13 Signs He Knows He Hurt You (And Feels Guilty)

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Relationships aren’t always perfect. There are going to be moments when you both mess up and upset each other, even when you’re in love.

At some point in your relationship, your boyfriend is going to get something wrong and hurt you. You’re two different people learning to live with each other, and making mistakes and learning from them is all just part of the process.

In order for you and your boyfriend to overcome any bumps in your relationship, you both need to be able to recognize the hurt you sometimes cause each other. You also need to be willing to work on preventing it from happening again.

It’s hard to admit you’re wrong, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t feeling guilty. If it’s your boyfriend that’s hurt you, even if he hasn’t apologized yet, he could be showing you signs that he’s feeling bad about what he’s done.

Even when a relationship has ended and you think your ex has moved on, there are some telltale signs that your ex is feeling worse than you think. They might not say it at first, but guilt, over time, can motivate people to do unexpected things.

If you’re not sure if your boyfriend feels guilty about hurting you, it could be you aren’t noticing the signs. Keep reading to see if any of the behavior below sounds familiar.

1. He’s being defensive.

It’s common to become defensive when someone knows they’re in the wrong.

He doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how to apologize. Maybe he’s a little embarrassed and feeling guilty, so he has reverted to childish behavior and made the situation worse.

If your boyfriend is acting in this way, it could be a reflection of how he’s feeling inside. He’s feeling guilty and undeserving of your attention, so he is punishing himself by becoming more isolated and pushing you even further away.

It’s not a productive way to handle the situation, and if your boyfriend is doing this you need to call him out on it. Making both of you even more unhappy than you already are isn’t going to get you anywhere.

If there is still a chance for the situation to be resolved and you want to move on in your relationship, you need to get him to face up to what he’s said or done.

Don’t take anything he’s saying to heart and don’t lower yourself to his behavior. Let him know you’re ready to talk when he is and that admitting his mistake and apologizing for it is the first step in making this go away.

2. He’s making light of the situation.

When someone is feeling guilty, one reaction is trying to ignore the situation and not take it seriously, so they don’t have to face up to what they’ve done.

If your boyfriend is belittling your feelings, he’s trying to make the problem less serious, so he has less to be accountable for. He doesn’t want to admit to the gravity of the situation and recognize that he caused you pain.

You are entitled to feel however you feel, and it’s not up to him to decide how serious the problem is. Any time one of you is feeling hurt by the other is a situation that should be taken seriously.

Hopefully your boyfriend will realize that this isn’t something to be taken lightly and quickly changes his attitude and apologizes for what he’s done. If he doesn’t, he’s not showing you the respect you deserve and might not be the right person for you.

3. He’s quieter than usual.

If your boyfriend’s immediate response after a confrontation when he’s in the wrong is to be quiet and distant, it’s probably because he’s feeling guilty about it.

He may not be comfortable with expressing his emotions or may not know how to handle being in the wrong. He might be unsure of how to approach you because he’s afraid of saying the wrong thing and hurting you even more.

Shutting down isn’t a way to fix an issue in a relationship. Though he might need time to process what’s happened and may be feeling guilty, it is still his responsibility to acknowledge what he’s done and apologize for it.

You may have to be the instigator, inviting your boyfriend to have a conversation about what happened and ask him for an apology. Try reassuring him that you can move past this hiccup and that you’re open to talking things through, but that it’s his responsibility to own up to his actions and deal with the consequences of them.

4. He’s trying to buy your love back.

If your boyfriend feels guilty about upsetting you, one way to tell is that he’s flashing his cash.

Instead of apologizing, he’s trying to buy back your affection and forgiveness by distracting you with flowers, gifts, or taking you on surprise romantic dates.

He might not be used to apologizing or dealing with confrontation, so the easiest solution in his eyes is to buy your love back by showering you with attention and presents, thinking it will mend the rift.

Although it’s nice, it doesn’t show that he’s taking the hurt he caused you seriously. Anyone can buy someone chocolates and flowers, and throwing money at the problem won’t fix it.

It’s fine to enjoy the extra attention, but make sure he’s acknowledging what he’s done wrong. If he doesn’t, once the gift-giving stops, how do you know he won’t hurt you in the same way again?

