Is it Love or Trauma Bonding?

codependency toxic relationships trauma bonding Jul 01, 2021

Experiencing an abusive relationship takes a massive toll on our mental and emotional health. It’s never as easy as getting up and leaving because there are many psychological factors that we may not even realize are affecting us. Our internal wounds may be preventing us from moving forward and the cycle of abuse is in full-blown effect. When we can leave these situations we are greeted with feelings that we may not fully comprehend, this emotional attachment is defined as trauma bonding. 


Trauma bonding can feel like love to someone who is in the relationship or who has recently gotten out of it. Oftentimes there’s an intense connection of feeling like you need that person in order to survive. It quickly becomes unhealthy and you’re left feeling devalued and alone. This abuse can be hard to break without a strong support system and perhaps professional help. What causes trauma bonding is an emotionally abusive person taking advantage of another. 


What Causes Trauma Bonding


Throughout the relationship with this person you may often have gone through phases where your partner was extremely nice, loving, and doting over you. You felt at peace and became comfortable. The relationship was at an all-time high and you felt like your connection was going in the right direction. Then, the abuse starts. Your partner will most likely apologize or say it won’t happen again, but it does. 


During the times this person is loving towards you, you get “flashes” of who they were and you want to hold onto that. It clouds over the memories of the abuse that has happened and you don't want to believe that that is who they truly are. These memories will carry through the abusive parts of the relationship. 


When the abuse intensifies you may find yourself making excuses for them like, “Well they weren’t always like this” and in extreme cases, you may start to blame yourself, even though the abuse someone else puts you through will never be your fault. It may start to reach a point where you feel the need to fix this person and put a level of responsibility on yourself to make them better. You then will find yourself in a circle of abuse that will only repeat itself until you get out. This person will take complete control over you if not already and rely on narcissism to help them. 


Even when you can leave this situation, it may become increasingly difficult to break that trauma bond. You start to feel lost without the relationship because of the deep control they had over you and you lost your sense of self. You're unsure of how to continue without them and guilt will start to be a factor as you begin to move on and leave this person in the past, along with the “good” memories that were shared between you two. 


Dissecting trauma bonding and how it can happen is a complicated thing. Sometimes, if your initial relationships as a child were dysfunctional and that’s all you knew, chances are you will start to look for that in other people. Although this is not always the case, more often than not, this becomes your programmed way of thinking and you’ll gravitate towards abusive people. That is our internal wound that is picking someone for us, and you are often unaware that you are choosing to be with an unhealthy partner. You want familiarity, even though you know that the way this person is treating you is wrong and you’re unsure of how to break away from it. 


Healing and Avoiding Trauma Bonding


Until you have healed and acknowledged your internal wounds, you are at the mercy of going into autopilot mode. To start picking healthy partners that benefit both you and the person you’re in a relationship with, it’s important to learn how to love yourself first. This means learning from your trauma, knowing your standards, remaining true to yourself and what you want, and being an overall authentic person. 


At the end of the day, it can’t always be about just loving someone. A relationship needs the substance to be sustained and you need to ask yourself what the standard is for any future romantic partners. 


You need to focus on your wants and needs. How will you start to better yourself? Learn how to nurture your inner child and take on who you need to be. When there’s no consciousness as to what your issues are, then you’ll go with the wrong person. Once you begin to understand your worth, you won’t justify abusive behavior. In a relationship, there needs to be progress being made. Ask yourself if it’s better to be unhappy together or be alone and have the emotional freedom you deserve. 


Learn to feel your emotions and not shove them down, live in the moment, and make a decision every day for yourself and how you want your life to be. Digging up our old experiences isn’t always easy but the result of healing and bettering ourselves is worth it. Commit to living in truth and remind yourself of that. Even if you aren’t able to leave the relationship right away, don’t seek after something that will likely never happen. This person is stuck in their ways of abuse and will stay that way.


With any addiction, it takes time. You may experience emotional “relapses,” and instead of negatively talking down to yourself, try speaking with compassion and understanding. Trauma bonding in relationships is a form of addiction because you are always going back to the source of hurt instead of going within to learn your triggers and wounds. 


Learn to be yourself again, you may have lost who you were in the relationship and it will take a while before feeling back to normal. Be patient with yourself. Breaking the cycle of abuse and the walls you put up during this emotionally abusive relationship will feel like a breath of fresh air, instead of like you’re drowning. Don’t wait for someone else to get better to feel okay again, raise your head high and decide that for yourself.