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How to Maintain a Relationship with a Loved One Who’s Hurt You

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~Paul Boese

In a previous post about forgiveness, I mentioned that I spent years holding onto anger toward someone who hurt me repeatedly years ago.

I eventually realized that forgiving this person was the only way to set myself free. The resentment, bitterness, and sometimes pure rage were slowly killing me. They manifested in emotional and physical illness, constricting my life so that I was little more than the sum of my grievances and pains.

At many points I strongly believed my emotions would consume me, bit by bit, until I was nothing but the memory of my overwhelming, righteous fury.

It’s taken me years to forgive and do my part to transform this relationship because I decided that it was worth saving, but it hasn’t always been easy.

There have been times when I’ve gotten caught up in painful memories instead of being present in the relationship as it is today. Other times I’ve thought I’ve recognized behaviors reminiscent of the past, and struggled to set clear boundaries for myself.

Sometimes the answer is, plainly and simply, that it’s time to walk away, even if it’s a relationship with a family member. But if you choose not to for whatever reason, if you feel that this is worth fighting for, these ideas may help you stay—and stay happy—in this relationship as it is:

1. Realize that you can’t make someone change (if they don’t want to).

Years ago a therapist told me that you can’t make people change—if they aren’t open to that, you can only change how you respond and relate to them. Knowing this, you may decide that you’re not able to maintain this relationship. You need to be honest with yourself here: is it really healthy to stay in this situation?

In my case, I created space to heal and then rebuilt a new, healthier relationship after the dynamics had transformed. Though I knew this relationship could enhance both of our lives, I also knew I needed to be mindful of my expectations, as there are certain things it may never be or provide.

2. Determine what you need.

You may feel that you can only forgive if this person fully acknowledges everything that hurt you and then takes responsibility for all of it. You may need to go to therapy, either alone or with this person. Or it may be sufficient for you to recognize remorse in actions and then work, on your own, to release your feelings.

This will be different for everyone, and that’s okay. You are allowed to need whatever you need—but it’s crucial that you identify it. If you know you can’t move on until you receive a thorough confession and apology, but that just isn’t happening, you will set yourself up for pain and unhappiness.

3. After your needs are met, do the work to forgive.

There’s an insightful quote that reads: “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” That’s what it means to really forgive: accept that what happened happened, choose to find at least some iota of understanding for the other person’s actions, and then decide it’s in your best interest to let it go and move on.

As with most emotions and choices, forgiving is something we may need to do repeatedly. It’s not a one-time choice. What’s important is that you want to forgive—that you’re willing to have compassion for that person and see them with fresh eyes, even if it isn’t always easy.

If you don’t feel like you can do that, for whatever reason, you may need to take time and then reassess at a later date. It’s far better to take space and then reconnect when you’re ready to forgive than it is to preserve a relationship that just gets more strained and hostile with each passing day.

4. Assess your boundaries.

It’s a lot easier to forgive someone for a mistake or series of mistakes if you set clear boundaries for the relationship going forward.

You need to ask yourself if something needs to change in order for you to feel safe and happy in the relationship as it is. Do you need to spend less time together? Do you need to be clear that certain topics are not open for discussion? Do you need to assert yourself when the other person starts talking to you in a certain way?

If you suspect that someone may physically harm you, I strongly suggest you consult a professional who is trained to assist with domestic violence cases. This is a far different situation, as one slip-up could cost your life.

5. Practice mindfulness.

This is the most difficult part for me: every so often when I’m interacting with this person, memories from years ago resurface—memories I’ve released many times before. Generally, the present moment looks nothing like the past, but a word or a look can sometimes remind me how angry I felt back then.

I suspect this may be inevitable in situations like this. Over time the memories become far less frequent, but they always have the potential to pop back up because we are only human. Still, we are far more than the sum of our emotions and reactions.

We don’t need to let ourselves get swept away in anger, disappointment, or anything else that hurts. This doesn’t mean we won’t feel these things. In fact, it’s a good thing that we do. If we didn’t feel our pains, we likely wouldn’t feel our joys.

It means we can identify our emotions, sit with them, and then choose to challenge the thoughts that might exacerbate them.

The alternative is to rehash the past in your head—going through everything you wish didn’t happen, how you feel about the fact that it did, what you wish you did or said then, and how much you hope nothing similar ever happens again. It’s a lot easier to be present when you breathe through your feelings than it is when you obsess about them.

6. Open up to joy!

If you’ve chosen to maintain this relationship, you must feel that there’s something in it for (both of) you, or else you wouldn’t do it. Take the time to enjoy each other, living mindfully in the present, within the new boundaries you’ve set.

If you spend the majority of your time rehashing old stories or making this person repeatedly earn your forgiveness, this relationship won’t have a life in the present—it will just be a shadow of the past. And what’s the point of holding onto that? It would be far kinder to just set this person free than to stay connected by a pain you refuse to release.

Relationships aren’t easy. People make mistakes, but even the deepest wounds can heal and the most strained relationships can transform. We just need to learn to recognize when it’s healthy to hold on and when it’s wiser to let go.

