Navigating the landscape of romantic relationships is similar to navigating the vast terrain of our own emotions and behaviors. At times, the journey is filled with joy, wonder, and a sense of mutual understanding. Other times, however, we find ourselves feeling triggered by our partners, grappling with emotions that are raw and powerful.
You may wonder how you can stop feeling triggered by your partner. In truth, your partner triggering you isn’t something you can completely avoid. Rather, it’s a signpost guiding you towards deep personal growth.
In this article, we will explore how you can transform these triggering moments into opportunities for understanding, reflection, and ultimately, self-improvement.
Love, as beautiful as it can be, can also be a profound teacher. It has a way of pushing us to confront our vulnerabilities and fears, and this can be challenging. But remember, your partner serves as your mirror, reflecting not only your best attributes but also those buried parts of yourself that yearn for healing and growth.
While we may not be able to completely stop feeling triggered, we can empower ourselves to understand why these triggers exist, and more importantly, how we can cope and grow from them.
Don’t feel like reading? Watch the video below.
What does it mean to ‘feel triggered’?
From a psychological standpoint, being “triggered” refers to experiencing a strong emotional reaction, typically negative, in response to a certain stimulus. These triggers often link back to past traumas, anxieties, or deeply ingrained belief systems.
When these triggers surface in a relationship, they may provoke feelings of anger, sadness, fear, or frustration.
For example, if you were belittled or dismissed in a past relationship, you might become triggered when your current partner inadvertently makes a similar dismissive comment. The root of this reaction isn’t necessarily your partner’s behavior, but the unresolved feelings and experiences from your past that their actions touched upon.
On a spiritual level, feeling triggered can be seen as an invitation for personal growth and self-discovery. Many spiritual philosophies suggest that our external world, including ourrelationships, mirrors our internal world.
If we’re consistently being triggered by the same issues, it may signify areas within ourselves that require attention and healing. In this context, the trigger acts as a signpost pointing to unresolved emotional or spiritual wounds.
Recognizing and addressing these triggers can lead to profound personal growth, fostering a deeper understanding of ourselves, and enhancing our spiritual wellbeing. It is part of the journey towards becoming a more self-aware and holistic individual.
In essence, feeling triggered is a common human experience. It can be deeply unsettling, but it can also serve as a valuable tool for introspection and self-improvement when approached with understanding, patience, and compassion.
This is how to stop feeling triggered by your partner
As mentioned, being in a completely trigger-less state is impossible. Romantic relationships are one of the most intimate, vulnerable, and confronting relationships we’ll ever have.
Our partners serve as mirror to us. They will trigger our wounds, our insecurities, and places within ourselves that we’ve abandoned. Our romantic relationships are very much tied to our earliest relationships – those with our caregivers.
I know, I know! You probably don’t want to hear about how your partner is triggered your daddy or mommy issues, but it’s true. I’ve been in therapy for 2.5 years and boyyyy did I not realise just how much my triggers were linked to my childhood experienced.
As I started going to therapy, I read the book “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix. There is an astounding quote from the book that shows the healing power that romantic relationships can hold (if we open ourselves up + commit to doing the work).
“LOVE HEALS ALL” is a well-known sentiment. And it can. It can even heal the deepest emotional wound of all—the ruptured connection between you and your parents. But it needs to be a specific kind of love. It needs to be a mature, patient love that is free of manipulation and distortion, and it needs to take place within the context of an intimate relationship. Receiving empathy from a friend may be very moving, but it does not reach all the way down into your psyche. In order to heal the painful experiences of the past, you need to receive love from a person whom your unconscious mind has merged with your childhood caregivers.”Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples
So yes – love can heal all. But you know what it takes? Working through our triggers. Specifically the ones that our partner brings up in us!
Living in ignorance and projecting our unresolved conflict onto others is the easy route (and trust me, sometime I wish I could take the easy route). However, it won’t give you the deep and wonderful connection you might be craving.
What we can do, however, is understand, cope with, and heal those triggers. Below you will find 3 different approaches that have helped me work through my triggers in my relationship.
1. inner child work
Inner child work is an approach that focuses on healing and nurturing the wounded or neglected aspects of our inner child. The concept refers to the emotional, psychological, and vulnerable part of ourselves that we carry from our childhood into adulthood.
