Recognizing Trauma Responses in Yourself and Your Partner


Disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. I am a trauma survivor. If you need help, please seek the services of a licensed professional (see my Resources Page for suggestions). The contents of this website are for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. Information on this page might not be accurate or up-to-date. Accordingly, this page should not be used as a diagnosis of any medical illness, mental or physical. This page is also not a substitute for professional counseling, therapy, or any other type of medical advice.  Some topics discussed on this website could be upsetting. If you are triggered by this website’s content you should seek the services of a trained and licensed professional.

Identifying trauma responses is crucial for fostering understanding, support, and healing in relationships. Here’s how to recognize common trauma responses in yourself and your partner:


  1. Fight Response:
    • Physical Signs: Tense muscles, clenched fists, increased heart rate.
    • Behavioral Signs: Quick to anger, argumentative, feeling a need to control situations or people.
    • Emotional Signs: Irritability, frustration, intense anger.
  2. Flight Response:
    • Physical Signs: Restlessness, fidgeting, rapid breathing.
    • Behavioral Signs: Avoiding conflict or stressful situations, overworking, excessive busyness.
    • Emotional Signs: Anxiety, panic, feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Freeze Response:
    • Physical Signs: Feeling numb, cold, or paralyzed, decreased heart rate.
    • Behavioral Signs: Inaction, procrastination, difficulty making decisions.
    • Emotional Signs: Numbness, detachment, feeling stuck or trapped.
  4. Fawn Response:
    • Physical Signs: Submissive posture, lowered heart rate.
    • Behavioral Signs: People-pleasing, difficulty saying no, neglecting personal needs.
    • Emotional Signs: Low self-esteem, fear of conflict, excessive guilt or shame.
  5. Fine Response:
    • Physical Signs: Internalized stress, appearing outwardly calm.
    • Behavioral Signs: Masking true feelings, denial of problems, reluctance to seek help.
    • Emotional Signs: Suppressed emotions, detachment, insistence that “everything is fine.”
  6. Flop Response:
    • Physical Signs: Extreme reduction in energy, sense of collapse.
    • Behavioral Signs: Surrendering control, passivity, inability to act.
    • Emotional Signs: Helplessness, resignation, feeling defeated.

Recognizing in Your Partner

  1. Fight Response:
    • Physical Signs: Increased muscle tension, aggressive body language.
    • Behavioral Signs: Frequent arguments, controlling behavior, defensiveness.
    • Emotional Signs: Anger, irritability, frustration directed towards you or others.
  2. Flight Response:
    • Physical Signs: Restless movements, rapid breathing.
    • Behavioral Signs: Avoiding discussions or conflict, staying overly busy, retreating from situations.
    • Emotional Signs: Anxiety, panic, consistent avoidance of stressors.
  3. Freeze Response:
    • Physical Signs: Appearing numb or immobile, decreased energy levels.
    • Behavioral Signs: Withdrawing, indecision, lack of responsiveness.
    • Emotional Signs: Detachment, emotional numbness, seeming disconnected or distant.
  4. Fawn Response:
    • Physical Signs: Submissive gestures, lowered heart rate.
    • Behavioral Signs: Excessive agreeableness, neglecting own needs to please others, difficulty setting boundaries.
    • Emotional Signs: Low self-esteem, excessive guilt or shame, reluctance to express true feelings.
  5. Fine Response:
    • Physical Signs: Calm exterior despite internal stress.
    • Behavioral Signs: Insisting everything is fine, minimizing issues, reluctance to talk about feelings.
    • Emotional Signs: Suppressed emotions, avoidance of deep conversations, hidden distress.
  6. Flop Response:
    • Physical Signs: Collapsed posture, extreme fatigue.
    • Behavioral Signs: Passivity, giving up control, lack of motivation.
    • Emotional Signs: Resignation, helplessness, feeling overwhelmed.

Strategies for Addressing Trauma Responses


  1. Mindfulness and Self-Awareness:
    • Practice mindfulness to stay present and aware of your emotional and physical states.
    • Journaling can help track and understand your responses.
  2. Therapeutic Support:
    • Seek therapy to explore and address trauma responses.
    • Techniques like CBT, EMDR, or somatic experiencing can be particularly helpful.
  3. Self-Care:
    • Engage in regular physical activity, maintain a healthy diet, and ensure adequate sleep.
    • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
  4. Building Resilience:
    • Develop coping strategies and stress management skills.
    • Engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

Supporting Your Partner:

  1. Open Communication:
    • Create a safe space for your partner to express their feelings and experiences.
    • Use “I” statements to discuss observations and concerns without blaming.
  2. Empathy and Understanding:
    • Show empathy by actively listening and validating your partner’s emotions.
    • Avoid judgment or criticism of their responses.
  3. Encourage Professional Help:
    • Suggest seeking therapy or counseling if appropriate.
    • Offer support in finding resources or attending sessions together.
  4. Creating Safety:
    • Establish routines and environments that promote a sense of safety and security.
    • Respect their need for space and boundaries.
  5. Patience and Support:
    • Be patient and understanding as your partner navigates their trauma responses.
    • Offer consistent support and reassurance.

Recognizing and addressing trauma responses in yourself and your partner can significantly improve understanding, communication, and emotional intimacy in relationships. By fostering a supportive and empathetic environment, both partners can work towards healing and building a stronger, more resilient connection.