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Trauma Bonding

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WalkinOnEggshelz ( Administrator #29447) posted at 8:42 PM on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

I feel that it is much too simplistic to say "BS heals BS, WS heals WS, and together they heal the marriage." I understand the meaning of it and I don’t disagree with it, but unfortunately I believe that narrowing it down that way can be a disservice to the bigger picture.

Thumos, the Life Boat has always been a great analogy. It demonstrates the multitasking that needs to be done in order to get through the trauma of infidelity. I’m glad that I had it to reference as a new WS when I got here. Sadly, it was written by a WS that went back to her AP 10 years later. Fortunately, the message remains the same.

I believe that when it comes to healing from infidelity there is no linear path to healing. There were times that my husband had to lead me by the hand. There were others when I did some heavy lifting. Through the process we tended to prop each other up and push each other when necessary. Addressing my own dysfunction through therapy and talking to him provided a new level of intimacy which developed into raw remorse and vulnerability. That vulnerability then turned into me being able to help him heal and allowed me to understand his pain at a different level.

There were so many factors coming from different angles and resources. I was learning here on SI, I was in IC, he was in IC, we were in MC, and I also had Al-Anon and him AA.

If I’m honest, we helped heal each other. We also had to do a great deal of healing ourselves. We were committed to building a better marriage through it all.

I think we want black and white answers that don’t exist. Healing from infidelity has been the biggest swamp of gray I have ever waded through. It is exhausting and painful. I have held on tight to my husband throughout this journey grateful to still have him by my side and he has chosen to have me still, so we continue to work together. At some point one has to decide if they will heal with a partner that will stand by them, or will they eventually learn to heal alone.

You can put a fancy label on it, but how does that change your dynamic?

Me: WS late 40’s
Him: BH (HoldingTogether)
D Day: 7/24/2010
If you keep asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually start to doubt your benefit.

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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 11:31 PM on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

** Posting as a member **

I believe this accounts for the various phenomena we observe here: the intense hysterical bonding; the cycle of grief, dissociation, anger, depression, and POLF; the inability of a faithful partner to end the marriage right away in most cases.

This sentence as written applies to all BSes who don’t dump their WSes. Is that what you mean, Thumos?

Many writers on the grief and trauma recovery processes generally agree on the stages of those processes. The ‘cycle of grief, dissociation, anger and POLF’ cycle is observable without TB, so TB doesn’t explain it as a general rule.

Bonding with the person who caused the trauma certainly is noted as part of the healing process for people who consider or choose R, but I know of no data that shows TB is a major factor for those people. Many BSes in R post about how weird it is to be connecting with the person who did a whole lot to sever the connection, but they don’t report doing so because the WS tried to sever the connection. I know there were unhealthy aspects to my choice to R, but I’d say that at least 70% of my choice was healthy. Maybe I'm lying to myself and to you. My bet, though, is that I'm telling the truth. I'm at least living my choice without recommending to others that they do something else.

TB is likely to be part of HB, but it’s likely only part of the phenomenon. Sex itself can build healthy bonds and give pleasure in ways that support recovery. (Sex builds unhealthy bonds, too, but the partners are in charge of that….)

Some people do appear to be unable to leave their WSes, but no one can see inside other people’s minds well enough to determine ability or inability, especially if ‘inability’ is an observation of Internet forums. I can think of one member who was told for 2 years that D was his best option; he refused to D … for a couple of more years. It was his life. He got choose his timing. Two years out he was unwilling to D; I don't know if he was unable to D. He certainly was able to D 2 years later.

I don’t think I’d have delayed definitive action if I were in your sitch, Thumos. But you know your sitch much more fully than I can possibly know it, so I defer to your judgement. Hell, my W knows her sitch better than I can know it. I’ll add: if one doesn’t defer judgment of other people’s sitches to them, one is making mistakes, and one is likely to be giving less than optimal advice.

Each of us is entitled to decide how long to wait for an outcome.

