10 Steps to Recovering from a Toxic Trauma Bond

Rear view of person with long hair in tank top standing in open doorway and looking outsideTrauma bonds occur in very toxic relationships, and tend to be strengthened by inconsistent positive reinforcement—or at least the hope of something better to come. Trauma bonds occur in extreme situations such as abusive relationships, hostage situations, and incestuous relationships, but also in any ongoing attached relationship in which there is a great deal of pain interspersed with times of calm (or maybe just less pain). I liken it to a heroin addiction—the relationship promises much, gives fleeting feelings of utopia, and then it sucks away your very soul.

If you or someone you know has been in an abusive relationship, you have witnessed the strength of this type of connection. Maybe you or someone you know is trying to get out, but seems incapable of leaving.

Well, there is hope. Here is some advice on how to break free from this type of stronghold:

  1. Make a commitment to live in reality. If you find yourself wanting to fantasize about what could be or what you hope will be, stop. Remind yourself that you have made a commitment to live in truth. Even if you don’t choose to leave the relationship immediately, in the meantime you can at least remind yourself that you will stop fantasizing about what is not happening.
  2. Live in real time. That means stop holding on to what “could” or “will” happen tomorrow. Notice what is happening in the moment. Notice how trapped you feel. Notice how unloved you feel and how you have compromised your self-respect and self-worth for this relationship. Pay attention to your emotions. Stop hoping and waiting, and start noticing in real time what is happening and how it is affecting you.
  3. Live one decision at a time and one day at a time. Sometimes people scare themselves with all-or-nothing thinking. Don’t tell yourself things like, “I have to never talk to the toxic person again or else”; this is akin to trying to lose weight by telling yourself you can never eat chocolate again. While it is true that your relationship is an unhealthy one, you don’t need to make every encounter a do-or-die situation. Don’t scare yourself.
  4. Make decisions that only support your self-care. That is, do not make any decision that hurts you. This goes for emotional “relapses” as well. If you find yourself feeling weak, don’t mentally berate yourself, but rather talk to yourself in compassionate, understanding, and reflective ways. Remind yourself that you are a work in process and life is a journey. Do not make the uncaring decision to mentally beat yourself up. In every encounter you have with the object of your obsession, stop and think about each choice you make. Make choices that are only in your best interest.
    If you find yourself feeling weak, don’t mentally berate yourself, but rather talk to yourself in compassionate, understanding, and reflective ways. Remind yourself that you are a work in process and life is a journey.
  5. Start feeling your emotions. Whenever you are away from the toxic person in your life and feel tempted to reach out to them for reassurance, stop. Consider writing your feelings down instead. Write whatever comes to you. For example, “I feel ____. I miss ____. I wish I could be with ____ right now, but I am going to sit and write my feelings down instead. I am going to teach myself how to feel my way through the obsession, rather than turning to ____.” This may help you to build inner strength. Learn to simply be with your emotions. You don’t need to run from them, hide from them, avoid them, or make them go away. Once you fully feel them, they may begin to subside. Remember: the only way out is through.
  6. Learn to grieve. Letting go of a toxic relationship and breaking a traumatic bond may be one of the hardest things you ever have to do. You cannot do it without honoring the reality you are losing something very valuable to you.
  7. Understand the “hook.” Identify what, exactly, you are losing. It may be a fantasy, a dream, an illusion. Perhaps your partner had convinced you into believing they were going to fulfill some deep, unmet need. Once you can identify what this need (or hook) is, you can get down to the business of grieving. Grieving means (figuratively) holding your hands open and letting it go. You say goodbye to the notion the need you have may never be met. At minimum, it will not be met by this relationship.
  8. Write a list of bottom-line behaviors for yourself. Possible examples: “(1) I will not sleep with someone who calls me names. (2) I will not argue with someone who has been drinking. (3) I will take care of my own finances. (4) I will not have conversations with anyone when I feel desperate (or defensive, or obsessive, etc.).” Whatever your areas of concern, determine what you need to do to change and make those your bottom-line behaviors.
  9. Build your life. Little by little, start dreaming about your future for yourself (and your children, if you have them); in other words, make dreams that don’t involve your traumatic partner. Maybe you want to go to school, start a hobby, go to church, or join a club. Start making life-affirming choices for yourself that take you away from the toxic interactions that have been destroying your peace of mind.
  10. Build healthy connections. The only way to really free yourself from unhealthy connections is to start investing in healthy ones. Develop other close, connected, and bonded relationships that are not centered on drama. Make these your “go-to” people. It is extremely difficult to heal without support. Notice the people in your life who show you loving concern, and care and hang around with them as often as you can. Reach out for professional help as needed.

