D’Bunked: Childhood trauma and choosing the right (and wrong) types of adult relationship


Todd Baratz is a licensed personal and couples psychotherapist, podcast host, and writer who specializes in relationships and sex.

D’bunked strips down the myths surrounding gay sex, intimacy, relationships and love and is brought to you by The GLUE.

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Adult relationships are chosen, co-created and established. When we chose someone unavailable or unsafe we do so in service of our own lack of self-worth. We simply don’t believe that we deserve better and we can’t give ourselves the permission to want more. As a result we pursue relational dynamics that confirm our unworthiness. 

These unfulfilling relationships present us with an opportunity to confront something important within ourselves. On the one hand, we recreate the powerless of childhood. We seek to receive something from someone we know has little to give. In this dynamic we can get caught up in a whirlwind of primitive desperation, feeling utterly stuck, and unable to stop. 

However, on the other hand, unconsciously we are imbued with a sense of power. The powerfulness of this dynamic comes from the ability to stop. We control it. Ultimately, we are the choosers and we can decide whenever we want to chose someone else. This is power. This is the power we didn’t have as children.

The polarization of this relational dynamic is crucial in understanding the differences between our childhood and adulthood self. Choosing, cultivating, and changing is what makes us powerful adults. We decide who we give our love and vulnerability to. 

This pursuit is not about the other person’s inability to engage, do attachment, or cultivate intimacy. It is about your inability to pursue fulfilling intimacy. 

This dynamic is partially protective. By engaging in an unsatisfying relationship, the inevitable loss or rejection is less of a threat because it wasn’t good to begin with. Essentially, it’s less of a risk to lose something we didn’t want.

Develop boundaries with yourself that help you choose people that affirm your desirability, lovability, and worthiness. We want relationships where it’s clear that we are wanted – that create positive feelings. Similarly, ASAP develop boundaries that help you become turned off by someone’s lack of safety or unavailability. 

Keep in mind, that when I say childhood I don’t necessarily only mean the persons that raised you. I mean the family, the street, the neighbourhood, the school, and the all the other toxic cultural values that we internalize. It’s an entire 18-piece orchestra of influence. All of it plays a role on our development, who we become, and who we choose.
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