How to heal from past relationships

In this article I will teach you how to heal from past relationships. I will present the signs of unhealed trauma and explain how to heal from your past traumatic relationships and early childhood experiences.

Unhealed past relationships can be extremely damaging for your mental and physical health. It is important to recognise the symptoms of unhealed relationship trauma in order to move on and be able to be your best self.

Trauma is deeper than just being stuck in the past. By understanding the symptoms of relationship trauma and identifying your personal triggers, you can start the healing process.


7 Signs of unhealed relationship trauma

1. You feel physically drained. Research show that unhealed trauma can make physical pain more intense. This is a result of putting your body constantly under pressure. When you are stressed or anxious, you activate the flight or fight response in your body. To get back to normality after the perceived threat, it takes between 20 to 60 minutes for your body to return to its pre-arousal level. Being in a relationship that often raises your stress hormones, can weaken the immune system, worsen the physical pain and leave you physically drained.

2. You feel disconnected. After relationship trauma, you might feel disconnected and detached from reality. Research has shown that dissociation is a self-defence mechanism against pain and suffering. Your mind unconsciously detaches from your reality, from your feelings and emotions in order to protect itself from more trauma. As a result, you feel emotionally disconnected from yourself and unable to feel intense emotions, both positive or negative.

3. Your mind works differently. After a traumatic relationship, you might notice you forget things, you cannot focus on completing simple tasks and you feel your mind is out of control. Also, you feel frustrated and angry for minor issues. You might feel restfulness and unable to calm and relax.

4. You develop trust issues even with people you know. After a traumatic relationship, you might find it harder to trust people, even friends and family. Your ability to feel safe and connected with other people is changed. Your mind will look for triggers and reinforce them in order to protect you from suffering.

5. You feel on edge. After unhealed relationship trauma, you always feel on edge. You might seek different sensations by engaging in dangerous activities. This is in order to feel a sense of relief and to get a break from your feelings and emotions.

6. You blame yourself. When the relationship trauma is not healed, you tend to blame yourself or look for reasons to blame yourself. You constantly think of what you might have done differently to avoid getting to this point.

7. You have unjustified anxiety. The triggers from anxiety when it comes to past trauma are sometimes unknown. You might encounter unjustified anxiety in moments when everything is going smoothly. The emotional triggers build by your subconscious might reveal themselves in inappropriate moments that have no apparent correlation with the trauma.

6 Steps to heal from past relationships

1. Awareness

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”- Eckhart Tolle

The first step to healing is awareness. Recognise the signs of past relationships trauma above and be aware of what you need to heal. Think about past relationships and what trauma sticks out in your memory, what is the reason you were most hurt by. Also, go back to your early childhood experiences and think what unhealed trauma you might re-enforce in your present relationship. This is one of the biggest healing challenges as most of your childhood trauma might be repressed. Take small steps and think of memories where you felt abused, sad or rejected.

 2. Understanding

”You don’t need strength to let go of something. What you really need is understanding.”- Guy Finley

Look at your past relationships from a more logical, rational and objective point of view. Discover a new perspective for your past relationships. Analyse the things that were real and look for the ones that might have been created by your mind. Now that you are not in the relationship, try to understand your ex-partner point of view more objectively. Think of what have hurt you the most and try to understand why it had a negative impact on you. Find your triggers and work on overcoming them.

3. Compassion

“That is what compassion does. It challenges our assumptions, our sense of self-limitation, worthlessness, of not having a place in the world. As we develop compassion, our hearts open.”- Sharon Salzberg

Compassion, especially self-compassion is essential for the healing process. Go back to your childhood memories and look at your experiences with self-love and self-compassion. Look at your past relationships and past mistakes with compassion and understanding, forgive yourself and move on towards becoming a better self. Moreover, offer compassion and empathy to everyone else involved by trying to put yourself in their situation and asking yourself why they might have hurt you. Being able to empathise with the person that hurt you, will help diminish your anger and frustration towards them.

4. Forgiveness

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”- Louis B. Smedes

Learning how to forgive people that hurt you is the hardest and most important step in the healing process. Resentment is a punishment you bring to yourself, not to the person that hurt you. Holding on to anger and frustration stops you for living happy and healthy. By forgiving your ex-partners for the pain they caused you, you are offering yourself the gift of freedom. And once you are free from the past, you can live in the present. Learning to forgive is an act of self-love.

5. Learning

”Whatever worked in the past, build on it; whatever didn’t work in the past, break the chain that binds you to it.”- Marianne Williamson

After you have forgiven the people that have hurt you in the past, it is time to reflect on the lessons that you have learned from your childhood and past-relationships and think of how you are going to take these lessons in your life and future relationships. Think of what they have taught you, how they have made you stronger and better and what you need to avoid in the future. At the end of a traumatic relationship or painful experience you can choose if it will change you for the worst or for the best. Learning and taking the lessons with you will stop you repeating the same mistakes.


