Post Traumatic Love Syndrome


Hey everyone!!! Can we just take a moment to celebrate that I’m being somewhat consistent with blogging again? Lol. Anywho, this topic has been on my heart for some time. Probably for almost a year. I think we all can agree that love can be a beautiful thing. The idea of having someone to love you unconditionally seems like a dream for most. The sad truth remains that the idea of love is not exciting for everyone. I wrote on this once, check it out HERE.

While some are excitedly dating and enjoying the anticipation of love, others are scared to death due to their previous experiences with the concept. There are people are petrified at the thought of trying to love again. For some people, getting to know someone almost feels traumatic. It triggers off feelings of being hurt and unsafe. This sounds eerily similar to a well-known yet misunderstood mental health diagnosis called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When someone has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they have a combination of symptoms that were triggered by a traumatic experience. These experiences can be but are not limited to war, car accidents, natural disasters, sexual assault, the sudden death of a loved one, etc. After working with many clients, talking with friends and looking at my own love life, I am realizing there may be an event we have left off the list. That event is heartbreak. If you’ve ever been heartbroken, I mean hurt to your soul heartbroken, then you know how traumatic that feels. It is something you hate to even remember. I describe it to clients as the kind of pain that you feel in your mind, body, spirit, and soul simultaneously.  It’s something that once you experience it, you never want to experience it again.

With that said, we can see how this starts to look similar to PTSD. There’s a traumatic event that then triggers off a series of symptoms. The symptoms often associated with PTSD are re-experiencing of the trauma, nightmares, avoiding thoughts or feelings about the trauma, hypervigilance, anger outbursts, etc. When I really started looking at the symptomology, I came to the startling realization that heartbreak was traumatizing people. Not in some overdramatic way, but truly to the point their lives are being disrupted. Their trust for love is buried under the fear from the trauma of heartbreak.

Think about it. We know people who are easily triggered by the thought of heartbreak. Let me make a point to highlight that I said heartbreak, not love. It is not love that scares people, it is heartbreak. The fear is in the failure of love, not the presence of it. The truth is, they want love, but they fear they will not be able to keep it.

Many people think that people fear they will never get someone. I disagree. I think many people know they have the capability to get someone. I think most people fear they will get love and mess it up. Which in turn creates heartbreak, which creates trauma. One of the symptoms of PTSD is distorted feelings of blame and guilt. How many people have blamed themselves for the heartbreak they endured? Since they carry that blame, they also carry the fear that they will bring the heartbreak on themselves again.

Another symptom of PTSD is avoiding thoughts or feelings about the trauma. How many people have we seen avoid thinking about their time of heartache like it was the plague? They don’t do it in an “I have healed and closed that chapter,” kind of way. They do it in an “I cannot mentally handle assessing those feelings,” kind of way. Feeling tense and on edge is another symptom. We see people who have been heartbroken like this all the time. They can barely enjoy a conversation with someone because they are so on edge. You constantly have to tell them, “just relax and enjoy getting to know them.” But that’s easier said than done for them. They become hypervigilant; constantly looking for a reason to be on the defense and jump ship for safety and security.

Why am I writing about this? Because I want us to be more patient with these people. We often get frustrated with people because they seem so guarded. They self-sabotage and they get in their own way. Yes, it is frustrating when you are the one on the other end who they keep pushing away. It’s frustrating when they seem to get cold for no reason. It’s annoying when they shut down out of nowhere. The truth is, there are people who have been hurt to a point of crippling fear. They want to get out of their head, but their fear keeps them locked inside of the mental prison created from their trauma. People like this need as much love, patience, and support as possible.

Now, let me come to the other end of this. Dear people suffering from Post Traumatic Love Syndrome, you DO NOT get to use your trauma as a get out of commitment-free card. *taps mic* Can you hear me? I hope you didn’t think I was just going to let you slip by because you’re hurting. Look, I get it. You have been hurt so bad that it shook you to your core. You vowed that you would never let yourself feel that low again. Good!!! But that should not be at the expense of the people who are trying to love you. At some point, you have to work through your trauma. Get in counseling, journal, pray, fast, process, HEAL. You can work through this trauma. You can get what you want which is love without experiencing what you fear which is heartache. You can’t though if you continue to look at love through the eyes of your past pain.

