Have you ever wondered if a trauma-bonded relationship can become healthy?

If so, you’re part of a big group. One of the most popular discussions in our community started when someone asked, “Can a trauma bond become healthy?”

It’s a great question, so I searched for answers, and here’s what I came up with.

As a general rule, a trauma-bonded relationship can never turn into a healthy relationship because abusers are incapable of:

  • Recognizing the unhealthy dynamics at play.
  • Letting go of their need for power and control.
  • Giving the person they’re abusing the space they need to heal.
  • Consistently holding themselves accountable.
  • Making the changes necessary to rebuild trust.
  • Creating an emotionally safe environment.

In this article, I will explain these reasons to help you understand why a trauma bond cannot become healthy.

If you have or currently are experiencing narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse for help.

1) It Requires Mutual Recognition and Change

For a trauma bond to turn into a healthy relationship, both people involved would need to recognize the unhealthy dynamics at play and be willing to make significant changes. 

This means the abuser would need to acknowledge their abusive behavior, understand the harm they’ve caused, and commit to a process of genuine change, which often includes seeking professional help and making a long-term effort to alter deeply ingrained patterns of behavior.1

However, this scenario is highly unlikely because abusers often lack the self-awareness or desire to recognize their actions as harmful. 

Their need to control or manipulate often stems from deep-seated issues that are resistant to change. 

Expecting an abuser to make the necessary transformations not only places an unrealistic hope on the abuser’s capacity for change but also overlooks the fundamental power imbalance that defines a trauma bond. 

Therefore, while the idea of mutual recognition and change sounds like a path to a healthy relationship, the reality of achieving this within the dynamics of a trauma bond is extremely rare.

2) Healing Would Require an Equal Partnership

As I hinted at in the previous section, transforming a trauma bond into a healthy relationship would also require changing the dynamic from one of power and control to one of equal partnership. 

In a healthy relationship, both partners view and treat each other as equals, with mutual respect, communication, and consideration for each other’s needs and boundaries.2 

A healthy relationship between a man and a woman.

For a trauma bond to evolve into this kind of healthy dynamic, the abuser would have to completely relinquish their control and engage in open, honest communication, valuing the other person’s autonomy and well-being as much as their own. 

However, the very nature of abuse and trauma bonding is predicated on an imbalance of power, where one person’s needs and well-being are consistently prioritized over the other’s.3 

Achieving a true partnership requires a level of empathy, respect, and willingness to change that is often fundamentally at odds with the abuser’s behavior and personality. 

Given these inherent contradictions, transforming a trauma bond into a healthy, equal partnership is not just unlikely; it misunderstands the foundational elements that constitute an abusive relationship versus a healthy one.

3) Healing from Trauma Requires Independence

For a trauma bond to transform into something healthy, the person who has been victimized would need to heal from their trauma, a process that often necessitates independence from the source of their pain. 

Healing from trauma typically involves introspection, therapy, and building a support system outside of the abusive relationship. 

It requires creating a safe space where the individual can explore their feelings, understand the impact of the abuse, and rebuild their sense of self-worth and autonomy. 

However, the nature of a trauma bond keeps the victim tied to their abuser, making it incredibly difficult to achieve the necessary distance for healing. 

Expecting to heal within the confines of the relationship that caused the trauma is like trying to recover from a sunburn while continuing to sit in direct sunlight. 

The abuser’s continued presence and influence can retraumatize the victim, hindering recovery and reinforcing the cycle of abuse. 

Thus, the path to a healthy relationship is obstructed by the very essence of the trauma bond, which prevents the establishment of the independence needed for genuine healing.

Suggested Reading: How to Heal from Narcissistic Abuse

If you need help with anything related to narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

4) Change Requires Accountability and Consistency

Turning a trauma bond into a healthy relationship would require the abuser to not only acknowledge their harmful actions but also to hold themselves accountable and make amends consistently. 

This means ongoing, sincere efforts to change behaviors underpinned by a genuine understanding of the harm caused. 

They would need to consistently demonstrate respect, patience, and support for their partner’s healing process without falling back into abusive patterns. 

However, the inconsistency typically displayed by abusers—where moments of kindness are interspersed with periods of abuse—makes this level of sustained change unlikely.4 

A narcissist hugging a victim and showing kindness inconsistently.

The cyclical nature of abuse relies on this inconsistency to maintain the trauma bond, as it keeps the victim hopeful for change that never fully materializes. 

True accountability and consistency in change are rare in abusers because these qualities directly contradict the control and manipulation tactics used to maintain the trauma bond. 

Therefore, the expectation that an abuser will not only initiate but maintain genuine change is unrealistic, standing as a significant barrier to transforming a trauma bond into a healthy relationship.

5) Rebuilding Trust Isn’t Probable

For a trauma bond to become healthy, rebuilding trust is fundamental. 

In healthy relationships, trust is the cornerstone that supports open communication, vulnerability, and mutual support. 

It’s built and maintained through consistent actions, honesty, and respect for each other’s boundaries and needs. 

However, in relationships marred by trauma bonds, trust has been repeatedly broken by cycles of abuse, manipulation, and betrayal.5 

Reestablishing this trust would require the abuser to consistently demonstrate trustworthy behavior over a significant period and show an unwavering commitment to change. 

Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of the abuser’s harmful actions—where promises of change are often followed by more abuse—renders this rebuilding of trust exceedingly unlikely. 

The abuser’s pattern of behavior undermines the possibility of establishing the stable, reliable foundation necessary for trust to flourish. 

Without trust, the transition from a trauma bond to a healthy relationship remains implausible, as the relationship lacks the essential element that fosters safety and connection.

6) Creating an Emotionally Safe Environment is Impossible

Transitioning a trauma bond into a healthy relationship requires the establishment of emotional safety.

This refers to a condition in which both partners feel secure to express themselves without fear of judgment, retaliation, or abuse. 

Emotional safety allows for genuine intimacy, growth, and the healthy expression of needs and boundaries. 

However, the environment of a trauma bond is characterized by fear, control, and unpredictability, directly opposing the essence of emotional safety.6 

The abuser’s actions—using emotions as weapons through manipulation, criticism, and gaslighting—severely compromise the potential for creating a space where emotional safety can exist. 

As such, without the foundational element of emotional safety, the prospect of a trauma bond evolving into a healthy, nurturing relationship remains out of reach, as the very conditions necessary for its transformation contradict the bond’s dynamics.

If you are ready to be more than a victim of narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.


Thank you so much for reading; I hope this article has provided value.

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

Have you experienced a trauma-bonded relationship? 

How has this impacted your view on healing and moving forward?

Or perhaps you’re looking for guidance on how to break free from such a bond.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Owen Kessler. (2024. January, 16). 10 Ways on How to Fix a Toxic Relationship. Marriage.com. https://www.marriage.com/advice/relationship/7-ways-to-heal-your-toxic-relationship/ ↩︎
  2. youth.gov. Characteristics of Healthy & Unhealthy Relationships. youth.gov. https://youth.gov/youth-topics/teen-dating-violence/characteristics ↩︎
  3. Cleveland Clinic. (2023. March, 28). Here’s What Trauma Bonding Really Is and How To Recognize the Signs. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/trauma-bonding ↩︎
  4. Erica Laub. (2022. August, 29). The 7 Stages of Trauma Bonding. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/stages-of-trauma-bonding/ ↩︎
  5. Ariane Resnick. (2024. February, 27). Understanding Trauma Bonding. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/trauma-bonding-5207136 ↩︎
  6. Lois Zoppi. (2023. April, 25). Trauma bonding explained. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/trauma-bonding ↩︎

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