Are you trauma bonded with your partner? You’ll find out by answering the 13 questions in this trauma bonding test.
In my role as a life coach, I am often helping clients better understand the relationships with those closest to them.
That’s why I was so keen to publish this free guide on my website.
So, let’s dive in.
What Is Trauma Bonding?
The term was invented by a counsellor called Patrick Carnes. His definition is: “the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings and sexual physiology to entangle another person.”
A simpler definition might be: a strong emotional attachment between a victim of abuse and their abuser.
Trauma Bond Cycle
The four stages are:
- tension building;
- an incident of abuse;
Trauma Bonding Examples
This cycle could potentially begin at any of these four stages. Indeed, romantic trauma bonds usually begin with the abuser giving their victim all the love in the world to make them feel amazing, just as they would do in the reconciliation phase. This ‘love bombing’ phase is key in making a bond develop.
Perhaps then, after a phase of calm, the abuser begins to slowly blame and criticize their victim. This could build over several weeks before an actual incident of abuse takes place. Immediately after this incident, the abuser will do all they can to reconcile the situation and convince their partner to remain in the relationship.
The victim believes their partner’s excuses and the relationship enters a stage of calm, only for tensions to build and more abuse to take place later on.
What Does Trauma Bonding Feel Like?
Of course, physical and emotional abuse feels awful, but when one is caught in the trauma bond cycle, it can also feel addictive and impossible to escape.
This is mostly due to the reconciliation stage, where an abuser will shower their victim with huge amounts of love and affection.
They’ll also do everything they can to convince their victim that they didn’t mean to hurt them – and that it’ll never happen again. They might also gaslight, guilt-trip or do whatever it takes to keep their victim loyal to the relationship.
A combination of the dopamine-fuelled love bombing, plus the expert manipulation of the abuser often leaves the victim feeling addicted.
There are certain types of people who are more susceptible to trauma bonding, namely those who were abused or didn’t receive a lot of love in childhood. These individuals may not know what a healthy relationship looks like, or they may just be so excited by the attention of their abuser that they’re happy to take the lows with the highs.
Indeed, the stress that comes with the ups and downs of a relationship can become addictive in its own right. There are many men and women who love the emotional rollercoaster of toxic relationships, even if it isn’t strictly abusive.
Trauma Bonding Signs
Many victims will remain in denial of their abusive relationship, even if the signs of abuse are clear and obvious. This is because they are addicted to the ups and downs of the relationship with their abuser. In many cases, they either don’t feel strong enough to walk away or don’t see a way out.
Still, I have created a short quiz to help confirm whether you’re trauma bonded in an abusive relationship.
Related: 11 Ways To Overcome Hyper Independence Trauma (+Signs, Test & Psychology)
How Do You Know If You Are Trauma Bonded?
This quiz contains 13 yes or no questions about your romantic relationship. The more you answer YES, the more likely that you’re stuck in a trauma bond with your partner.
- 1. Do you feel ‘stuck’ in your relationship? Victims of trauma bonding often feel unable to walk away even if they wanted to.
- 2. Do you ‘walk on eggshells’ around your partner? If you filter yourself to stop your partner getting angry, that’s a reasonably clear sign of an abusive relationship.
- 3. Do you lie to keep the peace in your relationship? Perhaps you find yourself saying whatever they want to hear to keep them happy.
- 4. Is your partner unpredictable? Does their mood quickly change from day-to-day?
- 5. Are you constantly putting their needs before yours? If you’re an abuse victim, you may find you’re giving a lot more than receiving.
- 6. Do you feel responsible for their happiness? Perhaps you’ll fear this person will hurt or sabotage themselves if you leave them.
- 7. Do they punish you with silence? Also, ask yourself how effective this is. If you need their attention to feel good, you’re more susceptible to develop a trauma bond.
- 8. Do you feel isolated in your relationship? An abuser will often attempt to isolate you from loved ones or make you dependent on them.
- 9. Does your partner make false promises? Take a moment to count how many times they’ve made promises to change or said “it won’t happen again”.
- 10. Have you told yourself you’ll give them one last chance? How many times? This is a common rationalization made by victims in abusive relationships.
- 11. Are other people disturbed by parts of your relationship that you find normal? That’s a warning sign that you might not recognize what a healthy relationship is.
- 12. Do other people convince you to leave this person? Without the emotional bond to this person, your friends and family will be able to spot the red flags of your relationship far easier than you. Abuse victims will often make excuses to stay with their abuser, or convince themselves that their friends don’t understand the situation.
- 13. Have you tried to leave, only to feel an intense longing for your partner? This is a clear sign that you’re becoming addicted to your abuse.
If you’ve answered this quiz and you’re still in doubt about whether you’re trauma bonded to this person, speak to a therapist. A licensed therapist is qualified to help you understand the reality of why you make certain decisions in your relationships – and what’s best for you moving forward.
Related: Relationship Test – Proven By Tony Robbins
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s round off this guide with the answers to some frequently asked questions on this topic.
Are You Trauma Bonded To A Narcissist?
Narcissists often become emotional abusers in their relationships, because they’re so desperate for the love and attention that fuels them. You can find advice on how to spot and deal with a narcissist in my guide on emotionally detaching from narcissists.
What Are The Seven Stages Of Trauma Bonding?
According to several online advice guides, the seven steps are:
- Love bombing. The abuser showers their victim with love and affection.
- Trust and dependency. The abuser does all they can to create high levels of trust and dependency in their victim.
- Criticism. The abuser slowly begins to criticize and blame their victim. This stage may involve emotional or physical abuse.
- Manipulation. The abuser begins emotionally manipulating their victim to get them onboard with their narrative. This stage may involve the abuser convincing their victim that they’re sorry – or maybe that they weren’t to blame for their actions.
- Giving up control. The victim gives up control of their relationship, knowing that fighting back tends to make their partnership worse.
- Losing yourself. The victim learns to settle for anything to receive peace or affection. They begin to lose touch of their true selves and all sense of confidence.
- Addiction. The cycle of abuse and reconciliation becomes so addictive that the victim can’t see a way out.
Unintentional Trauma Bond
It is possible that an abuser creates a trauma bond unintentionally or subconsciously. Perhaps they have their own mental health issues that’s making them treat their partner this way. If you recognize these signs of emotional abuse in your actions towards your partner, you should also seek support from a licensed therapist.
Related Content: Enmeshment Trauma – A Complete Guide
Thanks for reading my guide on this important topic.
If this guide confirms you have formed a trauma bond, please know this does not make you a bad person. An abuser will usually plant this idea in your head, but it’s simply not true. It’s not your fault at all.
More importantly, please know that you can escape this situation – and it will be much easier with the support of a qualified therapist.
If you’d like to make a point or ask a question about abusive relationships, you can do so in the comments form below.
I love hearing from readers of my website – and it will be great to hear from you.