Health & Fitness

Why Do We Hurt the People We Love?


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Can you remember the last time someone hurt you, either verbally or physically? Chances are, it was probably someone you know.

Research has shown that the people we love the most are the ones we hurt the most. We’re more likely to be aggressive towards our loved ones than strangers. This is true for people of all genders, and throughout all relationships, including family, friends and romantic partners.

Why do we do this? It’s often a combination of many unconscious factors that we’re simply not aware of. Recognizing what might be going on beneath the surface may be enough to stop you from saying or doing something you’ll later regret.

These are some common reasons that may cause aggressive behavior, as well as ways to interrupt the cycle and start spreading more love.

Ineffective Communication

We may get angry at our loved ones simply because we don’t know how to communicate our deeper feelings, like hurt or sadness. Difficult feelings can be hard to express, and it may take a level of vulnerability that you’re not comfortable with to open up to someone who’s hurt you.

Solution: When you feel angry with someone, pause for a moment before saying anything to them. Why are you angry? Did that person insult you, or hurt you another way? Speak to the person about how you feel and the underlying issue instead of lashing out.

Broken Promises

Needless to say, broken promises are a significant hurt that many of us experience in relationships. What makes us break promises? Research has found that your self-regulation ability has a huge influence.

Self-regulation refers to your ability to control your own behavior. People with greater self-regulation skills tend to keep their promises. These people often act with the long-term in mind. Whereas, people with poor self-regulation tend to break more promises. They often make more emotional, in-the-moment promises that are difficult to live up to.

Solution: Be honest with yourself about how well you can control your own behavior. Do you always keep the promises you make? Or do you sometimes fall short? Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always follow through, promises all start with good intentions. Just make sure you never promise more than you’re able to deliver.

The Company You Keep

Research shows you may choose friends and romantic partners who are more compatible with, and supportive of, your personal bad behavior. So, if both of you have a short fuse, expect a lot of fireworks.

Luckily, the same research found that loving relationships can also provide the support you need to quit negative behaviors. You can help each other to work through your issues together because you’re both on the same page.

Solution: Even if you and a loved one have negative behavior patterns that seem to feed off each other, you can still stop the cycle by changing your response. Try to stay aware of the patterns you both fall into. The next time you see a conflict starting to brew, don’t react the way you normally do. Instead, ask your loved one how you could help settle the conflict.

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