Only you know what’s right for you in this moment, and only you can find the courage to honor it.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. She's now seeking stories for her next book, 365 Tiny Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha. Click here to share your story and follow on Facebook for inspiring posts and wisdom quotes.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.storey1 Barbara Storey

    I am amazed, and in awe, that you have the strength to continue in a relationship with someone who hurt you.  I have never been able to embrace the idea of forgiving someone who hurt me, even though I know my anger hurts me more than it ever did them–the person in question is actually dead now.  But I still can’t do it–I’ve said the words, “I forgive you” about this person, but it made no difference in how I feel about them.  And I can’t help feeling that “I forgive you” equals “What you did was okay” –what else can it mean?  I remain a very unenlightened person, I’m afraid. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Barbara,

    It took me a very long time to start rebuilding this relationship, and it wasn’t easy. There were times when I thought I didn’t want it, but over the years, I realized I did–what I didn’t want was the pain I was holding onto. What helped me was compassion. I don’t believe this person had cruel intentions. I believe they made some serious mistakes. It also helps that the relationship has been different for many years now–it really feels completely different from what it once was. There is new respect, trust, and love.

    If you’re struggling to forgive, I don’t think it’s because you’re unenlightened. Perhaps you’re just not ready.

    As for what you wrote about “I forgive you” meaning “What you did was okay,” there’s another way to look at it. It could also mean “I know you know it wasn’t okay.” If you don’t know that, I can see why it would be difficult to forgive. Remorse from the offender helps a great deal.

    Much love,
    Lori

  • http://unclutteredsoul.com cary

    Hey Lori, I admire your perseverance in the wake of obvious pain in your relationship. Choosing to make right what wasn’t working takes great courage, and like you say, remaining in a relationship with someone who hurt you requires forgiveness.

    Yet when we say “I forgive you” doesn’t it simply mean whatever the other person perceives it to mean? Our intent and its acceptance could be two entirely different things.

    Perhaps saying “I forgive you” means saying “I accept you for who you are, and whether you hurt me or not is entirely up to me”.

    Much easier said than done, and when done right must be truly liberating.

  • spiritual parent

    What about when the couple have young children?

  • http://pukkalists.wordpress.com Joy

    Although this post doesn’t speak to a hurt I’m currently experiencing, it definitely references a time in my not-so-distant past. I was in a relationship for five years that was a prison for both of us. When I finally made the decision to leave (after thinking about it for almost two years!), it too me quite a long time to forgive the both of us: myself for wasting both of our time, and him for not living up to my expectations, for not being the man I had hoped he would be. 

    But once I let that go – once I looked on each of us with a mind of compassion towards our respective flaws, I realized we did do the best we could do and, for that, we should be applauded, not condemned. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I actually wasn’t speaking about romantic relationships specifically (mine was not). Depending on the type of situation, there may be many different factors to consider. If there is the potential for children to be hurt, my personal opinion would be very cut and dry–that would be the end of it. I would also draw a line if I thought I may be physically hurt at some point in the future.

    Are you referring to your own situation?

    Much love,
    Lori

  • http://catriensdailythoughts.blogspot.com/ Catrien

    Hi Lori, thanks so much for the quote: “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” I hadn’t seen that yet and I love that it’s easy to remember and clear as a bell. I’ll remember this as I sometimes struggle with a difficult relationship with someone in my family (described at http://bit.ly/oSCAkG).

  • Sarah

    This is exactly what I needed today.

  • Cathi

    I have let go of several relationships that were no longer healthy this year, including many family members. While it was a very difficult thing to do, it was the best thing to do. This post truly validated my reasoning, and reaffirmed that I do have permission to let go of that which isn’t serving me, or anyone else. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose Alannah Rose

    This is such a wisely-written post, Lori.  There is a lot here to digest and take to heart.  I know from experience how much space it takes to be able to forgive someone or not let what happened in the past keep affecting your present.  Like Catrien, the quote “forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past” really resonates with me.

    Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt and honest post!  Best wishes to you.

  • spiritual parent

    Hi Lori

    Yes. I agonize over it. Very anger management problem controlling dependent partner, bad incident, I said “well, now, the whole paradigm must change”. It didn’t, she won’t do therapy but becomes ill if I try to assert boundaries. The children pity her, but notably never go to her for hugs, but always to me. I want to see some way through other than saying apologize apologize, something that looks at the now, and what there is. But I don’t want to teach my children subconsciously to seek out grim unhappy marriages. At the same time, I know they currently have perhaps the best experience of their mother they will have, and you only get one mother.

  • spiritual parent

    There are small little positives, small little changes, though

  • Bluebuddha1961

    What if the person who hurt you is an “acting out” teenager? What then?

  • linnaeab

    Hi Lori,

    “forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past”.
    That describes forgiveness succinctly. It will now be easier for me to forgive. I actually welcome it now, rather than resisting.

    Practicing mindfulness.
    Sometime last week you wrote about how, after writing 600+ articles for tiny buddha, sometimes thoughts arose that did not align with your writing. (this is from memory, and my own interpretation of what you were communicating). I believe there was some frustration expressed (or I read between the lines), frustration with thoughts arising in spite of years of practice.

