Masochism is a way of abusing yourself for whatever reason you think you deserve. The emotional masochist isn’t so different.

According to most definitions, masochism is seeking pleasure from pain. There are various types of masochist behaviors, including conducting pain in order to become more spiritual.

What is an emotional masochist?

But one of the lesser-known forms of this behavior comes from emotional masochism. It has nothing to do with sadomasochism which is sexual pain, or other forms of masochistic behavior. It has a definition all its own.

Emotional masochist is someone who derives enjoyment from self-inflicted emotional pain.

You may know people like this, or this could be you. Without understanding the signs of someone who indulges in self-inflicting emotional pain, you’ll never know. There are indicators that point toward someone who is indeed hooked on emotional pain.

1. Self-critical

One sign that you are an emotional masochist is that you’re extensively self-critical. If something goes wrong, it’s always your fault. You think everyone hates you, and you hate yourself too. Sometimes it gets so bad that all you can do is cry to release the pain.

2. Stuck in the past

Everyone thinks back to times from the past every now and then. However, someone who inflicts pain on themselves will live in the past. You will be unable to embrace the present or look forward to the future. This drains your energy and you don’t even try to change that.

3. Start fights for no reason

Sometimes arguments and fights happen. With someone who indulges in pain, starting a fight will seem like a normal thing to do. There is so much pain inside that fighting someone seems to help you cope with what you’ve invested emotionally. You will fight about almost anything.

4. Abuse alcohol and drugs

An emotional masochist is known to abuse drugs or alcohol, or even both. They are stuck in the pain they bring upon themselves. If this is you, substances are drowning your sorrows.  But it wouldn’t feel normal for you to have an emotionally positive life, so you continue the pattern.

5. Quick to end friendships

Even if there is a small argument between acquaintances that can be worked out with a compromise, you who enjoy emotional pain will end your friendship instead.

You look for a reason to break ties with people you once loved. It’s almost as if you need something else to tuck away in the past for rumination and self-punishment.

6. There’s never any trust

Whether this feeling initially came from multiple episodes of broken trust, you’ve decided that no one can be trusted.

You question everything, insult people about their integrity, and even decide upfront that this is just another untrustworthy person. It’s painful to not be able to trust anybody, but you’re used to the pain.

7. Love depressing music

There’s nothing wrong with listening to sad songs sometimes, but an emotional masochist will relate almost always to music like this, and this will be their preferred type of tune.

When you listen to depressing music, you feel like they do, and you understand their point of view and perspective of life. It does make you feel better, but only temporarily.

8. You wait for the pain

Life could be going just fine – the weather could be perfect, your relationship could be working out, and your career could be spectacular. But, despite all these good things, you know deep down that something bad is about to happen.

You know that negative circumstances are on the way. And yes, things change from good to bad all the time, but the masochist will think about it all the time, waiting and contemplating the coming pain. When it truth, we should all enjoy the moment while it lasts.

9. Tolerate toxic people

People who inflict pain upon themselves often tolerate just about anything from a toxic person, as well. You accept controlling behavior, abuse, and rejection.

Because you feel that you deserve this sort of treatment, you let them continue. Instead of getting away, you try to get closer to them.

10. You aren’t courageous

When you feel the doubt that goes along with pain, you won’t stand up for yourself when mistreated. While some people can still recognize blatant criticisms as lies, there are others who believe the lies and don’t fight back.

No, you shouldn’t start fights all the time, but you should fight for yourself and stand tall when the time comes. Those who like emotional pain have little courage.

11. Eating disorders

Those who embrace emotional pain usually have some sort of eating disorder. Either they starve themselves or gorge themselves.

Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve to eat, or maybe only food can fill that hurting inside. Either way, this is extremely unhealthy and a common sign.

12. Fail at careers

You could find a job that’s perfect for you, but still, you will sabotage this career opportunity if this describes you. There are many ways to sabotage jobs like being late all the time or simply not showing up for work.

You can go to work too and just purposely not give your all. You emotionally kill your chances of a great future with this job.

Do these signs describe you?

Yes, even you can be an emotional masochist. I see myself in quite a few of those signs. But I am glad that I see myself there so I can start making positive changes.

If you recognize yourself or a friend as a lover of emotional pain, then it’s time to work on yourself too. No one is perfect, but everyone can keep trying as long as they don’t give up.

Let’s treat ourselves good, and learn our own self-worth.



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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. charlie griffin

    I relate to all of the above, apart from the starts fights one. The article makes it sound like the person is getting pleasure from being self hating, fearful and lost. Maybe you’re right, but it sounds like another “just pull your socks up” narrative.

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    Thanks for reading, Charlie

    Sometimes it does seem like we’re just saying, “Get up, dust yourself off, and stop feeling sorry for yourself”, but I personally don’t think we can all just do that as easy as some. It’s like I was saying to a friend of mine the other day, sometimes the darkness is so deep that a simple solution isn’t always available. So, although we must try, we can also get stuck and appear to others as if we are self-hating. I, for one, get no pleasure from my dysfunctions, and there are many.

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