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Intentionally Hurting Someone You Love: Why We Do It & How to Stop

Sometimes relationships can be toxic. And intentionally hurting someone you love is wrong. Here’s why people do it, and what to do to change to be happier.

intentionally hurting someone you love

We all make mistakes and can accidentally hurt someone we love without intention or even realizing it. But, intentionally hurting someone you love is messed up!

Are you intentionally hurting someone you love?

When people are young and fight with others, they can say some really hurtful things. Why? Well, they either want a reaction or to make the other person feel the pain they caused them. Either way, don’t do that.

If you want to make your partner, friend, or family member feel pain, grow up. Because that is just being very immature.

[Read: Emotional immaturity – How to recognize these people and help them grow up]

Why do people intentionally hurt someone they love? 

It doesn’t seem logical to hurt someone you love, does it? In fact, you should do the exact opposite – make them feel loved and appreciated.

So, why do people intentionally hurt someone they love? There are a few reasons.

1. Self-punishment and self-sabotage

As crazy as it sounds, sometimes we hurt other people in order to hurt ourselves. When we hurt someone we love, we ultimately hurt ourselves because then we have to live with guilt, regret, and shame. And these emotions can torment us long after we hurt the other person. [Read: How to forgive yourself and free yourself of the weight of guilt]

Why would we do this? Well, it’s because a person has the tendency to feel inadequate. When they believe they are unworthy of love, happiness, and are just overall unlovable, then they ruin anything that is good for them.

And as a result, they act in ways that confirm the fact that they are inadequate. It’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, they hurt other people in order to sabotage their own happiness because they feel a need to punish themselves. This is a very self-destructive thing to do. [Read: The different ways normal people self-sabotage and ruin their own lives]

2. Gaining control

When we are in an intimate relationship, sometimes we hurt the other person before they hurt us first. So, that gives us a sense of control – not only over the other person but of what happens to us.

When you do this, you are attempting to protect yourself before you get hurt. And doing this gives you a momentary feeling of empowerment from the rush you feel of violating deeper values like caring about the emotional well-being of the person you love. [Read: How to be emotionless – 16 ways to lose feelings and gain control]

On the other hand, we also might do this to have control because they already hurt us. We think this will allow us to regain our sense of control by getting even with them.

If this becomes a pattern in your relationships, then this is highly toxic. These things will ultimately lead to abuse and so it’s important to stop doing this. [Read: Revenge sex – My own experience and everything I learned from it]

3. Trust and safety paradox

The more emotional intimacy, trust, and love that develops between two people, the more you feel free to be yourself and not censor what you say or do. Instead, you feel like you can be completely authentically yourself because you feel safe.

The ironic thing about this, however, is that this lack of inhibitions and boundaries makes it easier to unintentionally hurt someone you love. It might be just an innocent comment that can be perceived as hurtful or a joke that is inconsiderate to them.

Feeling safe with another person means trusting that they will accept us even when we have bad behavior toward them. Of course, feeling safe is a positive thing and can be a part of true intimacy. However, it’s easy to lose control and overstep boundaries and then you end up hurting them. [Read: How to build trust in a relationship and learn to be loyal and loving]

How to respond when someone intentionally hurts you 

Now, if you’re with someone who’s hurting you, it needs to stop. Intentionally hurting someone you love isn’t a sign of a true partner nor someone who cares about your feelings. And that’s the honest truth. [Read: 48 early warnings signs of a toxic person and the best ways to deal with them]

When someone says mean things to another person, they probably just want them to hurt. They are probably not thinking about the other person’s emotional well-being or how they feel at that moment. Anyways, if someone is intentionally hurting you, do something about it.

You can’t just let someone walk all over you. So, it’s time you learned how to respond when someone is intentionally hurting you. Because saying “it’s okay” or “no worries” isn’t going to cut it. You can’t give them a pass this time.

1. What happened? 

Before you start assuming it was intentional, you need to step back and look at the entire situation. Maybe you saw the situation as something different than how they saw the situation.

You don’t want to give them a pass, but you should really take a look at what happened. Ask a third party, like one of your friends, to give their perspective as well. [Read: How to fix a lack of communication in your relationship]

2. Follow your gut

Step back and look at the situation. But if your heart is telling you they said or did something to hurt you intentionally, you’re probably right.

Your gut reaction is a very good indicator of what you really think and feel. By taking a step back, you’re allowing yourself to make sure your feelings aren’t coming from another place.

3. Do you do the same thing? 

We’re not putting the blame on you. But you should reflect on yourself, and see if you’re also doing this to the person who’s hurting you.

Sometimes we don’t realize it and the other person is basically giving us a taste of our own medicine. Does this give them a green light for doing this? No. But you now have a great base to start a conversation. [Read: How to make someone feel guilty and understand the pain they’re causing you]

4. Do you want to confront them? 

You have two options: confront them or don’t confront them. There is no in-between.

If you choose to confront them, you’ve decided you’re no longer putting up with their behavior. That can go in two ways: keep the relationship or end it. You can also choose not to address them, but beware this is going to happen again… and again.

