A reader has asked me some questions about emotions, breakups and new relationships. Here are the answers I gave her, with some added bits and small additions for clarity for you readers.
A lot of my answers apply to all kinds of relationships (with your romantic partners, friends, coworkers, etc.), apart from the ones parents have with their children (these have special rules, which don’t always fit with what I have written here).
The thing you need to be most careful of is the blaming of your hurt on others. To be more clear, by blame I mean believing that the healing of your hurt is the responsibly of another person.
Believing that the pain that you feel from your relationship can somehow be the your partner’s or ex-partner’s responsibility is a very damaging belief and keeps people making bad choices in their relationship for years.
People feel emotionally hurt because they have an opening inside themselves that feels painful when certain criteria are met or not met. The best thing to do is always to deal with emotional reason why you have the opening. Otherwise that opening will (and probably has) dictate your actions in your relationships for your whole life.
Here are some examples of relationship where people feel their ‘hurt’ is the other persons fault or responsibility with some advice about the responsibility of the ‘hurt’:
Your partner attacks you physically, verbally, emotionally or any combination of these.
Their attacks and the reasons they do so are their responsibility, and will be their problems to deal with.
However, the anger, sadness and fear you feel from that attack are yours to heal. The fact is if you don’t experience these emotions (what I call processing), and instead blame them on the other person, these painful emotions stay with you and will colour all other relationships from that point on. This probably has already happened, since the first relationships we ever have is with our parents and few people have truly owned the painful feelings they have about how their parents treated them.
No matter if you own your personal hurt or not, if your partner keeps attacking you and does nothing to take emotional responsibility for their attack (and stops attacking you) you have to really question why you are in the relationship, if you have not already left.
You feel hurt when your partner no longer gives you the feelings that you classify as love.
Before they used to make you feel so good and now they seem so critical.
Often we have certain expectations for a relationship that are really all about us avoiding perosnal hurt, especially the hurt we felt in previous relationships (yes I am talking about parents once again as well). In this case your hurt still is your own, and is not the responsibility of the other person and you need to fully experience these feelings to heal them.
The other person feels hurt and you try to take responsibility for it.
In some relationships people do this co-dependently meaning ‘I take responsibility for your hurt if you take responsibility for mine’. This is also a problem because it means you have falsely established that your hurt can be someone else’s problem or that someone else’s can be yours.
These relationships never last since the sheer energy it takes to be responsible for someone else’s hurt is too much and someone always runs out of energy. Then the relationship often turns into the second example.
You attack your partner physically, verbally, emotionally or any combination of these. You may not even think that you are doing it or think that they deserve it for some reason. They feel hurt and you say to them that the hurt is their issue without taking any responsibility for your attack.
Some people do this all the time in relationships and it can get pretty damn evil.
If the attacker does not want to be fully responsible and stop attacking then these kinds of relationships need to end for the sanity of the ones being attacked and to stop feeding the monster who is attacking.
In some relationships both people are just continuously attacking each other over and over, with no end in sight. These relationships can be super toxic
The most likely scenarios for people who feel ‘hurt’ but avoid truly experiencing these emotions as their own are:
- They stay in the relationship despite how much they are being attacked or are attacking.
- They break up get really angry at their ex-partner and treat them like shit or avoid them altogether even to the detriment of any children or friends.
- They bounce from new relationship to new relationship.
- They treat their new relationship as if it is the answer to an old relationship.
- The treat their new partner as if they have the potential to also ‘hurt’ them
- They stay single and turn down all new opportunities for a relationship.
2. How do we transition from resentment towards a past partner to healing and moving on?
Process (fully experience) your resentment and the emotions that drive it.
When you process this anger (and what drives it) DO NOT act on the feelings. Just allow the expression of them privately until they have left you.
If the feelings have not left you and you still feel angry (or other painful emotions about the ex-partner), then there is just some more emotion to go. When it has left you, you will feel able to care about your past partner without any need to be with them.
Fully experiencing can feel overwhelming and takes a lot of personal energy. I suggest that anyone who decided to do this, do it privately and look after your physical health (drink lots of water, get some sunshine, remember to connect with people you love, etc.).
Many people use willpower to skip this step and move on from their past relationships. It can be done but this takes a constant use of energy and ends up causing problems in new relationships.
This is because in a good relationship you are not guarded, which can’t happen if you are holding back pain from your previous relationship (yes, your first relationship with your parents counts here also).
3.How does a person change their clingy/needy behaviour? Is it about working through the emotion of unworthiness?
From my experience neediness can come from a variety of emotional reasons and these can be different for each person but there is always an anger in the needy person.
A needy person feels that the other people should give in to their needy demands so that the needy person can avoid the emotions they are trying to avoid, this is an angry feeling.
The way to find what is driving the needy demand is to fully experience the anger first, as mentioned in the last question. If you don’t really understand why you are needy or think you do but are not experiencing the underlying emotion it will be because the anger you have has yet to be experienced.
4. What does it look like to be self responsible versus self punishing
An emotionally self-responsible person never self-punishes (or punishes anyone else for that matter) and visa versa.
Judgement, self-judgement, guilt, self-attack (physical, emotional, verbal) are all things a self-responsible person does not do.
A self-responsible person desires to all know and experience all the emotional reasons of why they do things, fix any problems they come across and knows that attacking themselves is just another way to avoid doing all of this.
A self-responsible person is happy to make a mistakes, to realise they have problems, desires to fix their problems, and will be honest about how bad things are inside themselves because they understand that these are all just opportunities to be MORE self-responsible.
As you can see true self-responsibility is a very rare personal quality in the world today.
5. How does God feel about people starting a new relationship when they haven’t resolved the old one? In other words, is it unethical to be involved with someone when you’re still feeling pain about a past relationship
I suggest before you read my answer to this, first ask God your question and try to feel the answer. It’s always better to try engage your conscience and get the answer straight from God.
This is what I get from God:
God love you and understands your pain and where it comes from.
She understands your desire to avoid any and all pain you are currently avoiding. She knows that this just creates more pain.
She created the desire in people for relationships so that they can learn more about themselves, the universe and God herself.
She knows exactly the types of issues you will have if you decide to not feel past pain and always encourages you to feel through past pain, and her encouragement happens every minute of the day. She’s made her universe to do this
She will love you even if you start a new relationship even if you are in pain about the old one.
Answer about ethics and morals:
What you propose would only be unethical if you were not understanding and compassionate with your new partner if they also had issues with their past relationships.
And I would say that they probably do, since I haven’t met anyone who has no baggage from previous relationships (again, I am also talking about their relationships with their parents).
However what you are suggesting is immoral. Meaning that holding onto a painful emotion is a sin and only causes more pain in the long-term whether you were in a new relationship or not.
Adding to this, developing a strong relationship with God will be almost impossible if you hold onto painful emotion. These emotion will cause you to reject and/or limit the full expression of God’s personal Love for you, even if you asked for it.
Still…God loves us even when we make immoral choices that cause ourselves pain.
Those are all my answers, hopefully they were helpful.