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Hypervigilance in a Relationship

Hypervigilance can destroy any relationship of a couple. Checking, doubting and being aware of the other to check that everything is going well or that there are strange behaviors is a double-edged sword.

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Do you act like a detective in your relationship? Do you usually look for signs or signals that indicate changes or to check that everything is going well? Do you continuously check the environment and behavior of your partner? Occasionally, this type of behavior known as hypervigilance may develop in relationships, which in the long run result in arguments and conflicts, because the other person feels that he is not given the space he needs or demands.

The great problem of hypervigilance in the couple’s relationship is that reality is usually distorted little by little. That is to say, it begins with small indications or specific doubts until you get to question almost all the movements, gestures and words of the other. The hypervigilant person finds signs that do not really exist because he misinterprets the intentions of the other.

The anguish of always being alert

Psychologist Tyan Dayton describes hypervigilance in the relationship as a state of stress and anguish that appears in certain situations that underlie a trauma. However, we are going to deal with this topic in a more extensive way.

There is a hypothesis that if hypervigilance was present in our parents’ relationship, it is more likely that we will be able to develop this type of behavior in our relationships. In a way, we have been imbued with it since we were children and we have learned it. However, there may also be other reasons.

For example, if we have been unfaithful in another relationship and this has had a very strong emotional impact on us, we may use hypervigilance as a strategy to make sure it does not happen again. The problem is that this type of behavior ends up generating states of anguish and feeds the seed of distrust in the relationship.

On the other hand, it can also happen that if we are not loyal to our partner we end up projecting insecurity and fear into it; in this way, it is possible that hypervigilant behavior develops at some point.

People who suffer from emotional dependence tend to hypervigilate their partners. The reason is that they have a great fear of losing them due to their low self-esteem and certain unconscious beliefs that lead them to act in a very unhealthy way.

Misunderstanding of signals

One of the main characteristics that indicates the presence of hypervigilance in the couple are the wrong interpretations of the behaviors of the other. This may be due to the fact that some signs (gestures or words) are compared with those that were perceived in the past. Usually it is usually a consequence of anguish, stress or fear we experience.

An example of this would be when our partner is quieter than normal or receives many messages on the mobile. If we were unfaithful in the past or perhaps before breaking the relationship they manifested silence in different situations our mind may activate the alarm signal and with it, the mechanism of hypervigilance. Thus, irrational thoughts begin to appear, such as “if he is quiet, something happens to him”, “he receives many messages, maybe he is fooling around with another person” or “he is no longer interested because he barely speaks”.

This string of thoughts increases distrust and can even lead to outbreaks of anger. In this way, the relationship is deteriorating, especially if you do not talk to the other person about what happens to us and draw our own conclusions. For this reason, it is important to recognize that we are experiencing hypervigilance in the relationship to ask for professional help.

Changing the conception we have of relationships, in particular, of our relationship, solving the experiences of the past and the entrenched traumas and learning strategies to manage our emotions will be key to banish this type of behavior.

If something is not right in our relationships, if we live subject to anguish and distrust, let’s act to solve it. Perpetuating a harmful behavior will not only damage our relationships, but it will prevent us from growing and enjoying healthier relationships.

It is important to mention that hypervigilance in the couple’s relationship, at times, seems to be “normalized”; hence, it costs so much to identify it. However, detect the damage that this constant alertness in search of signals that, in fact, we would prefer not to find, will allow us to take action to begin to solve it.

Relationships should be enjoyed and each of us has the responsibility to work their traumas, experiences and emotional pains to build healthy relationships that add rather than subtract.

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