When you’re seeing the social media videos featuring 5-foot floral arrangements, rooms full of balloons and teddy bears and rose petaled walkways, it’s easy to think all relationships are loving and should be tagged as #relationshipgoals, but that’s simply not true.
The reality is that 80% of Americans have experienced emotional abuse, according to Mental Health America. Translation: Only about 20% of the relationships you’ve deemed as #relationshipgoals are not undergoing some level of emotional abuse.
And I don’t know about you, but that’s a scary statistic to digest, especially knowing that the pandemic has caused that number to skyrocket.
With that statistic looming over our heads, the questions become: How can you tell if you’re in a dysfunctional, toxic relationship? And what can you do about it even if you are?
When you’re in toxic, emotionally abusive relationships, leaving is never as easy as it sounds. There’s usually a type of emotional attachment that develops and creates a “trauma bond” that prevents partners from ending the relationship.
What’s a trauma bond? A trauma bond is an emotional bond that develops when an abused person feels for their abuser. So, for instance, let’s say you’re in one of these relationships. You might experience a cycle of abuse, followed by positive reinforcement where first there’s yelling and screaming and then there’s regret and a declaration of love. As this cycle continues, the abused person develops a dependency on their abuser and that makes leaving harder.
Unsure whether you’re in a relationship where a trauma bond is forming?
Here are 5 key signs to watch out for:
Sign #1: Ongoing Arguments
Couples argue, that’s true, but this sign focuses on ongoing arguments, not basic disagreements. With these types of arguments, one partner tends to continuously belittle the other and criticize everything they do, leaving them feeling hopeless, helpless and devalued.
Sign #2: Blaming
A toxic person will likely blame their partner for anything bad that happens. For example, let’s say they choose a restaurant for dinner and the meal is terrible. They will likely blame their partner for the experience, suggesting it was either their partner’s decision to go there or their partner somehow made the meal bad.
Sign #3: Unwillingness to Compromise
Healthy relationships are drenched in compromise. However, in unhealthy, toxic relationships, one partner will usually give into everything to keep the other person happy. They don’t want to challenge or offer offense, because that could trigger some level of abuse.
Sign #4: Manipulation
A toxic, abusive person will use manipulation to control their partner by denying or recreating certain things that have happened. They’ll convince their partner they’ve got it wrong and really X, Y and Z happened.
Sign #5: Isolation
As a relationship becomes more toxic, the toxic partner often gets jealous and to control their partner, will isolate them from friends and family. This isolation creates a codependency between the abuser and abused, making it even more difficult for the abused person to leave.
Is your relationship a toxic one? Have you begun to form a trauma bond with your partner? Are you looking for a safe way to leave the relationship? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then now is the time to get the support you need to heal and move on. If you’re ready to have a happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship, click the link to find out more about my Healthy Love Academy HERE.