Conflict is unavoidable, even in the healthiest relationships.
Sometimes, it can even be healthy to have some disagreements with a loved one.
But it can be hard to know what to say when someone you love hurts you, because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, too.
Here are 10 ways to respond when someone you love hurts you deeply—without hurting them back.
1) Think about what you need to deal with the pain
When we are hurt, it is important that we understand what we need to do to deal with the pain.
This is because pain that is undealt with leads people to do things that are not good for them and the people around them. Untreated pain can even lead to health problems, according to experts.
As they say, hurt people hurt people—and I know you’re reading this article because you don’t want to hurt the people you love.
Maybe you may need to talk about it with another loved one to get some advice.
Maybe you need to talk about it in therapy to better understand why you feel the way you do.
Or maybe you need some time and space on your own to think about it for a while and let yourself feel the pain.
Know that you are allowed to have these needs. Whatever it is that you need to do, it is completely valid.
People deal with pain differently. You might have to deal with the hurt in a different way, and that’s fine, as long as you’re not hurting others in the process.
After you figure out what you need, it is time to think about a possible confrontation.
2) Ask yourself if it is safe to confront them
Before you talk to them, try to analyze the situation first. It is important that you are 100% certain that you are safe talking to them, and that it will not lead to bigger, more serious problems.
If you think confronting them will worsen the situation or blow things out of proportion, it is better to hold off on confrontation for a while, especially if you think this will put you in a dangerous situation.
If you’re dealing with a narcissist, expect that they will probably not hear you out. It is actually recommended by professionals that we do not confront narcissists, as narcissists are not capable of thinking past their own needs. They will only perceive the confrontation as a personal attack.
On the other hand, if you think they will hear you out and at least try to understand where you’re coming from, then there really is nothing to fear. As long as you know you are safe to talk to them—even about their own wrongful behavior—confronting them should be fine.
After all, confrontation isn’t inherently bad, even if it can be difficult, and an open-minded person will understand this.
Remember: a person who truly loves you will be able to look past being wrong and do the necessary work to mend what has been broken.
If you decide to confront them, the next step is to think of what to say.
3) Think of what you want to say
Communication is a vital part of healthy, loving relationships. This is why it’s so important that we know how to communicate our feelings effectively.
Before you talk to your loved one, think carefully about what you need to say. Don’t beat around the bush—keep in mind that you need to be clear and direct with your words in order to avoid confusion.
Try not to make your tone sound accusatory. It is best to say “I” rather than “you” statements.
Words such as, “you hurt me” or “you disrespected me” can sound accusatory to the other party. Knowing this, it is better to say the following:
- I am deeply hurt by what you did.
- I need you to understand that what you did really hurts.
- I want to talk about it because I care about you.
- I think we should work together to move past this.
Don’t be afraid of looking selfish or self-serving, especially if you know, in your heart, that you have pure intentions. People who love you will listen to these “I” statements and will not take you for a selfish person.
Show them that you’re not doing this to paint them as the villain, or that you’re making yourself the victim. Emphasize that you’re not fighting, but working together as a team against a problem.
After all, it feels good to have someone on your team, doesn’t it?
4) Stop keeping score
In a disagreement, it can be tempting to bring up the other’s past record of wrongs.
But adult relationships are not a game.
Don’t keep score of your loved one’s mistakes in the past. It is not a question of who has done the other more wrongfully. Remember that it is not your goal to “win” the argument. Your goal is to talk to them, make them understand why you feel hurt by them, and how you’re going to move forward in the relationship.
When we keep score of our loved one’s record of wrongs, we will end up holding a grudge for every mistake they have ever made.
And as we count the mistakes they have made in the past, the grudges become deeper. The anger becomes more intense. You become more spiteful of them.
It is important that you stop holding on to your anger, as it can only hurt you in the long run.
It is difficult, but you must learn to let go of the need to be right. Instead of fighting to be right, choose to be kind.
Don’t bring up past mistakes. Instead, focus on the present, and think of what you need them to do in order for the two of you to move on.
5) Tell them what you need
When you’re hurt by someone you love, it is important for you to figure out what you need and communicate it with them in order for the both of you to move forward.
Now that you know what you need and what you want to say, it is time for you to communicate these needs to your loved one.
For some people, a simple apology and acknowledgment of their feelings is enough.
Others need time and space to process the hurt and think of ways to move forward.
Some need assurance and a guarantee of change. However, if it is a promise of change that you need, you should know that this is not guaranteed, especially if they have a pattern of making the same mistakes over and over.
In that case, no matter how hard you try, you can’t change people who don’t want to change—even the ones that you love.
6) Know that you can’t change them
The truth of the matter is that we cannot know for sure how others, even our loved ones, will behave around us.
This can be difficult to accept, especially when it is a person you love that lets you down. Even when you confront them, how they respond is something that you cannot dictate.
The good news: there’s still some things you can control.
How you respond to the situation and what you do to deal with the pain are both things that are totally in your command. It is all up to you to do what you need to heal from the pain and mend the relationship.
If you confront them and they respond positively, that is good! It means the two of you can get to work together to move on from what has happened.
