You’re on a blind date. Or maybe you met someone at a party. Maybe you have a lot in common, maybe you have nothing in common.
But the conversation at some point or another shifted.
It took a serious turn. Quite literally.
Towards childhood. Towards pain. Remembering a sad time. A time where you needed to be resilient to get through it. Or a time in your life that built character.
You share. They share. You’ve both been through a lot.
And in seemingly an instant, you feel closer to this person. Like you’ve known them forever. An intimacy has flourished. At the speed of light.
But it’s a fake intimacy.
You’re not even sure you remember their last name yet. Nor did you catch what makes them them. Or understand their values.
ALL you know, really, is that you both feel close to each other.
I call this concept, Trauma Bonding.
And, in case you’re curious, this, my friends, is how you start a relationship that’s doomed from the beginning. If it ever even starts.
I’m guilty of this for sure.
I’ve seen it first hand. There’s something so bizarrely cathartic that makes it feel good sometimes to tell someone your sob story. To remember there are people out there who’ve been through something similar, and we’re all just trying to push through.
But meeting someone you’re interested in romantically, and spilling your guts all over them immediately?
IT’S NOT THE TIME OR PLACE.
Surely you need to connect with other human beings. And it’s healthy to be forthcoming about your past, your present and the things that have shaped you.
For example, if the mood struck, and it felt germane to the conversation, you could certainly share that your dad was an alcoholic early on into meeting someone…or that you dropped out of school for a time…or that you worked through something really big, going to therapy (as everyone should) and coming back out on the other side.
And this is a big butttt. ; )
Do not go on and on about this subject this early into knowing someone.
You can bring it up. But you need to move past it.
This is important for so many reasons.
Regardless of avoiding the slippery slope of trauma bonding, and building that faux connection, it just makes you seem like you are not over it yet.
RED FLAG ALERT.
If I’m on a first date and someone wants to talk to me at length about something terrible that happened to them when they were 8. Or how their family is coping with one family member’s addiction problem. I am going to run the other way.
They themselves are not mature enough, nor have they worked through this issue enough.
If you’re bringing up your shit to complete strangers, you are not done working on it yet.
Go work harder.
Take out your effing journal for all I care. Do it now.
If you believe that your past strife is critical to introducing yourself, then you are carrying around negative energy.
Is it so hard for you to believe that the good in you, and the happiness you, has come to define you more than anything else?
I know it can be, because I’ve done it. I’ve chosen not to tie my elevator pitch to my past. And..I’ve also watched people become uncomfortable with it.
For example, a friend of mine once introduced me to a group of people tacking on my biggest life challenges to my name as if she had told people I was also a dentist or had just gotten my MBA.
My struggles do not define me. And I’ve worked very hard on myself to get to a place where this is true, and where I believe it.
So what now?
Well, just think how much more enthralling it would be to talk to someone new about what makes them happy instead.
On a date recently, I realized that all we had talked about was the things that we loved. What makes us happy. What drives us to do more.
I promise you, if the connection is real, you’ll still leave the conversation just as close, but for the right reasons.
Save the intense stuff for future conversations. Get to know someone first.
Bring up your past and your demons when someone is actually there for you. Emotionally available to listen to your story. Asking you about your life, and learning more about you as someone who they’ve chosen to spend time with.
And please…please…NO MORE TRAUMA BONDING.