Exploring relationships with partners devoid of morals, empathy, honesty and a conscience

Lingering Pain After an Abusive Relationship [Part II]

 Lingering Pain After an Abusive Relationship

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“You’re the woman of my dreams!”


“You’re worthless!”

Often adding to the pain is the trauma bond that is created during the course of the relationship. The behavior of an individual with strong psychopathic traits tends to be inconsistent.

Sometimes there is kindness, gentleness, and perhaps even fun. Then other times they can seem like a completely different person, filled with cruelty, disdain, and hate.

Individuals with these conditions can fight (argue) with their partner as though she/he were his enemy and demonstrate no respect or regard for her feelings. In such instances, they reveal that their partner holds no true value to him.

Nothing is more reinforcing than intermittent kindness from the one in control … the abuser. Intermittent reinforcement is extremely strong (e.g., think of gambling and that most will continue to play although they are losing.)

In addition, individuals with these disorders rarely tolerate a non-dominant or cooperative position within the relationship. They often require significant and unreasonable control over their partners.

The power differential and intermittent reinforcement can often create a very strong bond to him (Dutton, 2008). This can easily foster dependency on him (“I need him in my life.” | “I miss him so much.” | “I can’t stop thinking about him.”). But let’s be clear this is not necessarily a codependent relationship. 

The behavior of the individual with psychopathy (or narcissistic personality disorder) created an environment of dependency. This is not the same as a person who has chronic problems with codependency within their intimate relationships. The phenomenon can happen even to individuals who never demonstrated these behaviors in the past.

(Note: We are not implying that individuals with codependency do not get into psychopathic or narcissistic relationships. Actually, individuals with psychopathy and narcissistic personality disorder are quite attracted to this group, because they are often willing to put others before themselves, even to their own peril. What we are describing here is a temporary state that many experience when they become entangled in the cycles of a dysfunctional relationship of this type.)

In sum, psychopathic and narcissistic relationships tend to have

  • Power differentials
  • Presence of trauma bonding
  • Intermittent reinforcement (e.g., kindness/fun mixed with callousness)
  • Betrayal
  • Elicited damaged self esteem.
  • Eroded the non-disordered partner’s self worth.
  • Lack of accountability (from the disordered partner).
  • Craving the disordered partner.

There are more components present to these relationships that separate them from normal partners (e.g., some are physically violent). Therefore, these relationships will take longer to move past because each of the above variables take a tremendous toll on the emotional system. This means it takes a tremendous toll on the brain. It will need time to recover and it does this best when their is calm and focus on self care.

When there is drama, seeking acknowledgement from the disordered partner in order to make it better, or remaining unnecessarily engaged in interactions with the disordered individuals, then the healing road will naturally be more difficult.

We wish you the best in directing your healing path.

© 2013 NeuroInstincts | All Rights Reserved | No Unauthorized Reproduction Permitted in any form

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