8 Ways To Identify Trauma Bonding

8 Ways To Identify Trauma Bonding

Trauma bonding looks a lot like love in the early days of a relationship due to the intense affection and "love-bombing" techniques used early in a relationship.

But how can you tell if it's love or trauma bonding? One of the 8 ways to identify trauma bonding is the love-abuse-love cycle that an abuser uses.

Another way to identify this is when you start making excuses for their behavior and claiming that you did something to bring on that behavior.

You're walking on eggshells to avoid conflict, and you just don't know who you are anymore.

If this sounds familiar, you most likely have a trauma bond with your abuser. Keep reading to learn more.

Trauma & PTSD Therapists in Colorado

Cheyenne Ainsworth, SWC

Cheyenne Ainsworth, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Felicia Gray, MS, LPC

Felicia Gray, MS, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Randal Thomas, SWC

Randal Thomas, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Bethany Cantrell, LPCC

Bethany Cantrell, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPCC, NCC

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPCC, NCC

(719) 345-2424
Karin Alaska, LPC

Karin Alaska, LPC

(719) 345-2424
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121

1. Intense Demonstrations Of Love Early in the Relationship

You know that feeling when you first get together with someone? You have to be with the person always, holding hands and expressing an overabundance of love and desire with each other, right?

In a healthy relationship, this usually doesn't happen a day or two days after meeting someone. In fact, it can take quite a while for a relationship to progress this far.

If your relationship started out quickly and became intense almost immediately, chances are your partner was looking for someone to manipulate and control rather than have a companion.

Examples of this intensity might include the following:

  • You hear the word "soulmate" a week after meeting the person.
  • The other person talks about moving in together or getting married very quickly.
  • They want you to meet their family right away.
  • You receive lavish gifts and cards expressing how much you mean to the person.

These intense demonstrations of love early in the relationship don't always mean that there's a trauma bond, as some people just naturally belong together.

It's when you experience abuse or mistreatment that signifies a trauma bond might exist.

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2. The Love-Abuse-Love Cycle

Another way to identify trauma bonding is when you experience a love-abuse-love cycle.

Things are going great, you're having a great time, and you're thinking, "Wow. They really have changed."

Then, they abuse you in one way or another.

After the abuse is over and some time has passed, they apologize and show intense displays of love. They might take you out for a fancy dinner or lavish expensive gifts on you.

Then, the cycle starts again, and you're stuck in a never-ending cycle of abuse. This creates a trauma bond due to intermittent positive reinforcement.

3. Constantly Walking On Eggshells

In a healthy relationship, conflicts are dealt with civilly and with love and understanding. Bad moods or upsetting things aren't a trigger for abuse.

But if you're in an unhealthy relationship and have a trauma bond with an abusive person, a bad mood is a trigger for abuse.

So if you feel like you're constantly watching your moods or avoiding saying the wrong thing so you don't trigger abuse, you're walking on eggshells.

In a trauma-bonded relationship, a victim constantly monitors their partner's moods to avoid abuse. If this is how your relationship feels, it might be time to seek a counselor to help you.

4. Making Excuses For Their Behavior

Continuing the last point, a trauma bond victim consistently makes excuses for their abuser's behavior, which might look like the following:

"He wouldn't have had to hit me if I didn't talk back to him."
"I know she didn't mean it. She's having a rough time right now."
"If I would have just had sex with him, he wouldn't have raped me."

The trauma bond keeps victims from fully blaming their abuser and instead makes them blame themselves for the abuse.

5. Rationalizing the Abuse and Accepting Blame

A trauma bond messes with your mind because you don't see the abuse as abuse. So you rationalize the bad things that happen and blame yourself for not avoiding them.

Or you might think that if you were better at the finances, or housekeeping, or whatever, then you wouldn't have been yelled at or hit.

The abuser blames you for everything, and instead of rejecting that blame, you accept and believe it.

This allows the abuser to be justified in their behavior towards you.

6. Unable to Leave the Relationship

Part of a trauma bond is that there are not always bad times. The good times are great, which is what bonds you to the person.

Loving attention gives you a high similar to a cocaine or heroin addiction, and increases your dopamine production, making it much more difficult to leave the relationship.

While you're abused and belittled, you stay because you want the good times to occur more often.

If the abuser never gave you loving attention, it would be easier to write off the relationship and leave. But in a trauma bond, the intermittent positive reinforcement keeps you suffering the abuse.

7. Isolation From Other Family Members and Friends

An abusive person is often a narcissist or someone who needs to control every situation and contact. This might mean that they force or manipulate you to isolate yourself from family and friends.

Or it might be that you self-isolate due to hiding the abuse from those who love you and want the best for you.

But whatever the case is, a consequence of a trauma bond is often isolation from family and friends.

So if you feel ashamed or unable to talk or spend time with them, you might have a trauma bond. 

8. A Loss Of Identity

An abuser's goal is to wear the victim down to the point of them pushing their identity down so much that they don't even know who they are anymore.

For example, say the victim used to be outgoing and friendly before getting into a trauma-bonded relationship.

But throughout the relationship, the abuser told the victim several disparaging things about their character and beat them down emotionally and mentally.

At the end of their relationship, the victim was shy, withdrawn, and a shell of their former self.

If you feel like you've lost your identity and you have no idea who you are anymore because of the relationship, you might have a trauma bond. 


Trauma bonding is often confused with love, and if you don't know the signs to look for, you might think you've found "the one."

Victims often realize too late that they're in a toxic relationship. Remember, the signs of trauma bonding include the following:

  • Losing who you are.
  • You isolate yourself from family or friends.
  • You make excuses for their behavior.
  • You're unable to leave the relationship.
  • You blame yourself or rationalize the abuse.
  • Walking on eggshells to avoid conflict and abuse.

When you can recognize the signs, you can start your healing journey and, hopefully, find a healthy relationship in the future.



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December 3rd, 2023

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