It’s often a misconception that an abusive relationship only translates to the physical violence we see on TV that grows from aggression and rage. Although there are these types of relationships, some abusive relationships take place are more subtle, nuanced, and masqueraded in shades of emotional manipulation.
This is called a trauma bond.
It sounds bad, right? So, why would anyone want to continue being with someone who isn’t good for them?
This is because culture often portrays ultimate love as being an emotional roller coaster of all sorts. The ride might not be a smooth one, but because it’s filled with a lot of highs and lows, the adrenaline rush one gets from being involved in it can be addictive. It can commonly be misinterpreted as the excitement from sparks one experiences when they’re in love, but culture should be careful of portraying the thrill as a fulfilling, deep relationship, when it just might be a trauma bond in disguise.
Here are 7 signs you’re in a trauma bond with someone:
1. There is a constant pattern of nonperformance.
Your partner continues to make promises only to break them consistently. But each time they promise you something new, you find yourself putting your hopes up and giving them the benefit of the doubt. You think that despite the pattern of you getting the short end of the stick, it’s only temporary. So, you choose to be patient and “wait it out.”
2. Others are disturbed by what is being said or done to you within your relationship, but you don’t find anything wrong with it.
You think that because your friends, colleagues, or family members don’t know your partner the way you do, then there’s no way they can understand them like you can. You continuously make excuses for your partner and think that every bit of their odd actions can be justified. You start to get annoyed by your close loved ones and think that they’re the ones who’ve got it all wrong, believing that you’re living a real-life version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
3. You feel like you’re stuck or at a dead end, because your partner continues to behave destructively towards you, and it makes you believe that there’s no way out of it.
Although you might be able to recognize that your partner is behaving destructively towards you, it makes you feel as though you can’t go anywhere. You feel immobilized. And instead of asking for help from others, you choose to deal with it on your own, because you think that’s what true commitment means.
4. You have fights with your partner that go in circles, instead of resolving them.
When the two of you fight, there’s no actual winner. You find you and your partner fighting over the same things again and again and it creates a vicious cycle that is counterproductive. You lose confidence in being able to resolve things between the two of you and believe that nothing can be done to help the situation.
5. You’re punished or given the silent treatment when your partner thinks you’ve done something “wrong.”
When this happens, you find yourself believing that you deserve those punishments or the silent treatment that they’re giving you. You feel guilty and ashamed for what you’ve done, even though you weren’t actually at fault. You find that your partner gets mad at you over small trivial matters and they make you feel bad for making mistakes.
6. You can’t seem to detach yourself from the relationship, even though you don’t even fully like or trust the person you’re with.
You’re certain that you can’t fully trust your partner and realize that you don’t even like them as a person either, but you stay in the relationship anyway, because it’s difficult to get out of. You find that even when you try to give yourself some time alone and space from your partner, they make it hard to establish those boundaries. At this point, you feel like you’re losing yourself.
7. You try to leave your partner, only to find that you end up missing them, and it feels so terrible that leaving seems like it’ll destroy you.
You can see that your partner is bad for you now, but when you try to leave, it only makes you feel worse about yourself. You don’t know who you are or who you’re capable of becoming without this person you’ve been together with all this time. Your judgment feels clouded, and you don’t know how to deal with the identity loss you’re experiencing. You feel dependent on them, even though they took away so much of you.
Please do not ignore the signs. They aren’t just coincidences. If you find yourself asking whether or not you’re involved in a trauma bond, chances are, it is a huge likelihood, and it’s important to address the situation before it gets worse.