What to do when your boyfriend or girlfriend does things deliberately to hurt your feelings

Prince2411 asks:

I made many mistakes in my relationship, I hurt my girl a lot, and I did things I am not proud of, but my intention was never to hurt her. I never crossed any physical limits with any other girl, but over text I said certain things which I shouldn’t have, and I didn’t realize then but now I do. I know how much it hurt my girl, but she is taking revenge on me on purpose, talking to the one person of whom I am so insecure – he affects me mentally and emotionally. I’ve been begging her not to do this to me, not to torture me, but she thinks I don’t know how it feels to her when I do it. She does love me, and I love her a lot, but she’s still doing this. She says she likes talking to him, she’s saying things purposely to hurt me more. She prefers hurting me, rather than blocking him and hurting him. He is a nobody in her life, but I have been with her for almost 6 years.  Please help, I’m getting depressed.

Hi Prince2411 –

There’s an old truism that the opposite of being in love is not hating or anger; it’s feeling nothing.  It’s hard to say there’s good news for you in your letter, but the truth is that your girlfriend a) has not broken up with you, and b) is so affected by your texts with other girls that she’s working really hard to get revenge on you.

In other words, she is showing every sign of being completely committed to you.  And that’s great.

But she’s also getting a kick out of causing you pain.  And that’s not so great!

What you two really need, longer-term, is to work hard to build deep mutual trust.  To the degree that neither of you is all that bothered by the other talking or texting with someone else. 

But shorter-term, you two need to just simply agree to stop knowingly hurting each other.  Now it sounds like you’ve already gotten there, but she feels she needs to do it a little more.  So your job is to let her know that she has succeeded!  That you have learned your lesson, and there is nothing more to gain by doing more of it.  That, instead, her doing more of it will actually push you away (which you realize is what you were doing to her), so that you won’t be hurting anymore.

When I was a puppy, I loved attacking my human friend Handsome and biting him all the time.  He’d yell “Ow!” and get upset, and I found that just fantastic.  But as I grew up, I began to see him as part of me, as my pack leader, and I didn’t want to hurt him anymore.  In fact, now, the few times I’ve seen that I’ve hurt him it’s just ripped me up inside.

I want your girlfriend to get to that place, where I am.  You hurt her by not paying attention to her feelings, and that’s bad, but she’s purposely trying to cause you pain.  If it’s just to teach you a lesson, that’s one thing, but if it keeps going, it could become the new normal of your relationship, and that would be awful for both of you!

So I want you to talk with her, to let her know that she’s succeeded in teaching you, and that now you want a relationship where you both work to make the other feel better, and to build trust.  That means that you have to listen and hear her when she says your texting hurts her, and she needs to understand when her talking to that guy hurts you.

THEN you need to figure out how to live with these feelings.  Can she talk with the guy as long as she’s not saying hurtful things?  Can you text other women as long as you’re not flirting?  In other words, can you two become a successful mature couple?

I would rather die than hurt Handsome, and he’d rather die than hurt me.  You two aren’t there yet, but maybe someday you will.  The time to start that journey is now.

And I think you’re closer to it than you know.

All my best,


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