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July 14, 2024

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Trust Not a Horse’s Heel nor a Dog’s Tooth – Deciphering the Meaning and Origins of the English Proverb

The English proverb “Trust not a horse’s heel nor a dog’s tooth” is a centuries-old piece of wisdom that serves…

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Relationships are complex and can be fraught with emotions, insecurities, and uncertainties. When a relationship begins to unravel, some individuals resort to a harmful and destructive tactic: hurting their partner intentionally before breaking up. This behavior stems from a desire to test their partner’s commitment, but it often leads to emotional pain, mistrust, and long-term damage. In this article, we will delve into the psychology behind this toxic tactic and explore healthier alternatives for navigating the end of a relationship.

The Psychology Behind Hurting Before Breaking Up

  1. Fear of Abandonment: One of the primary reasons individuals resort to hurting their partner before breaking up is a deep-seated fear of abandonment. They may feel insecure about their partner’s commitment or question whether they will be missed once the relationship ends. By causing emotional pain, they hope to gauge their partner’s reaction and determine if they still care.
  2. Control Issues: Some people engage in this behavior as a means of maintaining control over the relationship. By intentionally hurting their partner, they can dictate the terms of the breakup and feel like they have the upper hand. This desire for control can be driven by their own insecurities and anxieties.
  3. Testing Loyalty: In some cases, individuals want to test their partner’s loyalty and devotion. They believe that if their partner can withstand hurtful behavior and still want to be with them, it’s a sign of true love. This misguided belief can lead to a destructive cycle of emotional manipulation.

The Consequences of Hurting Before Breaking Up

While the intention behind this tactic may be rooted in fear and insecurity, the consequences are often severe and damaging for both parties involved:

  1. Emotional Trauma: The partner being hurt intentionally experiences emotional trauma, leading to feelings of betrayal, rejection, and low self-esteem. This trauma can have lasting effects on their future relationships.
  2. Trust Erosion: Trust is a foundational element of any relationship. Deliberately hurting a partner erodes trust and leaves a lasting scar, making it difficult for both individuals to trust future partners.
  3. Negative Coping Mechanism: Engaging in this behavior is a negative coping mechanism for dealing with the end of a relationship. It prevents emotional growth and healing, making it challenging to move forward.
  4. Damaging Communication: Instead of having open and honest conversations about their feelings and concerns, individuals resort to hurtful actions, hindering healthy communication and closure.

Healthy Alternatives for Navigating a Breakup

Breaking up is never easy, but there are healthier and more constructive ways to handle the end of a relationship:

  1. Open and Honest Communication: Instead of resorting to hurtful actions, have a candid conversation with your partner about your feelings and reasons for ending the relationship. Honesty fosters understanding and closure.
  2. Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist to help you navigate the emotional challenges of a breakup. Talking to someone you trust can provide valuable perspective and emotional support.
  3. Self-Reflection: Take time to reflect on your own feelings and behaviors in the relationship. Understanding your own insecurities and fears can help you grow and avoid repeating destructive patterns in future relationships.
  4. Respect Boundaries: Respect your partner’s boundaries and give them the space they need to process their emotions. Hurting them intentionally only prolongs the healing process for both parties.


Hurting someone intentionally before breaking up is a toxic tactic that can cause long-lasting emotional damage and mistrust. It stems from fear, control issues, and a misguided belief in testing loyalty. Instead of resorting to such harmful behavior, it’s crucial to prioritize open and honest communication, seek support, and engage in self-reflection. Ending a relationship is painful, but it can also be an opportunity for personal growth and a chance to part ways with respect and dignity.


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