Center for Shared Insight, PC

Are You a Relationship Hoarder? How To Heal Through a Breakup or Separation

May 6, 2014
Posted By: Kristen Hick, Psy.D.
Relationship, separation, break-up

How To Heal (For Real) Through a Breakup or Separation.  

We’ve all seen the shows.  An “expert” comes in to a person’s home, filled wall to wall with veritable mountains of stuff.

Some people are holding on to papers in case they need that one precious piece of information later, unsure if they’ll remember it on their own. Some fill their homes with items they have compulsively bought to avoid painful feelings. Others build walls, even tunnels, to protect themselves from the all-too-real feelings of fear, vulnerability, or shame.

Now, the team of experts arrive, and, Presto! Within days, the house is spotless, renovated, and livable again.

What does this have to do with you, you ask? If you can identify with the concept of swinging to the next relationship branch while you still have a hold on the previous one, it has everything to do with you, and your relationships.

The thing is, clinging to the hoarded material in a house (and then cleaning it, perhaps only to prepare fresh space for more hoarding!) and jumping into a new relationship soon after the old one ends (or is in the process of ending) are not all that different. 

Relationship Hoarding Effect

This is what I like to call the Relationship Hoarding Effect: if you clean out a hoarder’s house without first helping to resolve the reason he or she hoards, you often find later that the hoarding tendencies have returned, or even gotten worse.

This leaves loved ones and the hoarders themselves feeling sad, confused, and frustrated. The reason this happens is that a few days (or weeks) are not enough time to address the underlying emotional reasons that people hoard, so the pattern repeats itself. 

Real healing and change take time, work, and patient, persistent attention. The same is true for relationships. If you leave one relationship and jump immediately into a new relationship without first understanding what didn’t work and why, the problems and patterns are likely to repeat themselves in the new relationship.

Face the Feelings

You see, just like the somewhat addictive, compulsive behavior of those who hoard, people who jump from relationship to relationship do so compulsively. They do so without considering the impact of the previous relationship on the self and on future relationships.

They do so to avoid the rather intolerable feelings of shame, fear, and hurt and abandonment. This makes sense, because who wants to feel this way? However, if you don’t resolve the issues of the past, and instead build a shaky fortress of new relationships around them, you are bound to repeat the same mistakes.

If any of this is feeling All Too Familiar, there is hope. The solution lies within you, rather than in the next relationship—no matter how compelling and desirable it seems. There is nothing quite as liberating in life as being able to overcome something you once thought was impossible.

The greatest personal and relationship growth comes from the experience of being able to feel and deal with these feelings and come out healed, strengthened, and transformed on the other end. If you find yourself in a similar situation, and want to establish a healthier foundation for a relationship, read Jumping From One Relationship Frying Pan Into Another.

To read similar articles or information on Individual Relationship Therapy in Denver, Colordado, contact Kristen Hick, Psy.D. at

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