    I had wanted to write a comment, but you actually have written it for me, in the section about mindfulness: “I suspect this may be inevitable in situations like this. Over time, the memories become far less frequent, but they always have the potential to pop back up because we are only human.”

    Actually it may be inevitable in all situations (that evoke our emotions), Not only memories, but thoughts we may not be proud of have the potential to pop up.

    Pema Chodren, a Tibetan Buddhist nun, has shared with people at a public talk that even after decades of meditation, thoughts and distractions still pop up while she is meditating. She is not in the least embarrassed by it. It is real.

    His Holiness the Dalai lama councils new students of Buddhism not to judge themselves when they see that their mind still thinks, thinks, thinks, after one or two retreats, or after a few months of practice. He says (from my memory, not exact words): Continue meditating, continue practicing. Five years from now, ten years, look back, and you will see a difference. The immediate change is so small, it isn’t perceptible. But over time it is evident. You will be happier. 

    enjoy,
    linnaea

  • YY1

    Thank you for this post and all the others that have been made with the higher purpose of helping us to stick to the present moment and find inner peace withing ourselves and compassion for others. I struggle everyday to just be present! It seems unbelievable how simple it sounds to do it and how hard it is to actually put it in practice. TinyBuddha you make everyday so meaningful! Everyday I read a shared story that reminds me to love myself more, to be happy , to forgive…today’s post was so directed to a particular crisis I am going through in a relationship right now , that it seemed unbelievable! Finally, I am calmly dealing with my ego, assessing by far and judging whether this relationship can be healed, without putting me in such a strained relationship all the time. I’m also more open to admit change and to embrace it. It was refreshing to see others also have the same doubts regarding certain things in life…I specially find amazing the sharing you all collectively do, it really helps others…it really improves their life…and I must say an endless thank you for being so kind to all of us out here in the cyberspace and around the world ;)

  • Guly

    Nice post Lori, I liked it much. Is what I guess I was wanting to find, not like a guide to forgive, but some steps and important sentences to support my theories. Cause yeah, I stil feel something for the one who hurt me. Sometimes is important to let go, cause could be the only way that could come back to you, or is what sometimes i think, anyway I dont want that what happened between her and me, stay as a dark shadow of the past by holding this pains, that maybe one of us get wrong by doing pain, and now I feel im the most damaged, but sometimes helps to me to rememeber why I think im not guilty, and not such thing like give guilt or blame to someone. But past is past and I guess i must thank to everything for it (I did it jeje) and even if im stil having a sense of love for what we had, would be grea to have it again, but now we go for different ways, so would be great to cross paths. Anyway we stil alive and the life rolls with us.

    Greetings and nice blog ;D

  • malcolm

    This was a great post.  I’ve gone through exactly these challenges in the last few months and although not an easy path to follow, one cannot deny the wisdom behind it.  Thanks for the inspiring reminder.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, Catrien. This quote has been very helpful to me in forgiving and being present!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, Catrien. This quote has been very helpful to me in forgiving and being present!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome, Cathi. I know how hard it can be to let go of an unhealthy relationship, and I really admire that you were able to do that. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Absolutely, Joy. It’s so tempting to look back at the past as wasted time–I have been there! But in any moment, we do the best we can. How wonderful that you’re able to realize that now in retrospect. I think oftentimes we are far harder on ourselves than we are on others.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That sounds like a tough situation. Is she addressing her anger
    management problems now? I think it’s great that you want to help your
    children preserve your relationship with their mother. They’re lucky to
    have you as a parent!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, Malcolm. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Cary,

    This is so insightful: Perhaps saying “I forgive you” means saying “I accept you for who you
    are, and whether you hurt me or not is entirely up to me”. 

    It’s like that Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can hurt me without my consent.” We definitely have a say in how we interpret things. (Though I think this differs somewhat when people are abusive).

    Thank you for sharing your perspective!

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Since I am not a parent, this is slightly difficult for me to address. In what way did your teenager hurt you? Physically or emotionally?

  • http://ilovintegratedarts.com Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

    I believe that self forgiveness is also a huge part of the healing process and ability to move forward. Sometimes, it is easier said than done, but once we find a way to do that, the locks and chains fly off of our heart and we find a way to be compassionate with ourselves.

    Great post, thank you!

  • spiritual parent

    Thank you :)

    No, she’s getting CBT for anxiety because she shut down and started playing online games – not gambling – during waking hours, and not sleeping. I have great compassion for that. She also has cognitive difficulties and misses social cues, increasingly, and feels very hurt when others (not just me) assert their boundaries, or she is just entirely in her own world. But she doesn’t see, and thus won’t report, to her therapist, her anger problem.