5. He’s being more attentive than usual.

Is your boyfriend checking in on you more often? Doing more of the chores around the house without being asked? Being extra nice all of a sudden?

If he’s hurt your feelings, this behavior suggests he’s feeling guilty about what he’s done.

For most people, actions speak louder than words. If he’s being attentive, he’s trying to show you how much he cares about you despite the pain he’s caused you.

He might struggle putting his feelings into words, but he can make your life easier by taking away some of the pressures and stress to show you the great boyfriend he can be.

He’ll hope that, by being extra considerate, you might forgive him more easily for the hurt he’s made you feel.

Being extra attentive won’t fix the problem he’s caused, but at least it shows he does care and he’s feeling sorry for it. For now, enjoy it, take it as a sign he feels remorse for what he’s done, and hope that he’s serious about not making the same mistakes again.

6. He’s being more romantic.

If he’s suddenly taking you on dates, organizing special trips away, buying you flowers, and pulling out all the stops, it might be that he’s trying to prove he can still be the boyfriend you’ve always wanted.

He’s not just buying you presents, he’s fulfilling all of your most romantic day-dreams and making you feel like the princess of this love story.

He’s feeling guilty so, to try to make it up to you, he’s being the boyfriend you’ve always wanted and treating you the way you deserve. He’s trying to recapture that spark you had pre-argument and make you fall in love with him all over again.

If he’s putting in the effort, you know that despite what he’s done, he does care and knows how you deserve to be treated.

It doesn’t make what he’s done to hurt you go away or make it right. He still needs to face the facts and admit that what he did was wrong, but at least this behavior is a step in the right direction.

7. He’s picking fights with you.

You may wonder why, if he’s feeling guilty about something he’s done, would your boyfriend be making the situation worse by trying to start another argument?

His intent isn’t to worsen the situation. It’s more likely that he’s picking fights with you because he’s feeling guilty already and is trying to deflect the focus away from the fact he’s hurt you.

If he manages to bait you into arguing back, you become the one in the wrong. He doesn’t have to own up to the original problem and the hurt he caused you. Instead, he’s shifting focus to this new argument and your part in it.

The smart thing to do, if he’s trying to start an argument, is to take the high road and don’t engage. Don’t give him any reason to ignore that he was the cause of the problem in the first place.

When he’s being less defensive, approach him to see if he’s ready to face up to what he’s done and apologize for hurting you, so you can both move on. Until then, be wary and don’t let him shift any blame onto you.

8. He’s making the effort to change.

The most effective way for someone to show they’re genuinely sorry for what they’ve done is to make the changes they promised you.

It might not be something obvious at first; it could be communicating with you in a better way or respecting your boundaries more.

But the fact that your boyfriend is acting on his words and trying to change for the better shows he is remorseful about what he did and is committed to making a positive change for the sake of your relationship.

9. He disappears.

This applies to both a boyfriend and an ex after a breakup.

If your boyfriend has ever hurt you and then disappeared for a while, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t care about you. It could be that he feels so guilty he can’t face up to what he’s done.

If he’s hurt you, being around you and faced with the pain he’s caused could be too much for him to process in that moment. He may need some time to collect his thoughts and control his emotions before he’s ready to apologize and work at getting your relationship back to a healthy place.

If you’ve broken up with an ex and he seems to disappear completely, this could also be a sign that he’s running away from a situation he knows he’s caused. He doesn’t want to take accountability for his part in the breakup and can’t face you because he knows he’s in the wrong.

If this is the case for you, you’ve dodged a bullet. He’s not worth your time if he can’t face up to his faults and work to right his wrongs.

If you are still together but your boyfriend seems to have disappeared, you don’t have to call it quits just yet. It’s not the best way to handle the situation, but if he takes this time to come back with a better attitude and is ready to make it up to you, there’s still hope.

10. He apologized.

Sometimes the hardest and bravest thing for someone to do is to just apologize.

It’s only two words, but a lot of people find them almost impossible to say. It’s harder for some than others to own up to their mistakes, but for your relationship to work, you must both be prepared to do just that.

You can tell a real apology from its sincerity. He needs to acknowledge what he’s done to hurt you and show you how he’s determined to learn from it and not let the same thing happen again.

An apology isn’t given flippantly or shouted across the room to make an argument stop. It’s given with genuine feeling and care.

