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Why does it seem so easy for some people to leave a relationship, get into another one, and act as if the one they were in didn’t mean anything?

If you’ve felt discarded and can’t stop thinking about what you did wrong, this episode is a good reminder of everything you were doing right. 

Someone wrote to me saying, “My boyfriend broke up with me and ultimately said I’m too emotional and therefore not compatible with him. He didn’t take responsibility for anything and made me feel like the demise of our relationship was all my fault. It’s been months, and I can’t get over him. I’m anxious.

“I can’t stop ruminating. I can’t stop thinking about what I should or shouldn’t have done in so many scenarios. And he’s already found somebody new. Does he even hurt over me? Does he ever think about me?

“I tried so hard. I love him so much. How could he just move on so easily? If you’ve been a victim of emotional abuse and get left, does the abuser miss you? Do they think about you? Do they care that you’re not in their life anymore? And how can they discard you and move on so easily?

“I don’t know how to cope with any of it. It’s unfair, and I can’t help thinking that maybe I deserve this, and I truly am too emotional. Isn’t the fact that I can’t move on after all this time some proof that I’m too emotional?”

Thank you for sharing that, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. I have to dispel some things that you said here. First of all, if you’re struggling, it’s because you’re sad. You have a right to be sad.

Experiencing a breakup can be profoundly painful, as it often feels like losing a part of yourself. This pain is not just about losing the person you were with but also losing the collective identity you shared.

In a relationship, you don’t just exist as separate individuals; there’s a third entity that comes into play: Us. This ‘us’ becomes an integral part of how you see yourself and your place in the world.

When a relationship ends, it’s not only the presence of your partner that you miss but also the disappearance of this ‘us.’ This can leave a significant void in your identity, making a part of you feel as if it has died.

This sense of loss can persist, making you feel empty and incomplete unless you actively engage in healing and rebuilding the lost parts of yourself. Without this effort, the feeling of emptiness can linger, prolonging the pain and making recovery more challenging.

Grieving after the end of a relationship is a crucial step in the healing process. It’s essential to allow yourself to feel the pain, as it’s a normal part of recovery. During this time, it’s equally important to engage in self-care and fulfilling activities that focus on your well-being. Instead of waiting for a phone call or obsessively checking social media to see what your ex is up to, it’s healthier to start doing things that nurture your growth and happiness.

However, healing from a breakup can take time, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. If you’re feeling stuck, often it’s because you’re grappling with a lack of closure. You might find yourself haunted by unanswered questions like, “What did I do wrong?” or “What could I have done differently?”

These questions can be particularly tormenting if you’ve been in an abusive or toxic relationship, where closure is even harder to come by. In such relationships, remember that a toxic or emotionally abusive person is often focused on meeting their own needs, disregarding the feelings of others.

This self-serving behavior can leave you questioning your worth and value. It’s vital to recognize that this is a reflection of their issues, not yours. You are worthy, lovable, and deserving of a healthy relationship.

Growing up without adequate support or reminders of your worth can make it challenging to build strong self-esteem. This vulnerability can be exploited by others who may make you feel insignificant. But it’s important to remember that everyone has intrinsic value. Recognizing your own worth is essential, especially if you’ve been in environments where it wasn’t affirmed.

It’s crucial to understand that you cannot depend on someone else to validate your worth, especially if they are incapable of doing so due to their own issues. Seeking validation from someone focused solely on their needs will only lead to disappointment.

Instead, invest in relationships where mutual respect and support are the foundation. You deserve to be in a loving, kind, and supportive partnership. Remember, recognizing your own worth is the first step toward healing and building healthier relationships.

This person’s behavior comes across as dismissive, invalidating, and insensitive to your feelings. However, this doesn’t mean you’re overly sensitive, an emotional wreck, or too emotional. We all experience strong emotions. I, for instance, find myself emotional every time a touching commercial plays, sometimes struggling to hold back tears.

Being emotional is a beautiful trait because it means you’re deeply connected to your heart. You’re in touch with that profound part of yourself that some people shield behind walls. They might dismiss or invalidate others, like the partner of the person who wrote to me, because they don’t connect with their hearts.

To them, someone who is perceived as “too emotional” might seem like a threat to their own safety and security. I’m not making excuses for their behavior, but it’s important to recognize that some people are simply incapable of engaging emotionally and vulnerably, which is essential for a deeper connection.

A person who truly cares about you and your happiness will not put you down or blame you for the problems in the relationship. They will want to see you smile, feel your emotions, and connect deeply with you and themselves. They will want you to feel loved and make sure you know they love you. These are the hallmarks of a healthy relationship.

When you’re with someone who doesn’t take accountability, blames you for everything, and dismisses your feelings, it’s crucial to recognize that they may not be capable of connecting on a deeper emotional level. It’s important to spot these signs early on.

Not everyone who struggles with emotional connection is emotionally abusive. Some people simply find it challenging and need to reflect and work on themselves to reach a deeper level of vulnerability and humility. Those who are willing to do the work, be vulnerable, and take responsibility for their actions are the ones capable of entering and maintaining a balanced and healthy relationship.

Recognizing the signs of a person’s ability to engage in a healthy relationship is key. Do they take responsibility? Do they apologize and genuinely regret hurting you? If these elements are missing from their behavior, it may not be safe for you to enter into a deeper, emotional connection with them.

For example, when I unintentionally hurt my partner, Asha, the first thing I think is to apologize and take responsibility for my actions. We have a strong relationship, but misunderstandings happen. When they do, we discuss them openly. We have what might be called “productive arguments,” where we listen to each other without interruption, ensuring both sides are heard. This kind of communication is vital.

