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When Emotional Flooding Harms Your Relationship

Do you find yourself caught up in continual arguments with your partner over the same old thing?

When you are in constant conflict day after day your body becomes flooded with emotions, meaning they are out of control.

When our body is under threat or perceived threat or danger, our survival system kicks into action. It prepares us for the Fight, Flight or Freeze response.

For example, you step off the pavement ready to cross the road, and a car comes racing towards you. You jump back – because your Survival system has actioned. You get a surge of adrenaline to give you an extra boost of energy to react.

  • Heart Rate increases – and you may think you are having a heart attack

  • Breathing changes, you may find you can’t catch your breath or you breathe really fast

  • Your blood pressure rises

  • Digestion slows down – you may feel sick or a need for the loo

  • You feel shaky

Once the danger is over your heart rate will slow down and you will begin to feel better. Breathing returns to normal.


Your rational mind disconnects, and you can’t rational. You either have a brain freeze or your mind races at a million miles an hour with irrational thoughts. You are likely to have a sudden burst of anger, fear, panic, or frustration.

This is most likely to occur when you are having an argument with a partner. Especially if you feel under attack. You feel uncomfortable, and your body feels under attack. There is no room for understanding, empathy, or reasoning.

The Fight - Flight – Freeze response has kicked in as it did in the example above crossing the road.

Logically, you know that you aren’t in the same kind of danger, but you are reacting to a trigger. Something that reminds you of a past experience, not feeling heard or misunderstood. Within moments your fight response becomes a tirade of angry and hurtful words, because you each feel emotionally wounded. Your flight response is likely to be one of you walk, shutting yourself away both physically and emotionally, in the freeze response you are likely to stonewall your partner with icy silence. And with your partner triggered, you are caught up in a bitter battle.

If these arguments are constantly occurring your body is either unable to return to it’s normal resting position, or it’s going to be triggered much more readily, firing off at the slightest thing. This means you body becomes constantly flooded with stress hormones, such as Adrenaline and Cortisol. This results in chronic anxiety and stress, which can have a long-lasting effect on you both emotionally and physically.


If you feel your body beginning to react, as in an increased heart rate, or feeling hot – STOP. Remove yourself from the situation.

If you and your partner lock horns frequently, agree on a Code Word between you, beforehand, when you are both in a calm mood. Then when either of you finds yourselves in a situation where it could get out of hand. Use that Code Word, and at that point, you both STOP. No nasty comments in response!

Take Time out, until you both feel able to talk to each other in a civil manner.

When you decide to talk about the problem again, Listen to your partner’s point of view, without interrupting. Instead of jumping down their throat – check your understanding of what they have said. You don’t have to agree with your partner, but you do need to be respectful of their views.

If you are struggling with emotional flooding, then get in touch

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