If he has apologized, it’s your turn to decide whether or not you can accept that apology and move on. He can’t change what he’s done to hurt you, all he can do is apologize and promise not to repeat his actions.

If you accept his apology but can’t let go of what he’s done, there’s nothing more he can do until you decide you are ready to give the relationship another go.

Once you’ve accepted his apology, you have to put the past behind you and look forward. It might feel difficult to let go of what he did and trust him again, but if you can’t your relationship won’t work.

11. Your ex keeps finding ways to talk to you.

It may have been some time since you heard from your ex after a messy break up, but now suddenly he’s reaching out to you unexpectedly. Why?

Even when the conversation has nowhere to go or you’ve made it clear that you’re not interested in reconnecting, does he still find a way to continue the conversation? If the answer is yes, it might be because he’s feeling guilty about the hurt he caused you.

He may have finally reached a stage in his life where he’s ready to take accountability for his actions when you were together. Suddenly reaching out to you is his way to try to re-establish some contact to gain your forgiveness or show that he misses you.

It’s not up to you to help him in his self-reflection. If he wants to finally apologize, you can decide if you want to accept it or not. It won’t change the way the relationship ended, but it might bring some peace to you and help close that chapter in your life.

12. Your ex keeps bringing up the good times.

If you still have some sort of relationship with your ex, either you’re in the same work or social group, or maybe even still friends, have you noticed he keeps bringing up happy memories of your time together?

You both know that there were issues in your relationship which led to the breakup. However, he’s acting as if none of the pain and difficulties in your relationship ever existed.

It could be his own guilt that’s making him act this way. In his mind, he’s glossing over all the negatives he caused in your relationship by focusing on only the happy memories, as if he’s trying to erase his mistakes altogether.

Just because he’s doing this doesn’t mean you have to encourage or engage with it. If he wants to ignore his part in the breakup rather than face up to it and learn from it, he’s not mature enough for a relationship with you.

13. Your ex won’t leave you alone.

One other way to tell if your ex is feeling guilty about the hurt he caused you is if he just can’t seem to leave you alone.

You may have broken up, but he’s still calling or messaging you, still following you on social media, or talking to your friends to hear about what you’re up to.

There’s a number of reasons for this behavior, but one of them could be that he knows things didn’t end well between you and there are issues left unresolved; namely the fact that he needs to apologize for hurting you.

He knows that he should take responsibility, but he might not be mature enough or too proud to act on it. Instead, he can’t seem to move on.

Just because he can’t seem to let you go doesn’t mean that you should get back together. You need time and space to grieve and get over the end of your relationship, putting that time and love back into yourself; especially if you’ve been hurt.

You can block him on social media, delete his number, or respectfully ask him to keep his distance. Make yourself the priority and don’t be manipulated by him if he can’t admit his mistakes.

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Even if you may not have realized some of the signs at first, the most important thing is that your boyfriend or ex does recognize that he’s hurt you and feels sorry for it, however he decides to try to make it up to you.

It can be difficult for some people to admit they’re wrong or have hurt a loved one. It’s not about being perfect, though. It’s about knowing we all make mistakes and how we overcome them that ultimately matters.

If your boyfriend is hurting you, you don’t see any change in his behavior, and he refuses to acknowledge he’s in the wrong, this is when you know that he isn’t the right person for you. He may need a little more time to grow and mature before he can fully commit to someone else. It might also be a sign that he doesn’t have the respect or love for you that you deserve.

As a couple you should be lifting each other up, not intentionally bringing each other down. If one partner can’t admit to their faults and take responsibility for their actions when they’ve hurt the other, you aren’t going to grow as a couple. You’re only going to grow in resentment.

However long it takes for your boyfriend or ex-boyfriend to admit that he does feel guilty for hurting you, it’s up to you whether or not you want to accept his apology. It might take work before you can move on from what he did, but knowing that he feels guilty for it and hopefully wants to make a change is a good place to start.

Are you still struggling with the hurt he caused or problems in your relationship? If this isn’t the first time he’s really hurt you, it is worth exploring the possibility of couples counseling. It’s healthy to want to work on your relationship and counseling is a highly effective way to do so. So why not chat online to one of the experts from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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