Trauma Bonding: Why it’s so Hard to Leave The Narcissist in Your Life (Pt 1)

Being married to a narcissist is an exercise in futility and self delusion. You tell yourself you love them so much that you just can’t let go. You blame yourself for everything that’s wrong in the relationship. You believe that if only you could do the right thing or make the right choices or say the right words, everything would go back to being perfect again. But that’s exactly what they want you to think. And that’s why you need to get out. (And deep down you know it.) Maybe you’re just afraid to start over. Or you’re worried about the kids. But it’s so hard to leave…

A woman on a beach holding hands with a man who is fading away in the picture.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to leave a narcissistic spouse?

The answer is trauma bonding. Humans are wired to bond with the people around them. That’s what keeps families and friend groups together – the fact that all the members are bonded to one another. But what happens when the person you’re bonded to is also your abuser? It means you’re “trauma bonded” to them.

That means you’ve been slowly and carefully trained to seek out the love and approval of someone who very carefully doles out just enough positive reinforcement to keep you hooked, while simultaneously treating you like dirt and making you question your own sanity. We’ve met with lots of confused and unhappy clients from Lansing, Charlotte, Shiawassee and Dewitt who’ve all experienced this.

How does trauma bonding happen?

In the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist showers you with love. Your life is like a fairy tale, and all your romantic dreams seem to be coming true. This phase is called “love bombing”. But very slowly, the love is taken away and replaced with accusations, frustrations, gas lighting and fights. And they’re all your fault. Incrementally you’re led to believe that everything wrong with this relationship is your doing. 

If only you would fix your issues, or change the way you behave, everything could be perfect again. Usually this phase happens so slowly it’s hard, looking back, to see exactly where the love stopped and the abuse started. In the end, you’re left begging for crumbs of affection from someone who claims they love you more than life itself. But you’re certain that you’re entirely to blame. And that’s only the beginning of the abuse…

Divorcing a narcissist is a very difficult process.

Chances are, you’re going to need help to get out. A therapist who will help you see the truth about your situation, and help you develop the emotional strength to stand up to your abuser. A network of friends and loved ones who can provide the emotional support, and sometimes the physical distance needed to separate yourself from your narcissistic spouse. And a divorce attorney who understands exactly what you’re dealing with, and knows how to handle it.

Join us next time to discuss the tools a narcissistic spouse uses to achieve trauma bonding. But until then, if you suspect that your spouse is a narcissist and you’re ready to pull the plug on this unhealthy and abusive relationship, call The Kronzek Firm at )517) 886-1000. Our experienced and compassionate family law attorneys have helped countless people in the Lansing, Grand Ledge and Okemos areas end marriages to narcissists and move on to healthier futures. We understand, we get it, and we can help you too.