*****

It also makes the blithe "you heal you" advice given to betrayed spouses look like cruel and unnecessary mockery….

Who else can heal a person except for the person themself?

It is really important not to conflate r(ecovery) with R(econciliation). In R, both partners are obligated to support each other, and they take on that obligation willingly.

If you’re not in R, you are not obligated to support the other, and your partner is not obligated to support you.

A BS who isn't in R is unwise to rely on the WS for anything the BS can do for themself. If you are relying on your WS for support without getting a commitment from your WS beforehand, you're making a mistake. Sometimes you're making a mistake even with a commitment.

In the Peanuts cartoon strip, Lucy repeatedly promised Charley Brown she'd hold the football for a place kick, and she always (as far as I know) screwed him. Lucy kept failing as a human being, but Charley could have lessened the pain by not buying into the game. Sure, it's unfair that Lucy kept hurting Charley, and it’s unfair that Charley had to protect himself from a community member - but Charley would have been the prime beneficiary of not playing Lucy's game (unless he was getting off on the pain, that is). If you're going to benefit, what would keep you from doing the necessary work?

Healing requires internal change. I’m the only one with access to my internals. You’re the only one with access to your internals, Egal Bernal is the only one with access to his internals, and so forth, for every single individual on earth. People with no acces to your internals can help you access your strengths, but they can't heal you.

You’re right: the statement appears to be cruel and unnecessary mockery. It’s not. It’s an honest, if perhaps over-simplified, statement of the work that needs to be done and who can do it.

*****

In other words perhaps the first piece of advice here on SI should be for a betrayed spouse to immediately get to a place of safety away from the abuse of infidelity.

I’m not sure what you mean by that, but do you really mean to argue that separation is appropriate in every case?

If not, what do you mean? If so, I’ll go back to: if one doesn’t defer judgment of other people’s sitches to them, one is making mistakes, and one is likely to be giving less than optimal advice.

I wanted as little disruption to my life as possible when my W revealed her A. The less change I had to deal with, I thought, the more energy I’d have to heal and to decide what to make of my life after being betrayed. My life, my decisions. I am as certain as I can be that separation would have slowed my healing down. Separation doesn't work for everyone.

There is no single specific step that works for everyone.

**************

Note that I've always seen betrayal as a good reason for ending a relationship, but I've always seen R as another reasonable outcome if the partners so choose, and I’ve always thought gathering data may be a good option when a decision is not time-constrained.

IMO, decisiveness is over-rated. I've seen too damned many decisions that would have been much better if the decider had gathered a bit more data.

Besides, after d-day, BSes generally go back and forth between decisions several times every instant, so how can the BS whose mind keeps shifting know the best decision right away?

Who has a right to force the BS who has genuine questions about each option to choose immediately?

Who thinks it would help a person with genuine questions to decide before the questions are answered?

Who thinks it honors a fellow human being to force that human being to decide when they want to wait?

Who says the BS must end the relationship with a WS when the cheating has been discovered?

What right does that authority have to enforce compliance?

[This message edited by sisoon at 11:31 PM, Wednesday, September 1st]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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AnOminousMan ( member #79091) posted at 11:50 PM on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Note that I've always seen betrayal as a good reason for ending a relationship, but I've always seen R as another reasonable outcome if the partners so choose, and I’ve always thought gathering data may be a good option when a decision is not time-constrained.

IMO, decisiveness is over-rated. I've seen too damned many decisions that would have been much better if the decider had gathered a bit more data.

Besides, after d-day, BSes generally go back and forth between decisions several times every instant, so how can the BS whose mind keeps shifting know the best decision right away?

Who has a right to force the BS who has genuine questions about each option to choose immediately?

Who thinks it would help a person with genuine questions to decide before the questions are answered?

Who thinks it honors a fellow human being to force that human being to decide when they want to wait?

Who says the BS must end the relationship with a WS when the cheating has been discovered?

What right does that authority have to enforce compliance?

Who proposed the above ideas?