I just wanted to shed more light on this situation. I know there are frustrated people on both sides. People are tired of being bound by their previous heartache. People are also tired of having to pay for the trauma inflicted by someone else. I think the key is to be patient with others and be patient with ourselves. We have to be willing to acknowledge that this form of trauma exists and be patient as we all try to maneuver through it. I just want us all to get the love we desire. The key to that is healing and patience. I hope this helps. Happy healing!!!

“We Need to Talk”

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The phrase “we need to talk” is one of the most nerve-wracking phrases to hear, especially while dating or in a relationship. It’s the phrase that will have you thinking all day about every possible scenario under the sun. After years of conditioning, we’ve turned “needing to talk” into a thing of dread.

While this phrase can cause a lot of worry, I want to shift the connotation connected to these words. I know this may be hard to believe, but “needing to talk” is probably the most important thing you can do, and the earlier the better. I’m sure these triggering words are making it difficult to follow how I could possibly come to such a conclusion.

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen my clients, friends and even myself make when starting off in the earlier parts of dating, is that we are not having the necessary “talks.” We continuously say that “communication is key,” yet keep avoiding communication altogether. We’re not talking. We’re dancing around and avoiding at all costs to keep things light. If we are talking, we’re keeping it trivial. We’re asking for favorite colors and sports teams, meanwhile, the deal-breaking information has been sidestepped.

Don’t get me wrong, this is fun information to ask and it does help to get to know more about this person. It creates conversation which is a good thing. I’m just trying to challenge us to get the hard, important stuff out the way early. In essence, I’m saying, “we need to talk.” For instance, when I was taking time from love, see my previous post here for the details of that, I would say pretty early that I was not interested in dating. I would ask guys if they were and let them quickly know that I wasn’t. One guy told me “this is a little early to have this conversation,” while another said, “I didn’t think we were at the place of having this discussion.” I was so baffled. If you are interested in trying to date someone, wouldn’t you want to know as soon as possible if they aren’t interested in the same?

I soon realized how many people, including myself, had fallen for this backward way of thinking. We want to get to know a person first to see if we’ll like them and then ask the tough questions later. I can hear some of y’all now. “Why have such deep and real conversations with someone who you don’t know you’ll like or if they’ll be around much longer?” I’m glad you asked. The flaw in this thinking is a few things. One, what happens if you start liking this person. You realize you two are vibing and they seem great thus far. So you decide to start asking the real questions, the things that could make or break it for you, and then BOOM. They tell you they don’t want kids, or that they have five. They tell you they aren’t interested in a committed relationship or that they don’t believe in monogamy. Maybe you’re religious and they don’t believe like you believe. Regardless of what your deal breakers are, this person, whom you have grown to like, has just revealed your deal breaker to you. Now you feel devastated, frustrated, annoyed, hurt, sad, angry, or whatever else comes to mind. You wish so desperately that their answer was different, but it remains the same.

Some may say this sounds extreme, but the truth is, this happens every day. I know couples who avoided vital conversations. Now that those things have come out, the information is tearing their relationships apart. Why? Because the information is such that if they had known before, they wouldn’t have gotten with them. Since they didn’t have the conversations sooner, they’re struggling to walk away from someone they care about. The sooner you have these discussions, the sooner you know what you are dealing with. Think about it, if you have the tough conversations early, you won’t be nearly as hurt, or hurt at all, if that person has some deal breakers.

Truthfully, we tend to struggle to feel comfortable while getting to know someone when we know we’re not asking the real questions we want to know the answers to. We fear looking like we’re “doing too much” so we sit, silently wondering if the “right time” will present itself to bring it up. Or we do even worse and hope they bring it up so we don’t have to. Listen, whatever information you need in order to make an informed decision about this person, get it!!! Why guess and worry if they are going to sadly disappoint you later when you can just ask now? Plus, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Let me make a disclaimer. I’m not telling you to ask questions that they may not know the answer to like “can you see us together” and y’all only been talking for two weeks. The discussions I’m referring to are ones that help both of you make informed decisions about whether you should continue getting to know each other. These are discussions that can stop you both from wasting time with as minimal emotional pain as possible. It also keeps you from settling in areas you know you emotionally can’t handle because you were in too deep before finding out.

Look, I know having serious conversations can be awkward and daunting. This is exactly why it’s better to have them with someone you’re not emotionally attached to yet. Get the tough stuff out of the way. This way, you can better enjoy getting to know them, knowing they’ve already met some of your toughest criteria. So stop fearing and guessing and get the answers in the most effective way. Just ask!!! Better now than later. Happy talking😊