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Why Do We Obsess Over People That Hurt Us?

Why is it so hard to stop thinking about someone that has repeatedly hurt us?

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Dopamine & Oxytocin- Toxic relationships like the one described in the question involve a level of unpredictablility. That unpredictability leads to us producing higer than normal surges of dopamine. It’s possible we have intrusive or obsessoive throughts about a Toxic Ex because we’re craving the dopamine high.

  2. Repetition Compulsion - This is a psychological theory where a survivor of trauma subconciously re-enacts the traumatic experience trying to create or force a certain outcome. This can also be why we tend to date the same kind of person over and over. Oten times, we are completely unaware of what we’re doing when we repeat maladaptive dating patterns.

  3. Societal Conditioning - Women are conditioned to believe they are responsible for the success or failure of a relationship. As a result, we over-analyze and re-trace every step of the relationship in an attempt to understand why the relationship ended and if we could have salvaged it.

  4. Comfort - Sometimes we re-create our trauma by dating the same kind of person because it’s familiar. Our brain already has the coping mechanisms in place to navigate the toxic relationship.

  5. Punishment - Sometimes we see the red flags and ignore them until we can’t anymore. When the relationship finally ends we ruminate about that person as a way to punish ourselves for not leaving right away.

I’ll re-iterate that much of this behavior is controlled by our subconscious. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re repeating unhealthy patterns of behavior.

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