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Why do we hurt the ones we love?
It’s hard to believe it’s such a common thing when we only want to love and be loved.
The problem is that life isn’t always so simple or neat.
People are often flawed creatures that react out of impulsive emotion when it’s better to be restrained.
Not that we always have a choice in the matter. Sometimes a situation just gets so overwhelming that we can’t help but act from a place of primal emotions.
We may feel hurt, afraid, or angry and fire off those emotions at the people we love because they are the ones that we are closest to. They’re the ones that we let down our guard with, so they tend to get the lion’s share of those unfiltered emotions and reactions.
That can be healthy or unhealthy. What we want to do is aim to have healthy conflict and emotions with our loved ones. To do that, we need to look at some reasons as to why we hurt our loved ones and what we can do about it.
1. You may associate conflict with love.
People who grow up in a home that is filled with conflict or abuse may come to associate conflict as an expression of love.
To some people, the act of arguing or fighting with their loved one is a demonstration that they are passionate about the person to care enough to engage in conflict with them.
Conflict is healthy in any relationship because humans are messy creatures. They don’t stay neatly in the respective box that others might try to put them in.
Conflict is a way in which people can demonstrate where their boundaries are and how they’re enforced. It also means that one’s anger and frustration is being expressed, rather than suppressed and ignored.
Suppression of one’s anger and frustration leads to resentment, which eventually damages the relationship.
A person who associates love with conflict may subconsciously start fights if things are “too good” for an extended time, just to see that energy and passion.
This type of problem may need to be addressed with professional therapy. Abuse survivors may have a distorted view of what constitutes a loving relationship because of their experiences.
Unlearning these old habits and replacing them with new ones is a long process of paying close attention to one’s emotions, understanding why we are feeling what we do, and then choosing different actions.
2. You may be self-sabotaging your relationships.
Why does a person sabotage their own relationships? Doesn’t everyone want to feel loved and happy?
Well, yes, but that’s not usually the problem when it comes to self-sabotage. Self-sabotaging behaviors are typically the result of one’s relationship with themselves.
If you don’t feel like you deserve to be loved or happy, then you may have a hard time accepting that someone can feel as positively about you as you do about them.
So, you may find yourself testing the boundaries, poking and prodding at your loved one to push them closer to their limits.
Maybe you’re looking for reassurance? To prove to yourself that they can get mad at you, but still come back around and love you?
Or maybe you genuinely feel that you don’t deserve to be loved? So you are doing whatever you can to try to break their intimate connection with you so that you can reconfirm in your own mind that you are undeserving.
Neither of these behaviors are healthy. The first is manipulative and falls into the area of emotional abuse. The second is unnecessary and can break a relationship down past your ability to repair it.
Self-sabotaging behavior of all kinds comes down to your relationship with yourself. Do you feel you are valuable? Worthy of loving? Or do you struggle with self-esteem and self-worth?
The way you fix this issue is by fixing your issues with your self-esteem and self-worth, which is most likely going to require a therapist. You’ll also need to replace your old, unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones.
3. You may be too comfortable with your loved ones.
What does it mean to be too comfortable with your loved ones? Well, when a person meets new people for the first time, they generally put forward a polished version of themselves.
They present the positive aspects that they think make them likable or sociable and downplay the negative aspects that could prevent socialization.
Everyone has boundaries and limits, a mask that they wear when they are interacting with people they don’t know or aren’t close to. People generally don’t want the more challenging aspects of themselves to be easily seen by the world. That may take the form of avoiding arguments or stifling one’s genuine emotions about a situation.
But when you get close to someone, more of those boundaries fall away. As you get comfortable with a person, you may find that it’s easier to express yourself or let those negative facets of yourself be seen.
The problem is that you can be close to someone you have fundamentally different opinions with. But if you can’t handle those opinions and emotions in a healthy way, they can turn into fuel for unnecessary arguments and conflict.
