In a post written more than two years ago, Dr. Liane Leedom recommended The Betrayal Bond—Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships to Lovefraud readers. In fact, quite a few of you have been discussing the book in your comments. I finally finished the book, and I strongly agree: The Betrayal Bond, by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., is must reading for anyone who is having difficulty leaving, or recovering from, a relationship with a sociopath.
A betrayal bond, Dr. Carnes explains, is a highly addictive attachment to people who have hurt you. He lists 14 signs that a betrayal bond may be present in your life. Some of them are issues that I’ve frequently seen expressed on Lovefraud:
- When everyone around you has strong negative reactions, yet you continue covering up, defending or explaining a relationship.
- When there is a constant pattern of nonperformance and yet you continue to believe false promises.
- When you obsess over showing someone that he or she is wrong about you, your relationship or the person’s treatment of you.
- When you move closer to someone you know is destructive to you with the desire of converting them to a non-abuser.
- When you find yourself missing a relationship, even to the point of nostalgia and longing, that was so awful it almost destroyed you.
In boldface type—the only time that I saw Dr. Carnes use boldface in the entire book—he wrote, “You will never mend the wound without dealing with the betrayal bond.” He elaborates:
Like gravity, you may defy it for a while, but ultimately it will pull you back. You cannot walk away from it. Time will not heal it. Burying yourself in compulsive and addictive behaviors will bring no relief, just more pain. Being crazy will not make it better. No amount of therapy, long-term or short-term, will help without confronting it.
Then, Dr. Carnes lays out a step-by-step plan for confronting the betrayal bond. He clearly explains how the bonds are formed, and the effects that they have. To help you unravel the damage, the book has a series of exercises, and Dr. Carnes recommends that you keep a journal while reading the book to record your responses to the exercises.
I was struck by a statement that seems to reflect what so many of us here at Lovefraud have found. Dr. Carnes wrote, “My experience with survivors of trauma is that every journey or recovery depends on the survivor coming to a point where all that person has gone through means something.”
This book can help you come to terms with your experience, so that it does mean something.