality is frequently characterized as the emergence of difficult-to-control compulsive sexual practices. Your sex life may be affected by additional PTSD symptoms (signs of PTSD after abusive relationship), such as:

  • Negative self-image
  • Lack of sleep
  • Low sex drive
  • Feeling detached
  • Hypervigilance that makes relaxing difficult
  • Loss of interest in experiencing joyful activities

This might be the reason that even though you love your partner very much, you still feel disinterested or fearful about sexual intimacy with them. These are some of the PTSD effects on relationships:


Every relationship needs to have open communication. When it becomes difficult for you, it could affect your relationship with family members. Angry outbursts and impatience are two PTSD symptoms that might occur. Then you might react to other people in a way that they don’t understand, fear, or dislike.

Your ability to handle disagreements may also be impacted by other symptoms, such as trouble-solving problems. It’s possible that even the slightest conversation can leave you feeling incredibly uncomfortable and overwhelmed, which will prevent you from clearly expressing yourself.

There may also be times when you simply don’t want to talk and just want to be left alone. A lack of emotional expression may make it difficult to build relationships.


You might also want to avoid specific social situations or avoid broaching sensitive subjects if you’re avoiding potential triggers. This is due to the fact that when you have PTSD, certain events, individuals, or activities may trigger memories of the initial trauma. While this is normal after trauma, it can be challenging to sustain connections if you don’t want to do something and are unable to express why.


In relationships, it’s crucial to be able to emotionally connect with others. When you have PTSD, you could feel distant from people, circumstances, and occasionally even yourself. Pushing people away or failing to respond to their emotions are two ways this detachment can manifest itself.

On the other hand, you can experience the reverse due to your PTSD symptoms. You might feel a stronger need to be looked for or to defend others. You might then act in ways that can overwhelm some individuals, such as being demanding, suffocating, or dependent.

How to Deal With Someone With PTSD in a Relationship? Dealing with PTSD in a Relationship

How to deal with PTSD in a relationship? PTSD is a significant mental health disorder. It is crucial for a partner to understand that it is not a decision and cannot be cured by another person. Everyone needs healthy relationships, and having unhealthy relationships might make recovering from PTSD more challenging.

Supporting a partner can provide them the breathing room they need to focus on their recovery, and providing reassurance can serve as a reminder that someone cares about them. A person can assist a partner who has PTSD by:

  • Don’t make them feel responsible for their symptoms, downplay the seriousness of their trauma, or advise them to “snap out of it.”
  • Encourage them to get aid and offer to assist them.
  • Develop a suicide prevention strategy with a therapist if your partner has suicidal thoughts. Don’t leave the house with any weapons.
  • If the loved one wants to talk about their feelings, encourage them to do so; do not pressurize them.
  • Never tell someone how to feel or offer them unasked-for advice.
  • Recognize how PTSD affects the relationship, but do not place the responsibility for all of its issues on PTSD.
  • Work to reduce your exposure to the triggers of the other person. For instance, don’t leave the TV on if loud noises or voices are triggers.
  • Discuss strategies for reducing the impact of PTSD on the relationship. For instance, some PTSD sufferers may dread abandonment, thus threatening to leave may exacerbate their symptoms and exacerbate conflict.
  • Be understanding of their feelings and attentive to them. Especially during flashbacks or periods of extreme anxiety, extend warmth and comfort.
  • Recognize that leaving is acceptable. The challenges that PTSD may bring are too complex for romantic partners and other family members to handle. It’s critical for a spouse to guard their own feelings.

How to Have a Relationship With Someone With PTSD? Relationships With Someone With PTSD

Although the majority of the study on PTSD and domestic partner violence has concentrated on military veterans, some people with PTSD develop violent behaviors. It’s uncertain if PTSD in general or combat-related PTSD specifically causes abusive conduct.

People who are being abused by their partners need to get protection as quickly as possible. This can include ending the romance. While most counselors advise against treatment when there is domestic abuse, couples counseling may help with relationship issues. Staying with an abusive partner is dangerous.

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How to Get Over PTSD From a Relationship? PTSD After Relationship

How to get over relationship PTSD? If anything you’ve read about relationship PTSD applies to you or your situation, you can receive assistance. Since relational, interpersonal trauma is more likely to result in a clinical PTSD diagnosis than non-interpersonal trauma, such as a natural disaster, finding a trained and trauma-informed therapist is crucial.

Because studies of persons with PTRS show elevated rates of substance addiction, self-harm, and suicide attempts or ideation, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate assistance as soon as you notice a problem.

The best strategy for overcoming relational trauma is to engage in safe, loving connections with safe, loving individuals. According to the proverb, “love heals,” and we can mend the scars of past relationships by loving ourselves and accepting love from others.

How to Recover From PTSD From Abusive Relationship? PTSD Treatment

The author who first proposed the term “post-traumatic relationship syndrome” suggests the following as the most effective therapies for relationship PTSD:

  • Prolonged Exposure (PE): Each weekly individual session of Prolonged Exposure lasts between 60 and 120 minutes, and is normally spread out over a period of around three months. You will experience trauma-related stimuli in PE, which will get worse over time. Your ability to handle trauma-related circumstances without invoking your body’s fight-or-flight reaction is the main objective.
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): CPT is a 12-week therapy procedure where your therapist will work with you to question the assumptions about your trauma.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR for PTSD attempts to lessen the severity of memories connected to trauma. Bilateral stimulation in EMDR involves your therapist tapping on your body, having you follow their fingers with your eyes, or making a noise in one ear and then the other as you briefly focus on the trauma. An average of 6 to 12 sessions are held overall.
  • Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT): Another therapeutic approach that is frequently utilized with kids and teenagers experiencing the aftereffects of interpersonal trauma or PTRS is trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Over the course of 8–25 sessions, TF-CBT works with the child or teenager and their carers to reduce the symptoms of trauma.

Relationship PTSD FAQs

Can you get PTSD from a bad relationship? Can you have PTSD from a relationship?

Past relationship PTSD: The effects of PTSD or complex PTSD (CPTSD) might still be felt by survivors of violent relationships.

Can you have PTSD from a toxic relationship? The signs and symptoms will only differ somewhat. You might have PTSD if you make an effort to ignore or block out memories of the abusive relationship, find it difficult to recall specifics, or feel distant.

Can relationships cause PTSD? Can you get PTSD from a toxic relationship? PTSD abusive relationship

PTSD from bad relationship: Can you have PTSD from a past relationship? An abusive relationship might result in PTSD since the terrible events that occurred there can make the symptoms persist even after the relationship has ended. In particular, physical, sexual, emotional, or a combination of these sorts of abuse might result in symptoms. PTSD can be diagnosed when these symptoms last for a while.

Can you get PTSD from a relationship break up? How does PTSD affect family relationships?

PTSD from past relationship: Is relationship PTSD real? After an abusive relationship, it is possible, genuine, and valid to develop PTSD. Living in a toxic relationship can have a severe negative impact on mental health, and these effects frequently persist even after the couple has broken up.

Can you get PTSD from an abusive relationship? PTSD and anger in relationships

PTSD toxic relationship: Can you have PTSD from a bad relationship? It is feasible, real, and legitimate for someone to get PTSD after being in an abusive relationship. Mental health can suffer greatly from being in a toxic relationship, and these effects typically linger even after the couple has split up.

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