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Sharie Stines, PsyD, therapist in La Mirada, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Shirley

    Shirley

    January 10th, 2017 at 11:03 AM

    My whole life has been filled with toxic relationships. I don’t know why these are the men that I am always drawn to, but you are right, I guess that there is a part of me that thinks that I can change them or that things will get better/

    I think that I witnessed my own mother go through the same upheaval in all of her relationships so unfortunately this is probably where I get those bad choices from.

  • natashia

    natashia

    May 16th, 2017 at 8:22 PM

    Shirley, I understand why you are repeating the patterns. However I do know that you can break free from this trauma bonding. You will begin to identify on a feeling level where the trauma origninated.. This has happened to me. The say the only way out is through and what we resist persists. Type in google trauma bonding and how to get out of it. Also go to support groups, Nami is their name. They will teach you how to get free from this. I have gone no contact, and I still find myself wanting to get in touch but I am stopping myself. It is true when you are no longer in an abusive relationship your feeling do come back to you. I have not been able to cry in 3 years. But I can now and I am trying to make new friends and take care of myself, and build a strong sense of self. I gave 99.9% away and now I am left with .01% but that’s a start and I will do this for myself, I won’t take any more time for losing me, I have spent 48 years in capitivity and abuse from malignant narcissists. I was disabled in pain of fire for over 28 yrs, I could not escape, but I can now and I will. I hope you find this helpful. It is hard when they have you in their web, but they will never change and it only gets worse, I have left him over 18 times, each time he hoovered in and was even worse. The terrorism, the lack of caring,, the narcissict rage, how they withhold affection and sex, yet they were never there anyway, we gave 99.9% of ourselves away to them. We can’t change them, they will never be able to care or love , it is not us, it is them and they will do it to anyone they get involved with. This is their personality disorder, they are hell bent on destroying us, mine use to say I’m a trouble maker and you’re a trouble taker, or I kind of like the drama, yeah do they they revel in it. Don’t give them what they don’t have emotions. No more you statements. Just plain matter of fact statements. You deserve to be loved and cherished, not accept the hell and empty life they give us.

  • Rabia

    Rabia

    January 21st, 2018 at 3:02 AM

    Read human magnet syndrom to reveal why you are always drawn to those men x

  • Jessie

    Jessie

    May 21st, 2018 at 11:50 AM

    Shirley, I dont believe all of those support groups are necessary. I have personally found that looking within helped me find the answers more than anyone else could. The way to yourself is through yourself. Also I have personally realized it more so has to do with the parent you had the issue with, you will go for people who treated you in that way. For example if you had a narcisistic mother you may tend to go towards men like that thinking you can solve the problem through another relationship. It’s sad bc we want the parent that hurt us and was unavailable to love us to show us that love we yearn for, but they just did not have the ability. Loving yourself is the key indeed after that the inner child who is crying out for love will be nurtured and loved by you.

  • Amanda

    Amanda

    September 21st, 2018 at 7:56 PM

    Your not alone…word for word your life is mine too

  • Ruby

    Ruby

    January 10th, 2017 at 5:36 PM

    Shirley I understand where you are coming from but you aren’t doing anyone any good continuing to have this kind of negativity rule your life.

  • ray

    ray

    January 12th, 2017 at 7:09 AM

    Why does it feel so convenient to live in a fantasy world?

  • natashia

    natashia

    May 16th, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    trauma bonding causes this to happen. We deny reality because it is to painful. We must make an effort to live in truth, to feel the moments with them what they feel like, write it down for yourself so you can refer back to it when you leave the relationship. I made my malignant narcissist believe he abandoned me. So he would focus on his other narcisstic supply. I know it is hard being with them, and they can be so charming, this on and off behavior does bond us to them. They become us and we are feeling like we are them but we are not and everything beautiful is us. We will get free, and never be bound to a personality like this again. I have faith in all of us.

  • Tristan

    Tristan

    January 14th, 2017 at 12:29 PM

    This is what I find to be so disturbing. It can only take a moment to get hooked and yet then there are all of these steps that we then have to take to unravel the whole mess and get ourselves free. It is so easy to get played and to become a part of the sick game and yet we are the ones who then suffer for so long trying to heal from that madness that they have then put us in. That makes me angry, that innocent people are getting hurt all of the time and here we are still trying to live our lives day to day and to heal from the hurt while in all likelihood the other person gets to go on with their lives like everything is alright.

