How to Escape From Damaging Relationships That Change You

Damaging relationships often change you. You must escape from them.
How to Escape From Damaging Relationships That Change You
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Sometimes, you look back and try to remember how you were in the past. This isn’t necessarily about remembering your youth. It’s just that you think back to what your character was like compared to the way you feel and react now. Are you more cautious? Has your smile lost some of its innocence? Are you less optimistic?

As a matter of fact, some people change you. These are the kinds of damaging relationships that, far from enriching you, cause sadness, deficiency, and fear. We’re not just talking about emotional relationships or about men or women who emotionally manipulate you. We’re also talking about your family relationships. Indeed, these are capable of wounding you and taking away part of your childhood and your happiness.

“The human personality isn’t a palace with firm walls. You’re vulnerable to your lived experiences, disappointments, and traumas, whether in childhood or adulthood. Of course, this changes you. That’s because something inside you breaks, yet you have to soldier on”.

You’ve probably experienced the situation when you’re talking to someone and they suddenly start to criticize you, saying things like “You’re just not the same as you used to be” or“You’re not that funny anymore” or “Where’s your spark gone?”. What’s happened? Well, it may be that this person who’s criticizing you is the one that’s made you change.

Damaging relationships that change you

There are many types of damaging relationships that, effectively, don’t help you move forward as emotionally strong, secure, and happy people. These people might be partners, family members, and even your friends. What they have in common is that they’re harmful people capable of changing your way of approaching life. However, it’s your emotional relationships that take the greatest toll on you and change you the most.

sadness (2)

Have you ever wondered how these changes in your character have arisen? If so, take note of the following:

1. Changes in your emotional register

It’s possible that, in the past, you characterized yourself as a person with great emotional openness who was receptive, cheerful, and optimistic. Nevertheless, when you find yourself faced with an interaction where, far from being accepted, you find contempt, barriers, or criticism, your character changes.

You no longer externalize your emotions, but you hide them. Love is no longer full of illusion but of anguish and uncertainty. Furthermore, you no longer know what to expect. You’ve invested thousands of your dreams, joys, and efforts in these people and now you only get sadness in return.

2. The exploitation of your cognitive bias

Before, you saw yourself as a strong person with good self-esteem that allowed you to see the world with an open mind, but you now find yourself with a completely distorted perspective. When you look in the mirror, you see someone who’s frustrated and unable to get out of the vicious circle they find themselves in. That’s because your self-esteem has been transformed into a feeling of inferiority.

3. Changes in self-perception

If you offer optimism, openness, affection, and humility, and only receive contempt, ridicule, and criticism in return, you’ll start to realize that the one who said they loved you, doesn’t. At least not in the way you expected. You’ll find yourself with a negative perception of yourself for having made a mistake, for having naively deluded yourself, and for having invested in someone who didn’t deserve your efforts or feelings.

Undoubtedly, you’ll now view the other person negatively. In addition, you’ll have a negative self-perception of yourself. This is extremely dangerous because the emotional costs can turn you into a victim. That’s something you’ll have to deal with.

Move on from damaging relationships

You’ve probably met plenty of people in your life who’ve let you down and hurt you. There are certainly plenty of them around, all wearing different masks. However, now you recognize that something has changed inside of you, consider the following:

  • You’re probably no longer that person from yesterday who enjoyed opening up to life so much. You’re certainly no longer so innocent and you know what the pain of disappointment is. The first thing you should do now is to get out of any situation that causes you suffering. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim. Escape.
  • Accept that what you’ve experienced is part of you and you must integrate it. You’ve suffered, you’ve been disappointed, and you’ve experienced the greatest sorrow. What good will it do you to deny it? Take it on, and gradually let go of the pain. Let it go, lighten your load.
  • You’re no longer your sorrows. You’ve accepted them and left them behind. You’re your present, your “here and now”. The past pain must remain in the past and in the learning with which you’re now able to confidently move forward.

Sailing away from damaging relationships.

Have you changed? It’s possible. We all do. However, you’re not going to allow yourself to continue along the path of sadness, even less lose your dreams. You’re going to love yourself much more. Because you’re now the sculptor of your own life and the architect of your own happiness.

Image courtesy Lucy Campbell

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.