    It is fascinating, though, and here your article really helped me, just to be in the present. To respond with boundaries, to counter balance, to be patient but not a doormat. I’d greatly prefer, brought into marriage the expectation of, total honesty with the children: this is what’s happening, kids, etc. I feel confident, though, that the children will look back and say “we got to see the best of mum for years” and “dad adores us”. I feel they will make some unconscious choices of bad partners initially, but will get it out of their system. It’s odd to adjust expectation, to make the best. I need some way to be in joy, as I do, as you see, have some peace. But maybe joy is an unpresent expectation/desire

    You’ve helped me today

  • Sasalool

    I have to say thank you for your post
    I too have such a relationship, I was hurt from it emotionaly but I gave me a lot of joy and openned my eyes to new things in life, so I was struggling for some time now wheather I should keep the relationship or not. I took some time off and put some space between us, I decided that I’m gonna keep it with the option of taking time off when it’s necessery,
    as you said relationships are hard and they are not straight forward, especially when you don’t the difficulties and the hard times that the other person is having
    I believe that forgiveness is a way of life not a simple act and I believes that what goes around comes around so maybe a dear one will forgive me when I do mistakes too

  • Sara

    Hi Lori, I was in the middle of a breakdown today because of how my mother was abusive to me as a child. I’m wavering on maintaining a relationship with her, more so I don’t have these pain relapses/memories… Although sometimes my mind just dredges them up. A friend of mine asked me if forgiving her might held me let go of the mountain I’ve been carrying my whole life, and I said yes, but I can’t. I thought it meant saying it was ok that she did the things she did. I was reading the comments and see others have the same issue. I will try, but it’s so hard to feel any understanding for what happened. While there is remorse, it seems she wants people to feel sorry for her that I’m angry, which makes me feel it’s for show and not sincere (also, she doesn’t agrees what happened to me). I’d love to hear more on the letting go part, I feel like cutting my mother out of my life would hurt other family and it’s just not fair for anyone. Also, it upsets me and doesn’t resolve anything. I’m in so much pain I need to do something… Funny you wrote this today.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Alannah. These ideas were probably the most powerful for me (out of all the suggestions in the posts I’ve written), in terms of healing, peace, and happiness. Forgiveness can be so hard, particularly when the wounds were deep. Thank you for the well wishes, and right back at you. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad I helped. Sending lots of love your way. =)

  • Jennifer

    Thanks, Lori.  This is a tough one for me.  I spent a good 10 years without a relationship with my father because I wasn’t done being angry and hurt.  Sometimes it’s still hard, but I let him know exactly where my boundaries are and told him I expect him to respect them.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome! That’s great that you’ve been able to rebuild a relationship with your father.
    I’m sure it feels liberating to let go of the pain and anger, even if
    it’s not always easy. My motto for everything is one day at a time.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Sara,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. I really do understand what you’re going through here. It’s possible your mother wants people to feel sorry for her (and she won’t fully own up to what happened) because she is dealing with shame, which manifests as denial. I know this doesn’t make things any easier on you, because you absolutely deserve a heartfelt apology, not tainted by unnecessary drama. But it may explain her behavior.

    Have you seen a therapist to work through your feelings? That helped me tremendously. Letting go can be so difficult, and unfortunately there isn’t an easy answer.

    If you’d like to email me, I am here. My email address is email(AT)tinybuddha(DOT)com.

    Much love,
    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I love what you wrote about forgiveness being a way of life. What a beautiful idea =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Guly. I’m glad this was helpful to you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. I know how difficult it can be to be mindful. I work at it every day! The ideas may be simple, but the application is often complicated (that’s why I chose the tag line “simple wisdom for complex lives”!)

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I really love knowing this site helps people. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much, linnaea. I think you hit the nail on the head that there is peace in accepting our humanity. That’s why I write about it–because I choose not to be ashamed of being real (not anymore, that is!)

  • Kam

    This article made me think twice about deciding to keep my relationship with the man who wronged me. That is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome, Kam!

  • Nikki

    Lori, I just came across this post retweeted on Twitter and am so grateful that you wrote it. “Forgiveness is giving up hope of a better past” – I think that’s going to become my new mantra! My partner is currently not talking to me because of a fight we had last night which was essentially me bringing up a buried issue from our past. He was wrong back then, but I was wrong for how I handled my anger and jealousy yesterday. I hate feeling like this, nothing hurts more than to be at odds with your love. Maybe we won’t recover from this one (often feels like that, doesn’t it?) or maybe we will. All I know is this post wad perfectly timed and for that, I thank you. (And I don’t normally pour my heart out like this in blog posts!) Next time you’re on the east coast, feel free to look me up – I have a feeling we might benefit from sharing notes! Thanks again for posting.

    Nikki xo

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Nikki,

    You are most welcome. I know those arguments well. It can be so hard to let go of hurtful past memories. It truly is a process.

    Where on the east coast are you? I am actually in Massachusetts now visiting my family, though I am leaving in a couple days to head back home.

    xo,
    Lori

  • Anonymous

    Well we resolved things. The interim is never easy though, is it? But all you can do is pick yourself up and keep trying, keep pushing forward. At some juncture, you may have to acknowledge a relationship is too detrimental to your well being, but in the meantime – all you can do is keep trying for as long as you have energy to do so.