5. Don’t become defensive

Let’s say you’ve chosen to confront them. This can be a great idea. It’s time to cut the abuse you’ve been receiving. It’s easy to pull the defensive card, but in all honesty, it doesn’t get you far. 

Only tell them your position and point of view of what happened. You’re not here to convince them or be hostile towards them. [Read: How to tell someone they hurt you without hurting them in return]

6. Let them share their opinion

Okay, so you told them how you felt, now you just can’t walk away. This is the good part!

You need to let them tell you their point of view. They need to be able to express their opinion and point of view as well. 

If not, it’s just you explaining your feelings and not letting the situation come full circle. You both need to express yourselves before making a consensus when you believe someone you love is intentionally hurting you.

7. Be honest

If you’re not going to be honest, then there’s no point talking to this person anymore. Because the whole point of having a conversation is about being honest with yourself and them.

If everything you say isn’t honest, you’re wasting your time. So, if you want to talk to them about your behavior, you need to be vulnerable.[Read: How to be vulnerable in a relationship and feel closer instantly]

8. Don’t focus on trying to be right

We don’t know what happened, to some extent you are probably in the right. But they could also be right. However, this isn’t a pissing match. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong. 

This person has their own thoughts and feelings. There’s nothing you can do about that. Just accept that you may disagree on fundamental things.

9. You may need to apologize

Yes, they may have intentionally tried to hurt you, but it takes two to tango. There are some people who are just plain psychos and want to cause you pain without reason. [Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

But for the majority of us, we hurt others because we’re in pain. If you’ve done something that hurt them in the first place, you need to apologize as well.

Treating someone badly is just bad whether you or the other person did it.

10. Evaluate the relationship

Now that you have talked it out, do you want to salvage the relationship? It’s a tough question to answer. If someone cheated on you, then you probably shouldn’t try to salvage the relationship. 

However, in some other situations, such as an argument over laundry, for example, you may want to work on the relationship before cutting it. [Read: How to stop fighting in a relationship and 16 steps to really talk]

11. Establish boundaries

You’ve experienced what it feels like when someone intentionally hurts you. It was hard, but a valuable life lesson. Now is the time to create boundaries for yourself. 

If not, you’ll never know where the line is which means no one else will. Create healthy boundaries for yourself. It’ll prevent situations like these from happening again. [Read: How to self boundaries in a relationship – 15 rules for healthy love]

How to stop intentionally hurting someone you love

If you are the one who is intentionally hurting someone you love and not the one being hurt, then you need to know how to stop doing that. Here are some guidelines to follow.

1. What do you do to hurt them?

First, you have to reflect on your behavior. Do you have any patterns of negative behavior that are hurting them?

What exactly do you say or do that inflicts pain? You can’t change what you don’t recognize, so start with this self-analysis. [Read: 25 self-reflective questions to help stay true to yourself]

2. Why do you do this?

Once you have identified what you are doing, not doing, saying, or not saying that is hurting this person, you need to ask yourself why you are doing this.

Reflect on your own trauma in your life and see if you are lashing out at them because you have not healed.

3. Manage your emotions

Try not to let your emotions drive your words and behaviors. It’s easy to let our feelings overtake us, but then we are out of control. Instead, you need to be in control of your emotions so that you don’t say or do something you’ll regret. Walk away for a while and cool down if you can’t do it quickly.

4. Work on your communication skills

Most people don’t have very good communication skills. You need to learn to be a good listener and how to work through conflict effectively.

You also need to have empathy for the other person and see the situation through their point of view. [Read: Lack of communication in relationships – How to fix this issue]

5. Be more intentional

Just like you have to get a hold of your emotions and manage them well, you also need to be more intentional with your words and actions. Don’t let your subconscious take over. Know why you do and say everything. Choose everything very wisely.

6. Forgive other people

Sometimes people act out because they are hurting and haven’t forgiven someone. It could be the person that you are hurting, or it could be someone completely different. Either way, work through your pain and learn to forgive people. [Read: How to forgive someone who hurt you and release the negativity inside]

7. Apologize

For some strange reason, it’s difficult for some people to apologize for their actions. They think that if they do, then they are admitting defeat and being weak.

But the opposite is true. It takes maturity and compassion to apologize when you hurt someone.

8. Take personal responsibility

Not only do you need to apologize, but you should take personal responsibility for your actions. Tell the other person that they did nothing to deserve how you treated them, and you are responsible. This is also a sign of great maturity and needs to happen. [Read: How to be mature – 25 ways to grow up and face life like an adult]

9. Change your behavior

It’s a great start to use your words and apologize for your behavior. However, if you aren’t going to change your behavior and just keep doing what you’ve always been doing, then you’re not really sorry. When we’re sorry, we show it to other people by changing our behavior.

[Read: How to change for your partner without losing or compromising yourself]

Now that you know why some people intentionally hurt others, how to respond if you’re being hurt, and how to stop intentionally hurting someone you love, you have the tools to be happier. Reflect within, and almost always, you WILL find all the answers you need.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...