When to Fight the Urge to Want Him or Her Back

Eight tendencies may help you decide whether to reach out or run away.

Posted Aug 09, 2020

In the heat of the moment, it is clear. A partner does not care how you feel, what you feel, or why actions and words hurt. In fact, he or she is annoyed at the mention of an issue. Tired of the emotional mistreatment, you end the relationship.

Yet, after the dust settles and the anger dissipates, regret and remorse set in. “Was it really that bad? Did I overreact? Am I oversensitive?” Self-doubt and desperation replace hurt and anger.

A tortuous conflict may ensue, consuming almost every waking thought. “Should I reach out to him or her?” “Why hasn’t he or she reached out to me?” “Whys isn’t he impacted by this?” Why am I devastated?”

These thoughts and feelings are normal after a break-up. A person who attaches in a hearty and healthy manner is significantly impacted when a bond is severed, despite the intellectual knowledge that the break is necessary.

It may be important to note that the devastation a person feels after a break-up may not be an accurate measure of how wonderful the relationship was, rather the result of a broken attachment.

Thus, it is critical to decipher the health of the relationship before deciding to return. Eight tendencies may indicate the presence of emotional mistreatment.

1. A partner lacks insight and instead of taking responsibility, he or she points the finger at you.

For example, say Sheila says she is not feeling well so she is unable to attend Mike’s father’s 80th birthday party. After returning home from the party, Mike discovers Sheila is hiking with a friend. Mike explains his confusion about this, but Sheila yells at him for being “selfish.” She refuses to consider how Mike feels and believes she is justified in her behavior.

2. A partner is only able to consider his or her viewpoint.

Using the example above, Sheila refuses to see the situation from Mike’s perspective. Instead, she only considers and espouses her own.

3. Small discussions erupt into epic fights because you are desperate to be heard and understood.

At a dinner party, Tim devalues Lisa, a therapist. “Lisa’s good at what she does because she understands ‘crazy.’ Takes one to know one.”

When Lisa addresses the comment later in the car, Tim is indignant. He denies any wrongdoing and excuses his comment as a joke. He angrily reprimands Lisa for lacking a sense of humor. Lisa, again, attempts to explain how and why the comment was offensive, but Tim attacks Lisa for being dramatic and over sensitive. He accuses her of starting drama and says she needs to be grateful that he paid for dinner. Intensely upset and doubly offended, Lisa tries to explain why she is angry, but Tim yells at her and tells her she is overly concerned with herself.

4. Does your partner unfairly assign blame to others in order to escape accountability?

Sara’s car is in the shop. She asks her partner, Ron, to pick her up from work. Ron agrees, but is not there like they agreed. Sara calls and texts Ron, but he does not respond. After two hours, Sara walks a half-mile to the bus stop and takes the bus home. Upset, she confronts Ron who deflects responsibility and places the blame on his friend. “Dane came over. He needed help with his taxes. He was desperate. He needs to be more responsible.” Sara is upset at Ron’s irresponsibility but feels guilty for her anger because Ron appears to be helping a friend.   

5. Does he or she display sympathy for others, but lack empathy for you?

Amy cries at commercials but refuses to understand why Vince is upset when his aunt passes away, stating, “She was mean. You should be relieved.”

6. Was he or she a different person at the beginning of the relationship?

Kim is sweet and caring towards Holly. Yet, as the relationship progresses, Kim is indifferent and cold. Holly wonders what she did to lose Kim’s love. Holly attempts to regain Kim’s affections, sacrificing elements of her own life, but Kim maintains a hot-and-cold style.

7. Does he or she play the victim in order to excuse herself or himself from accountability?  

Lane forgets Mia’s birthday. Mia is crushed and conveys this to Lane. Lane says, “My ex-wife forgot my birthday four years in a row. That is something to be upset about. I only forgot once. This is nothing compared to what I’ve been through.”

8. Is he or she uncomfortable with difficult emotions?  

Jack and Jane are at a winery. Jack is approached by a man who is not familiar to Jane. Jack and the man exchange small talk. After the man leaves, Jack’s demeanor changes. He is agitated and snaps at the server and Jane. Jane, gently, asks Jack if he is upset. Jack angrily states, “I’m fine! Everything is fine! This wine is terrible! I’m leaving!” Jack and Jane return home and Jack refuses to talk about how he feels or what is upsetting him. He retreats to the basement and stays there for the remainder of the night.

After the anger of being mistreated disappears, it is easy to forget how much it hurts to be with an emotionally irresponsible partner. Remembering the good times tempts a person to forget the painful ones. Yet, if a partner is emotionally impaired, capacities such as insight and empathy may be out of reach. Spending a life with a partner who only cares about his or her feelings, perspective, and needs, may erode a person’s sense of self. Although it may be difficult, stay the course. Finding someone who has empathy, is able to consider an alternate perspective, and has insight, may lead to a more peaceful and joyful union.