7 Ways People Who Have Been Emotionally Abused Love Differently

7 Ways People Who Have Been Emotionally Abused Love Differently

People who have been emotionally abused love differently through these 7 ways. The scars are internal. When it comes to abusive relationships, it isn’t always just physical abuse. While this isn’t meant to detract from the issue of domestic abuse that far too many men/women have suffered (and still suffer), it’s to address the fact that emotional abuse can be just as damaging, but in completely different ways.

When you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s not always noticeable right away. You don’t bear the bruises of a physical attack, but you’re still scarred in many ways, and that scarring leaves an imprint that can affect every future relationship.

It’s hard to love again after you’ve been manipulated, put down, controlled, belittled, and made to feel worthless by someone who was supposed to love you and care about you.

As someone who’s been emotionally abused in the past and can now clearly see it, I’m also able to see how it changed my idea of relationships and my approach to love.

Read What Is Emotional Abuse? How To Know if You Are Being Abused

Here are seven ways those of us who have been emotionally abused love differently:

1. We keep our distance longer than most.

Even if we think we’re really into you, we’re going to keep our distance. We’ll keep you at arm’s length, might not text you back immediately, and definitely won’t want to spend too much time with you. We just don’t want to get too close.

2. We play it close to the chest.

After you’ve been emotionally abused, being able to open up freely is painful. We don’t want to put ourselves in a vulnerable situation again and when you open up about yourself, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re exposing the bits and pieces of you that all of a sudden make you a target. For us, it’s safer if we just keep some things to ourselves.

3. We take it slow.

I don’t mean just physically slow, but emotionally and mentally slow. Like a wounded puppy, it’s hard not to proceed with caution. It’s just an instinctual way of protecting ourselves from further harm.

4. We’re overly-suspicious.

When you’ve been with someone who’s put you down over and over — saying you’re no good and are worthless — you just can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to be into you ever again. If you tell us you love us and we look at you weird, it’s not that the feeling isn’t mutual; rather, we’re still a bit unclear as to what about us might be appealing or lovable to someone else.

Read What Drives Emotional Abuse and How to Begin to Recover

5. We’re hesitant about getting to know the people in your life.

When you start to get to know the friends and family of the person you’re in a relationship with, it means things are getting serious. It also means that your lives are becoming more and more intertwined. It can feel a bit scary, so we proceed with caution.

6. We’re affectionate but on our own terms.

When I first met my husband, he was baffled by how little affection I gave him. Even at the height of our love, I had to be affectionate on my own terms. If he cuddled up to me, sometimes I’d pull away. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be close to him, but after the relationship before where affection was so minimal, it took me a long time to learn how to cuddle again and to enjoy it.

Read Emotionally Abusive People And Their 20 Identifying Traits

7. We assume the worst (but hope for the best).

When you’ve been mistreated by someone you love, you automatically build up  a wall around your heart. You become guarded, protective, and you hand out your love in pieces, bit by bit. Because this is the case, we naturally assume that things won’t last or that we’ll be hurt again.

22 thoughts on “7 Ways People Who Have Been Emotionally Abused Love Differently”

  1. Avatar of Angel

    I was hurt so badly by people that I don’t even trust my own family any longer. I don’t trust co-workers and I certainly don’t trust strangers. It is a sad and lonely existence all alone in my head. What else can I do?

  2. Avatar of Arvika

    I agree with Loretta and Sue. If you are young and vulnerable and depending on your parents … it is horrible… who would believe me?
    I also agree with Brandon, I acted very introvert. Some even believed I had some kind of autism (not that there is something wrong with autism, but to show how much one can change and turn into herself…). Still having problems with getting close friends, trusting people. My Mother never accepted the way I was (honest, creative, eager to know what was going on in the world, sociable, intelligent, and above all: having the guts and the will and the opportunity to go to college) – I know a lot arose from envy… But I only started understanding that a few years ago…. Thing is She still aims to change me and interfere with my life… (I am 44) — It took years before becoming the person who was inside of me. I am happy now. I have two loving persons in my life: my husband and my Dad.

  3. Avatar of lostforever

    And still after all that we still give it a try and get hurt all over again ! and say to ourself you are an idiot to think that it can actually work for you. I am a freaking idiot !

  4. Avatar of H.S.H

    How can I learn to not express my feelings/flaws/ and other emotional traits so easily? I’m a person who speaks before realizing what I’m saying. I’m currently going through a divorce with a man who has manipulated/abused me for almost 6 yrs. He is also only the 2nd man I’ve ever been with. I know getting back into the ‘dating’ seen is going to be difficult already, I’m just afraid I will trust the wrong man AGAIN. I cannot go through it again, I cannot put my little boy through that again.

  5. Avatar of Loretta Miles Tollefson

    I’d love to see some posts specifically about impact of (and how to heal from) emotional abuse suffered as a child. While this was helpful, this seemed to be more from an adult relationship perspective.

    1. Avatar of Sue

      The first time I clearly remember my Mother messing with my head I was 10, now 40 years later it’s still there (like it was yesterday) we have a bizarre relationship, I know what she’s doing, she thinks I’m still in her game but mentally when I have to be in her company I pretend I’m curled up safe with my Nan, no one hurts me there. Because of my abnormal childhood and total lack of love and care from one of the two people who are supposed to be conditioned to love me no matter what, I have a tendency to get into relationships with Mother types because basically I’m desperate for her (type) to love me, I now realise what I’m doing and avoid dating all together. Yes I would love to be in a real relationship with a man as awesome as my Daddy, but as I have his love I don’t crave it. You don’t heal from that, you learn to live with it. In case you are wondering, I have a 21 year old daughter and being a Mother is as natural to me as breathing, from the first moment I felt her move inside me, I knew I would love and protect her until my dying day and she knows it! It’s just a shame her Father is just like The Mother, but that’s another story…

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top