For Scam Victims – Healing And Moving On When There Are Still Residual Feelings

Healing After a Fake Relationship Ends: Acknowledge and Honor Your Residual Feelings

Primary Category: Recovery Psychology

•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

In the aftermath of a relationship, particularly one based on deceit like a romance scam, it is important to recognize and honor your residual feelings.

Although the relationship may have been built on falsehoods and lies, the emotions you experienced were genuine. Your emotions were hijacked, producing valid feelings despite the manipulation. Accepting these feelings is a vital step in your healing process. Residual feelings are the lingering emotions that remain after a relationship ends, reflecting the emotional investment you made.

These feelings persist because the brain and heart need time to adjust to the new reality. In romance scams, criminals manipulate emotions to exploit their victims, creating an illusion of a genuine relationship. Acknowledging your emotions involves creating a safe space, practicing mindfulness, identifying and accepting your emotions without judgment, and seeking support.

This journey requires courage and self-compassion but ultimately leads to greater emotional clarity and resilience.

For Scam Victims - Healing And Moving On When There Are Still Residual Feelings - 2024 - on SCARS - The Magazine of Scams Fraud and Cybercrime

A Note About Labeling!

We often use the term ‘scam victim’ in our articles, but this is a convenience to help those searching for information in search engines like Google. It is just a convenience and has no deeper meaning. If you have come through such an experience, YOU are a Survivor! It was not your fault. You are not alone! Axios!

Healing After a Fake Relationship Ends: Acknowledge and Honor Your Residual Feelings

In the aftermath of a relationship, particularly one based on deceit like a romance scam, it is important to recognize and honor your residual feelings.

Although the relationship may have been built on falsehoods and lies, the emotions you experienced were genuine even though they were produced by manipulation. Meaning, you felt what you felt. It may not have been love, but you had the emotions of love.

Here is the tricky bit. Your emotions were hijacked. It was a violation, an act of psychological violence. However, it did produce emotions – like it or not, those emotions were/are valid. The source was not, but the actual emotions was/is.

Accepting these feelings is a vital step in your healing process.

Residual Feelings

When a relationship ends, any relationship, it’s natural to feel a range of emotions, from sadness and anger to confusion and betrayal. These feelings can be even more complex when you discover that the person you trusted and cared for was not who they claimed to be. The emotional bond the criminals forced you to form, the hopes and dreams you nurtured, and the time you invested were all very real in your head, even if the relationship was not.

Residual Feelings: What They Are and How They Work

Residual feelings are the lingering emotions that remain after a relationship ends, particularly one built on deception, such as a romance scam. These feelings are the emotional remnants of the connection and attachment you formed during the relationship, regardless of its authenticity. Understanding these residual feelings is necessary to the healing process, as they are a natural response to the emotional investment you made (even if it was without your consent.)

The Nature of Residual Feelings

Residual feelings are the leftover emotions that persist after the immediate shock and pain of discovering a fake relationship have subsided. These emotions can be varied and complex, encompassing sadness, anger, betrayal, confusion, and even nostalgia. They are rooted in the genuine emotional experiences you had (even if the cause was not genuine,) such as love (actually not love but limerence,) affection, and hope, which were stimulated by interactions with the scammer. Although the relationship was not real, the emotions you felt were genuine and significant. This is part of the cognitive dissonance that develops – this conflict between real and unread.

Emotional Attachment and the Brain

Emotional attachment forms through repeated positive interactions and shared experiences, creating strong neural connections in the brain. When these connections are suddenly severed, the brain doesn’t immediately adjust. It continues to crave the emotional stimuli that were previously provided, leading to persistent feelings and a sense of loss (grief.) This is why residual feelings can be so intense and difficult to shake off – they are a product of deep-seated neurological patterns that developed over time.

