There’s No Such Thing As Being “Damaged Goods” In A Relationship—Here’s Why

The phrase “damaged goods” is BS and it’s about time we stop using it to describe people, including ourselves. Going through something that is traumatic might leave you with bruises and scars, but that doesn’t make you “damaged” in any way.

  1. If being damaged goods was a real thing, almost everyone would fall under that label. I doubt it would be easy to find someone who wasn’t screwed over by someone they trusted or gone through painful experiences. Life is unfair in many ways, but it is fair in a way because it’s unfair to everyone in one way or another.
  2. Someone deciding not to date you because you’ve gone through something difficult says more about them than it does about you. Most likely, someone who runs away after finding out that you’ve been through some painful experiences and/or toxic relationships has issues of their own and their reaction has nothing to do with you. They need to grow up and realize that every person has been through something difficult and it’s clear they aren’t ready to be in a serious relationship. Also, if someone decides they don’t want to be with you because they think you’re damaged, you deserve better anyway. You don’t want to be in a long-term relationship with someone who just runs away when things aren’t easy because life isn’t always going to be a walk in the park. Your partner should be there for you during the bad times as well as the good.
  3. The painful situations we go through in life shape us into the people we were meant to become. It’s cliche but it’s true: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Just because someone has dealt with things that are damaging doesn’t make them damaged goods. Often, they become more understanding, empathetic, and confident in their own ability to get through difficult times.
  4. Having trust issues doesn’t mean you’re damaged. Many people who have been screwed over or hurt by someone they once trusted develop trust issues, but that doesn’t mean they’re damaged goods. It means they need a partner who is understanding and willing to help break down the walls that people often put up after being blindsided.
  5. Believing that you’re damaged beyond repair will lead to you coming off that way to others. A lot of times, how you present yourself and what you think about yourself is what other people see you as too, especially if they haven’t had the chance to really get to know you. Having a mindset where you believe that you’re unlovable or undatable or unworthy because of something in your past will change the way you present yourself and consequently make it hard for people to want to get to know you because you’ll already have tainted their first impressions.
  6. It can be easier to make an identity for yourself out of your pain rather than actually dealing with it. Labeling yourself as damaged goods might be an unhealthy coping mechanism and a way to avoid finding out who you really are and what you have the potential to become. Sometimes it seems easier to make an identity out of your past trauma and hurt than it is to confront those painful memories and emotions. One of the most important things to remember about healing is that it doesn’t always feel right or good while it’s happening, but once you’ve been able to truly let yourself process the damage you’ve been through, you’ll be able to grow and use it to be a better person in the future. You might also find that you label yourself as damaged goods as a way to avoid becoming intimate with someone new because you’re scared that they will end up letting you down.
  7. Some people use the fact that they’re damaged to take advantage of their partner. Otherwise known as being manipulative, some people use the fact that they’ve been hurt in the past as a controlling mechanism. If your partner says anything that is emotionally abusive, like that they need to look through your phone or that they don’t want you to go out with your friends without them accompanying you, and then proceed to justify these things because they’ve been cheated on in past relationships, that’s a way that they are using the label “damaged goods” to control you.
  8. People are resilient if we choose to be. No one has an identical path through life, and most people have gone through varying degrees of stressful situations, toxic and manipulative people, and hit “rock bottom” (maybe even more than once). We all have the ability to heal, to let the painful situations be lessons for the future and to acknowledge that while we may have been hurt and gone through terrible situations that left us with physical and/or emotional scars, that isn’t our identity.
  9. At the end of the day, each person decides whether to let their past be an excuse or a motivating factor. Most people have gone through damaging situations, but deciding whether to let the pain from the past be an excuse during your life or a motivating reason is a personal choice.
Kerry is a freelance writer from Boston, Massachusetts who now lives in the Sunshine State with the love of her life and her 15 month old daughter. She writes frequently about her personal experiences (find more of her work on She has an Etsy shop with cute items: she's not writing, she loves to spend time outside, at the beach, and with her family.