How past trauma impacts search for validation in relationships

Past traumatic experiences in relationships can significantly shape our emotional well-being and affect how we seek validation from others. Particularly, instances of abandonment or rejection can leave lasting scars, creating a deep fear of being unwanted or left alone. In turn, individuals may find themselves seeking constant validation from others as a way to protect themselves from potential hurt and reaffirm their self-worth.


When someone has been through traumatic instances in relationships, such as being left while pregnant, it can have a profound impact on their sense of self and their approach to seeking validation. The fear of reliving the pain of abandonment or rejection can become deeply ingrained, leading to patterns of behaviour that seek external validation for reassurance and security.

This behaviour often stems from a desire to fill the void left by past traumatic experiences. The belief that one's self-worth depends on the acceptance and validation of others becomes a way to cope with the fear of being left behind. Seeking attention from multiple sources can create a temporary sense of stability and protection against potential rejection.

However, relying solely on external validation can become problematic. Placing one's self-worth solely in the hands of others makes it vulnerable to fluctuations and can perpetuate a cycle of seeking validation from different people. True healing and growth come from nurturing internal sources of validation and building a stronger sense of self-worth that is not solely dependent on others.

Recognising the impact of past trauma is an essential first step towards healing. Seeking support from a therapist or counsellor who specialises in trauma and relationships can provide valuable guidance and tools to navigate these emotions. Therapy can help individuals process the trauma, challenge negative beliefs, and develop healthier patterns in relationships.

Healing from past trauma takes time, and it's important to be patient and compassionate with oneself. Building a strong support network of friends and loved ones who understand and provide validation can also contribute to the healing process.

Remember, you are not defined by your past.

By addressing past trauma and working towards internal validation, it is possible to cultivate healthier relationships built on a foundation of self-worth and self-acceptance.

Steps to heal trauma

Breaking free from this cycle requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both the underlying trauma and the patterns of seeking external validation. Consider the following steps:

Seek professional support

Engage in therapy or counselling to process past trauma, develop coping mechanisms, and explore healthy relationship dynamics. A professional can help you navigate the complexities and provide guidance tailored to your specific experiences.

Self-reflection and awareness

Take time to reflect on your behaviours, triggers, and underlying emotions. Increasing self-awareness can help you recognise patterns, challenge negative beliefs, and understand the deeper reasons behind your actions.

Cultivate self-love and self-worth

Work on building a strong foundation of self-worth that isn't solely dependent on external validation. Nurture self-compassion, practice self-care, and engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment.

Communication and boundaries

Establish open and honest communication with your partner(s) about your fears, past experiences, and the challenges you face. Set clear boundaries that prioritise your emotional well-being while fostering healthy connections.

Patience and time

Changing deeply ingrained patterns takes time and patience. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate this journey of growth and transformation. Celebrate each step forward and learn from any setbacks along the way.

Remember, healing and breaking these patterns is a gradual process. By prioritising your own well-being, seeking professional guidance, and cultivating self-awareness, you can gradually create healthier relationship dynamics and find the fulfilment and stability you seek.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency'was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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