And you're right. New BS generally go back and forth after d-day. Almost like they have experienced extreme trauma and their world, their very identity, has been shattered. Just maybe, since almost all cheaters trickle truth, beg for another chance, apply emotional manipulation, DARVO, etc., being continuously abused after d-day makes things even worse for the BS. Almost like they need to separate themselves from the abuse in order to gain clarity. Thumos may have touched on this...

As for decisiveness, no one said a person should make snap decisions without due consideration. But they shouldn't twist in the wind because they can't bring themselves to pick between two horrible choices. They end up in limbo, rug-sweeping, which I'm sure you would agree is not what they should do.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
My story doesn't really matter. I had it way easier than most.
The only thing that matters is can you stare into the mirror and like what you see.

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 10:00 PM on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Sadly, it was written by a WS that went back to her AP 10 years later.

Wow.

Wow.

This I did not know. Puts a whole new spin on things.

How many WS's show up here all full of healing bluster turn out to just be doing virtue signaling and performative acts to get more attention?

I wonder. Seems like a whole new level of narcissistic gaslighting. Gaslighting all of us.

You can put a fancy label on it, but how does that change your dynamic?

True enough. I think the literature around trauma bonds and infidelity resonated for me because it presents an awareness of a dynamic and a cautionary tale for betrayed spouses to be careful and pay close attention to their own situation. If they are in a trauma bond with their betrayer, it may be best to detach. And I wonder if this is the case with me .

[This message edited by Thumos at 10:03 PM, Thursday, September 2nd]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 10:08 PM on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

I’m not sure what you mean by that, but do you really mean to argue that separation is appropriate in every case?

Yes.

I mean that I think I'm beginning to believe that it may be best to approach every infidelity situation with a therapeutic separation as one of the first things that may need to happen for healing to take place. It's what would be recommended to almost every other victim of abuse, and I think it's widely held here on SI and elsewhere now that adultery is almost always a form of toxic abuse.

Note, I said therapeutic separation, which has some distinctives. I think a 30-day therapeutic separation may be warranted in most cases. If the WW/WH uses that time as an opportunity for advancing their relationship with AP, that's a good indication any R attempt is completely unnecessary.

There is no single specific step that works for everyone.

I'd argue this is untrue on its face. For example, a firm no contact with AP after D-Day is a single specific step that is universally held. If NC is broken then we can safely say that most BS's would not be well-served by continuing to look the other way. An STD test for both the faithful and unfaithful partner. A written timeline. A VAR for betrayed husbands as insurance against false domestic charges. Complete transparency from the WS. Telling the OBS. Only very rarely are these things not recommended. Otherwise they are SOP. It feels like we're going around in circles to revisit these things over and over or re-litigate them.

[This message edited by Thumos at 10:16 PM, Thursday, September 2nd]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 10:14 PM on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Who has a right to force the BS who has genuine questions about each option to choose immediately?

Who thinks it would help a person with genuine questions to decide before the questions are answered?

Who thinks it honors a fellow human being to force that human being to decide when they want to wait?

Who says the BS must end the relationship with a WS when the cheating has been discovered?

What right does that authority have to enforce compliance?

This is a litany of straw men. I don't see that anyone proposed any of the above in this thread.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 10:29 PM on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

I think a 30-day therapeutic separation may be warranted in most cases. If the WW/WH uses that time as an opportunity for advancing their relationship with AP, that's a good indication any R attempt is completely unnecessary.

I should have done this. It would have saved me years of hell and False R. My xWS continued with MOW every chance he got. That should have been a clear indicator that the M was over.

fBS/fWS(me):48 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:51 Serial Cheater, NPD tendencies
Together 25 years, Married 19
DD(18) DS(15)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 10:37 PM on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Here's a pretty good checklist on trauma bonds provided by Foundation for Post-Traumatic Healing and Complex Trauma Research. Sounds a lot like most infidelity situations to me:

-You want to leave someone, but you simply cannot bring yourself to cut them out of your life.

