You Need Help: I Was in a Relationship With Someone Who Didn’t Like Me

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Q:

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who doesn’t like you? I think I was in a relationship with someone who didn’t really like me. I think they found me annoying or maybe they changed their mind and held things in…I don’t know, it went on much longer than it should have and I get these like flashes of memories of things she’s said or done and it still really hurts. She broke up with me in 2020 at the start of the lockdown and I still get these flashes of painful memories.

After the breakup, we each took some space but eventually tried friendship but I felt miserable and like a doormat when we were “friends” so I’ve asked for no contact. That was 2021.

Last week, I went ice-skating and saw her at the rink and I still feel so emotional. Does anybody have experience feeling angry with a person after the break up and the anger kind of growing? With a therapist and through journaling I keep finding new things to be upset about and now I’m in a place where I’m like wow I really let her off easy and I’m angry about that. Does anyone relate to taking forever to get over a person?

I really feel like she didn’t like me and I don’t feel like my friends understand because she’s so nice to them but it was different in our relationship. Idk. I feel like an idiot for trying to be friends and I hate how angry I feel when I see her, especially when I see her having a good time. I feel pathetic! I’m hoping other people can share similar experiences and what’s helped them.

A:

I’ve been where you are right now, and I’ve also been where (it seems like) your ex is. First things first: FEEL YOUR FEELINGS, and don’t feel bad about them. And don’t feel bad about not feeling bad about them. It sounds like you’re almost feeling guilty about being angry. As a person who was culturally raised to feel shame around anger, I totally get this. It can take me years before I realize I was wronged or something somewhat traumatic or unjust happened to me. I’m still processing a relationship from 2019! According to the many therapists I’ve held over the course of the past five years, we can only begin to process the deeper, more painful feelings once our bodies feel safe. It makes a lot of sense that you’re still mulling over the relationship. You’re finally in a place where you can take a step back from being in the intensity of the relationship.

The fact that you’re even processing in the first place tells me you’re not being pathetic have a right to be upset. You’re saying you felt hurt by them and that many moments of the relationship felt painful. You can’t blame yourself for staying in something you couldn’t see at the moment. When you tried to hold onto something you felt such real feelings for, you “felt like a doormat.” That’s not okay! That alone is something you should be mad about! Even though it’s felt like an eternity since the relationship, you’re only just now seeing the whole picture for what it was at the time. You’re learning new information you didn’t have access to before. Healing and grieving never have a timeline. It’s taken me one week to get over relationships, while it’s taken me almost a decade to get over someone I never even dated. The healing process is unique because all our wounds and vulnerabilities are all so different. If I were in your position right now, I would definitely feel upset by the resurgence of so not-so-fun feelings after I thought I gained closure with it.

Eventually, most people breaking off relationships end up with some hostility or resentment. Right now, you’re feeling a bit of that toward them. What’s more confusing for you is that they possibly didn’t like you while in the relationship, even before things started to turn sour. I can really only take guesses as to why this might be.

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve been this person in the relationship, and more than once. It was never something I was cognizant of at the moment, but months or years later, I reflect back and think about how I really didn’t like this person. I amount a lot of this to codependency and trauma-bonding. My very first girlfriend literally provided me housing and food in return for my emotional stability. We had many other toxic quid-pro-quo dynamics, but eventually I grew to resent her, because I felt like I was responsible for her emotional wellbeing. Part of it, at least for me, was also the idealization of the person that only falls flat when the honeymoon phase passes. It’s not uncommon to see relationships where one person puts the other on a pedestal or wears rose colored glasses. Only time reveals the truth of complicated dynamics and incompatibility. When this begins to happen, infatuation can switch to restatement quickly. It’s like that saying about how the line between love and hate is thin. I’m not saying it’s any excuse, but rather another perspective.