  • Sharie S.

    Sharie S.

    January 15th, 2017 at 12:15 AM

    Yes, it is disturbing, but I honestly believe that regardless of how messed up other people are, we gain valuable wisdom about are own strength when we finally learn the lesson that our value is not dependent on any other person. That is true liberty.

  • Erika

    Erika

    January 16th, 2017 at 9:39 AM

    Exactly. When we stop feeling and seeing ourselves as victims and start feeling as survivors the healing begins. It takes lots and lots of strenght and courage and some kind of support/therapy. Don’t hesitate or be ashamed asking for help, you are not alone. Never give up on yourself.

  • Carolyn

    Carolyn

    May 10th, 2018 at 12:27 PM

    Sheri! I love your comment! It’s so true! We gain by seeing the truth, even in ourselves, and growing. I love your comment!

  • Kathy

    Kathy

    March 28th, 2017 at 4:42 AM

    I agree with you. I find it absolutely disgusting!!

  • Pamela A

    Pamela A

    June 3rd, 2017 at 2:26 PM

    Thank you for this article. I finally recognize what I have been experiencing most of my life. First with my abusive stepfather. Second with my late husband. Then 2 brief relationships after my husband passed away. And now i am again trauma bonded with my 2nd husband who is a narcissist. I see that I attract these men because the abuse is comfortable or rather familiar grounds for me. I have always been so confused by why i stay so long and try so hard for approval. But i am seeing that it was always that way with my stepfather. He was strict and an alcoholic. He had such a mean streak angry attitude most of the time. Yelling and screaming. Breaking things. Hitting us and scaring us all. And punishing us for any unperfect behavior. Then the sexual malestation as well. But there were times he was in a great mood and would be so fun and nice. And take us to amusement parks. I always felt so much happier during those times. So i would hope and pray for those good moods and try so hard to make him happy. And was so depressed when my efforts failed. But i would just keep trying harder and harder. Deep Inside i thought i loved him. But i later realized I hated him so much. Now I am experiencing those same mixed feelings about my husband. Love/Hate. I NEED to get out of this relationship and out of this behavior. Im through being a victom. I am ready to become the victor.

  • Erika

    Erika

    January 14th, 2017 at 1:04 PM

    Excellent article. By reading it, it looks overwhelming but if you break it down and start doing it little by little every day, the success is guaranteed. I have gone through this in the past and every word written above is true. Start being independent with everything even if it means you will be alone for a while since i still better than the alternative–which is staying in a highly toxic relationship. You don’t know what you are capable until you start making the changes. Every change you make in your action and thinking will free you up more and more. Don’t rush, you arrived here through long years, so the healing will last as well. Chose your own pace and don’t judge yourself if you fail in something. Keep getting up. Reward yourself if needed. You are worth it and deserving of a life that you have the control over and not your feelings. There is hope, don’t lose it.

  • Jamala

    Jamala

    November 7th, 2017 at 8:45 AM

    Great article. I am still grieving and working through a lot of pain right now a year later.

  • Charlotte

    Charlotte

    January 16th, 2017 at 7:24 AM

    You do have to become a little more willing to live life one day at a time. I think that when we do that it keeps life from being so overwhelming. We start looking at what lies ahead days and weeks in advance, and yeah, that can be sort of scary. But when you break things down into manageable parts, things aren’t quite as crazy as they could look when you only see the bigger picture.

  • Ann

    Ann

    April 24th, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    I need support online. I am alone in his hometown. He convinced me to move and was love bombing me for 3 weeks. I could not take the devalue stage so I left. I fit into the trauma bonding because I blocked his number but am always checking my email. I avoid going to his home and I have to move out of town. I have only been here three months and have to give up my job, get the rest of my stuff. He is leaving me alone and I think it is because he has a shiny, new toy. Do not want to be involved in triangulation.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    April 24th, 2017 at 12:22 PM

    Dear Ann,

    Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear of what you are experiencing. The GoodTherapy.org Team is not qualified to offer professional advice, but we encourage you to reach out.

    If you would like to search for a therapist online, you can use our website to do so. To see a list of therapists in your area, simply enter your ZIP code here:
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    You can also call our support team at 1-888-563-2112, if you prefer to speak to a person. They can help you complete your search.

