Trauma Bonding — How to Know if You’re Trauma Bonded

Trauma Bonding — How to Know if You’re Trauma Bonded trauma bonding — how to know if you’re trauma bonded
Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

Trauma bonding is the intense, unhealthy attachment someone forms with an abusive person. The person experiencing the abuse develops a strange chemistry and a feeling of ‘love’ towards their abuser. In fact, trauma bonding is what drives someone to endure the harsh conditions of a narcissistic relationship, as they believe they share a deep emotional connection with their partner that nobody else can understand. This is why you might encounter someone in an unhealthy relationship who insists, “We have a unique bond you can’t comprehend.”

Many abuse survivors admit that their initial relationship with the abuser felt like the greatest love story of their lives. The power of a trauma bond is so compelling that individuals might go to extreme lengths to protect their partner, even when they are fully aware of their abusive behavior.

What reinforces the trauma bond in a narcissistic relationship is the cycle of abuse (idealization — devalue — discard — hoover), characterized by inconsistent rewards and prolonged periods of abuse. This leads individuals to hold onto the relationship, seeking the highs again while turning a blind eye to the abuse occurring. Trauma bonding clouds judgment and preys on deep vulnerabilities.

Another factor that strengthens the trauma bond is the societal conditioning that equates intense feelings and attachment with profound love. Some of these beliefs might include phrases like, “I can’t stop thinking about them,” “I can’t imagine my life without them,” and “We’re destined to be together.”

While these statements may appear harmless, they obstruct the ability to perceive someone objectively, without being influenced by intense emotions. Individuals will do whatever it takes to keep these beliefs alive. Survivors of childhood trauma are particularly susceptible to trauma bonding, as toxic relationships can evoke familiar feelings from their past experiences with primary caregivers. It’s essentially chemistry in a familiar yet chaotic environment. This article will address several signs that can help you determine if you are trauma bonded in a relationship.

How Do You Know If You Have a Trauma Bond?

  1. Rationalization of Abuse

If you find yourself justifying your partner’s abusive behaviors, you are likely trauma bonded. You might come up with reasons and excuses for their unacceptable actions to protect them. Thoughts like “I’m not perfect either,” “They’re just stressed from work,” or “They only used hurtful words, they didn’t physically hurt me” are examples of rationalization. This involves lowering your standards and boundaries to accommodate an abusive partner.

2. Concealing Abuse from Loved Ones

Hiding abuse from trusted friends or family members is a sign of being trauma bonded. You may go to great lengths to hide what’s happening, even isolating yourself from those who point out the abuse. You might view them as jealous individuals trying to sabotage your relationship. You may even blame yourself to cover the tracks, believing that nothing should come between you and the ‘love of your life.’

3. Maintaining Hope

Continuing to hope for change, even in the face of ongoing abuse, is a clear sign of trauma bonding. This includes believing in the promises of a better future or false glimpses of changed behavior. Although your partner might promise to work on themselves or seek therapy, the change never materializes. Despite the lack of mutual commitment, you hold onto the hope that the relationship will improve.

4. Fear of Leaving

Experiencing a powerful fear that prevents you from leaving an unhealthy relationship indicates a trauma bond. Despite having support and options, this fear generates self-doubt and thoughts like “What if I’m mistaken?” or “Am I making the right choice?” Even when there is no substantial reason, the trauma bond convinces you that you cannot live without your partner. You might resist seeking help or leaving, even if assistance is readily available.

5. Ambiguous Statements About the Relationship

Using unclear explanations to justify staying in a toxic relationship is a sign of trauma bonding. When questioned by others, you might say, “There’s something about them that you wouldn’t understand,” or “I can’t explain the feeling I have for them, despite their abusive behavior.” The intensity of the trauma bond compels you to offer vague justifications without any solid basis, allowing you to stay in the relationship.

6. Disregarding Your Needs and Emotions

Neglecting your own needs and emotions to avoid upsetting your partner is indicative of a trauma bond. You prioritize your partner’s well-being, seeking approval for even minor decisions to prevent their anger. This often involves tiptoeing around to maintain a peaceful environment. Uncomfortable discussions exposing the abuse are typically avoided.

7. Believing Insincere Apologies

When your partner repeatedly engages in undesirable behavior and offers apologies that lack sincerity, but you still believe them, you’re likely trauma bonded. You recognize the insincerity but accept the apologies as symbols of the relationship’s potential success. Despite unchanged behavior, you normalize the apologies and convince yourself that they indicate acknowledgment of fault, giving your partner more time to change.


A trauma bond can feel like ‘love,’ leading you to engage in actions that may not make sense in order to sustain the relationship. It resembles ‘love’ due to the profound attachment it fosters. Left unaddressed, the bond deepens over time, extending the duration of the relationship. Notably, even after leaving a toxic relationship or establishing no contact, the trauma bond often lingers. This explains why individuals might return to a narcissistic relationship, drawn by the intense pull towards their former partner.

So, how can the trauma bond be permanently broken? To fully break the trauma bond, one must heal from past traumas. Without the lingering effects of past trauma, the foundation for the trauma bond dissipates. Seeking appropriate professional support in your healing journey can mitigate the impact of past painful experiences stored in your subconscious mind.

Unhealthy attachments are often rooted in patterns of past abuse, turning chaotic relationships into familiar environments that individuals hold onto. Familiarity provides a sense of safety and chemistry that feeds the trauma bond. Resolving these past traumas allows for a clearer perception of present reality, enabling you to see someone as they truly are, without the distortions of the past.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.







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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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