The Persistence of Residual Feelings

Residual feelings persist because the brain and “heart” (also known as hormones and neurotransmitters) need time to adjust to the new reality. Even when the rational mind understands that the relationship was a scam, the emotional brain (your amygdala and related squishy bits) lags behind. It clings to the memories and emotions associated with the relationship, making it hard to move on quickly. This emotional lag is a natural part of the human experience, reflecting our capacity for deep connection and emotional resilience.

The Reality of Fake Relationships

In romance scams, criminals manipulate emotions to exploit their victims, creating an illusion of a genuine relationship. The feelings of love (limerence,) care, and connection you experienced were responses to what seemed like authentic interactions. The heartbreak you feel when the truth comes to light is not a sign of weakness or gullibility, but a testament to your capacity for trust. But the fact is, you were also expertly manipulated to have that trust and those feelings, and not you are stuck with them.

Acknowledging Your Emotions

Validate Your Feelings: Accept that your feelings are valid. It’s okay to grieve the loss of what you thought was a real relationship. Denying or suppressing these emotions can lead to prolonged pain and hinder your recovery. Make sure you are working on your trauma too, grieving does not work well when trauma is still in control.

Give Yourself Time: Healing is not a linear process – for both trauma and grieving. Allow yourself the time to process your emotions without pressure. Recognize that it’s normal to have lingering feelings even after the scam is exposed.

Journal Your Thoughts: Writing down your feelings helps immensely to make sense of them. Journaling provides a safe space to express your emotions without judgment, helping you to release pent-up frustration and sadness.

Talk to Someone: Sharing your experience with a trusted friend, family member, support group, or therapist can provide comfort and perspective. Sometimes, verbalizing your feelings helps in understanding and accepting them.

Managing Residual Feelings

Acknowledge, Don’t Act: It’s important to acknowledge your feelings without acting on them. You might still feel affection or longing for the person you thought you knew, but acting on these feelings can reopen emotional wounds and impede your progress. Not acting allows them to fade, but every time they are acted on or you try to suppress them it can make them remain longer.

Practice Mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness practices to stay present and grounded. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you observe your emotions without getting overwhelmed by them. Mindfulness is a must practice for every scam victim. You might consider Dr. McGuinness’ book on Mindfulness available at the SCARS Book Shop

Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Understand that being a scam victim of a romance scam or other relationship scam does not define your worth. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel hurt and that healing takes time. Axios!

Redirect Your Energy: Channel your energy into learning and activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Engage in hobbies, pursue new interests or volunteer. Redirecting your focus aids in rebuilding your sense of self and moving forward.

A Step-by-Step Process

When dealing with the aftermath of a relationship, especially one that turned out to be a deception like a romance scam, acknowledging your emotions is an essential part of the healing process.

This involves recognizing and accepting your feelings, no matter how confusing or painful they may be.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this journey.

Step 1: Create a Safe Space

To effectively acknowledge your emotions, it’s essential to create a safe and supportive environment. This could be a quiet room in your home, a peaceful outdoor spot, or any place where you feel comfortable and secure. The goal is to have a space where you can reflect without distractions or interruptions. However, if you cannot have this try to create one in your head by thinking of something safe.

Step 2: Practice Mindfulness

Begin by grounding yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help you become more aware of your current emotional state. Sit quietly, close your eyes, and take several deep breaths, focusing on the sensation of the air entering and leaving your body. This practice helps center your mind and prepare you for emotional exploration. We have several article on mindfulness that will help you, just search for ‘mindfulness’.

Step 3: Identify Your Emotions

Once you’re centered or grounded, start identifying the specific emotions you’re experiencing. This can be more challenging than it sounds, as emotions are often complex and intertwined. Take your time to name each feeling—whether it’s sadness, anger, confusion, or even moments of happiness or relief. Journaling can be a helpful tool in this step, allowing you to write down and reflect on your emotions. Also, try to think of what might have triggered it – a memory, a place, a thing, etc.

