Trauma bonding in a romantic relationship

Is trauma bonding better for some than none at all?


So, you're in a romantic relationship with someone that is sometimes wonderful, but also sometimes really not. What l mean by this is not the natural ups and downs that people in a romantic relationship experience, but something inconsistent and far more extreme.

You can experience intense adoration and what seems like love, but this is alternated with neglect, disapproval, abuse and abandonment. You might think that these hot and cold irregularities where you are taken to the point of mental (and sometimes physical) cruelty would send someone running for the hills. After all, the flurry of red flags would be so obviously dangerous and toxic. But, no.

Those of us who were traumatised as children do not have a name or any vocabulary for this. So hooked by the familiarity of this awful traumatising dynamic, where sadness, feeling lost and being too weakened by fear of loss (amongst many other fears) prevent even the idea that actually getting out is the answer. It will always be to them more about what they can fix or change.

As children, we live in a feeling world - we can't access our reasoning brain. We recognise the feeling or the familiarity of the state but we have no words around any of it. But, if you can become aware of this blind spot that is recognised but maybe not identified, it can be healed.

It is an abandoning of loyalty to self and actually a tactic sometimes used in warfare as a manipulation psychologically, to make the victim or prisoner become loyal to their captor. In romantic relationships, your focus will be on loyalty to them and not yourself.

It comes from a deep childhood wound where the child will do whatever it takes to stay connected to a parent. It's a primal, fundamental need to survive even within the abuse, and a maladaptive survival method. So, if you have a history of an addicted parent (whatever their addiction) or their focus and capacity to be present are compromised, you will learn to take whatever you can get because it feels better than nothing. Every crumb of attention creates a willingness to stay.

No happiness, no fulfilment, just a mental hook to stay because the dread of losing the relationship feels worse than the awful loneliness that exists within it.

So, you could leave but... You don't... because you become obsessed by the warped belief that, if you keep on trying to 'do this or that', or 'be this or that', you will finally win their love and not have to deal with the thought of leaving. And maybe you will have your happily ever after.

But you won't. It never works out like that.

This is when two people have an addiction and the high drama repeated again and again perpetuates the trauma. Here, there is an unhealthy, unreliable dynamic where one person isn't committed and isn't likely to become that way. So, the relationship ends periodically but never really ends any more than it ever really changes or gets somewhere.

So, when you get back together and the perpetual abandoner allows you back into their arms again, it feels like the greatest love of all time. But this is not what love is. It is a conditioned response where you cling on when you feel terrified of being alone and rejected. It's a destructive response to a corrupt stimulus.

It's highly likely you will be feeling ashamed that you keep on going back. You may be scared to share this with close friends who have already been witness to this saddest of dynamics going on for a long long while, either with the same person or another - but with exactly the same scenario going on.

You are told to leave by all but you can't and you don't. And, even if you do leave briefly, you will still go back.

The longer you go on willing to accept crumbs and be treated in this way, the harder it becomes to break free. You need to find your voice, and be safe, accepted and supported.

But, you can begin your change without their permission. You can get out, stay out and heal.

I have worked with many who are in this trap. l have been in it myself, which is why l know exactly how it feels. Recovery begins when you do not go back, and start to examine in therapy why you were there in the trauma bond in the first place.

Re-evaluation gives you freedom, dignity, and choice and, with new choices, you have renewed self-respect and hope for a brighter and better future with someone who truly loves you.

Visit my profile and enquire about a free discovery call. There are also, alongside talking therapy, flower remedies that l am a practitioner in that truly help heal this painful dynamic. One is called Chestnut Bud - it is for repeating the same mistakes again and again.

Be the change you wish to create.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.
07771 715072
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