"This is one of the biggest warning signs that you are in a trauma bond. You may find yourself deciding to leave your abuser, but then feeling a drawback to them that is so powerful that you lose your resolve. You may not even enjoy their company any longer, but when you are away from them, you feel a sense of primal panic. This feeling is so strong that you cannot focus on anything else other than reconnecting with the toxic person."

-You’re in a relationship that you would never want any of your loved ones to be in.

"If you’re in a relationship that you would never want to see your sibling, child, friend, or other loved one in, that is a red flag that you are in an abusive relationship and are likely trauma bonded to your abuser.

-The person has some characteristics that remind you of a toxic parent or another caregiver.

"Most people in abusive relationships are in a relationship that mirrors some sort of toxic pattern they had with a parent or other caregiver. If we suffer from attachment trauma as children, we will generally date people who trigger the same attachment trauma in us as adults, because we are trying to heal our past wounds."

-You find yourself trying to get back to the past.

"Most abusive relationships start with the abuser love-bombing their victim. The abuser will figure out the victim’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and then make him or her feel safe, beautiful, seen, or whatever other feeling the victim is craving ... The victim becomes consumed with getting back the "wonderful" person they met by any means necessary. If you find yourself jumping through hoops to try to get back to the way things were at the beginning of your relationship, you may be in a trauma bond."

You’re justifying behavior that you know is wrong.

"If you find yourself justifying behavior that you know for a fact is wrong or abusive, you are likely in a trauma bond. For example, your partner may rage at you and call you names, but you explain it away to yourself by thinking: He/she just had a bad childhood. That’s why they can’t help raging at me. In extreme cases, this sort of justifying can lead people to stay in physically abusive relationships that endanger their lives. If you find yourself justifying unacceptable behavior because of your strong feelings for a person, this is a huge warning sign that you are in a toxic relationship and are likely trauma-bonded."

----

How does one get out of a trauma bond?

The Foundation recommends getting yourself away from the abuser (betrayer) and de-toxing.

"At first, going no-contact can feel incredibly difficult, as your body is dealing with the drop of hormones associated with that person. But after a few months of no-contact, you will likely find yourself starting to feel more stable and calm. If you cannot go completely no-contact because of children, shared property, etc, you can go minimal contact."

In other words, a therapeutic separation.

----

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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AnOminousMan ( member #79091) posted at 10:42 PM on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Sounds a lot like most infidelity situations to me:

Sounds exactly like it to me.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
My story doesn't really matter. I had it way easier than most.
The only thing that matters is can you stare into the mirror and like what you see.

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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 7:08 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

** Posting as a member, with 2 x 4 warning - **

I’m not writing to convince you, Thumos. I’m concerned that other readers may make bad decisions for themselves based on your arguments.

This is a litany of straw men. I don't see that anyone proposed any of the above in this thread.

Not straw men - Thumos proposes that every BS separate, and it's simply not the best action for all of us.

In actuality, we can't do controlled tests, so we can’t scientifically test that proposal. But the only time in my M that I've been on a slippery slope was when I was separated from my W due to job training. In a sense, the separation was 'therapeutic' for our lives together, because I was training for my ideal job - but I was unprepared for the specific stresses of being apart from my W.

And again, a separation would have been a bad idea for us on and after d-day. My bet is that I’m not by any means alone in that.

Further, Thumos telling us all to do something he has not done himself. That simply doesn’t sit well with me, and he hasn’t provided warning for that in this thread or in his tag line.


-You want to leave someone, but you simply cannot bring yourself to cut them out of your life.
-You’re in a relationship that you would never want any of your loved ones to be in.
-The person has some characteristics that remind you of a toxic parent or another caregiver.
-You find yourself trying to get back to the past.

Sure, I had those thoughts at numerous points after d-day.

The list ignores 2 very significant facts. First, for many BSes, those thoughts cycle through the BS's mind very quickly along with positive thoughts about the relationship, at least for people who consider R. Which thoughts really encapsulate the relationship? Which just come from the pain of being betrayed?

