Emotionally Unavailable People Are Emotionally Abusive: Breaking The Trauma Bond

Today we are going to talk about why an emotionally unavailable person who choses to date is really emotionally abusive.  That may be a hard pill to swallow for both sides of the issue, but before you shrug it off, hear me out.

When I had my break up with the person I was seeing who was emotionally unavailable I told him he was emotionally abusive.  I really didn’t think about it; it just fell out of my mouth.  But I meant it.  He would ignore me whenever I asked him if we could get together.  He wouldn’t answer me when I asked him a question.  He promised me things, but he never did any of them.  He took advantage of my niceness and nativity.

Healthy Place describes emotional abuse as “any act including the confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self worth”.  If you’ve really fallen in love with an emotionally unavailable person and haven’t felt worthless and humiliated afterwards, you did fall all the way.  Honestly, that’s not a bad thing!  You shouldn’t invest in a person until they have invested in you, which an emotionally unavailable person can’t do.  You can recover more quickly this way.  But, for those of us who did fall I can imagine, like me, you’ve spent time being embarrassed because he doesn’t show up for dates.  You feel humiliated when you can’t answer very simple questions about him to your friends.  You feel worthless when Valentine’s Day comes and you don’t get flowers or even a text that says Happy Valentine’s Day.

Some of the actions pointed out by Healthy Place that someone who was with an emotionally unavailable person may identify with are being ignored or excluded, being humiliated, the abuse being denied, threat of abandonment, lying, withholding information, telling an individual they are too much trouble, and intentionally misinterpreting traditional practices.  This might look more familiar in the following: your texts are ignored consistently for no good reason, cancelling your dates all the time and at the drop of a hat, denying his behavior was hurtful to you when it’s clear he has mistreated you, threatening to leave if you demand better treatment or answers, lying to you about why he can’t spend time with you, withholding information about himself to you that most people would have no problem sharing especially if they are dating, telling you you want too much when you just want to spend time together, and acting like they have misunderstood you when you ask a question or ask to spend time together.  Sound familiar?  I thought so.  This is emotional abuse.

In‘s article they discuss some of the side effects of being in an emotionally abusive relationship.  You probably won’t know you are in an emotionally abusive relationship to begin with.  He may apologize and temporarily change for you, but it will always go back to the way it was.  Eventually, your self-esteem is diminished and you will feel responsible for the situation.  We talked previously how you are set up to become their rescuer but you will fail in another of my blogs Tricky Triangulation Trails.  But one important factor we need to also consider here is a trauma bond.

A trauma bond is simply being attached to a toxic person to the point of being unable to leave.  Psychology Today tells us there are two things that allow us to facilitate this bond.  The first is cognitive dissonance, which we have kinda talked about just not by it’s technical name.  This is the behavior of the emotionally unavailable person not matching up with their words.  Emotionally unavailable people often start out seeming like great people, but then their actions and words begin not matching up.  Our brains can’t handle the mismatched information so it picks a side and rationalizes whatever doesn’t match up with the side it picked.  This is where you made excuses for the emotionally unavailable person.  The article also goes into depth about how many of the brain chemistry functions we talked about in Mismatched Brain Chemistry that are involved in love in normal people work differently in toxic relationships creating a more powerful response.  If you like really getting into brain chemistry this is an excellent read!  So in addition to what we’ve talked about, you also have to break through the trauma bond to heal from the emotional abuse of an emotionally unavailable person.  This means putting the attention back on you and rebuilding your self-esteem.

This is the end of the posts I have on why it is so hard to get over a break up with an emotionally unavailable partner.  To recap, we’ve talked about psychological conditioning and learning patterns, brain chemistry, triangulation, emotional abuse,  and their deception games.  My last post in this series will be Thursday when we talk about how someone becomes emotionally unavailable, what it looks like, and how to recognize it so you don’t get caught up in it.

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