Through inner child work i’ve been able to give voice to little-me whenever I’ve gotten triggered. I’ve noticed that when I get really triggered and have trouble regulating my emotions – the little Gabie within me is terrified and scared.
Once I began reconnecting with my inner child, I began to understand that my triggers came from fear. Fear of being hurt, fear of being abandoned, fear of being lied to, fear of the unknown.
If you’ve never done inner child work before, I highly recommend it. If you’re working with a therapist, you can ask them to include inner child work in your sessions.
However, if you want to delve into this work yourself, a great start is through journaling. Through the act of writing you can give your inner child a voice. You can check out my article “15 Powerful Inner Child Journaling Prompts” to get started.
Additionally, whenever you get triggered, take time to get quiet and connect to your inner child. Allow them to express what they are scared of or where the trigger is coming from.
This is what this process looks like for me:
- I get triggered, begin to feel really strong emotions (most likely anger or panic) and struggle to regulate myself
- I will go into the bedroom and sit on the bed. I will close my eyes and put my hands on my heart
- I will do a couple of rounds of really slow, deep breathing
- I will say (out loud or silently to myself): “It’s okay, I’m here. I’m right here with you. What’s going on? What are you scared of? Why are you feeling so upset?”
- Innately, certain thoughts/images/feelings will bubble up. It often feels like a flow of thoughts i.e. “I’m so scared of being abandoned and now that me and my partner got into a fight I”m scared they’ll just leave me”. Or it can be a flow of emotions i.e. I will start sobbing uncontrollably and shaking, feeling the fear rush over me.
- After the stream of thoughts or feelings passes and I feel a kind of relief, I will validate what my inner child is feeling: “I understand you feel this way, it’s okay to feel this way. This is so valid and I understand why you feel so scared. No matter what happens, I am here for you. I will never leave you, you are safe, I love you.”
This is a process that my therapist introduced me to a few years ago and religiously it’s something that I continue to practice. I’ve been able to regulate my emotions easier & faster + I’ve been able to create a feeling of safety and security for my inner child.
Inner child work has been essential for me when it comes to feeling triggered by my partner. I’ve been able to not only feel self-compassion for myself but also go deep into the triggered and understand where they’re coming from.
I’ve been journaling for 13 years and it’s a practice I will never stop. There is something about putting pen to paper and being completely uncensored.
I’ve journaled about my pains, my frustrations, how upset other people have made me, and I’ve also ranted IN ALL CAPITALS ABOUT HOW ANGRY I FEEL. However, I’ve also explored my joy, happiness, and reflected on wonderful experiences.
Journaling is a cathartic experience and it allows us to unload whatever we may be holding onto in our minds.
Additionally, as you journal more and more, you begin to see patterns. You see a pattern of the things that frustrate you and you see a pattern of the things that make you happy. Journaling about your experiences can allow you to see the red thread that runs through your life.
There are different ways you can approach journaling and through experimentation you can find the approach that is best for you. See a couple of different approaches below:
- Prompt Journaling: This approach involves responding to specific prompts or questions, which can be particularly helpful if you’re unsure what to write about. Prompts could range from reflecting on specific experiences to contemplating broader life questions. i.e. Inner child journaling prompts.
- 5-Minute Journaling: The 5-minute journaling practice encourages you to journal for just five minutes a day, typically by listing things you’re grateful for, what would make the day great, and daily affirmations. It’s a simple, time-effective method to foster positivity and mindfulness. You can also just use the “5 minute” rule and journal about whatever you want for 5 minutes.
- Stream of Consciousness Journaling: Also known as free-writing, this method involves writing whatever comes to mind, without any censoring or editing. It’s a great way to tap into your subconscious thoughts and feelings.
- Art Journaling: This approach incorporates drawing, painting, or other forms of art with writing. It’s a wonderful option for those who express themselves best through visual creativity.
- Therapeutic Journaling: Also known as expressive writing, this technique involves writing about deeply emotional experiences or challenges. It’s often used as a tool to process emotions and heal from traumatic experiences. It can be useful in your work with a therapist or a coach.
I highly encourage you to start journaling. In case you don’t know where to start, I teach a class on journaling for self-reflection.