However, if they respond negatively, it is time for you to evaluate whether or not it is still worth holding onto the relationship. Letting go of a person you love can be hard, especially if they’re family.
But it’s not impossible.
7) Set clear boundaries
In any relationship, setting clear boundaries is important. Healthy boundaries are a mark of a healthy relationship.
No matter how much we love the other person, there are still some things that we are not OK with them doing.
This does not mean you love them less—it just means you love yourself enough to draw the line when you are disrespected.
Know that if you don’t set clear boundaries between you and your loved one, they will continue hurting you and getting away with it, and you will only end up resenting them.
Remember that If they truly love you, they will acknowledge and respect these needs instead of being offended by them.
Not setting clear boundaries can even end up with the other person blaming you for what happened.
8) Don’t let them blame you for what happened
Being blamed for getting hurt by the other person’s actions is called gaslighting. It’s a common tactic manipulators use to deflect the blame away from them.
If this happens, understand that even if you love them, you should not be guilted into taking the blame for what happened if it is not your doing.
It is important for you to notice when you are being gaslit so as not to be manipulated. Here are some examples of gaslighting:
- I’m not making you feel that way, you’re making yourself feel that way.
- I wouldn’t have done ___ if you hadn’t done ___.
- I’m sorry you feel offended, but it’s not my fault you feel that way.
Before you respond, analyze whether or not you played a role in what happened. This does not justify their mistakes, it simply helps you see objectively.
However, know that your own mistakes do not justify the other person’s actions, nor does it make it valid for them to escape being held accountable.
If your loved one has a habit of doing this, it can be hard to have a conversation with them, which may lead to negative feelings.
9) Feel your negative feelings—and then let go of them
People usually try to evade the pain when they get hurt. They try to push their feelings away, hoping that if they push it down deep enough, the pain will disappear.
If you’ve done this before, you know it does not work. The pain will only end up resurfacing when you least expect it, hurting you all over again.
In order to move on, you must learn to face your feelings. Take a deep breath and feel the pain. Talk about it with someone you trust. Cry if you must. There is no shame in having feelings
It is, of course, difficult to move on when you get hurt, especially if it is someone you love who hurt you. However, repressing your emotions can be bad for your health and can even result in depression.
When you are done dealing with the pain, let go of them. Holding onto it for too long can only lead to resentment. Remember that you are doing this for yourself, not for the other person or anybody else.
Now that you have done what you need in order to move on, it is time for you to ask yourself if you’re ready to forgive.
10) Ask yourself if you’re ready to forgive
We usually hear people say that it is necessary for you to forgive in order to move on and live a life of peace. We are told that if you truly love the other person, you will learn to forgive.
But if the pain is deep enough, it can be hard to do that. If you are not ready to forgive yet, know that that is completely valid and okay. In this situation, it is okay to put yourself and your own healing first and foremost. One study even shows that forgiving too readily can erode self-respect.
Remember that you do not owe anyone forgiveness. You only owe it to yourself to feel at peace with what happened—and whether or not that involves forgiving the other person is all up to you.
Now that you know how to respond when someone you love hurts you, the next thing to do is to move on.
Don’t let yourself get too hung up on the past. It is important for your mental health and well-being that you learn how to move forward when you need to.
Here are some tips on how to move on
1) Spend some time with yourself
Spending time with yourself doing the things you love is essential in the process of moving on.
Do you love watching good Netflix shows? Reading romance novels? Playing video games?
Whatever it is that you love, try to re-learn doing these things again. They can help you focus on yourself rather than fixating on the past, which you must let go of in order to move on.
2) Let go of the past
It is easy to hold onto the past, especially when the hurt is really deep.
However, in order to move forward, we must learn to let go.
Instead of holding onto the past, focus on the present. Sometimes we get too fixated on the bad things that have already happened that we overlook the good things in the present.
Trust me, no matter how bad it feels right now, there will always be a good thing in the present that you can hold onto.
Letting go of the past is also essential to make way for the future. It may not feel like it right now, but things will eventually get better, and the future is bright.
3) Become a master of your own emotions
People usually let their emotions get a hold of them especially when they are feeling something intense.
This is why it’s so important to learn to control your emotions, rather than have them control you.
People who let their emotions control them usually end up doing irrational things, even lashing out in the worst moments.
While it is important to feel your emotions before you let go of them, it is just as important to learn to control them. When you learn to do that, moving on should be a piece of cake.
However, it can be even easier to do this with the help of your support system.
4) Turn to your support system
No man is an island. No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to do things on our own.
Your support system is essential in helping you move forward. Don’t be ashamed of turning to them to get the help you need.
It can be difficult to ask for help, but remember that the people who love you will always willingly listen to you and lend a helping hand when you need it.
5) Spend time together again
If you were able to patch things up with your loved one, spending time together again might be a good thing to help the two of you move on.
Talk about mundane, everyday things over coffee; go on long, relaxing morning walks; maybe even learn a hobby together.
Spending time together again with the person you love can remind you why you love each other.
This can be helpful in mending what has been broken and putting the past in the past for good.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
The above link will give you $50 off your first session - an exclusive offer for Love Connection readers.