Romantic rejection is one of the most painful things you can experience emotionally.
Psychologist, Guy Winch, studied the impact of heartbreak and found the emotional pain we feel is the equivalent of experiencing physical pain!
When you’ve been deeply hurt in the past – by a parent or partner – it can severely impact your self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem.
So much so that it reaches the point where you’ll say certain things (awful things, really) out loud when dating someone new.
However, it’s important to separate when someone is saying something because they’ve been hurt before – and when they’re saying it to be manipulative.
Here’s how to spot the difference with these 8 phrases someone will say if they’ve been deeply hurt in the past.
1) “Please don’t leave me”
Being in a relationship is a vulnerable thing. Loving someone, showing them your full self, and sharing intimate moments with them requires you to be vulnerable.
Some people find it harder than others to be so intimate and open.
Most of the time, people who find it hard have been deeply hurt in the past.
It’s likely that they’ve put their entire heart on the line before – and have been gruesomely rejected or abandoned by the person they valued and trusted the most.
However, no matter how much you love someone, you’ll never be able to control how much they love you. You also can’t control whether they stay or go.
Someone asking you to never leave them isn’t fair. If the love disappears, or the relationship isn’t what someone wants anymore, there isn’t anything anyone can do.
And asking someone to promise such things will only lead to more heartache if it doesn’t work out long-term.
2) “I don’t trust you”
There are two reasons why someone may say this in relationships or situationships.
For one, you may have done something that has caused them to mistrust you. Like lying to them, twisting the truth, or neglecting to tell them important information.
This may not mean they’ve been hurt in the past and probably means that you’ve done something to hurt them instead.
The other reason someone will say they don’t trust you is if they have trust issues.
This will likely be the case if you haven’t actually done anything to make them question that what you’ve said is true. It’s just that their past experiences are making them lack trust in you.
Trust issues don’t just appear out of nowhere. A person could have been severely lied to by previous partners or even their parents at a young age.
Being lied to by someone you trust hurts. And someone saying they don’t trust you (when you’ve given them no reason to) has probably been burned pretty badly.
3) “Can I look through your phone?”
On the subject of trust issues, this is another phrase you’ll hear from someone who’s been deeply hurt in the past.
Most of the time, people who want to go down the phone of the person they’re dating have been lied to or cheated on in the past.
This can, if they haven’t properly healed from the trauma, cause a deep mistrust of others that spills over into their future relationships.
However, be careful of someone who says this phrase. If they haven’t been cheated on in the past, this could just be a controlling behavior of theirs.
They might not respect your privacy or personal boundaries. Or they could be a narcissist in relationships.
4) “I don’t want to talk about it”
People who have been hurt before aren’t always an open book.
In fact, most people have severe trust issues (see phrase two) and fear opening up to anyone else when they’ve been burned before.
When my mum passed away in my teenage years, my strategy to get through it all was to say (a bit too adamantly) “I don’t want to talk about it”.
It was primarily because talking about it hurt. But it was also because – in the rare times I had opened up to someone – I’d felt let down and rejected by their response.
If someone says they don’t want to talk about their trauma with you, this could be a good thing. After all, it’s important to only talk about your past triggers with someone you’ve grown to trust.
But it could also stem from a deep hurt in their past that they haven’t yet processed.
5) “Do you still love me?”
A phrase you’ll often hear from people who have anxious attachment styles in relationships is a very serious: “Do you still love me?”.
Experts say an anxious attachment style stems from a parent being inconsistent, unreliable, and unappreciative of the person as a child.
But it can also be triggered by past relationships, particularly when that person has been in a relationship with someone with an avoidant attachment style.
Anxious attachments only feel as safe (or loved) as their last interaction with the person they’re dating – so they could say this phrase whenever they don’t feel reassured.
Either way, it’s something they’ll likely say if they’ve been abandoned or rejected in the past.
Or if they’re going through a period of low self-worth and self-esteem…
6) “I’m unlovable”
A friend of mine said this to me once, and it was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever heard.
Her mum had untreated bipolar growing up, so was often quite cruel to her as a child before she got it under control. When my friend finally found (what she thought was) a happy relationship, he ended it because he “didn’t love her anymore”.
From that point on, she struggled with any rejection from dating apps, dates, or relationships themselves. She went to therapy in the end, and all worked out well!
But the point is – people don’t say this phrase unless they’ve been deeply hurt or have experienced intense rejection in the past.
And it’s this level of hurt that can leave them with such low self-worth that they believe they’re “unlovable” (which is never true, by the way!).
7) “I’m not good enough for you”
Most of the time, someone who says they aren’t good enough for you has low self-esteem, poor self-worth, and a lack of confidence in themselves.
Usually, this comes from being deeply mistreated, abused, disrespected, or hurt in their past relationships.
However, it’s important to be careful when someone says this to you. Some people (namely narcissists) will say this phrase in an attempt to manipulate you.
You’ll usually know if this is the case if they say it after they’ve hurt you, lied to you, or done something they know is wrong.
Like if they get angry, lose control of their emotions, and say nasty things to you.
Then, hours later when you’re crying, they say this phrase in an attempt to win your sympathy and gain your forgiveness – rather than apologizing for what they’ve done.
Of course, not everyone who uses this phrase is manipulative. They may have just been so badly hurt in the past that their confidence is on the floor – and your kindness could be just the thing they need to help them regain their sense of worth.
But stay vigilant of the context it’s said in – as it could be more sinister.
8) “I’m not ready for a relationship”
This is another tricky one.
Some people say this because they genuinely aren’t ready for a relationship. Or because they want to stay single, play the field, and date (or sleep!) around.
Other times (and more commonly), people say this because they’ve been deeply hurt by a relationship from their past.
The reason they aren’t ready for a new relationship stems from a fear of commitment and a fear of being hurt again.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do when someone says this to you.
You can’t force anyone to commit to you when they don’t want to – no matter how much you love them or think they love you.
And if you want different things from what they want (i.e., a relationship), sticking around is, sadly, only going to cause you more pain and heartache.
Sometimes, it’s worth sticking it out with someone who’s been hurt in the past.
Trauma and trust issues can only be healed so much by the person who has them. After that, you need other people to help get you through the final stages.
And just because someone has had a hurtful past that’s led them to have a lot of triggers, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be an awful person to date.
But other times, you can’t help other people with their trauma. If someone wants to get better, they have to heal for themselves – not anyone else.
And as painful as it might be to let them go, you might have to if they aren’t willing to work on their trauma and make things work with you.