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Signs of Emotional Pain: 8 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You Are Hurt

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With 8 billion of us all together on this planet, it’s pretty easy to be misunderstood. But the more we make a habit of listening to each other, the easier it will be to make strong connections and happy and healthy relationships.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Maintaining healthy relationships can be particularly difficult to navigate after a bad relationship experience.  These could be family, romantic or friendship based. The following are behaviors and habits of people who have been hurt in previous relationships that are often interpreted in a negative way.

signs of emotional pain

Signs of Emotional Pain

1. Untrusting

This lack of trust is not only directed towards others, but also their own selves. Past decisions have led to toxic relationships that may have carried on far too long. If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Because of this, they second-guess decisions at every turn.[1,2]

Past hurts give way to doubts. A person with trust issues may constantly grill you on where you were or become paranoid if their texts or phone calls go unanswered.[1]

You need to earn their trust. Yes, it’s not fair, you haven’t done anything wrong. By the same token don’t provide any fuel for their distrust. Be honest and genuine. They will flee at the first sign of trouble because, honestly, they are expecting it.[3]

2. Clingy

Clingyness stems from lack of trust. If they don’t want to give you any time to yourself, it’s because they are afraid of a repeat of their past, perhaps of disloyalty or infidelity in their absence.

When dealing with someone who is clingy, try not to get frustrated with them. However, it is important to set boundaries. Encourage them to establish other supportive relationships and have their own interests or activities. [4,5]

3. Guarded

Conversely, instead of becoming clingy, someone who is so afraid of being hurt again may build an emotional wall around themselves to avoid getting too close to anyone. They can’t open up easily because that feeling of vulnerability is terrifying. Being vulnerable exposes faults and the past dictated that those can be used against you. A  fear of commitment or reluctance to cross normal relationship milestones such as saying ‘I love you’ are also byproducts of past hurt.[5]

Be patient with someone who is cautious to open up. Lead by example, speak openly in a way that promotes trust and respect. Once they realize that they are in a safe space, they will slowly open up. Each small part they share with you is a huge victory for them.[6]

4. Overachieving / People Pleasing

Those who have been victims of toxic relationships are used to having high expectations placed on them. However, no matter how hard they strive for perfection they are never good enough. They never receive the recognition. One woman stated:

“I overwork myself to perfection. I make sure I’m ‘perfect’ through other peoples’ eyes because I can’t take criticism. I try my best to please everyone because I don’t like others being mad at me or knowing my flaws. I don’t like people seeing the ugly side of me. So I hide behind my perfection. I was always pressured to be the ‘top student,’ ‘the role model,’ the person ‘going places.’” — Lauren P. [7]

5. Constantly Apologizing


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Anyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist (parent, friend, partner) soon realizes that a narcissist never accepts blames even when they are directly responsible. So the partner assumes all culpability in that relationship. They start to believe, in fact, that everything is their fault. This apologetic behavior carries on to future relationships.

The person has major self-esteem issues stemming from these past hurts. Make sure to take responsibility for your actions. They will probably be pleasantly shocked the first time you say you’re sorry.

6. Defensive

Individuals with baggage from previous relationships have difficulty accepting criticism perhaps due to an overly critical parent or other relationship.  They are easily triggered or annoyed and this may be puzzling to others. [2]

Remember that they are in a vulnerable state.  They will not take jokes directed at them or being poked fun at lightly.

7. Cries Easily

Things that others may view as insignificant may reduce someone who is hurting to tears. Try to be more sensitive to their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to let the pain out. Crying is healthy a part of grieving.

8. Shuts Down

A person who has experienced trauma, PTSD, or even being raised in a family where repressing emotions is taught can result in numbness or a complete shutting down of emotional expression. Sometimes the emotions being experiencing are so intense that it’s too much to deal with and so they don’t.[6]

He/she will need your support. They may even need to seek professional help to learn to safely express their feelings and emotions.

If you are trying to navigate a healthy relationship after experiencing hurt from a previous one check out this article Toxic vs Healthy Relationships.

If someone you care about is exhibiting these 8 behaviors as a result of past hurt, please be kind. They will need your loving support to heal.

1. Corley, K. et al (2017). Why A Normal Relationship Is So Hard After a Toxic One. Retrieved from https://thoughtcatalog.com/kirsten-corley/2017/06/why-a-normal-relationship-is-so-hard-after-a-toxic-one/ accessed August 28, 2018.

2. Wright, M. et al. 12 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You Are Emotionally Hurt. Retrieved from https://thepowerofsilence.co/12-things-people-dont-realize-youre-doing-because-you-are-emotionally-hurt/ accessed August 28, 2018.

3. 7 Things You Need To Understand About Dating Someone Who’s Broken. (2016). Retrieved from  https://www.elitedaily.com/dating/dating-someone-who-is-broken/1371781 accessed August 28, 2018.

4. You Adore Your Friend but She’s Too Clingy! Here’s How to Deal. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.liveabout.com/how-to-handle-a-clingy-friend-1384847 accessed August 28, 2018.

5. 8 Things You Need to Know About Men With Trust Issues. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a59910/signs-he-has-trust-issues/ accessed August 28, 2018.

6. Bloom, L., LCSW, & Bloom, C., MSW., et al (2017). Don’t Give Up When He (Or She) Won’t Open Up. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-bloom-lcsw-and-charlie-bloom-msw/when-he-or-she-wont-open-up_b_8918128.html accessed August 28, 2018.

7. Virzi, J., et al (2018). 25 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because of Childhood Trauma. Retrieved from https://themighty.com/2018/07/things-people-do-because-of-childhood-trauma-habits/ accessed August 28, 2018

8. Luna, A.,et al. 13 Signs You’re Struggling With Emotional Numbness (the Secret Illness) ⋆ LonerWolf. Retrieved from https://lonerwolf.com/emotional-numbness/ accessed August 28, 2018


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