Trauma Bonding vs Healthy Relationships: Do You Know the Differences?

        Many relationships today are transactional- people love one another based on how well that person gives them what they feel they lack. Unconsciously, people choose people who we feel can heal some part of our trauma- someone to validate us (if you’ve never felt seen), someone to fill a void (if you feel empty on your own) or someone to elevate our value in society (if I am with this rich/beautiful person, others will see me as more valuable...).

        We’re taught that sacrificing, being possessive or arguing are ways that show you “really care” about your relationship It’s common to hear people say “if there isn’t struggle or bad times, then it isn’t “real”. “Struggle love” has become the norm- and expected.

        For example, I’ve had a guy do intentionally bothersome things to simply get a reaction out of me. In his mind, the reaction meant that I cared. No bruh- that is manipulation,  and I am all set on that, thank you. How healthy is it to intentionally set up a situation , simply to learn how someone would respond? That is a trauma response to past insecurity and manipulation you may have suffered; that is not a healthy way to begin a relationship. Don’t get me wrong – you have to be discerning and mindful when in relationships in order to protect your energy and emotional health- but this should not be done by manipulating others. Direct communication of your boundaries and needs, and following up on consequences when those are crossed, is all that is needed to effectively vet people. People worth your time will not cross your boundaries in the first place- but this is another blog.

How do you know if your relationships are trauma bonded?

  • Based on fulfilling needs we feel we cannot meet (social status, feelings of lack)
  • “You complete me”/neediness (filling a void within ourselves)
  • Tracking each other’s every move (possessiveness)
  • Controlling who your mate can socialize with (restricting their individuality out of insecurity)
  • Poor quality communication (passive-aggressive, playing games, etc.)
  • Codependency
  • Needing your ego boosted/ or needing to boost the ego of your partner

In healthy relationships:

  • You are connected for a higher purpose
  • Each person remains individual
  • You are two whole persons coming together (maintaining your individuality)
  • Not based on “need”
  • There is have equity
  • There is respect
  • You support one another in reaching your goals
  • You show appreciation for each other
  • Honesty and transparency
  • Quality communication (the amount is not what’s most important, it’s the quality)
  • Acknowledgement of each person’s individual existence and
  • Playfulness

        This can be applied not only to your romantic relationships, but also to your friendships, family relationships and to some extent workplace relationships.

        And, since we are all unique, our relationships may look different from the next person’s- and that is healthy in itself. Trying to model your relationship after someone else’s can lead to trouble. There is no “right way” to do relationships- there are thousands of ways a healthy relationship can look like, as long as those basic characteristics listed above are present.

        So, how can you ensure you are building healthy relationships? Building healthy relationships requires that you show up with the required skills to make your relationship successful (and of course the same would be true of the people you are building with). So, what are those skills?

  • Ability to compromise
  • Being understanding
  • Managing your own emotions (not expecting your partner to do it for you)
  • Empathy
  • Good perspective taking
  • Taking an interest in others
  • Ability to support and uplift others
  • Self-love
  • Valuing yourself
  • Communicating through differences (negative energy not needed)

        What skills do you feel you need to build? What are your strengths? What other tips would you add? Comment below and let’s help each other move toward healthy relationships.

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