Relational Trauma

Unhealthy connections cause emotional pain

Defining Relational Trauma

Relational trauma is usually experienced in the context of intimate relationships. Addictions or mental health issues can fuel instances of victimization as well as verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Low self-esteem and impoverished expectations then open someone up to repetitive, self-defeating relationships. These unhealthy relationships strongly fuel relapse issues, and the vicious cycle continues.

The Link between Relational Trauma and Sex Addiction

An intimacy disorder left untreated creates a foundation for long-term relationship problems. In some cases, this can lead to extremes of either love addiction or love avoidance. Love addiction involves someone “loving” another person with an obsessive intensity that is not in the best interest of either party. Conversely, love avoidance is an inability or refusal to show love for someone out of a fear of being hurt. Love avoidants guard themselves in relationships to protect themselves from rejection, loss, and the types of pain that can accompany intimate relationships.

Common effects of love addiction include:

  • Focusing a tremendous amount of energy on romantic relationships — whether involved in one, looking for the next one, or avoiding one
  • Becoming involved in brief, intense romantic relationships
  • Long-term relationships (if they are involved in one) characterized by many highs and lows
  • Completely withdrawing from romantic or sexual relationships to avoid feelings of vulnerability

Common effects of love avoidance include:

  • Doing everything they can to conceal their vulnerability from others, especially loved ones
  • Having past experiences of feeling unwanted or unloved, resulting in a need for excessive acceptance, praise, and compliments from spouses, partners, and loved ones
  • Acting in extremes, such as taking steps to avoid meeting sexual and emotional needs, which can lead to self-destruction
  • Becoming afraid of commitments and emotional attachments

Our Approach to Relational Trauma

The causes of love addiction, love avoidance, and other relational trauma are often rooted in childhood trauma. Individuals lacking self-esteem and those who had less-than-nurturing childhoods may grow up looking for constant reassurance from others. Relational trauma treatment at Gentle Path helps patients overcome the core issues and take steps towards experiencing healthy, fulfilling relationships.

Recovery is Possible

Gentle Path is a safe, nurturing community composed of peers where your journey of recovery will include not just dealing with outward behaviors but examining the underlying causes. The goal is to gain the courage to face difficult issues (including grief and loss), heal from emotional trauma, and become accountable for your feelings, behaviors, and recovery.


Taking that first step is hard, but there’s a new life of health and hope just waiting for you. The next chapter of your life can begin now, but only you can change your story.

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