    I live in Rhode Island. I moved here from the UK 3 and a 1/2 years ago. I’m on Twitter @NikkiGroom:disqus

    Anyway, just an awesome post – thank you again :-)

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  • Anonymous

    nice and usefull, thanks pretty much. how you express your love to your partner matters alot in maintaining your relationship. follow this link http://loveswaggs.blogspot.com/2011/08/expressing-your-love-to-your-partner.html

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  • Sundancebleu

    Thank you for this!  It’s so meaningful to me.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • srk7

    I can imagine what you must be going through Sara.

    It has taken me many steps through years to acknowledge my pain, to grieve the lack of love in significant parts of my life because of the physical, verbal, emotional abuse I went through as my mother’s child. I’ve been through multiple journeys of self-healing and the first tangible step each time has been giving myself long periods of time away from mother and others who were influential in my thinking/beliefs. This helped dilute their voices in my head and made it easier for me to find my own inner voice, discover myself, gain a clearer understanding of who I am, what my essence is like, what my truth is, what my inherent values are. Now, as I gain more clarity in my awareness of my identity, I’ve started setting boundaries. It was easier to first start practicing setting boundaries with strangers, acquaintances. Slowly, I’ve been able to start holding my ground with distant family members, friends. Last month, I had a conversation with my mother via telephone and another with a friend I’ve known for 9 years via email. Mother tried to explain her stance, I stood my ground firmly and without antagonism. The conversation went fairly well in comparison to previous ones. The friend verbally threw up and said she was done with me.

    Speaking my truth with no antagonism is showing me that blessings can come in different ways :)

  • http://lifeisnotamovie.net Robin

    Oh boy, this hits home. I think for me with this particular person, it’s that I never really feel like I know where I stand and I can’t shake the feeling that they have problems that they won’t address. Whether it’s real or imaginary (or somewhere in the middle) it drives me crazy.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I know that feeling. (I’ve been there before.) I’m glad this was helpful to you!

  • Achan Evaline

    really is a wonderfull book that can  change people life on how to intereact with each other and maintain a good relationship.

  • Khemlatab

    it was nice reading

  • akshay

    Thanks u saved me otherwise I have to face ma breakup

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this helped!

  • anchal

    Thank you so much…

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • sheshe

    This is awesome. I was lost confused angry all emotions all day. After reading this it helps ALOT to Understand. I love my partner of 7years and part of me feels like holding on because i cant let go i feel its too much for me to loose but wen i search deep within my soul i know its the right thing to do and I want to put my hope there instead of my relationship. Its been pretty crazy. Coming to realisation is huge. Posts keep u grounded :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this was helpful to you! I know it’s not easy to walk away from a relationship, particularly when you’ve been together so long, and I really admire that you’re able to follow your instincts on this.

  • teja

    your tips have helped me alot to come over it thanks a lot
    more than forgetting we should learn to handle it before that we should accept what has happened to us.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. =)

  • shan

    This was so well said. Everything you said I think can be related back to most situations where people are feeling “will it really help me to forgive?” or if your thinking that it may hurt you more to forgive someone for their wrong doing. Very helpful. Thank you for your insightful words. :)

  • anon

    What if you’re waiting for an apology you haven’t received? Should you confront them about it anyway? Or let go?

  • Catherine Todd

    I have to say thank you, too, for this quote:

    “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.”

    Amen.

  • vic

    Hey this post was really helpful i realize i have made some mistakes towards the way i treated my gf, mother of my daughter, companion friend and partner of 3 years… i hurt her deeply thru bullying because i allowed trust issues from the beginin get better part of me and turn me into a disrespectful ahole… i have acknowledge that it was that that made us have such a difficult life together… i wonder if she would ever give it a chance by my acknowledgin what was wrong and workin it out of us… maybe she could forgive and let go… but i think she is afraid to be hurt again by me… and i dont know how to show here that am different better guy now .. and that the guy she fell in love with originally is.here to stay..

  • terence mitchell

    i tell my spouse all the time she keep holding to the past we cant see a future healing is the key to this relationship hurt people hurt people the man she had was old i aknew creature in christ jesus old things past away i nknow god is showing us a differents in our relationship even though clothes dont matter she was with a man that would not let her get dress in nice clothes name brand niether that change when i became a part of her life she now enjoy wearing name brand clothes my point is coming from the old ways of life in to the new way of life

  • terence mitchell

    if we are new creature in christ then we need to stop talking about the past thing that can keep us sick they are old conversation that bring up the same question about who we our in our old relationship god doesnt not give us a sense of fear but incourages us to she the new man that we are my life change i was on drugs before real bad but the new man dont need to live life like that love your love one and forgive them for what the do

  • terence mitchell

    I WOULD SAY LOVE YOUR LOVE AND SHOW THEM NEW WAYS HOW TO DEAL WITH PROBLEM IN THE NEW RELATIONSHIP EXCHANGE THERE HURT FOR GODS JOY WHAT WOULD GOD DO IF A FAMILY MEMBER WAS BE UNGODLY HE WOULD SHOW THEM TRULY WHO THY ARE IN THE NE WRELATONSHIP HOW TO TALK RIGHT AND THEN THEY CAN SEE THE DIFFERENT IN THE NEW PEOPLE THEY ARE