    Please know you are not alone. Help is available, and we wish you the best of luck in your search.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • sammy

    sammy

    April 27th, 2017 at 9:34 AM

    I have been trying to break free from the malignant narcissist for over 1yr. and 8 months. I could not understand why I always felt so paralysed by fear of abandonment so great, it seemed like it was coming from the child within me, I now understand that it was, he would use his hooks of his behaviors to bring me into fear, then he would use gaslighting so often, and he also tried to get me to commit suicide, then he kept pretending he didnt hear the loud siren of the defribulator/pacemaker, he would say I dont hear anything it must be all in your head, he would call the hospitals that I went to to get the medronics device interrogated and tell them I was psychotic and bi polar and get me locked into the psych ward, So the device kept not being checked for a dead battery, and then I had a cardiac arrest. Precisely what he was hoping for, he and his mother were trying to extort money from me, someone in the bar told me, and validated the reality. He put a butcher knife in my closet under my favorite pink shirt he was hoping I’d use it on myself after his abuse. He intentionally did a factory reset on my cell phone to erase the evidence of a rape that had occured in asheville, NC. The rapist confessed and his roommate. He stoled 80,000.00 in 2008. I found the check in April of 2015. He said I love ya, then said I was destroy you and make you suffer for the rest of your life, they are very dangerous. He took a knife and put it across my throat without cutting the skin, he told me this is how you slit a throat. He was arrested for domestic violence in 2016. The police sided with him and thought he was a great guy. He went into the home and I arrived and he was coming out of the door, I said you are not allowed in that house, he said he wanted to get some tools. His brother waited by the car as he exited the house and tried to distract me. Then he ordered me to get something for his brother. I called the police again and they said , we didnt see it so it didnt happen and never came. I bought a vehicle that was checked and was running perfectly, the next morning the vehicle didnt start. I called the police and they dusted it, but they never did anything, because they didnt see him and I opened the door and trunk to see what was wrong before I called them. He and his brother I suspect rewired the Honda Accord, Tao Auto said the Honda was totally rewired in a odd way and caused an electrical current to destroy the engine. He over filled the tires on the other Honda Accord, they were suppose to be 33 lbs and he put in 45lbs, NTB immediately noticed and took the pressure of each of the tires as they told me they could explode. He let the new oil change out of the car, he drained the oil hoping the engine would seize up on the highway. He put a hole in the new radiator and it leaked right out. The pistons in the engine melted and he destroyed that car as well. When I wanted to have the car looked at, he told me water was sufficient. I knew coolant was needed but he pushed me away and told me that it didnt need coolant. The 3rd Honda Accord, is now having radiator problems over heating and the tune up is not working, 4 of the spark plugs come up with bad codes and the ECM computers were having a problem. This Malignant Naricssist has had me bound in chains of terror. I would know on the one hand reality and then within minutes he would have the ability to make me believe his lies. I felt like I was two people. Being in a numbed out hypnotic feeling state, going back to a place in my memory with someone I was safe with. This is not an easy situation and the police dept. will not help me, and the psychologist and social workers that I have seen do not understand what gaslighting is, or trauma bonding or the stockhold syndrome, he got rid of all my friendships i was trying to make in the new area, and I have no family because my father was a malignant narcissist and tortured me and my mother was bonded to him and gave me to him to be sacrificed and sexually abused, physical assaulted to the point of near death, and emotionally and psychologically he tortured me for 18 1/2 years of life, then I was in a 28 yr. relationship with a man and he raped me and gave me Interstitial Cystitis that feels like fire 24 hrs a day. I was disabled by him in 3 days time. I tried to leave but he would get rid of my job offers, and would not give me any emotional support and financial at all. I was told in the start of this relationship to leave him, but I had that disease and could not even walk anymore. I suffered for 28 yr with him, and now this. I had a few weeks where I felt an amazing awareness and connection to people, It seemed that I was absorbing super fast knowledge and self awareness and my connection to people had totally changed. It was beautiful. But then I talked with the Malignant Narcissist and told him to get his things and leave and be happy. I unfortunatly to my detriment lost that awareness and he has brought me down with his abusive behavior, I thought because I learned all about him and his disorder that he would not have this affect on me, but I was WRONG. I searched deperately over the months to find the answer to why I was so bonded to him. I am so glad that I found your writings. I will follow them and I finally found the groups in the area for support, I have tried for so long to find help and suddenly I get a call from this man and he told me the web address. I would like to write it here, but I don’t want to have this information given out to any of those sick disordered personalities. I so that it is very important to have support and I felt so alone and isolated as he wanted me to feel. He is incapable of true love and intimacy and empathy and has no conscience. That is reality. My father was the same way and so is the other one now in FLorida. My siblings took my fathers behavior to survive the world we grew up in, so they dont talk to me. I tried from time to time, but they are not in reality. I have learned to accept abuse, and forgive everyone, to people please, to sacrifice my self for everyone else. In doing so I have not developed a strong healthy self and have taken on the feeling that I am bad and evil why would all this have happened. It didnt make sense to me, so I have been torturing myself with the feeling and guilt of being worthless and to blame. It will only begin with me and my taking hold of the reigns of my self and stop doing what I internalized as a super ego, I guess at around 6 or 7 I internalized the way I was treated, and in order to survive and bond with my main caretaker I thought I was evil and worthless. My mother could not take care of me and forgot me, she made me her rival and she abandoned me. I think that is where it starts, she was not emotionally available, she was sick from what most certainly must of happened to her. So I need to heal that wound. I have never felt that pain, I feel it now with the Malignant Narcissist, it is overwhelming, but I know what to do now, go to the support groups, make new friends, they are the family I have now. I want to use all this that I have been through and survived to help other victims of all trauma. First I must help myself to get released from the hell I have been living in. I realize the threats he has given me hold me even closer to him, but I will practice all that I have learned from this site to get out of this. My life is Gods and I have been lost in giving it to the devil so to speak for this torture that they do is so evil. I pray for all people to be free and find happiness and I do believe it is possible, I am 59 now and I dont want to die without having lived. I have beautiful gifts within my spirit. I never had the chance to become whole, I have that chance now and I will take it. These predators have damaged my life and spirit, but I know that I can make myself whole again, there is life out there and I want to be a part of it. I wish peace and love to all survivors of these abusers. God Bless you all.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    April 27th, 2017 at 2:55 PM

