How do you stop hurting someone you love

Kelina asks: How do you stop hurting someone you love? I don’t mean to do it.

Hi Kelina –


Thanks for this very open question about hurting someone you love.


First, I want you to check out an earlier post I did, to the exact opposite question, about why the people we love hurt us!  It was written by Duaa.  Just put that name in the search box on the AskShirelle site, and it’ll come up.


But to your question, I’d say you need to ask yourself one very important question first:  Are they really being hurt by what you’re doing, or choosing to be hurt by you?


I see this a lot in people as well as dogs.  I’ll want to play with a good-smelling pooch in the park, and the second I’m near him he’ll start whining and screaming as though I’m ripping his leg off!  He’s scared of me, and that’s okay, but he’s also choosing to say he’s being hurt by me when I’m not doing anything!  I tend to walk away from those dogs and find someone else more fun to play with!  Not only are they irritating, they’re Boorrrrrrrrrrrring!


But if it’s not that, we need to look at what you’re doing.  How it is that you’re actually hurting them, whether on purpose or accidentally.  Now if you hurt someone accidentally once, that’s just natural, and you need to forgive yourself for it.  But if it happens more than once, something’s really wrong.  It means you’re probably doing it unconsciously, which means that although you’re not aware of it, there’s a part of you that wants to hurt them.  Which is really just about the same as doing it on purpose.


So if that’s the case, you need to ask yourself a very tough question:  Why.


Believe me, everyone does it.  They’ll love someone more than anything, and do something that directly hurts them.  There’s always a reason.  Maybe they’re testing the other person’s love, like “If you leave me because of this, then I’ll know not to trust you.”  Or maybe they are actually uncomfortable with how much they love that person, and need to push them away a little.  It can even be that they feel bad about loving that person so much – maybe they feel that they’re betraying their friends or parents by being with this person, and so out of some loyalty to those others, they hurt the one they love.


If you have trouble figuring out why you’re doing it, there are lots of books out there about it, or of course it can be great to get a therapist to help you through this.  And you really want to fix it, because hurting the ones you love will just make your life miserable.


So to summarize, be sure that the hurt is real.  But if it is, the only way to stop doing it is to figure out why you’re doing it.  Once you figure that out, you’ll be able to find better ways to deal with your feelings.


And although I quoted it in that other post too, I love this song so much I’m going to quote it here again.   (and if you can find a way to hear it sung by The Mills Brothers, oh it’s just glorious!)


“You always hurt the one you love

The one you shouldn’t hurt at all

You always take the sweetest rose

And crush it till the petals fall

You always break the kindest heart

With a hasty word you can’t recall

So if I broke your heart last night

It’s because I love you most of all.”


Love Well,



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