  • terence mitchell

    IF GOD IS FOR US WHO CAN BE AGAINST US WELL WE ALREADY NOW THE DEVIL WILL TRY TO COME AGAINST ANY RELATIONSHIP THAT SEES A NEW START RELATIONSHIP NEED GOD IN THEM OR THEY WONT LAST LONG PUT GOD IN ALL LEVELS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP MENTALLY PHICALLY VERBLY FINICAILLY AND MOST DEFENITLY SEXALLY FOR GOD CAN PROTCT YOU FROM NEGATIVE PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIP

  • Robin

    thanks for this Lori, I found this post when I was just randomly searching the internet, I didn’t even know you but this post really helped me out. I love my girl so much, I really do but she makes me feel miserable and unhappy and I’m almost 100% sure that she doesn’t really love me back so maybe it’s better to end my relationship and go on with my life…

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, Robin. I know it’s not easy to walk away from someone you love, so I really admire that you’ve recognized this and are finding the strength to act on it.

  • Sherrie

    I think accepting the fact that you’ll probably never recieve it is better than asking for one, because if you have to ask, then it shows that they don’t mean it.

  • Sherrie

    Thanks for your article Lori. I read lots of postive text to keep me in good spirits. I think without it I’d be stuck in a rut. I was hurt by my primary caregivers and my sibling. All are still an active part of my life and all of them have no clue of the daily struggles I face. I would say I’ve forgiven them but occasionally when they try and take advantage of my nature it can bring back feelings of anger. You can forgive an apology you’ve never received but it would still be nice to receive one, one day. You’ve got to move forward with grace in your heart and just make yourself better and break the cycle. You have to be clever and work on self improvement and don’t rely on anyone else to make you happy. Lastly you have to feel the sadness to feel happiness so roll with the sadness occasionally but just be aware of how long for. The feeling of happiness is amazing and although it’s short lived it’s better to feel it than not at all. If you desensitise yourself to sadness then it also desensitises you to happiness. Lethal stuff. Life is beautiful ♡

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, Sherrie. I’m sorry to hear about what happened with your caregivers and siblings–but inspired by what you wrote about moving forward. So true, about feeling the sadness. I know most would prefer avoid life’s lows, and I’ve certainly felt that way at times, but without them we wouldn’t know the highs. Life is indeed beautiful :)

  • Noah

    Holy craperoly… this… is EXACTLY what I needed right now. I hope one day to reach the point you have, where all that is left of that anger is an occasional memory, and to be able to focus on all the happiness myself and this person bring each other instead of the occasional sorrow.

    You, miss author-lady, are a godsend. All the best to you and to anyone else going through something like this, whether you are the person who was hurt or who did the hurting.

    A million thanks could not express my…er…thanks. Cheers.

  • Amrose

    hi this is Amrose, i m in a relationship n she doesnt trust me even i tried alot to convince that i truly love her but she keeps on fighting me

  • Amrose

    can u plz help me out?

  • Amrose

    lori, i m totally broken

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Amrose,

    I’m so sorry to hear about the pain you’re in right now. How can I help?

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I’m glad this helped! And thanks so much. =)

  • Amrose

    hi lori, thanks for listening to me. I tell u one thing that the girl am talking about loves me too, but says that i may go out to the other girls instead i hv gone away from her hands. I said its only ur thinking, i hv nothing 2 do wid that but she doesn’t trust me. Plz tell me what do i do to convince her that am only hers.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Amrose,

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure how you can convince her of that, since there’s a lot I don’t know about her and your relationship. I do know this, though: if she’s suggested you should see other people, it’s likely she needs a little space to work through her own feelings.

    So perhaps you could tell her how you feel and then give her some time to think about it. If she feels willing and able to be exclusive again, she will tell you–when she’s ready.

    I know that might feel like giving up, since you won’t be actively trying to change her mind–but really, no one can change someone else’s mind. We all need to come to our own conclusions in our time. And giving her the gift of that time really is the most loving thing you can do.

    I hope this helps a little…

    Lori

  • Amrose

    hi lori, i m thankful to the Almighty and thanks to u that i hv resolved matters with her,i hv started feeling a bit now.

  • Amrose

    i m feeling happy now

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad to hear you’ve resolved it! =)

  • Chelsea

    I loved reading this. Thank you so much. I am currently in a relationship with the person I have considered my soul mate for a very long time now and it’s finally exactly how I want it to be, but this entire year we’ve been together, I can’t help but get lost in our past of two years before where she did nothing but hurt and destroy me daily. My feelings for her aren’t what they were when I first fell in love, but I know I’m still in love with her. Just now, it’s a jaded kind of “in love.” And I often revert to the past and start fights due to that. I fear I will lose her bc of all this. And I don’t want to. I also sometimes feel maybe I should let go, that I’m holding onto a feeling I’ll never get back, but then I look at her in my times of happiness when I’ve forgotten the past and I know that all that love is still there. I can’t lose her. It’s just that my mind can’t forget the past. I hate that.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I know how tough it can be to let go and just be in the moment, though I think it does get easier in time. Sending good thoughts your way…

