Trauma Bonding

Tips from Dr. Liz

Trauma Bonding

One of the toughest battles we face in life is the one between our head and our heart…

Trauma bonds are often misunderstood as something that forms when two people experience trauma together or bond over previous traumatic experiences… while I am sure there are terms for these experiences, this is not actually trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding is the obsessive hold that takes place in a toxic dynamic when we logically know that someone is not good for us… yet we feel emotionally incapable of letting them go.

This experience is often minimized and dismissed by society with statements such as, “just move on” or “why the hell would you stay in that relationship?!” or “you should just leave!”

Ummm… thanks, Captain Obvious… If it were that easy, most people would certainly NOT choose to continue to engage in the emotional torment that comes along with being in a trauma bond.

However, that is the VERY nature of trauma bonding… It feels impossible to leave and we feel (and actually become) completely addicted to not only that other individual, but also to the biochemicals that are released during the ups and downs of this type of dynamic.

If you can relate to this and are maybe feeling stuck in one currently… here are some things to consider:

  • Awareness is KEY! You have to be honest with yourself about what is taking place.

  • Attempt to have a conversation with your partner to see if they are willing to work on making changes together (this can happen!).

  • Seek resources (books, podcasts, social media accounts from RELIABLE sources) to help you learn some tools and skills to work through this.

  • I would love to say go ‘no contact’ (and if possible, please do!). However, I have found that this feels almost impossible for a lot of people. So, find ways to start distancing yourself if no contact doesn’t feel like an option.

  • Start being open and honest with loved ones (who you can TRUST!) and ask for support in making a change.

  • Seek professional help if possible. Being addicted to another human is one of the hardest addictions to break… Get help!!

Trauma bonds are POWERFUL! You are not crazy, defective, or weak for being in one… And also, it is time for change.

Disclaimer: Any type of abuse or lack of safety does warrant going ‘no contact’ in order to work towards breaking this addiction and to ensure you stay safe! If you feel powerless to break free or if you are in danger… seeking help is crucial! Sometimes that is a therapist, a loved one, or a crisis line (National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233 / Text START to 88788). Your safety matters… help is available!

Expert Spotlight

Rikki Cloos is a writer and content creator with a captivating authenticity and passion for attachment healing. Her mission is to help others heal their anxious attachment and create more secure relationships. She is the writer and content creator behind @AnxiousHeartsGuide. What started as a research project to help transform her own relationships from rock bottom has blossomed into a community and collective global audience of over 400,000 anxious hearts (and growing...) Rikki's involvement with the psych and self-help community online inspired her to write the book that she would have needed years ago to overcome her anxious thoughts and behaviors.

Fun Facts:

  1. I live in Anchorage, Alaska, where we have snow almost year-round.

  2. I can walk on my hands!

  3. As a middle schooler, I was nerdy enough to choose to write an essay on Freud's contribution to psychology.

Relatable | Relationships Unfiltered Episode 41

Dr. Liz hangs out with Kierstyn Franklin and Tiffany Denny, Relationship Experts and Authors, to chat all about healing after relationship trauma. Dr. Liz discusses with Kierstyn and Tiffany how our relationship programming impacts the partners we choose and how we show up in these relationships, as well as why this programming makes it so hard for us to leave toxic relationships. They discuss what a trauma bond actually is and what makes it so difficult to break. Dr. Liz, Kierstyn, and Tiffany also share relatable insights about their own experiences, as well as tips on how to leave and heal from toxic relationships.