Trauma can occur in many different forms. For children, the things that create trauma may not be the same as what creates trauma in adults, but there will be areas where there are significant similarities.

In my new book “Love Smacked: How to Stop the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to Find Everlasting Love”, the role of trauma in love addiction are explored and explained. I provide both research and anecdotal reporting on work with clients with relationship and marriage, addiction and how trauma creates a potential minefield of issues that all contribute to the development of love addiction.

Understanding the types of trauma experienced in the developmental years from birth through childhood is important in understanding why these issues need to be addressed through therapy and counseling as adults. Only in recognizing the patterns of destructive relationship as a result of trauma in childhood can an adult develop healthy, effective methods for creating positive relationships with themselves as well as with others.

Children Abandoned by Parents

Children can be separated from parents both physically or emotionally. In some cases, such as premature births or health issues with newborns, infants, and young children, the parents may have no choice but to leave the child in the care of medical professionals.

While this may be the only logical and appropriate choice, there is still the lack of bonding and connection between the parent, particularly the mother, and the child. New research into this area has dramatically changed the way these issues are handled, which does create less trauma and stress for the child.

However, parents can be physically present and emotionally absent. This also creates trauma for the child as he or she grows up feeling they are unworthy of love and attention or they are somehow inferior or damaged. As these children mature into teens and adults, they struggle to find that sense of praise and appreciation from someone else in any possible way.

The need to feel love and to feel important becomes an addiction. They are constantly seeking what they believe or have created in their mind as the perfect relationship. The mistake the first emotional and physical responses of attraction for deep, lasting love, and they immediately react if they have any sense of the relationship ending.

These individual fear being left emotionally as well as physically. To compensate, they do everything they can to remain in the relationship, even tolerating physical and emotional abuse. In their thoughts, anything is better than being alone and having those feelings of being inferior and unworthy reinforced yet another time.


It is easy to see how feelings of abandonment create low self-esteem. When adults have low self-esteem, they have problems with saying “no” or establishing boundaries. They require validation from the partner, even if it is the form of a negative and destructive relationship, to sustain their fragile sense of self.

In essence, the result of trauma is a sense of loss of self. Instead, those with a relationship and marriage addiction see the relationship as proof of their being, which is why being alone is such a frightening and devastating state of being.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Certified Transformation and Recovery Coach and the leading Psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Addiction. She is also the author of “Love Smacked: How to Stop the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to Find Everlasting Love”. Take her quiz to find out if you are a love addict or sign up for a 30-minute strategy session. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, CA as well as facilitating skype and phone appointments. For more information, visit