If you’ve experienced a toxic romantic relationship before, it can be tricky to discern the difference between a healthy connection and an unhealthy connection upon entering a new relationship. It’s so exciting when the butterflies ignite and you’re constantly daydreaming about someone new. But how do you know it’s real?
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these top five signs of what a trauma-bonding relationship looks like, which can easily be clocked in the first month of a relationship:
1) They love-bomb you. They go over-the-top with gifts or gestures and insist that what they feel is love, without really knowing you. They’re constantly communicating with you, and they make big promises of future plans together right away.
2) They go cold without any warning. They drop off after spending an intense few days with you. They give short answers, and make you feel clingy or crazy for checking in.
3)They pick when they’re available and when they aren’t. They call the shots on how the relationship progresses, if at all.
4) Everything is amazing except for this one thing that’s gnawing on you. They’re perfect, except (xyz). You downplay something major because you want to cling to the fantasy of the rest of them, but your gut won’t let you ignore it.
5) Overall, you find yourself constantly on edge, because your body is telling you something isn’t right.
Now, look for the signs you’re in a healthy, loving partnership:
1) The passion feels hot and safe. After sex, they hold you and continue to connect with you. The energy still feels calm, happy, and loving … and you hear from them in a reasonable amount of time after parting ways.
2) The communication is consistent but not constant. They check in to let you know they’re thinking of you, but you’re both healthy individuals with full lives who simply don’t have time to blow each others’ phones up all day, every day.
3) You know when you’re going to see them again. No guessing games. No “maybes.” You know you’re a priority and you’re not afraid to show them that they’re yours.
4) When you have a concern, they create a safe space for you to express it. Even if they don’t agree, they’re willing to listen, and hold your hand when you get vulnerable.
5) Overall, you are confident and secure in the partnership. Even if the newness of this lovely connection is scarily unfamiliar because of past trauma in other relationships, you can feel a significant difference in your body when you’re in their presence.
Regardless of whether you find yourself in a healthy or unhealthy partnership, the work never stops when it comes to giving yourself the love, calm, and security that you so naturally want to receive from someone else. This looks like delving into what you think of you, versus what others think of you. I don’t suggest that this work is easy, but I do know it’s necessary, and it will attract a solid partner who loves you the way you’ve been loving you.
Trauma bonds feel unbreakable because they are based in shared experiences and moments of (often calculated) vulnerability, but they don’t always have the roots that unconditional, truly stable connections have.
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