Step 4: Accept Your Emotions Without Judgment

Acknowledging your emotions means accepting them without judgment. Understand that it’s okay to feel the way you do, even if the relationship was based on deception. Emotions are natural responses to your experiences and do not reflect any flaw or weakness in you. Practice self-compassion by reminding yourself that it’s normal to have these feelings and that they will pass with time.

Step 5: Explore the Source of Your Emotions

Delve deeper into the source of each emotion. Ask yourself why you feel a certain way and what specific events or interactions triggered these feelings. Understanding the root cause of your emotions can provide valuable insights into your emotional responses and help you process them more effectively. Reflect on the relationship and the experiences that led to your current emotional state, acknowledging the impact they had on you.

Step 6: Allow Yourself to Feel

Give yourself permission to fully experience your emotions. If you feel like crying, let yourself cry. If you’re angry, find a healthy way to express that anger, such as writing about it or engaging in physical activity. Suppressing your emotions can lead to prolonged distress, deepen your trauma, and hinder the healing process. Embracing your feelings allows them to flow through you and gradually diminish in intensity.

Step 7: Seek Support

Sharing your feelings with someone you trust can be incredibly therapeutic. Talk to a friend, a family member, in a support group, or with a therapist who can offer a listening ear and provide support. Verbalizing your emotions helps externalize them, making them feel less overwhelming and more manageable. Supportive relationships can also provide validation and comfort during this difficult time.

Step 8: Reflect and Learn

Take time to reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself and your emotional patterns. Consider how this experience has impacted you and what you can take away from it. Understanding your emotions in the context of the relationship (even if it was fake) can help you gain perspective and build emotional resilience for the future.

Step 9: Practice Self-Care

Engage in activities that promote your well-being and help you process your emotions. This could include exercise, hobbies, spending time in nature, or practicing relaxation techniques. Self-care nurtures your emotional health and provides a buffer against the stress and pain of acknowledging difficult emotions. Try ‘spiral walking‘ for example!

Step 10: Be Patient with Yourself

Healing is a gradual process, and it’s important to be patient with yourself as you work through your emotions. Understand that it’s okay to have good days and bad days. Progress is not always linear, and it’s normal to revisit certain emotions multiple times before they fully resolve. Give yourself the time and space you need to heal.

By following these steps, you can create a structured approach to acknowledging and processing your emotions after a relationship ends. This journey requires courage and self-compassion, but it ultimately leads to greater emotional clarity and resilience. Acknowledging your emotions is not about dwelling on the past, but about understanding and honoring your experiences as you move forward.

More on Moving Forward

Set Healthy Boundaries: Learn from the experience and establish healthy boundaries in future relationships. Trust your instincts and take the time to get to know someone before becoming emotionally invested.

Seek Support Groups: Join support groups for scam victims. Sharing your story with others who have had similar experiences can provide validation and reduce feelings of isolation. You can find support at and sign up at

Professional Help: Consider seeking professional help if you find it difficult to cope with your emotions. A therapist can provide strategies to deal with trauma and help you rebuild trust and confidence. You can find trauma counseling or therapy at


Acknowledging and honoring your residual feelings after a fake relationship ends is an important part of the healing process. Your emotions were triggered and manipulated but what you are feeling now is real, and it’s okay to mourn the loss of what you believed was genuine. By validating your emotions, practicing self-compassion, and seeking support, you can make your way along the path to recovery and emerge stronger and more resilient.

Remember, it’s not the experience that defines you, but how you overcome it.

  • It was not my fault!
  • I am a Survivor!
  • I am NOT Alone!
  • Axios

Important Information for New Scam Victims

If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit or join SCARS for our counseling/therapy benefit:

If you need to speak with someone now, you can dial 988 or find phone numbers for crisis hotlines all around the world here:

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at

SCARS Resources:

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this and other SCARS articles are intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

Note about Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices have the potential to create psychological distress for some individuals. Please consult a mental health professional or experienced meditation instructor for guidance should you encounter difficulties.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.







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