    Hi Sammy,

    Thank you for your comment. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please return to our homepage, https://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    We wish you the best of luck in your journey.

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Mary

    Mary

    October 29th, 2017 at 12:58 AM

    Sammy, So sorry to hear about all the Hell you have been through. I can see you have been working very hard to overcome all you have been through. God bless you. I will pray for you. You sound like an amazing lady. God loves you too. I often wonder why I had to go through so much, and I want to help others as well, namely the single moms and their children, in my church. Good luck. Mary

  • bg

    bg

    March 11th, 2018 at 8:43 PM

    thanks for sharing about all the details of the heart/dead battery, the car tricks to disable the cars, the knife threats, etc…….God bless you on your way and sending peace and kind vibrations…….:)…..

  • Jill

    Jill

    August 14th, 2017 at 2:57 PM

    What a breath of fresh air to find this page. Much needed information.

  • Zoe

    Zoe

    October 2nd, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    This article is spot and doesn’t only apply when thinking of leaving a toxic relationship, but after you’ve left too. Once you know you’re in an abusive relationship you cannot ‘unknow’ it. Leaving someone you are trauma bonded to is very difficult but not impossible, and you need a strategy in place for when they contact you after you’ve left, so your reactions aren’t left to chance. This was what enabled me to ignore all the hoovering after I’d left him, and got me through the stalking that followed. I left 2 months ago and am now working on healing the inner wounds that led to my acceptance of the abusive behaviour. I also meditate daily now (only for 10 mins) but it has brought peace and calm to my mind. Most of my energy is now focused on building my life, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. I’m trying lots of new things to discover how I like to spend my time. I have 2 daughters aged 12 and 10 and am working on being the Mum I always wanted to be. I sometimes visit articles such as this one to remind myself what I escaped and why I needed to. I’m still healing, I’m definitely not out the other side yet, but I will get there. If you are in a toxic relationship, I hope you find the strength to get out. You’ll never regret leaving, you’ll only regret the length of time it took to leave.