  • Michelle

    I feel for you man. I’ve only been with my man for a year and a half. It’s always been pretty good. We’ve lived with each other for 9 months now and we’ve never had any real fight until yesterday (and it wasn’t much of a fight). I found out he had been flirting with a girl on Facebook. I had to talk to a guy friend of mine to get a guys perspective. I told him what was said in the FB convo’s (some were about me and a little hurtful). He said that it didn’t sound bad and the bf said he had never do e anything with her (she lives across the country). He’s traveling to her side of the country to visit his family and she wanted him to visit. I asked if he planned on it, but he said he didn’t because once she suggested it he knew she was bad news. I asked him if he really wanted to be with me. He said everything is fine with us. I had to sleep on it last night and I wasn’t sure if I should stay or go. This morning I told him I wanted to make it work. I also said sorry for looking at his FB (I wish I hadn’t, but something told me to). The day went well and we were kind to each other.
    I need to remember now that I can’t bring up the past. I know people who do this and hurts themselves and everyone. I know it’s going to be hard, but I love him and I want this to work. He told me that his dad wanted to pay for our dogs to stay at a kennel so I could go with him to meet his family. It makes me feel so bad for snooping, but at the same time I’m glad I found out what happened. What this means for us, I don’t know. I hope it will make us a stronger couple.
    What I know for sure is that no relationship is easy and if it’s important for both people to make it work, they will.
    I hope that you can stay mindful and in the present, just as I hope I can. I think we also need to learn how to forgive ourselves.

  • Michelle

    This was @Chelsea about his soul mate

  • Troubled Soul

    An old post i see, but as a stranger, thank you. This topic guided me to a more peaceful place inside myself. Handling the greatest betrayal of my life, these words gave me a place of solace.

  • LORRIE CORONAS

    HI LORI I’M REALLY GOING THROUGH IT RITE NOW FOR MY BF ASKED ME TO MARRY HIM AND THEN A FEW WEEKS LATER TEXTED ME SAYING THE WEDDING IS OFF BCUZ I’M NOT GONNA MARRY SOMEONE I CAN’T TRUST AND REALLY I’VE NEVER GIVEN HIM ANY REASON TO NOT TRUST ME !! WE’VE BEEN TOGETHER FOR NINE YEARS THIS SEPTEMBER AND I’VE BEEN TOTALLY FAITHFUL TO HIM !! SO THEN A COUPLE OF HOURS AFTER HAVING A BIG ARGUEMENT HE APOLGIZED ND SAID HE JUST WAS GETTING COLD FEET AND STILL WANTED TO MARRY ME !! BUT HE REALLY MESSED ME UP INSIDE ONE MINUTE I’M HAPPY THEN MAD THEN SAD ND CRYING THINKING WHY WOULD HE DO THIS TO ME !! AND NOW AFTER ALL THIS I DON’T BELIEVE HIS EXCUSE OR ANYTHING HE HAS TO TELL ME !! I LUV HIM SO MUCH BUT I CAN’T SEEM TO GET PAST ALL THIS PLEAZ HELP ME PLEAZ !! HE HURT ME SO VERY MUCH THANK U LORRIE CORONAS

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so sorry to hear about what happened, Lorrie. Was this an isolated incident, or has he hurt you many times in the past?

  • Anonymous

    Hello. I was raised both with love and with some violence and emotional abuse by my mother. She would stick up for me if I was bullied, she would do many loving things. She was clearly troubled herself, frustrated and unhappily married, and had anger issues and anxiety problems. She would pinch me or kick my heels or slap my face as I grew up. She would deny things she did and say it was my own fault if she didn’t deny them. She had some narcissistic tendencies I believe now. She would hold up the iron when it was on if we fought verbally and threaten to slam my face with it. After my parents divorced I was sexually abused by a family friend and I was drinking and smoking and trying other things. Mum and I verbally fought and it got worse. She once smashed my head through a window and she once slammed my bedside table on top of me when in bed. I left home and went bad boyfriend to bad boyfriend, flat to flat, job to job. Between jobs and flats I always went home. I relied on mum and called her and emailed her asking for her advice all the time, assuming I suppose the violent aspects of the relationship were just normal stuff. At 23 I wanted a stable background like others I met, and I was very lonely. So I made my mum and her new boyfriend – who had heard that I was an awful person – my friends, my social life. I bought mum lavish gifts on mothers day. My sister did not experience the same treatment as me and didn’t witness the treatment. She was however the person that mum went to talk to when I was ‘bad’ when growing up. She is four years younger than me. I know mum told her how awful I was, and it separated us. Over the years mum has been both manipulative and kind to me since age 23. Nowadays mostly kind, sometimes manipulative. But I have made my family unit ‘anew’. I was happy to do that and to let the past go, as she wasn’t wholly awful. But, she had a health scare at the beginning of this year. I am now 38. Her being needy, and showing many of the narcissistic qualities over again, and making me stay over longer periods of time (I now live with my stable partner), tipped something in me. She emails me all the time and now all I see in her emails is a manipulator. I take anxiety pills anyway and have done since I was 21 – because of my past – but my family all think i take them ‘because i am just someone born with problems’. The reason I mention the pills is that I have tried to cut down in the hopes that I might have a child of my own. So when I began acting strangely toward mum – distant – after her health scare, my family got angry and said ‘go back on the pills you need them this is all about the pills’. Well, I upped them a little, because I was suffering because of my confused feelings regarding mum. But the issue is the issue, not the pills! I am in therapy and cannot work currently. I am in a state of feeling frozen stuck. It’s making me physically ill. Why did I do that at 23 – I basically couldn’t get my family to believe me about mum so I pretty much apologised just to have peace with them. From age 23 to age 38 I have had an – albeit not perfect with mum – good relationship with mum and with them. And now suddenly after her health scare I feel I regret having made that relationship better. Because I still have not been heard. My sister never believed me and no way would she now – she is convinced I am ‘just issued’. Mum’s boyfriend certainly thinks mum is wonderful. So I feel I have to just ‘carry on’ and continue in our relationship – because I love mum – and so how could suddenly backtracking be helpful? But the health scare got to me because I realised that whilst I love her, I’m not sure I want to really care for her in old age. But now I feel I kind of have to. I am really screwed up.

