If you’re dating a narcissistic man, you know they are some of the hardest people to get away from. Even if you achieve no contact, they’re very hard to get out of your heart and mind. The reason for that is something called a “trauma bond.”
In this article, I’m going to explain to you:
- What a trauma bond is
- How a trauma bond is formed
- How to know if you’ve definitely established a trauma bond
- And, what the seven stages of trauma bond development are
So, What’s a trauma Bond?
A trauma bond is a connection between an abusive person and the individual they abuse. This can happen outside of dating a narcissistic man. It can occur in any abusive relationship when the abused person begins to develop sympathy or affection for the abuser. This can happen in a very short period of time, like a matter of days or a few weeks.
As victims of abuse, we typically don’t know it’s happening when it begins. And, narcissistic trauma bonds are particularly under our radar because narcissists are so damn good at making manipulation look like adoration.
Trauma bonds are very serious and very hard to break, especially if you’re not aware of them. So if you’ve never heard of them – make sure you read through the entire article.
How do trauma bonds form?
Trauma bonds are more likely to form if you rely on your abuser or narcissist for something. Like needing their financial resources, convincing yourself that they’re your soulmate, and there is no one else in the world for you, and even just a basic need for companionship to satisfy your fear of being alone.
How do I know if I have a trauma bond?
You’ll know if a trauma bond has formed if:
- You Agree with or rationalize your narcissist’s reason for being upset with you
- You try to cover or make excuses for your narcissist
- You argue with or distance yourself from people trying to help you, such as friends, family members, or neighbors
- You become defensive if someone tries to intervene in your relationship or while witnessing the abuse in play
- You’re consistently reluctant or unwilling to take steps to leave the abusive situation or break the bond
Seven Stages of Trauma Bonding:
Stage 1: “Love Bombing”—The Narcissist sweeps you off your feet and showers you with love
Stage 2: Trust and Dependency—You start to feel like it’s meant to be, that they’ll love you unconditionally and you can rely on them forever – you might start calling them your soul mate or twin flame
Stage 3: Criticism Begins—They flip the switch by slowly but surely criticizing you for things until there is more criticism and blame than there is love. They are also likely to become very demanding in this stage.
Stage 4: “Gaslighting“—This is when the relationship is sour, and they tell you it’s your fault. They’ll insist on being the victim and blame you for being the problem in the relationship while making you feel horrible about not listening to what they told you to do or meeting their needs.
Stage 5: Control Is Established—You’re confused and start trying to please your narc by doing things their way, hiding your emotions, and pretending you’re ok when you’re not, in hopes that things will get back to normal.
Stage 6: Resignation and Loss of Self— This is when the abuse grows in proportion to the amount you try to defend yourself. At this point, you would just settle for them to hold you and tell you they love you in hopes that the relationship would go back to stage one. If your self-worth had been diminished read my article and watch my video on self-love and self-worthiness.
Stage 7: Addiction—People in your life are worried about you; you think and, or talk about your narc incessantly because you’re convinced they’re still the one.
3 Ways to Start Healing Trauma Bonds
- Stay present: Hope that your narc will change, or focusing on good times in the past will keep you inside of the bond. Instead of reminiscing on positive aspects of the relationship, pause and recall the impact the abuse has had on you.
- Focus on the evidence: Regardless of how many promises or guilt trips your narcissists provides you with – understand that these personalities do not change. They are not, and never will be safe for you to be around so you must get away from them and stay away from them. Record evidence in a journal and keep it in a safe place or cloud-based software like Google Drive or Evernote.
- Practice building self-worth: A narcissist can destroy even the most powerful and confident woman’s sense of self-worth. Become a witness to your thoughts and practice the art of surrender.
- Practice intense self-care: Taking care of yourself has never been more important. You need to build a self-care routine that will help you heal and help you reduce the desire to turn to your narc for comfort. Journaling, meditation, exercise, new hobbies, prayer, or talking to a coach, counselor, or therapist can help you build a lasting self-care practice that will sustain you throughout your healing journey.
The most important thing to remember is that the world wants to see you in a healthy, happy relationship that thrives. Dating a narcissistic man is NEVER ok. Please don’t give up and always know you are loved.
If you’re already on your healing journey and away from your Narc – you may be ready for the final and essential step: Forgiveness. Yes, it’s hard but it’s necessary. Please visit my article and video on forgiveness here and considering purchasing the Little Book on Forgiveness with accompanying meditation to assist you on your journey here.