Why It's So Hard To Get Over An Ex Who Hurt You, According To Experts
Breakups are never easy. Even when you're ready to end things and move on, there is an inevitable post-split mourning period. But not all breakups are created equal. Some leave you with a minor sense of loss and the pain passes relatively quickly, so you're ready to get back out there soon after. Then there are the epic breakups — the ones that feel impossible to recover from. Sometimes it's because you truly loved the person you were with and believed that you would be together forever, but exes who hurt you are hard to get over, too. In fact, the latter may actually be even more difficult.
But why is getting over someone who hurt you so hard? It makes sense that breaking things off with someone you thought you would spend your life with would be hard to get over, but shouldn't you just be relieved to have someone so toxic out of your life? Sure, that sounds logical, but unfortunately the heart is rarely all that concerned with logic. It's complicated. To help clear some of that up and finally answer why breaking up with a toxic partner can be so especially brutal, Elite Daily reached out to the experts. Here is what they had to say.
1. Toxic Relationships Mess With Your Head And Your Intuition
Beyond simple heartbreak, a toxic relationship can do a lot of damage to your mental health and well-being, so getting over one means both mourning the relationship and healing the psychological damage. Relationship expert and matchmaker Alessandra Conti, of Matchmakers In The City says you may even begin to question your own intuition and blame yourself.
"I hear the phrase, 'How did I not see this coming?' incredibly commonly," Conti tells Elite Daily. "You wonder how you did not see the signs that you were being fooled or manipulated, and you begin to question your judgement."
Learning to trust yourself is part of the healing process, and (depending on how toxic the relationship was) will help determine how long it takes to get over them completely.
2. It Can Be Easy To Mistake Drama For Passion
A toxic relationship can sometimes mask itself in passion. I know from personal experience how the pattern of intense fighting followed by reuniting can feel exciting and dramatic, but, over time, it can take an emotional and psychological toll. I would be crushed when my parter would be angry, and I'd crave the "closeness" we would have when we made up. This rollercoaster of emotions can become addictive, even though the result was always just more heartache. Getting out of that pattern of longing for the highs can take time and make for a longer emotional recovery.
3. It's Hard To Let Go Of The Idea Of Them
When I think back over the many breakups I've weathered over my dating history, I usually think, "What the hell was I thinking? What did I even see in them?" The truth is, time has an excellent way of clearing your vision about people. What I came to realize was that what I was often mourning in those breakups wasn't the loss of the person, but rather my idealized version of them.
According to Michal Naisteter, matchmaker at Three Day Rule, this is common and can actually be even worse in toxic relationships. "Sometimes people over-romanticize someone they date," Naisteter tells Elite Daily. "When they hurt us, our image of them is broken."
In order to get over them, it’s essential to "try to separate who they really were from the person you built them up to be," Naisteter says, and that just takes time.
4. The Sting Of Betrayal Lingers
According to Conti, if your relationship ended with some kind of betrayal, that can add a whole new dimension to the healing process.
"Feeling betrayed by someone whom you thought had your best interests at heart is emotionally treacherous because you feel as though you were not only betrayed, but you were fooled and disrespected,“ she says.
No one wants to be made to feel a fool, and the shame of that can linger even longer than the usual heartache.
5. You're Already Extra Emotionally Raw
I once dated someone who was a master of the hot-and-cold treatment. They would be loving and warm and shower me with attention in one moment only to go cold and cut me off in the next, and then turn on me again and confuse my already bruised and battered heart. This happened over and over. Rather than make it easier for me to cut them loose, this cycle left my emotions raw, vulnerable, and less resilient.
6. You've Lost Some Of Yourself In The Relationship
In a toxic relationship, it can be easy to lose some of your identity in the process. Depending on how manipulative your partner was, that could have been by design. Naisteter explains that part of getting over a partner like that includes recognizing the void they left behind and healing it. She says it's "time to work on reclaiming who you are and your personal power."
This process won’t happen overnight, but once you have done it you'll actually come out on the other side of your breakup stronger and better off.
That's really the one upside to heartbreak. While you're in the middle of it, it can feel like it will never end and you will be broken forever, but, in reality, heartbreak is actually what makes us stronger and more resilient. If you can survive that, you can survive anything. And you'll know who to avoid in the future, because anyone who hurts you probably doesn't truly love you. You deserve better.
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