  • Hadleigh

    Hadleigh

    December 11th, 2017 at 5:10 AM

    Im currently going through the no contact stage, I am 20 year old man, I was with my partner for 2 years the first year was half good and half bad, the good was initial and gradually died out over time and the real monster began to reveal. But because of who I am, the unconditional love I can give, and my lack of relationship experience, the “bad times” so to speak I always took it on the chin.
    I always allowed her to violate my boundaries, withdraw from me emotionally and sexually, verbal abuse and just completely disregarding my feelings; I allowed this because I thought that’s what you do when you love someone, and I had no idea she was a narcissistic monster , and the sad part is if I did know I don’t think it would of changed a thing. I thought we had a special connection that no one else did, I thought I was special to her like I thought she was to me, I was wrong. We planned a baby together, and he’s almost 1 years old now, I say “Planned” I think her “plan” was much different to mine as I wanted to live with her and my son and grow as a family, financially, emotionally and successfully just like any loving man would want right, it only took 4 weeks after he was born for her to say “I don’t feel in love with you anymore, I don’t wanna be with you” this hurt me so bad, it was probably the most shocking and painful experience I’ve ever been through and from there I just got worse, I was so commited and attached to her this was so difficult for me to come to terms with, I didn’t, I denied it to myself, I made excuses for her, I told myself because she was younger than me she is less mature and makes childish choices, isn’t prepared to commit, “be-tied-down” etc. again, I was wrong. I was so wrong in making such excuses, she was a selfish, physcotic emotional abuser with a personality disorder. And im currently having to deal with endless slanders, lies and half truths about me, my entire reputation from her family is ruined along with all the people we both associated with because of her manipulation, my family and friends say you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone, as long as I know the truth that’s all that matters, everyone around her thinks she’s a gift from god and I guess they are supposed to, they are the flying monkeys; the enablers, it could be worse I could be those low life, ignorant people, I did a lot for all of her family, I loved them like my own and they’ve all completletley disregarded my existence because of her, because she would rather destroy my reputation, turn everyone against me than own up and admit that she was wrong and abusive to me. she will never admit it , its been about 2 weeks since we last spoke, but about 7 months since we were actually officially together, well I say official I don’t think we’ve ever been together, in my eyes we were but its was something completely different in her eyes. when she first left me weeks after my son was born, weeks after I watched this woman who I loved/ love unconditionally and radically give birth to my beautiful son she finally turned around and said she wanted me again, and said she wanted to make it work this was probably about 2 months of me begging ( I know I am ashamed I begged her like this) but I begged and begged because I was scared and alone, and finally she took me back, during the few months of feeling abandoned and lost, she would still see me, she would still go for dinner with me, have sex with me but no intimacy, only slightly during intercourse but it was nothing new, the intimacy died out long before that, I don’t even think it existed in our relationship, intimacy is based upon 2 people not 1, and I guess it was another thing I took on the chin, just thinking some people aren’t as “lovey-dovey” so to speak as others, again I was wrong. but anyways, she took me back, the first week was amazing it felt like never before and I began to think our future was together was insight again. more weeks passed, she began to criticise me, say im a terrible dad, she would threaten to leave me, “get someone else to be my sons dad” she’d say, all these nasty things came out again to hurt me and make me think I was bad and wrong but everything she said was lies or half truths, I wasn’t a bad dad, when he was born I was the one who lay next to her on the bed all night feeding him for days and days whilst she rest, I was the one who looked after him whilst she was in hospital for days and days, I stayed right by her side didn’t move, because that’s what u do when u love someone , and all these kind things I did to her went unnoticed, all the loving caring daddy things I did were never even noticed, im not saying I did it to be thanked I did it for my son, but some appreciation to my efforts would have good, especially from the mother, I guess I just wanted something that she didn’t. now here I am feeling stuck, she has a new boyfriend who she recently claimed to be amazing etc. but a few weeks ago calls me up wanting sex, I declined, which is the first time I’ve ever declined to that, especially from her. I am scared, to see my son and the woman who I once or still love grow as a family with someone else, that’s always been my biggest fear, and its happening and I have no control of it. I wanted that family, I cant even see my son now, its been 5 weeks, the last few times I’ve asked she has declined, she will not allow anyone else in mine or her family to give him to me, so the “no-contact” would not work if I have to get my son from her, I’d forever be crippled by her, its so horrible how she could do this to me, its beyond imaginable the pain she has put my heart through and still does, I wanted a family so bad and I will never get that image I imagined, someone else will get it, and I did nothing for that to happen, I did nothing wrong I did everything right and too much of it and im the one being blamed, she plays the vicitim, I get endless threats from her violent, dysfunctional family and everything feels so unfair, I lose the love of my life or the person I thought was, I lose the family that I planned and wanted to grow with, I lose my reputation from people who I built it with, I am in debt from her as she finically crippled me. no one see’s what she did wrong, no on sees the abuse she put me through, I’ve attempted suicide because of her, because I’ve been so tired of her constnanlty over and over again emotionally withdrawing from me, then saying she loves me and wants me, over and over again you get tired and I just wanted it to end, I’ve self harmed so much because of her, yet everyone in her family sees no wrong in her and all think I should be beaten up, hurt and deserve everything I get its just so unfair and doesn’t make any sense to how all these people hate me for simply ….loving someone with all my heart.