Second, I suspect those thoughts run through the heads of anyone in a relationship that is under stress.

The list of trauma bonding thoughts may be necessary for trauma bonding, but they're not sufficient.

The problem in making a decision between D and R is figuring out where one's desires will end up. The problems with recommending separation in every case include 1) no one knows beforehand what the best decision is for someone else and 2) no one knows beforehand what the best way is to hasten finding the best decision.

*****

Thumos, You seem to conflate 'healing' with R when you write

As far as my take on the "you heal you" advice.... what it overlooks is that the WS must step up to the plate of a healer in this situation....

In fact, the WS is not obliged to step up. In fact, the WS probably won't step up, because so many seem to be in the damned A on d-day. In fact, many, perhaps most, BSes do not have the support of their WSes, especially at first.

Unfortunately, because of those facts, the only alternative to 'you heal you' is for BSes to stay stuck in pain. That's why I urge BSes to heal themselves irrespective of the level of support they get from their WSes. Even if the advice is given blithely, it's probably the best advice available.

You also say the concept of trauma bonding is revelatory to you.

Based on what you write, I wonder if you're in the process of discovering that you are still with your W because you are trauma-bonded. If so, I'm sorry for your pain, and I urge you to act on your insight. It's not best for everyone, but it may be best for you.

I apologize for getting so personal when you haven't asked for a personal response.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 8:49 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

There is no single specific step that works for everyone.

I'd argue this is untrue on its face. For example, a firm no contact with AP after D-Day is a single specific step that is universally held. If NC is broken then we can safely say that most BS's would not be well-served by continuing to look the other way. An STD test for both the faithful and unfaithful partner. A written timeline. A VAR for betrayed husbands as insurance against false domestic charges. Complete transparency from the WS. Telling the OBS. Only very rarely are these things not recommended. Otherwise they are SOP. It feels like we're going around in circles to revisit these things over and over or re-litigate them.

Is that what this post is about... establishing some sort of SOP???

While I can understand how some minds gravitate toward that sort of thing, the establishment of some kind of order, it's just never going to happen. People are too different. Circumstances are too different. As I've already said, I disagree that infidelity necessitates "trauma bonding". While there are some behaviors which we can say are clearly caused by the trauma of the situation, "trauma bonding" seems to be more defined by systematic forms of abuse and dependency, like the Stockholm Syndrome we see in prolonged kidnapping, or in situations where the victim can't get away or legitimately feels like they can't get away. There's a power imbalance at work, and that may include some cases of infidelity, but I seriously doubt it's going to affect the vast majority. Most of us are already "bonded" with out partner, and our efforts to preserve the relationship, including the additional bonding of HB are due to the psychological threat we feel about losing that relationship. IMHO, I think trauma bonding is likely to be very rare.

I just don't think there's a one-size-fits-all. Even for things like NC, I think sometimes we have to use judgment, say.. a cheater can't quit the job because the whole family depends on the income and it takes TIME to rectify that situation. As far as people immediately instigating a separation, not all families can afford that, and not all couples should consider it. When there is no further abuse in play, as in neither partner losing control or causing additional damage, there's no reason for couples who are interested in R to separate. The fact is that separation increases the likelihood of permanent separation and the longer that separation persists, the greater the chances that it will become permanent.

And what exactly is the point of taking offense at the notion that BS's have to do their own healing? Is that NOT factual? Certainly, BS's with unrepentant WS have to manage it, don't they? It's not essentially different for BS's who choose R. We don't reconcile with the undeserving, right? So, this whole discussion about what the WS ought to be doing is a moot point; R assumes that they're doing it.

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 8:51 PM, Saturday, September 4th]

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AnOminousMan ( member #79091) posted at 10:19 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

As far as people immediately instigating a separation, not all families can afford that, and not all couples should consider it. When there is no further abuse in play, as in neither partner losing control or causing additional damage, there's no reason for couples who are interested in R to separate. The fact is that separation increases the likelihood of permanent separation and the longer that separation persists, the greater the chances that it will become permanent.