“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation.” Bernie S. Siegel

The completion of the 5 first steps will bring another perspective towards your situation, a perspective of love. You can re-write your story in a way that will benefit your life, free of guilt, blame and resentment. Ask yourself what limiting beliefs have stopped you from healing from your past relationships. . Be kind to yourself and transform the story that has kept you from being your amazing self. Take control of your life, heal and let go of the past and focus on the present moment and on how you would like to live your life from this moment.

Final thoughts

I hope this article taught you how to heal from past relationships, what are the signs of past relationships trauma and what steps to take in order to heal yourself and transform your life. Focus on the present, learn from the past and be excited about the future!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to answer them.

All the best,


  (Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists)

For counselling and coaching appointments scan the QR code or press here.

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14 thoughts on “How to heal from past relationships”

  1. I loved reading your article, Ioana. Espacially point 4 and 5 appeal to me very much.
    I am in the happy circumstances that I have few broken relationships with either love partners or friends. But I do have some difficult relationships with family members. And although it was hard, I did forgive them and feel sooo much better now. Mainly because I don’t have to ruminate anymore about how it should have gone and what I should have said. It’s in the past, I can’t change it and I better move on in a healthy way. 🙂

    • Hi Hannie,

      Thank you for your comment. Forgiveness is the hardest step in the healing process, but definitely the most important one. As you mentioned, in order to move on in a healthy way is important to accept and let go of the past.

      All the best,

  2. Hi Ioana,

    This is a very important article that I believe a lot of people who are having difficulty in their relationships can learn from. At present my relationship is fine, but because I enjoy your articles so much I felt it was a good idea to read this one. I have forwarded this article on to some of my friends, especially two people who are having difficulty in their relationships. I will do my best to help them too, but I have encouraged them to take this seriously and if they have any issues then they should get in touch with you.

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the amazing work you are doing.

    All the best,


    • Hi Tom,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I am happy that you enjoyed reading my article and recommended it to your friends. I am happy to help them and see what can be done to overcome their relationship difficulties.
      I will leave my e-mail address here in case they want to talk privately:

      All the best,

  3. I really enjoy reading your articles Ioana, you always say so many things that I think many of us can relate too, I have had some really difficult relationships in the past but I have managed to move on and forgive them for what they put me through at the time.
    It is important not to dwell on these thing or else you can never be happy.
    Looking forward to your next article.

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your comment. I am pleased to see that you enjoyed reading my article and I cannot agree with you more, dwelling in the past won’t change it and it will stop us from enjoying the present.

      All the best,

  4. Great article and these are some great steps to follow. I think forgiveness (number 4) is the hardest to do but a relief once it’s done. I had to let go and forgive people that I was in working (plutonic) relationships but it took me a long time to be able to do it.
    If you are struggling to forgive someone, it’s not them that is suffering it’s you. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • Hi Justin,

      Thank you for your comment. I cannot agree more with you. Resentment is the poison we drink whilst trying to kill our enemy.

      All the best,

  5. Hi Ioana,

    I’m glad you mentioned self-compassion in your article. Everyone makes mistakes and we would all do things differently if we had the chance but none of us are perfect and we may have hurt those who loved us. It is important to recognise our mistakes and learn from them rather than dwell on what we could have or should have done.

    • Hi Ali,

      Thank you for your comment. You are absolutely right, dwelling in the past won’t change it. Instead, learning from our mistakes and taking the lesson in the future is extremely important. Self-compassion is a must if we want to heal from past relationships.

      Kind regards,

  6. Yes!!! Excellent content! People can grow so much by healing from painful past experiences, and intimate relationships can easily be some of the most damaging because of the amount of vulnerability we’re in.

    My question: how does one possibly forgive someone who has hurt them deeply? It is true that resentment hurts the resenter more than the resentee, but it can be exceedingly difficult even so to feel like the resentee is deserving of forgiveness, especially in more extreme situations like physical abuse.

    • Hi Christina,

      Thank you for your comment. When it comes to forgiveness it is important to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean accepting the wrong that was done to you, but  freeing yourself from negative thoughts and feelings that can untimely cause a lot of pain and health problems. 

      Forgiving someone who has deeply hurt you is one of the hardest things someone can do. You can forgive someone without having to ever talk with that person. It is an act you do for yourself, not for the other person, 

      One of the tips I would recommend is asking yourself: ‘what did I learn from this experience that can help me achieve the life I always wanted?’ . It is essential to understand that every situation we experience is teaching us a lesson and until we’ve learned the lesson we will face similar situations over and over again. 

      All the best, 


  7. Thank you for your post. It is a timely article for me. I just ended a relationship with my girl friend. It is a strange feeling and indeed, I have some kinds of relationship trauma. The biggest issue for me is that my mind can not concentrate, always think about the relationship.

    I particularly like your description on 6 steps to heal from past relationships. It is hard to forget all things we did together. I agree with you that you don’t need strength to let go of something and what you really need is understanding. I need to understand and discover a new perspective for my past relationships. Find my triggers and work on overcoming them.

    • Hi Anthony,

      Thank you for your comment. I am happy to hear that my article has helped you deal with the difficult feelings caused by the break-up. I hope you will discover a new perspective and learn the lessons needed to be learned from this relationship. 

      All the best,



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