When you develop intimacy and relax your boundaries, you may find yourself speaking more freely and without consideration. Therefore, you may offend or hurt your loved one.
The solution is to ensure that you have a good understanding of your differences and how to communicate about them.
If there is a hot button issue you disagree on, you have to work to not succumb to anger and just throw whatever words come to you at your loved one, because they probably aren’t going to be good. Developing your mindfulness is an excellent way to hone this skill.
4. You may be looking for control or retaliation.
Interpersonal dynamics can be complicated, especially when previous experiences or mental illness are contributing.
Sometimes a person may start conflicts with their loved ones as a means to gain control in the relationship or retaliate for previous harm done.
The idea is that “You can’t hurt me if I hurt you first.”
This type of behavior can be fueled by a need to be right, regain control over chaotic feelings, a lack of self-worth, or feeling like you are out of control of the situation.
Or, it may be that the other person hurt you, so you feel the need to hurt them back to even the scales.
The problem with this approach is that it can quickly descend into abusive behavior that is not okay.
Your loved one hurts you, so you hurt them back, so they hurt you back, so you hurt them back, and on and on and on until the situation spirals into an unidentifiable mess of anger and pain.
The solution for this type of problem comes down to boundaries and making better choices.
Sometimes people do insensitive or stupid things that hurt the people they are close to. That is unavoidable.
What matters is why they did it. Were they being purposefully malicious and abusive? Or did they just do something stupid and shortsighted? Are they currently being overwhelmed by their own problems? Do they need your help? Do they need professional help?
Relationships aren’t a competition of you against the other person. There shouldn’t be a need to balance the scales or seek retribution when harm occurs. If you feel this need, then you need to ask yourself, “Why?”
Why do you feel the need to balance the scales? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Do you need firmer boundaries with a person who may be having a hard time or working through their own problems?
5. You may have unrealistic expectations for your loved one.
It is all too easy to fall into the trap of putting unrealistic expectations on the people we love and value.
After all, we must think they are something special to love and value them the way that we do. So doesn’t it make sense that we would expect them to be at a high standard or fulfill what we think is their best?
Unfortunately, people don’t work that way. People are messy, insecure, not always confident creatures that make bad decisions and mistakes. Some people more than others.
You may find yourself throwing anger or hurt at your loved one if you don’t feel they are living up to whatever expectations you have for them.
The media regularly feeds us stories about the perfect relationships and storybook romances that succeed despite the odds.
And marketing tells us that our perfect partner is out there, waiting for us! Waiting to have a picturesque, adventurous life where your troubles will be in your rearview mirror, and there are only good times ahead! You’ll be happy if you just find this perfect person, your other half, your better half because love will make you a whole person!
Okay. What happens if your “better half” isn’t actually better? What if your perfect person isn’t so perfect? You’re not a half a person or an incomplete person, you’re a whole, flawed person just the same as any other whole, flawed person you may love or care about.
Healthy, happy relationships are founded on reasonable expectations. Make sure your conflicts aren’t based on unreasonable expectations of what you think your family members, friends, or partner should be.
6. You may hurt the one you love because they’re around most often.
You will hurt the people you spend the most time around because how could you not?
If you spend the majority of your time with your partner, they are going to experience both the positive and negative emotions that you have.
This isn’t something you can avoid. Conflict inevitably happens. You might have a terrible day at work, not be in a good mental space, and unfairly snap at your loved one because you just haven’t got your head straight yet.
That’s why conflict resolution and emotional intelligence are so important. You need to be able to observe your own emotional state and get yourself to a point where you aren’t unfairly lashing out at your loved one.
On the other hand, when it does happen, you’ll need to be able to smooth things over and have peaceful relationships with the people that you’re close to.
You won’t get it right all the time, and that’s okay. You’re an imperfect human being like everyone else. What’s most important is that you keep trying to find ways to smooth out the conflicts in your relationships so they can be happier and healthier.
Still not sure what to do about your treatment of those you love? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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