    well I let off a bit of steam now, maybe some advide or reassurance would help me abit, I don’t speak about this to anyone its so difficult to talk

  • Amber

    Amber

    December 18th, 2017 at 5:09 PM

    FIGHT for your parental rights! Be “able and available” so that the evidence clearly shows your attempts to be a father. Document/record the dates & times you’ve reached out to see your child and the exact response you received. Leave no room for it to appear as if you’re an abandoning parent. You can do this!!

  • Sym

    Sym

    March 10th, 2018 at 8:19 PM

    On and off, up and down, the roller coaster ride through the nicest parts of hell… it sure builds a bond. But you can unbind yourself. You are free. I hope you will not stay lost in your thoughts and emotions for long. Commit to reality, as this article suggests. Put truth first. Forsake all fantasy. It is the only way. And I know how hard and fast those feelings will make your head spin, but you’ve got to relax into what’s real. I assure you that the family life you dreamed of, that you think someone else gets to have with them…it’s a lie! You’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled! That ideal vision is not real, it is the hope of love, but see the truth of where you stand. Start from there, where you are now. Stop torturing yourself with visions, and tune into the moment, learn to meditate, tap into spirituality, connect with your inner self – and you will see where your hope really comes from, you will see what love really is. It isn’t this, it isn’t suffering and suicide. Your best days are ahead of you, my friend! If my words seem harsh, it’s only because I want to knock some sense into your mind. You cannot choose the thoughts and feelings that come up from this painful connection, but you can choose how to handle them. There are many ways to see, interpret, and understand things. Most aren’t worth suffering. Remember your freedom, and choose to live in light and truth. It sounds like you could use that warmth about now. You won’t get it from her, but you’ll learn that it came from within you all along… good luck!

  • bg

    bg

    December 18th, 2017 at 8:27 AM

    very thorough explanations of years and years of struggling….thank you so much for the understanding….

  • barbie

    barbie

    January 31st, 2018 at 11:12 PM

    this explains why ive gone from one abusive man to another. it started with my dad.

  • mike

    mike

    February 19th, 2018 at 7:56 AM

    I’m on week 5 of “No Contact”…Its a struggle on some days…I googled searched Narcissism..Codependency..Emotional availability…Now Trauma Bond…I wish I had done this research before marrying my Narc…We divorced a month ago..We were only married a month…I guess I am lucky that I was with her for just 2 years…She sex bombed me..She was not capable of love bombing….Both are like a drug..The withdrawals are brutal…The worst part is….I knew she was wrong for me but I am(was) so codependent I couldn’t break away from what I thought “love”….I knew something was missing..The intimacy was absent…She used me to put in a new kitchen..To have sex….Then we had a minor disagreement about her adult daughter…Shortly after I was discarded…Phone blocked…I was confused..Devistated…WTF did I do that was so horrible….Then I also begged for her back…..Now I know more about codependency(self love)….It started with my mother who was narcissistic…My first wife also is narcissistic…..Now I am aware…Epiphony…..My next mate will be a better choice……Live and learn and grow…The Narc will just fester in their own dysfunction

