There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, even for the ones that experience no issues from outside sources. When there are one or more people involved who suffer from mental illness from past trauma, it can lead to a bond that ends up being complicated and not necessarily healthy.
Trauma bonding is an attachment style that happens from a very intense emotional connection. Typically when this term is discussed, it is deemed as a negative experience. In this type of relationship, one partner or both usually end up being overly dedicated, attached, or loyal to someone who has toxic traits.
Although it may not be a common belief, trauma bonding can be a positive thing. Sharing common pain with someone who has experienced a similar traumatic experience as you have can feel good. Shared experiences like car accidents or the death of a family member can come to light during social interactions with people you may not know that well. This type of trauma bonding experience can make someone feel more secure in the attachment because of the support or understanding from people with the same experience.
In romantic relationships, trauma bonding can bring couples closer together and help them overcome their challenges as a unit. Tragic experiences centered around pregnancy complications, like a miscarriage or a stillbirth, can help a couple grow when the loss is processed together. When the couples choose to move forward together and decide to support one another emotionally, it can become a positive experience for the relationship. Ultimately, this bad experience can solidify the already existing bond in a relationship.
When one of the individuals in a relationship has toxic traits, the chances of a negative trauma bond being present are high. Trauma bond relationships most often consist of someone having a mental disorder like narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and many more.
Some signs show whether there are some negative trauma bonds in the relationship. For example, if your friends, family, and overall social circle believe you should end the relationship, that is a possible sign. People involved in a negative trauma bond often don’t realize the actual danger that they are in. The unhealthy behaviors get overlooked, or they are completely missed. In most cases, the individual involved will try to make excuses for the toxic actions and poor treatment. Typically, those outside the relationship are more aware of the behavior.
A relationship with a negative trauma bond can be one that you know isn’t great, but you keep trying to justify staying in, no matter what happens. Even when you realize that your partner has toxic traits and disrupts the relationship, you keep going. After being yelled at, gaslighted, or manipulated, you still feel like you are so in love with them to a point where you would do anything for them, even if your self-value is at risk. This is a strong indicator that the relationship is unsalvageable. After everything you are given emotionally or mentally, it may still not be enough.
The feeling of not being good enough also happens in toxic trauma bonding relationships. You could do things like spending months trying to find the perfect gift, cleaning the house, or setting up a nice romantic night, but your efforts still go unnoticed. On top of being overlooked, it may even seem like you are criticized even more than usual. Minor things may become a huge problem in a trauma bonding relationship.
Any form of addiction is considered unhealthy, and in a trauma bonding relationship, it may seem like you are addicted to the other person or the relationship itself. No matter how badly you are treated by this person, you just can’t imagine a life without them. Some may confuse this for being in love, but this is a strong indicator of a negative trauma bond.
When one or two parties involved have a mental disorder, the chances of a negative trauma bond are high. The trauma bond constantly gets reinforced as means of control. People may find ways to create problems to make sure their narcissistic supply is fulfilled.
Relationships that consist of negative trauma bonding will often consist of things like love bombing, hoovering, triangulation, and many other manipulative tactics to keep their partner in an unhealthy cycle. In the beginning, there may have been actual trauma to bond over, but eventually, the abuser may create new traumas to continuously and negatively reinforce their relationship.
Trauma bonds are usually associated with negativity in terms of relationships. In some cases, however, trauma bonding can help people cope with the traumatic experiences they’ve had in the past. Negative trauma bonds are a prevalent thing in relationships that can be detrimental to mental health. Unfortunately, many people won’t know the signs of problematic habits in a relationship. It often takes friends and families to recognize that there is indeed a problem. Negative trauma bonded relationships are filled with many toxic traits and scenarios that can lead to mental disorders. These relationships can also lead to severe anxiety or depression, sometimes even driving people to substance abuse. If you or a loved one have experienced trauma that has led to substance abuse, The Kimberly Center is here to help. The Kimberly Center has a great staff of professionals equipped to help people on their road to recovery. Contact us at (855) 452-3683.