When Loving Someone Hurts: Navigating Emotional Pain in Relationships

Date Posted

May 6, 2024


Arielle Cohen, LCSW

When Loving Someone Hurts Woman Looking Down Man With Head In Hands

Love is a profound and meaningful emotion that binds us to one another. However, sometimes, this bond can bring pain and hardships that may harm our well-being. Caregivers often confront the reality that a loved one’s mental health condition leads to symptoms such as irrational fears, extreme mood swings, or even aggressive behavior. These can be emotionally draining and physically exhausting. When loving someone hurts, it usually signals the need for setting boundaries.

Boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. Setting relationship boundaries is no easy task. It can feel like you’re pushing away or even abandoning someone you deeply care about. It’s crucial to remember that setting healthy boundaries is an act of self-care that may lead to a more sustainable relationship in the long run, should you choose to continue it.

Nurturing Emotions and Taking Care of Yourself

When Loving Someone Hurts Woman Journaling OutsideIf a loved one’s behavior leads to emotional pain, pause and process your emotions before responding or making a decision. Tune into your feelings and acknowledge them without judgment. It’s okay to feel hurt, confused, or even angry. Prioritizing your emotional health and well-being is not just permitted; it’s essential.

Practicing self-care activities such as meditation, journaling, getting out into nature, exercising, or seeking support from a trusted family member, friend, or therapist can aid in managing these emotions. These activities can also help you work through your feelings and begin to consider which boundaries you need to protect your well-being.

Setting Boundaries When Loving Someone Hurts

Start by clearly defining what your limits are. Your limits may be related to your emotional, physical, or mental health. They might involve how much time you will spend with the person, what topics you’re willing to discuss, or what behaviors you will tolerate. For instance, you might decide that you can’t be around the person if they are raising their voice, when they start calling you names, or when they blame you for their state of mind. These limits are unique to you, so decide them based on your own comfort level.

Stating and enforcing your boundaries might require continuous communication and, at times, saying ‘no’ or distancing yourself. One of the most painful boundaries for a caregiver can be stopping communication or ending the relationship. You may have to consider this if your loved one’s behavior severely impacts your health and happiness, and they are unwilling or unable to change. Boundaries are not meant to punish the other person, but to protect you. You have the right to feel safe, respected, and valued in your relationships. Once you’ve set these boundaries, it’s crucial to uphold them.

Maintaining Healthy Boundaries 

Maintaining healthy boundaries is just as important as setting them. It’s easy to revert back to old habits, especially when dealing with loved ones. But maintaining boundaries is crucial for your mental and emotional health.

Remember that it’s okay to say no, and it’s important to put your needs first. It’s not selfish to prioritize your well-being. When you’re starting to feel drained or stressed, take action to preserve your boundaries. This could be as simple as taking time for yourself or seeking outside help.

It’s also okay to revisit your boundaries. If they’re not working for you, what needs to change? As your relationship evolves, you may find that new concerns and priorities arise. Just be sure that you communicate about your boundaries so that the person can set up their own expectations.

Seeking Professional Help When Loving Someone Hurts

When Loving Someone Hurts Two Men Talking TherapyIf you find it difficult to set or maintain healthy boundaries, consider seeking professional help. Therapists and counselors are trained to help you understand your emotions and guide you in making decisions about your relationships. They can provide you with tools and strategies to effectively communicate your needs and boundaries.

Remember, loving someone with a mental health condition shouldn’t hurt. If it does, it’s a sign that something needs to change. It’s not easy, but healthy boundaries are necessary to ensure your well-being and the health of your relationships.