  • Anthony

    Anthony

    March 5th, 2018 at 5:19 AM

    Not sure what to say, but know I need to. I am in therapy after being in a six year relationship with a BPD female. Part of my personal problem is I am a trained therapist-well trained. My work has been almost exclusively with men. I knew something was wrong, very wrong a year into being married. Her behavioral symptoms didnt fit anything I could figure but psychopathy. I used the DSM, read articles, nothing quite fit.
    She would score high on the psychopathy check list, so it fit but it was like a shirt you put on and can wear but doesnt fit. I am older than her-22 years older. The stress of being in such a relationship nearly took my life-literally. After she cheated again I left her. It was then that I saw the symptoms she had been hiding, like weapons. I came back to my home state and missed her-the pain was unbelievable. My body was not recovering and I was in and out hospitals. She called, love bombed and begged to come where I was. She is a drug addict and was in active addiction. I helped her get sober, and the behaviors began immediately. I had time away from her and now could see fully I was dealing with Border Line Personality Disorder. She confessed she had a sexual relationship with my business partner right after I left. She told me she did it to hurt me. I cannot express the degree of pain it caused. Once I saw the behaviors I left her. Other events occurred. I have served her with divorce papers and made it clear there will be no contact as I am not her friend, her collectible or her husband. She tested that limit which I had to quite assertively enforce. I have been diagnosed with PTSD for events nearly taking my life, severe depression and anxiety. Like a vampire she literally sucked life from me. I have had to search to find answers. It occurred to me that the great pain of her being gone, especially after all she did, made no sense. People who love each other don’t do those things. So I had a moment and thought “trauma bond?” I looked it up and here it is. Im going to use the ten steps offered her with my therapist as my starting point. It is difficult to be skilled, educated and experienced and have to to all the foot work, when now I am the client, not the therapist. Anger at myself for not figuring it out sooner. Fucked up reality is I can say I still love her, an experience she is not truly capable of feeling. With all that has occurred in the last 26 months I often feel like a broken man, have considered suicide. I have lost everything, and she was the primary reason I made choices that put me in this position. Giving up is not in my nature, I practice what I preach. I am pushing for sound therapy-none of the people I work with get the significance of such a relationship and what trauma bonding does. Appreciate the ten steps as I believe the trauma bonding has prevented any true progress.

  • Gao

    Gao

    July 29th, 2018 at 2:34 AM

    I have been through a lot. One thing I learned was to have self value/respect. Once I no longer tolerate a toxic person’s behavior was the day my life started improving. I have always been nice and forgiving but now I tell myself that I have enough being someone’s punching bag or doormat. I deserve happiness. That was the start of healing myself. People will only treat you how you allow them to. If you do not allow them, even narcissist people can no longer manipulate you. It is hard but I have been continuously educating myself so that I can heal. Those toxic people have started to treat me better now after seeing that I no longer tolerate their bs. Nowadays I run the opposite direction when I come into contact with a toxic person. I want to live my life to the fullest with positive people only. Now I am not scare to either get rid of or keep my distance from family and friends who are toxic. My mental state is improving tremendously.

  • mike

    mike

    July 30th, 2018 at 5:48 AM

    I watched many youtube videos on narcissism/codependency…I feel I could write a book.. :o0…I was feeling forgiving toward my ex Narc and I gave her my new cell number 3 months after the breakup…..I had many reasons for doing this…The “relationship” started up again but this time I was more aware…She read the book (or at least said she did) Ross Rosenberg’s Human Magnet syndrome…Long story short, she surmised that she was codependent..WTF…She didn’t say I was narcissistic but felt we were both codependent…again WTF….I didn’t call her out on it right away..A week went by and I insisted on telling her that I spent the last 3 months dealing with the fact that I was codependent and she was the Narc…We never talked about it again…She said she wanted to be honest and transparent at the beginning of this new love/sex bomb stage…I knew it was B.S…..I informed her that I was not going back to those days…Our relationship was mainly sexual..It was our glue..This recent go round was also sexual..When I voiced my displeasure with being used by her, the discard began…It truly began before I even called her a Narc….I was not part of her life outside the bedroom…I was her “dirty little secret”….Not very flattering…I think this is my “closure”…I needed it…I am NO CONTACT and blocking her cell…Its not like me to do that so I know in my heart Im over it…I see the real her

  • Pamela

    Pamela

    July 30th, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    Good for you. You deserve a healthy relationship where you both are getting your needs met and your not suffering anymore. We all do. I can only hope I find my opportunity for my escape and closure so I can feel peace without guilt, remorse and suffering. Its so exhausting.

  • xristina

    xristina

    November 14th, 2018 at 8:52 AM

    I am in that situation for way to long in my life. I cannot understand how people treat this way other people. I feel like damaged sh*t every day. I cannot break the bond and that is so terrible to live through. My life is destroyed by their behavor. And I still think sometimes that, I didn’t deserve it, how come they made me believe it so? :'(

  • The GoodTherapy Team

    The GoodTherapy Team

    November 14th, 2018 at 9:04 AM

    Dear xristina,

    If you feel that you need to seek help, we invite you to have a look at therapists in your area by entering your city or ZIP code into the search field on this page: https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html.

    If you need help finding a therapist, you are welcome to call us. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time and our phone number is 888-563-2112, ext. 1.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy Team

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