Would you take that position if it involved physical abuse? I would be surprised. Why is a physical abuser's promise to change less believable than an emotional abuser's? Or is it ok so long as the harm can't be seen? After all, it's not like people have committed suicide over emotional abuse right?

As has been pointed out several times, the decision to either R or D is severely hampered if a person is still being abused, which, as I said, almost always happens post d-day.

In actuality, we can't do controlled tests, so we can’t scientifically test that proposal. But the only time in my M that I've been on a slippery slope was when I was separated from my W due to job training. In a sense, the separation was 'therapeutic' for our lives together, because I was training for my ideal job - but I was unprepared for the specific stresses of being apart from my W.

The question is, should people stay with their abusers when deciding their next course of action? The fact that you think that you were better off staying with your abuser doesn't mean we should be advising new BS to do it too.

I'm honestly stunned that the idea that the victim of an abuser leaving immediately to safety to get clarity is contentious here.

Further, Thumos telling us all to do something he has not done himself. That simply doesn’t sit well with me, and he hasn’t provided warning for that in this thread or in his tag line.

In my opinion, a guide taking someone to task for giving advice that they didn't follow (because no one can have regrets on the way they handled things apparently) is unbelievably inappropriate, whether posted "as a member" or not. Doubly so when we add in the strawmen arguments earlier. Tell me, if Thumos wants to advise new BS that they shouldn't wait three years to get a timeline, should he put up a disclaimer for that too?

Enough with the bad faith arguments and strawmen. If the almost universal experience of BS in the aftermath is blameshifting, DARVO, Trickle Truthing, etc.:

a) are the above behaviors emotional abuse? If not, why?

b) if they are, why should our advice be any different from any other type of abuse?

I seriously doubt it's going to affect the vast majority. Most of us are already "bonded" with out partner, and our efforts to preserve the relationship, including the additional bonding of HB are due to the psychological threat we feel about losing that relationship. IMHO, I think trauma bonding is likely to be very rare.

I had to re-read this a few times. After reading the definition of trauma-bonding that Thumos provided, I am flabbergasted you just dismissed it outright without any exploration at all. There is a ton of literature on trauma bonding in the context of a romantic relationship. If you don't believe me, google it and click on any of the links it brings up.

From the posts I've seen, the message I read between the lines is "if they initially separate a BS may not choose R." Why would a BS choosing not to R be a bad thing if, after reflecting apart from their partner, that was the conclusion they came too? It appears to me that some are so invested in getting others to R that they would actually tell someone to stick it out with an abuser while trying to make a decision, hoping that the abuse will eventually stop. If you want to talk about bad advice, that's it right there.

[This message edited by AnOminousMan at 10:46 PM, Saturday, September 4th]

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
My story doesn't really matter. I had it way easier than most.
The only thing that matters is can you stare into the mirror and like what you see.

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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 10:33 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

We don't reconcile with the undeserving, right?

I wish this was even remotely true. Deserving and undeserving are pretty flexible and vague concepts, often only reflecting the WS's behavior over the last month. BSs who are rugsweeping, uncertain, giving their WS too much credit, scared, weak, the "c" word, indecisive, getting their ducks in a row, feeling sorry for their WS, or hoping the third, fourth, or fifth d-day is the charm all consider themselves in R depending on the day. Hey, it's their life and their call. Why would I care? But I do find myself saying, "If that's what passes for R, I want nothing to do with it."

True R is rare indeed.

Staying married is quite common.

So this whole discussion about what the WS ought to be doing is a moot point; R assumes that they're doing it.