However, if you find yourself in a relationship where discussions or even arguments are one-sided, where one person constantly deflects blame and refuses to listen, it’s a sign of an unhealthy balance. Vulnerability is crucial in a relationship, and both partners should be willing to engage in difficult conversations.

Asha and I have had our share of vulnerable moments where either of us might need to step back and process, but we always come back to apologize and discuss our feelings. This openness is essential for a healthy relationship.

If you’re with someone who avoids these conversations, labeling you as “too emotional” and refusing to engage, it’s not your fault. You are open and willing to address issues, but if they’re not, it places an unfair burden on you to manage not just your emotions but theirs as well.

In any relationship, it’s crucial to communicate openly and process issues together so those issues don’t accumulate and cause lasting damage. If your partner isn’t willing to engage in this essential work, it’s a sign that the relationship may face significant challenges.

You might wonder who’s truly too emotional. It’s often the person who shies away from vulnerability because they find it too overwhelming. They build a formidable wall around their heart as a defense mechanism, avoiding the deep dive into their unprocessed emotions, unresolved life events, and triggers. When challenges arise, their coping strategies may not be the most constructive, as they haven’t fully addressed their internal turmoil. Instead of confronting these feelings, they project them onto others.

This protective exterior serves to shield them from vulnerability and deep emotional engagement, unlike those who maintain a healthy connection to their emotions and hearts.

Being “too emotional” or “too sensitive” usually indicates your willingness to engage deeply and to risk your own heartache for the chance of a profound love and connection with another person. It’s this openness to emotional experiences that allows for truly deep and connected relationships.

Embrace your sensitivities; they are what make you human.

Whether it’s tearing up during a poignant movie scene or feeling moved by a simple commercial, these responses are normal and healthy. They reflect a sympathetic and empathetic connection to real-life situations and people, grounding you in the reality of human experience.

If you’ve ever been told you’re too emotional, remember, it’s often a reflection of the other person’s discomfort with their own emotions. They might use it as a shield to avoid acknowledging their own areas that need work. Such individuals may appear self-righteous, convinced they can do no wrong, yet they resist change, especially in how they treat others.

Unfortunately, this mindset can lead to the deterioration of relationships. I’ve experienced this firsthand, having lost relationships because of my insistence on being right.

In a healthy relationship, love means supporting each other’s happiness and personal growth. If someone only supports you when you conform to their expectations, that’s not support—it’s control. This can be toxic and even abusive. Your self-worth and identity should never be contingent upon someone else’s approval or love, especially not from someone who can’t offer you healthy affection.

Addressing a common question about why someone can move on so easily after a breakup, it’s often because the relationship was contingent upon one partner bending entirely to the other’s will.

This never truly works because even if you comply, it will never be enough; there will always be something else to criticize. This dynamic focuses on blaming you for any unhappiness, diverting attention from their own issues.

In any relationship, it’s crucial to maintain a focus on one’s own personal growth and boundaries, not just on changing for or pleasing the other person. This is a key lesson in healing and personal development.

In emotionally abusive situations, the abuser often demands change solely from the other person without taking responsibility themselves. This lack of accountability and the continuous focus on the other person as the problem leads to a destructive cycle, gradually eroding the victim’s sense of self.

This erosion can make you feel like a shell of your former self, a profound loss of identity that worsens over time. Recognizing and addressing these patterns before they get worse is vital for healing and moving toward healthier relationships.

Coming back to the question the person asked me of how someone could move on so effortlessly from a relationship, the answer might not be entirely satisfying or offer the closure they seek. The truth likely lies in the level of emotional investment of both people.

Since it appears this person’s partner did not invest as deeply in the relationship as they did – maintaining an emotional distance and shielding himself from the vulnerability that comes with deep connection – it was easier for him to leave.

To the person who sent me the message, you, on the other hand, might have poured your heart and soul into the relationship, striving to make him happy, which significantly deepened your emotional investment.

This disparity in emotional commitment would definitely leave you confused when the relationship ended. However, understand that his inability to connect at a deeper level has nothing to do with your worthiness or lovability.

There might have been moments when he showed signs of a deeper character and hints that he could engage more profoundly. But he chose not to explore these depths of himself, opting instead to maintain a safe distance. This distancing could show up as him being difficult, shifting blame onto you, and shirking responsibility. Tactics like this are often employed by emotionally abusive people to manage their stress by offloading it onto someone else.

I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I know it’s painful. Recognizing behaviors like this early on in the relationship is essential.

For him, if he hasn’t taken steps to heal and he’s already moved on to another relationship, it’s likely that his next partner will endure similar, if not worse, treatment.

Emotionally abusive people often feel justified in their actions, expecting others to meet their unreasonable standards, which inevitably leads to disappointment and hurt because, to them, no one can ever truly measure up.

I have an episode called, You will never ever be good enough for a manipulative and controlling person. In that episode, I explain just that: You will never, ever be good enough for someone who is emotionally abusive—not because of any shortcomings on your part, but because of their inability to genuinely connect at a meaningful level.

If you notice that someone is unable or unwilling to be vulnerable, to admit their mistakes, or to apologize, those are significant red flags. They are probably not as invested in the relationship as you are. And it’s important for you to recognize this so you don’t emotionally invest too deeply into something that might not be what you want in a relationship.

Understanding their level of commitment and emotional investment in the relationship can save you from self-blame when things don’t work out. At least, that’s the goal.

Remember, the ability to feel and reciprocate genuine love and connection will be evident when it’s present. You’ll feel it. There should be no confusion or doubt. True love and connection feel right and make sense.

So, never blame yourself for someone else’s inability to love and accept you as you are.

Share this with someone who might benefit.

Paul Colaianni

Host of Love and Abuse and The Overwhelmed Brain

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