“We always hurt the ones we love.”
This familiar adage sadly often rings true.
It’s not just a romantic notion, but there’s some scientific evidence behind it.
What may be more important than whether we hurt the ones we love is why we do so and what we can do to ease that pain.
Can You Hurt Someone and Still Love Them?
You can. It’s much more common than you might think.
The reasons why we hurt the ones we love might be rooted in how close we feel to them.
You can even look to toddler behavior to see that people often act in thoughtless ways when they feel secure.
This behavior is a way of testing boundaries when we know the other person will still love us.
Sometimes, hurting someone you love is simply due to proximity. Everyday aggression can and does occur frequently.
Your aggression may hurt the person you love because they are the person you see most often.
We also hurt the ones we love because we are looking for a way out of the relationship.
It can feel easier to force someone’s hand into ending a relationship than it is to face those problems directly.
It is possible to love someone while still knowing the relationship is neither good nor healthy.
You may not even realize that you are sabotaging your relationship until it’s over.
Why Do We Hurt the Ones We Love? 9 Common Reasons Explained
Why do people hurt the ones they love? It’s a simple question with decidedly complex answers.
1. You Don’t Realize What You Are Doing
You may cause pain to someone you love without thinking. You might hurt them because you forget that they need your care and attention. You can get so wrapped up in your own life that you forget there is someone else who deserves you.
Likewise, the person closest to you might be the target of your aggression. You could take out all of your frustration on your loved ones simply because of their proximity.
2. A History of Trauma
Your past trauma might cause you to have difficulty with healthy relationships. If you have been abused or witnessed abuse, you might associate aggressive behavior with love.
The same is true for people who grew up in families that withheld love or kept their children at a distance. You might do the same with your partner, which can hurt them if they don’t understand your background.
3. Poor Communication Skills
You may not mean to hurt your loved ones, but your lack of communication skills could cause unintended pain. You may even attempt to share your feelings with your partner but fail. Poor communication skills may be innate.
You may also learn them from parents who were likewise unable to communicate well. Your poor communication skills are difficult to overcome, especially if you don’t realize this problem is yours to fix.
4. Fear of Rejection
You may feel that your partner is on the verge of ending your relationship. You might fight with your partner, hurt them or even threaten to end the relationship yourself to avoid being hurt by them.
Fear of rejection is common, especially if you feel as though you don’t deserve your partner.
5. To Protect Yourself
Sadly, you may feel unappreciated by your partner. Lashing out could be a subconscious way to encourage your partner to pay more attention to you.
Unfortunately, causing them pain may attract the kind of attention you don’t want. In essence, your attempt to feel safer in your relationship may backfire. Fighting with your partner gives you a connection but not a good or lasting one.
6. You Worry About Your Partner’s True Feelings
This is a tricky one. If you find yourself fighting with your partner over petty things, it could be that you are uncertain of your partner’s feelings.
For instance, maybe your partner leaves wet towels lying on the bathroom floor even though you have repeatedly asked them to pick the towels up.
This behavior could lead to a fight because you feel that your partner doesn’t care about your wishes, no matter how small they may be.
7. You Resent Their Accomplishments
You may downplay your partner’s accomplishments or even actively dismiss grand achievements. This dismissal is one of the most hurtful things you can do to someone you love.
When they work hard to reach a goal, they want to share the success with someone they care about. You might feel that the more successful your partner is, the more likely they will leave you.
If you manage to make them feel as though their accomplishments are unimportant, you may think that you will convince them to stay with you.
8. Unrealistic Expectations
Unfortunately, many of us have unrealistic expectations of our relationships which you can attribute to many factors, such as watching romantic comedies and reading romance books.
You may compare your relationship to those you see on social media, which are often romanticized or fictionalized versions of real relationships. Your failure to achieve this type of closeness with your partner might cause you to be hurtful.
9. You Seek Control
A controlling individual may cause pain to someone they love. Do you want to be in charge of your relationship? Do you want to control the person you are with?
Do you want them to behave as their authentic self or how you wish? Your desire to control your partner may cause both of you pain.
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What to Do When You Hurt the Person You Love
Your relationship is not necessarily over when you hurt someone you love. However, you do need to work on your behavior to create a healthy, open, caring relationship.
1. Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Taking responsibility can be the hardest part. No one likes being wrong. Very few people find pleasure in knowing they are responsible for hurting someone else.
You might blame your partner for being too sensitive or not understanding enough when, in fact, it is you who is at fault. You cannot begin to heal your relationship until you realize you are the one who is causing pain.
Taking responsibility includes admitting your errors to your partner and letting them know you want to improve.
2. Understand Why You are Hurting Your Partner
There are many reasons you might be hurting your partner. It is up to you to determine what has caused our behavior. Are you worried about the future of your relationship? Do you desire control?
Is your behavior a product of your childhood or past trauma? You can’t stop hurting your loved one if you don’t know where that behavior originated.
3. Work on Your Communication Skills
Communication is vital to every relationship. You need to communicate openly with your partner about your feelings.
If you find this difficult, tell your partner and ask for help. Listen with an open mind. You should be able to resolve almost anything.
4. Consider Individual or Couple’s Therapy
You might not be able to stop hurting the one you love on your own. Getting outside help is sometimes necessary.
Consider a therapist who will speak with you individually and consult with you as a couple. If you aren’t comfortable with a traditional therapist, you can talk to a spiritual leader.
5. Reassess Your Relationship Goals
Not every relationship lasts forever. Even genuinely loving someone isn’t always enough for a relationship to last.
You could be hurting the one you love because you are subconsciously trying to find a way out. Reassess your relationship, decide whether you want to continue, and make sure you are doing everything you can to stop hurting your partner and yourself.
It is not uncommon for someone to hurt the person they love. However, if you are serious about your relationship and want it to work, you should pave a pathway to stop hurting your loved one and start healing your relationship.