That's his point. They're not doing it, so he's wondering if part of the reason is that the trauma of infidelity creates a greater bond with the WS than the BS felt prior to d-day. I mean you need no further evidence of this truth than hysterical bonding. The only thing that explains the counterintuitive desire for hysterical bonding is the inconsistent/intermittent message of "I love you!" (because I'm married to you) but "I don't love you!" (because I cheated on you). That message messes with someone's head and produces a type of trauma bond immediately on some level. That would explain the overwhelming desire to 'reclaim your spouse' who hatefully just abused you worse than you thought possible. Why would one want to reclaim their abuser? Nothing else explains the phenomenon as well.

I think it's all very complex but trauma bonding certainly explains part of it. I can see why people may object to the concept because people want to believe in the quality of the love over the occasion of the abuse--a belief that every domestic abuse victim can also relate to.

I can see that the married couple had a bond and a dynamic, but the cheating turns that on its head. Now the WS has the power since they appear to be one foot out of the marriage and the love they are offering is a mixed, inconsistent message at best. It's the same as if your WS beats you badly for the first time after 15, 20, or 25 years. The desire to pursue them and fix things is strong, much stronger than the instinct of self-preservation. It is a new bond, a bond built in a new dynamic and trauma. That can't be good, can it? Probably deserves a time out.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 4:52 PM, September 4th (Saturday)]

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 10:35 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

I'm honestly stunned that the idea that the victim of an abuser leaving immediately to safety to get clarity is contentious here.

I have advocated for this position many times, but I have to admit that it is unrealistic and unfortunate. In all fairness, we do the best we can do, and our initial reaction is not to run away. It's to fix. Marriages are designed that way, but that feeling works against us imo.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 4:42 PM, September 4th (Saturday)]

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

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AnOminousMan ( member #79091) posted at 10:42 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

I have advocated for this position many times, but I have to admit that it is unrealistic and unfortunate. In all fairness, we do the best we can do, and our initial reaction is not to run away. It's to fix. Marriages are designed that way, but it works against us imo.

Practically speaking, that's true. But just because a lot of abused wives can't bring themselves to leave their abusive husbands for a variety of different reasons doesn't mean we should tell them they should stay and work it out. The advice stands on its own merits. Emotional abuse is no different.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
My story doesn't really matter. I had it way easier than most.
The only thing that matters is can you stare into the mirror and like what you see.

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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 10:45 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Absolutely. ^^^^

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

posts: 5284   ·   registered: Mar. 16th, 2016   ·   location: Midwest
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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 11:09 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

That's his point. They're not doing it, so he's wondering if part of the reason is that the trauma of infidelity creates a greater bond with the WS than the BS felt prior to d-day. I mean you need no further evidence of this truth than hysterical bonding. The only thing that explains the counterintuitive desire for hysterical bonding is the inconsistent/intermittent message of "I love you!" (because I'm married to you) but "I don't love you!" (because I cheated on you). That message messes with someone's head and produces a type of trauma bond immediately on some level. That would explain the overwhelming desire to 'reclaim your spouse' who hatefully just abused you worse than you thought possible. Why would one want to reclaim their abuser? Nothing else explains the phenomenon as well.


Sorry, OIN, but no.. I still disagree. Certainly my WS did do the work required for R, and no one is in any position greater than I to make that judgment. Maybe there are some people who need to believe that they've been "trauma-bonded" in order to explain their own paralysis, I dunno. But failure to make a choice is also a choice. And if a person chooses to R with a clearly unrepentant and undeserving WS, that's a CHOICE. No one is being compelled by some nebulous pop-psychiatry, at least not the vast majority anyway Certainly, in the shock of JFO, we might see some emotionally-charged choices, but months or even years afterward?... no, I don't agree. Certainly, "trauma-bonding" is a thing, but it's a lot more fucked up state of mind than what we're talking about here.

The suggestion here is that we're out of our minds for wanting R or for acting on our urges to repossess what we considered to be ours. I think people are generally more intelligent than that and more in control of their feelings, even after the trauma of infidelity. When the smoke of JFO has cleared, we can make our own judgments on whether our WS is worthy of R and we can act on that as we please. I'm certainly NOT going to push for some cookie-cutter version of healing which requires couples to separate, not when more often than not, the BS needs to SEE what the WS is actively doing to reconcile the marriage.