  • New Guest

    This is what I needed to read. I want to stay in this relationship, I can not think living without it – but I hoping time will heal all the pain and bring out brighter side for both of us. This blog will surely help me through my tough time.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this helped! =)

  • anonymous

    Hi Lori
    I wondered if you were able to reply at all to my message above?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I somehow missed your comment before–sorry about that! And I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been through. I could relate to a lot of what you wrote.

    I also took pills for years to deal with my past, and for a long time, I believed I had bipolar disorder. I eventually realized that was not the case. I wasn’t born that way. I was all over the place emotionally because of what I’d been through.

    When I was on medication, someone in my life frequently asked, “Did you forget your pills today?” whenever I was expressing a valid emotional response to something they said or did that was mean, insensitive, and hurtful. I didn’t realize it then, but I now know that my feelings matter and I don’t deserve to be condescended or belittled in that way–or manipulated. You don’t either.

    I don’t think you’re screwed up. I think you grew up in a dysfunctional, abusive environment, and yet you’ve been brave enough to forgive and be there for the person who hurt you.

    Still, you don’t deserve to be bullied into doing anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. If you regret having made the relationship better, then it sounds like your intuition is telling you that you need to set a boundary for yourself. And you have every right to do that.

    You are in my thoughts…

    Lori

  • anonymous

    Thank you so much for the reply. I’m sorry you had to go through what you did as well. It is awful being told you need pills when you are just trying to stand up for yourself or be heard. It feels like it is you against the world sometimes. I think with the regret of having made the relationship better, it is because it worked on the basis that she was self sufficient. With the first sign of inability came flooding back her past manipulative ways. It’s not that I don’t want to be there. I would be leaving my sister in an awful position, and as I say, I love mum. But trying to deal with it left me struggling for breath at times. Especially as my sister, whilst loving toward me, judges me harshly and criticises. She has said over the years how she is basically the older sister in reality. I have taken time away at present. I am trying to get strong enough to go back to face it. I need to find a way to help on my terms, I guess, and that means as you say setting some kind of boundary or boundaries. I find this so hard as I have really spent my life acquiescing. I don’t even know what I want out of life to be honest. Other than not to feel bad! Thank you for making me feel validated. I need to try to find a way to gain inner strength. I have looked up buddhist articles. I think though I may be trying to find someone else to tell me what to do. I hope so much I find strength because I feel so weak. Therapy is useful, but it is a place to talk through feelings, not a place to advise and give you strength. Somehow I must find that myself. Thanks again, and sorry for not giving my name. It’s the first time I’ve ever written on a site!

  • lisa

    Thank you.. I needed this

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I understand what you mean about boundaries. I’ve spent much of my life acquiescing, as well, and I know it’s not easy to identify and assert your needs.

    Do you meditate or practice yoga? Those two practices have helped me find clarity, strength, and peace of mind. You can find all kinds of guided meditations on YouTube by searching for “guided meditation” and other keywords, like “healing,””peace,” or “strength.”

    If you listen to one every day, it will start to make a difference over time. At least, that’s been true for me.

    Sending good thoughts your way,

    Lori

  • anonymous

    Thanks Lori. It makes me feel far less alone hearing you talk about sharing similar struggles in getting there. I have tried yoga and I didn’t seem to get the feeling that most people do – I think I might really struggle with relaxing into things and being present. Perhaps I will try meditation as I have not done that. I will look on YouTube, Maybe I can reach a place where I can then go back to trying yoga with more results. Thanks again. Very much appreciated. Sending good thoughts your way too!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! In my experience with yoga, it can take a while to relax and be present, but it gets easier with practice–and it’s so worth it.

  • anonymous

    :) :) It’s been so good talking with you. I am on YouTube now..

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad I could help. Happy Thursday. =)

  • Sarah D

    I feel like this is exactly where I am right now. I keep reliving the past it seems through my thoughts. I’m having a hard time working through it. I’m glad I stumbled upon this.

  • Jocelyn

    This article was just what i needed today, thank you soo much for opening my eyes, i had never thought about things that way.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I’m glad it helped!