Why am I so attached to someone who hurt me ?

My Questions and Answers | | Expert Author , Psychologist
why am i so attached to someone who hurt me

David and I have been together for four years, but his actions have caused me a lot of emotional pain. Despite this, I find myself unable to let go. He often dismisses my feelings, making me feel insignificant. He frequently criticizes me, leaving me feeling insecure and unworthy. David has a tendency to ignore me when I need support, leaving me feeling isolated and alone. Despite these hurtful experiences, I still feel deeply attached to him, and I don’t understand why. I want to be able to leave the relationship but I can’t get myself to. Can you help me understand why I’m struggling to let go of this relationship, despite the pain David has caused me? Why am I so attached to someone who hurt me?


This is a fairly common concern people come into therapy with – not being able to let go of someone who has hurt them, and continues to hurt them, despite wanting to. This something I share with a lot of my clients, that being with someone like that often comes with a lot of shame. Perhaps you have friends who keep telling you, “Just break up with them!” or, “You need to love yourself enough to walk away from this.” Such statements, though well-intentioned, often carry a lot of judgement. Which often makes it difficult for the person stuck in a bad relationship that much harder to open up to their friends about.

Related Reading: 20 Proven Ways To Make Him Feel Guilty For Hurting You

The first order of business here is to release yourself from shame. It is not easy to walk away from someone you love, even when they hurt you. This does not make you weak, or any less worthy of respect. There are several reasons why walking away from such a relationship is so difficult:

  1. You are waiting and desperately hoping for them to change. There must have been good parts in your relationship. No relationship is all good or all bad. You could be holding onto the good, giving multiple second chances in the hopes that maybe this time around, it will be different. After all, hope is stubborn and doesn’t leave easily.
  2. You want to believe that he is better than this, and maybe he has been in the past. All humans hold this deeply subconscious belief that bad things can’t happen to them. It’s what gives us the courage to go through life, even when our safety is not guaranteed. This brings about an urge to deny how bad it really is in your relationship, and how poorly you’re being treated. You may be accepting it intellectually, but not emotionally.
  3. A part of you might believe that you deserve being treated this way, or that it is okay for you to be treated this way. Of course, you don’t want to, but that doesn’t alter your belief. It might benefit to check in on your self-esteem and work on raising it. As the quote goes, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
  4. The known evil is less terrifying than the unknown. You know what to expect in your relationship. Perhaps, you can even predict your partner’s responses. But there is safety in this familiarity – you know what it is and how it is going to be. Breaking up would mean throwing yourself into the unknown, which hold possibilities of being better and worse. Just a gentle reminder, that fear often lies to us, and we often suffer more in our heads than we do in reality.
  5. Perhaps your partner is good at breadcrumbing you with affection. Treating you well once in a while, just enough to keep that hope in you alive, that things could be better. This is a very common technique used in emotional manipulation. Keep your eyes peeled for it, and avoid falling into the trap.
  6. Lastly, its also possible that you somewhere feel responsible for your partner’s happiness and improvement. Maybe you took on this relationship thinking that love could change him. I’m sure you know this, but it really isn’t your responsibility to make sure others are happy, or to make sure they grow and heal. Your primary responsibility is towards yourself.

In parting, I would just like to tell you that you don’t need the attachment to go away in order to leave someone. Sometimes, to protect yourself, you leave someone even when you love them still. You cannot always reason with your attachment, but you can make a choice for yourself which keeps you physically, mentally and emotionally safe.


1.⁠ ⁠Why do I still have feelings for someone who hurt me?

There are many reasons why you could have feelings for someone who hurt you:
1. You’re hoping they can change
2. You remember the good times with this person and wish to go back to that
3. Your feelings linger from when this person treated you well
4. You’re forgiving of their actions because you might believe it’s okay for them to treat you in this manner
5. You’re scared of the possibility of not having feelings for them

2.⁠ ⁠How do I stop thinking about someone who hurt me?

1. Give it time. Its important to be kind and patient with yourself, the way you would be with a child. 
2.Spend time on creating pockets of joy in your day. These little bursts of happiness can give you enough to get you through
3. Invest in yourself. Do something for yourself that you always wanted to do. Show yourself what the right way of being loved is
4. Work on raising your self-esteem, and detach your self-worth from how others treat you
5. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself
6. Consider taking therapy or counseling

3.⁠ ⁠Why do I keep going back to someone who hurts me

We often keep going back to the same situation, despite knowing the answer, because we want it to be different so badly. Hope is stubborn, and it is this hope that brings us back to them.

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