I can’t tell you why your ex may or may not have liked you. You might not even be able to discern that. You two started dating for some reason, and it ended for a reason as well. Maybe this person needed something from you at the time? Maybe they were looking for one type of relationship and ended up in another? Maybe they were still figuring themselves out and dragged you along for the ride? Maybe they were really into you and pulled away out of fear and insecurity? Maybe they were drawn to a thing in you that they hate in themselves? Relationships and attachments are messy, and until we learn to heal ourselves, we sometimes end up trying to get involved with someone who we think could heal us instead.

I don’t know the reason they may have disliked you, and it sounds like you might not even know the reason. What I would encourage you to do now is reflect on the reason this is important to you. More broadly, what would you need to find closure? Some people can get that simply by doing the internal work, while others need to hash it out with the person they were entangled with. Only you will have a better idea of what you need. Just know that moving forward you’re completely valid in your post-breakup feelings, no matter how long ago it was.


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Em Win

Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Em now lives in Los Angeles where she does many odd jobs in addition to writing. When she's not sending 7-minute voice messages to friends and family, she enjoys swimming, yoga, candle-making, tarot, drag, and talking about the Enneagram.

Em has written 66 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. Hi LW,

    Thank you for writing this letter. I went through something similar last year. I was broken up with by someone who, by the end, didn’t seem to like or value me at all. This was after almost three years of us being together. It feels terrible. I’m so sorry you’re going through that, I’m sorry for all the questions it inevitably raises within you, I’m sorry for the hurt and the anger. I think you’ve done absolutely the right thing by going no contact, and I echo what Em has said about feeling your feelings and asking yourself what you need.

    Sometimes I still feel angry about the way I was treated. Sometimes I feel upset that I let this ex get away with so much meanness towards me even in the course of our relationship. But the key thing it taught me is: I have to be my first protector. Having been in that relationship, I have now learnt unequivocally what I will never accept again. Because I initiated no contact and stuck to it, I have learnt that I will never try to maintain the presence in my life of a person who would treat me so poorly. Having been so unloved by that person by the end, I have dug deep into the relationships that make me feel loved, valued, LIKED, and that has taught me that I am capable of choosing love. It has taught me that it wasn’t me, it was them.
    It’s really shit to see all the galling moments when someone treated you badly. It’s a horrible thing to go through. One thing that unlocked a new level of healing for me was to vow to myself that I would never willingly go back to a situation like that again. That was how I reminded myself that although this bad thing had happened, now that this person was gone, I was safe. I am safe. And I will be safe.
    Once I got that clear in my head it also then gave me space to ask myself why I stayed; why I loved them; why I liked them. I was able to see that i wasn’t wrong for doing that – they are a likeable and loveable person (to others lol) and they had so many traits that I will always value and cherish. But what is key is that I will never again value and cherish them (or anyone else) more than I value and cherish myself. I’ll never give the job of being my first protector to another person. It’s my job, and, because I’m such a loveable person, it’s an honour to do this job. It’s horrible that our exes treated us the way they did, but we have the chance to be stronger and smarter now.

    Every time we choose ourselves, we tangibly teach ourselves that we are loved (by walking away from situations that aren’t loving to us). And that person no longer gets to benefit from the things they were getting from you.

    Your friends also need to get it together, or you need to confide in people who are unequivocally on your side. I’m not saying dump your mutual friends, but I am saying, you don’t need extra voices that diminish what happened to you. You need friends who can hold that anger for you on the days when it’s too heavy to hold it yourself. You need friends who you model that protective mode and who will fight for so that you know what it looks like to fight for yourself.

    Finally, this may not be possible but if at all it is, minimise (or stop cold turkey) being in situations where you see your ex around (let alone see them happy). Your focus is on you. Their feelings (in general, and specifically about you) need less airtime in your mind. Think of it as a meditative exercise – when your mind drifts towards them, how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, let this be a trigger to pull your mind back to yourself. Minimise this person so that you can maximise your effort and your love on yourself. You’re doing really well by going to therapy. Continue in this vein!

    I hope this helps. I’m sorry once again. I’m sending you healing and I trust that you will move through this into a place of peace and into a deeper sense of love (for yourself and for the many people who love you and who will love you).

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