After you’ve journaled for a few weeks or months, you’ll begin to see different themes and patterns emerge. Additionally, whenever you get triggered, you can grab a journal and just RANT on the page about all the things you’re triggered about.
After doing this 5-10 times, you can see what triggers and themes emerge consistently. This is priceless information! It’s like little by little you are gathering information into your inner-workings.
After all, how can you change something when you don’t fully understand it? Journaling can help you understand your deepest thoughts, feelings, wounds, and beliefs.
3. talk to your partner about your triggers
It might sound easy and obvious, but we rarely discuss our triggers in-depth with our partners. We simply get annoyed, frustrated, and lash out. Then, we move on.
There is rarely a space where both individuals, feeling calm, sit down and discuss their triggers. It is inevitable that in a relationship, both people will step on each other’s emotional ‘landmines’ or triggers. Then… why is it so hard to discuss them?
Acknowledging and discussing triggers with your partner isn’t just about smoothing out the bumps and apologising for the way we might’ve reacted. It’s about creating a road map to deeper understanding, stronger connection, and love that lasts.
In my current relationship of 3 years, I’ve gone through plenty of triggers. Interestingly enough, I always tend to get triggered about the same 2-3 things. It’s never something news – it’s simply a repetitive cycle of the same things bugging me over and over again.
Right from the start, my partner has been very open about wanting us to communicate about anything and everything that might be bothering us. As a result, we’ve come into a habit of discussing each other’s triggers.
Note: I do have to say that speaking up & openly communicating about what I’m feeling has always been a challenge for me. Thanks to therapy + my partner, I’ve been able to open up and share my triggers and explore where they may be coming from. It takes 1 partner in the relationship to open direct communication and express the importance of it. If your partner isn’t taking the initiative – you can take it. However, I do have to admit, that my partner (thankfully) was the one that kept asking me to discuss my triggers.
Over the last 3 years, me and my partner have come up with certain approaches that work for us when it comes to discussing our triggers. Hopefully they can give you some ideas on how you can begin talking to your partner about your triggers as well.
- Weekly or Bi-Weekly Check-Ins: Me and my partner have a shared google calendar. In it our calendar we have an event titled “The Bi-Weekly Check-In” which occurs every 2 weeks on a Saturday. We’ve created this event around 6 months into our relationship because we realised that once life gets busy, we might forget to realllyyyy check in with each other. This has worked wonders. In this check-in we always discuss if anything came up for us in the last 2 weeks (good or not good) and how we can approach it.
- Analysing an argument: Arguments and bickering is inevitable in relationships. The important part, however, is to learn from them + see where they came from in the first place. A day or two after an argument (once we are both calm), me and my partner will sit down and analyse the argument we had. What did I misinterpret? What did he misinterpret? What specifically was it that I said (or how I said it) that triggered him and vice versa? Become a researcher of your own selves & analyse the situation. This can also allow for you to come up with a plan on how to approach it next time.
- Impromptu Heart-to-Heart: It might happen that you feel triggered by something that your partner said or did. However, they might not be aware of it because there isn’t an argument or conflict arising. The trigger is one sided. The best thing to do is to initiate a heart-to-heart. In this situation, I will ask my partner if we can talk and explain what I’m feeling. i.e. A few hours ago when were talking you said X. This really triggered me because the way you said it made me feel dismissed. I feel really hurt and triggered so can we please unpack this situation. Perhaps I misinterpreted your words but I feel really anxious right now.
I hope these 3 approaches help you spark the conversation with your partner about triggers and allow to pave a way to deal with them. Relationships are complex (oh boyyy are they complex), but it takes commitment + practice from our end to make them work.
Being in a romantic relationship with another (complex) human being isn’t easy. It will bring up a lot of deep seated feelings and triggers. If you don’t want to feel triggered – don’t be in a relationship! 😁
However, if you’re committed to your partnership and see it as a place of growth + evolution, the triggers that come up for you can be your greatest teachers.
The triggers can show you the parts of you that are wounded and abandoned. Within the partnership itself, you can go deeper into these feelings & heal what needs to be healed. There is a reason why your partner triggers those specific things within you!
I hope this article has given you some closure & hope. Trust me, I wish that I would never ever would get triggered again. It would be so nice! However, I am committed to doing the inner work (+ doing the work in my relationship) and I acknowledge that triggers are invitations for growth.