I'm NOT saying that infidelity isn't traumatic. It's much more traumatic than most people are capable of understanding. But does that trauma force us to do things we don't want to do? Does it rob us of our ability to THINK FOR OURSELVES?... no, I don't agree with that. The fact is that we are ALREADY emotionally bonded to our primary relationship and that bond doesn't cease to exist on DDay.

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AnOminousMan ( member #79091) posted at 11:48 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Sorry, OIN, but no.. I still disagree. Certainly my WS did do the work required for R, and no one is in any position greater than I to make that judgment. Maybe there are some people who need to believe that they've been "trauma-bonded" in order to explain their own paralysis, I dunno. But failure to make a choice is also a choice. And if a person chooses to R with a clearly unrepentant and undeserving WS, that's a CHOICE. No one is being compelled by some nebulous pop-psychiatry, at least not the vast majority anyway Certainly, in the shock of JFO, we might see some emotionally-charged choices, but months or even years afterward?... no, I don't agree. Certainly, "trauma-bonding" is a thing, but it's a lot more fucked up state of mind than what we're talking about here.

Your callousness to other BS's pain is noted. It appears you no longer remember what discovery was like. Maybe you were able to make clear, concise decisions at the time and have gotten over it now, but not everyone can be as strong as you. Some are still emotionally crippled after years. That doesn't make them weak.

The vast majority of BS who show up here are unbelievably lost and usually are still being abused by their WS in some form or another. We shouldn't tell them to allow themselves to continue to be abused.

I'm certainly NOT going to push for some cookie-cutter version of healing which requires couples to separate, not when more often than not, the BS needs to SEE what the WS is actively doing to reconcile the marriage.

Only if R is the ultimate goal, which for you it appears that it always is.

We are not supposed to be advocates for getting people into R. We are supposed to be helping people survive infidelity in whatever manner they need. That includes getting them to stop allowing themselves to be abused.

[This message edited by AnOminousMan at 11:56 PM, Saturday, September 4th]

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
My story doesn't really matter. I had it way easier than most.
The only thing that matters is can you stare into the mirror and like what you see.

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 11:51 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

The fact is that separation increases the likelihood of permanent separation and the longer that separation persists, the greater the chances that it will become permanent.

Permanently separated from a person who cheated on you? This is a bad thing, why? Time apart making you see things with more clarity and falling out of love with someone who abused you is something to be warned against?

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 11:57 PM on Saturday, September 4th, 2021

I'm NOT saying that infidelity isn't traumatic. It's much more traumatic than most people are capable of understanding. But does that trauma force us to do things we don't want to do? Does it rob us of our ability to THINK FOR OURSELVES?... no, I don't agree with that. The fact is that we are ALREADY emotionally bonded to our primary relationship and that bond doesn't cease to exist on DDay.

Yes. It does. I hope that I've represented myself honestly enough here that you can infer that I am not codependent by nature and do not stand for being abused. My sane and healthy self does not act the way I did in the months post DDay. At all. Any. I kicked the husband I loved more than I could explain out of the house within 2 weeks of discovering that he'd developed a drug habit. I made my peace with the marriage ending. He went to rehab and came back to a very unsure wife. I discovered that he had been cheating on me and what did I do? Did I throw him out? No. I lost the ability to eat food. I lost the ability to sleep. I lost all self-confidence and clung to this person as if he were a liferaft. That is sick. It is not a healthy bond and it is not at all anything related to anyone's attempt at R. That immediate mental sickness, that trauma bond, is NOT a person making choices with a sane mind. That is an abused fucked up person. I regained my sanity after a few months and did end the marriage, but there is no part of who I was in the immediate aftermath of DDay that I recognize as myself. I feel nothing but shame and horror thinking of it. That was not me "making decisions" with anything like a rational mind.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4635   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8687162
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