What Do You Do When You Feel Indebted to Your Abusive Ex

What Do You Do When You Feel Indebted to Your Abusive Ex what do you do when you feel indebted to your abusive ex
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A relationship is somewhat like an investment; you jump in with both feet and you learn a thing or two from it. You may even have a joint business; you help each other out even in times of need. You do favors for one another and a couple of other things you feel grateful for.

Now, what happens if the person you’re in a relationship with, who’s been there for you through thick and thin — helping you out of debt, supporting you in your career, being there when you were sick, taking you to incredible places, and even being intimate in ways you’ve never experienced — starts to become abusive? It’s a confusing situation because even though they’re behaving badly now, they’ve also done wonderful things for you in the past. Feeling indebted in such circumstances is common because when you’ve been with someone for a long time or in a serious relationship, it’s natural to feel grateful for the good times.

Feeling Indebted Keeps You Stuck

You might genuinely care for them to the extent that you feel you can’t leave them because of something they did for you 10 or 5 years ago. This feeling can be entrapping because you may begin to tolerate their abusive behavior and justify staying in the relationship. You might even excuse their actions by attributing them to mental illness, depression, or childhood trauma. You may feel obligated to reciprocate how they took care of you in the past.

While it’s perfectly fine and even commendable to support others or your partners, it becomes problematic when you perceive it as a debt you must repay at the expense of your own well-being. Holding onto a relationship solely because of the hardships you’ve endured together creates an intangible debt that can be difficult to break free from.

Feeling indebted to someone is a common experience, particularly because we’ve been conditioned to understand reciprocity as a fundamental aspect of relationships.

Let’s explore this aspect of reciprocity in relationships and why your interpretation of reciprocity depends on how you view yourself. Like where you really feel that if someone does something to you, you have to reciprocate. But now, we never really talk about what does it really mean to reciprocate? Is it by staying in the relationship or by doing something else?

Complex Nature of Reciprocity in Relationships

Reciprocation in relationships often involves an implicit understanding that when someone does something for us, we feel an inclination to do something in return. However, the terms of this reciprocity are rarely quantified or explicitly stated. This lack of quantification makes it logically impossible to precisely reciprocate something that someone did for us years ago.

So, how you reciprocate basically depends on how you understand or how you perceive yourself. You may think that you’ve got to reciprocate by staying but that’s the reason because you have come up with as your mind is find that seemingly legit and unquestionable reason to keep you stuck in familiar environment.


Relationships thrive on genuine care, empathy, and understanding rather than strict calculations of give and take. There can never be an equivalent action to what you receive in the relationship and when you view a relationship as an aspect of reciprocity, it leads to feelings of obligation and indebtedness which makes the relationship more mechanical or transactional like a business instead of a connection between two human beings. A relationship is not a transaction, it is a connection.

You Owe No One Anything

One of the greatest lessons you can ever learn in life is understanding that you don’t owe anyone anything; you only owe it to yourself. You might think you have to do things or be responsible for others because that’s what you’ve learned. But what you need to realize is that you owe yourself a good life. You owe yourself a life where you are free, a life where you are not being hurt.

And this aspect of owing someone something is just not a natural thing. Actually, it’s an unnatural thing because it stems from your own conditioning, from how we’ve been wired. We’ve learned this from our parents, from our friends — that if someone does something for you, you have to say thank you or reciprocate. It has become so automatic, so mechanical, to the point that it even loses its importance because it’s just something mechanical. It lacks the emotion or the beauty of genuine gratitude.

Owing No One Anything Doesn’t Mean Withholding Support

What makes it challenging to grasp this concept of not owing anything to another is the belief that by not feeling indebted, you’re being selfish and failing to support them. However, the truth is that the best form of support arises when you’re not bound by obligations. You can genuinely support those you care about when it’s a choice or because you genuinely want to, not because you feel obligated.

When support is given out of obligation, it often leads to feelings of heaviness or resentment. On the other hand, when support is freely given, it feels effortless and brings a sense of lightness.


You may genuinely feel indebted to your abusive ex or even your toxic parents for their actions in the past. However, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself and assess how your life is currently and what it could be in the future if you continue living in this state. Remember, this life is yours, not someone else’s. Realizing that you don’t owe anyone anything can be incredibly liberating.

Not owing anyone anything doesn’t mean neglecting to support others. Rather, it means supporting others from a more detached perspective, without feeling obligated. The only one you truly owe something to is yourself. You owe it to yourself to lead a happy, free, and peaceful life.

Many of these feelings of obligation stem from conditioning and past experiences, but it’s essential to prioritize your own well-being. By unlearning these ingrained beliefs, you’ll come to understand that the only debt you owe is to yourself — to live a life free from the limitations of your past and the influences of others. Always prioritize your safety and focus on breaking free from the constraints of your past experiences.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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