12 things you do in relationships when you’ve been hurt too many times

Around three years into my current relationship, I realized that I was sabotaging everything out of fear and trauma from my past relationships. 

As I started to dig deeper, it became obvious – some wounds take time and a lot of work to heal from. Without knowing where these behaviors come from, we’re likely to keep repeating the cycle. 

If you are experiencing issues in your relationships, this could be true for you too. 

So, here are 12 things you do in relationships when you’ve been hurt too many times in the past: 

1) Building walls

Do you find it hard to let your guard down? 

If you’ve been hurt in the past, it makes sense that you’d avoid being vulnerable again in a hurry. 

Even if you’ve met someone who seems trustworthy and kind, it can be tough to break down those barriers that you’ve so carefully put up to protect yourself. 

Later, I’ll share a few tips on how to get over these defense mechanisms, but for now, consider the fact that when we build walls, we don’t just stop bad people from getting through, we stop good people too. 

2) Being overly cautious

Another thing you might do in relationships if you’ve been hurt too many times before is over analyze everything. 

You’re so cautious that you ruminate over every comment and action, never fully trusting your new partner or allowing yourself to let your hair down and just enjoy the relationship. 

This likely comes from the fact that you’re worried about being hurt again. 

You’re searching for red flags, even when there are none. And that leads me to my next point:

3) Questioning intentions

My current partner tells me I’m beautiful every chance he gets. It took me a long time to believe that he was genuine and not just buttering me up like exes in the past have done. 

I’m talking years. 

So if you find yourself questioning your new partner’s intentions, it’s completely normal.

When you’ve been hurt so many times before and had your trust broken over and over again, you’re naturally going to reject taking things at face value. 

4) Avoiding conflict

If you’ve had partners in the past who were explosive, you might find that now, you avoid conflict. 

Or, if breakups have arisen in the past because you called someone out on their bad behavior, you may fear speaking up now as a result. 

This is totally understandable. You feel apprehensive, so the easiest thing to do is stay quiet. 

But remember – by avoiding conflict, your relationship will get weaker anyway. 

All couples argue or disagree, but moving through these times is what strengthens your bond and connection. 

5) Seeking constant reassurance

If you feel anxious in your relationship, it could lead you to need plenty of reassurance to alleviate your fears of being hurt again. 

This might be things like:

  • Checking that they love you 
  • Asking them to reconfirm their commitment to the relationship 
  • Seeking validation for your feelings 

While needing some reassurance is normal in every relationship, too much can put a strain on your partner. 

6) Being independent to a fault

After my last relationship broke down, I decided I’d never rely on a man again – for anything. 

So when I met my current partner, it was hard to let him help me out. 

I felt like I was giving up some of my power by doing so, but I didn’t realize that in doing this, I was stopping us from becoming a team. 

The same may happen in your relationships if you’ve been hurt many times in the past. 

You’ve been forced to trust only yourself, and while it might make you feel more secure, it could alienate your new partner. 

7) Holding back emotionally

not feeling like myself lately 12 things you do in relationships when you've been hurt too many times

Does it take you a long time to express your feelings

Do you avoid getting “attached” or investing too much? 

This is another common thing that people do when they’re still hurting from past relationships

And I get it – it feels safer to keep your heart guarded. 

But you know what I’m going to say, there’s no way to find love and happiness in a relationship until you start taking risks and trusting in the process again. 

8) Comparing to past relationships

If you find yourself comparing your current relationship to past ones, it’s a sign you could be looking for similarities and potential red flags. 

And hey, this is normal to a degree. We all do it. 

But if you find yourself constantly making comparisons, you may be stopping yourself from living in the moment and appreciating this new, different connection. 

In fact, do this too much and you’ll miss out on all the great aspects of the new relationship because you’re too busy living in the past

9) Sabotaging the relationship

Another thing you might do if you’ve been hurt too many times is deliberately sabotage the relationship.

But when I say deliberately, I don’t necessarily mean that you do it consciously. 

Things like acting distant or instigating fights could be your way of pushing your partner away before they have the chance to hurt you. 

And it makes sense…

When you were single, you felt safe. Then you decided to take a leap and start seeing someone. But now the feelings are becoming real, and you’re afraid. 

It’s the fear that’s doing this, not you. 

10) Difficulty forgiving and forgetting

When my partner and I got together, I’d find it strange that he’d hold a grudge for days. 

But over the years, as he’s let things slip about his ex, I noticed a pattern. 

When they’d argue, she’d keep the fight going for as long as possible. So, as a defense mechanism, he’d go quiet in response. 

And this would go on for multiple days. 

I realized that he has carried that behavior on with me, even though I tend to resolve issues fairly quickly and move on. 

Do you resonate with his behavior? 

It could be that the pain you suffered in the past means that letting go and forgiving the other person is difficult now. 

Even when your current partner makes little mistakes, you may resort back to old habits picked up from unhappy relationships in the past. 

11) Resisting commitment

Avoiding making a true commitment is another thing you might do if you’ve been hurt a lot. 

You want to keep a sense of control over how involved you get with this new person, and that’s completely understandable. 

But on the flip side, it can make you come across as aloof and not interested in a serious relationship. 

Even if things are going well, you may find it scary to imagine that this relationship could work out. That’s why you do your best to dig your heels in and slow things down. 

12) Looking for an escape route

And finally, do you find yourself always looking for the exit sign? 

This might be in the form of having a backup plan (or person), never fully committing, or constantly looking for reasons to end the relationship. 

Again, this is the fear of being hurt that’s acting, not you. 

So, we’ve covered 12 things you might do in relationships due to being hurt in the past, but by now you must be wondering how you can let go of these behaviors. 

Read on to find out…

How to heal from being hurt too many times in the past: 

Don’t get me wrong, revisiting and working through all your past traumas isn’t going to be a walk in the park. 

But if you want the chance to have a fulfilling, happy relationship in the future, it’s worth the hard work. 

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Start by acknowledging your feelings. There’s no good burying them or ignoring them. Accepting feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal will help you process them. 
  • Practice self-care. When you eat, sleep, and exercise well, you’ll be in a better position to take care of your emotions. 
  • Consider therapy. Sometimes, our pain is too much to deal with alone. A professional can help you pinpoint exactly where things went wrong in the past, and how they’re still affecting you now. 
  • Be open with your new partner. Being vulnerable, especially about past experiences, may be tough to do, so break it down. But keep them in the loop. If they understand why you do the things you do, it could help them in helping you. 
  • Set healthy boundaries. This will give you more control, whilst also minimizing the chances of being hurt so badly again. 

And finally, accept that healing takes time. 

We’ve all got baggage from previous relationships gone wrong, but the sooner we work on ourselves and our emotional well-being, the sooner we can let go of the pain and move forward.

Kiran Athar

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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