How to Deal With Hurt Feelings in a Relationship

Are you and your partner going through a rough patch? Or maybe the love between the two of you is not the same as before? Whatever it may be, dealing with hurt feelings can be difficult.

However, there are steps that both of you could take to reduce the emotional pain.

According to professionals, here are helpful tips for dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship.

Angela Karanja

Angela Karanja

Psychologist | Founder, Raising Remarkable Teenagers

Human beings are relational beings. We need to feel valued, loved, connected, and that we belong. When any of these deepest desires is violated, we get hurt, whether in reality or imagined.

Paradoxically, when we are hurting, we short-circuit the very connection we need, the ability to feel valued and loved, and a sense of belonging.

This can keep us stuck in a loop of hurt and disconnection ⁠— the very thing that we don’t want. We are not wired for, and that is detrimental to our wellbeing.

I like to use a process we call The 3 A’s for dealing with hurt in a relationship:

  • Acknowledge
  • Acceptance
  • Action

Acknowledge the negative feelings

The act of acknowledging that you are feeling hurt is the first step to processing the hurt. This means authentically observing and noting exactly how you are feeling.

Please note this has nothing to do with judging or apportioning blame to anyone or even ourselves. It’s just really observing or feeling our feelings.

It’s a process of noting and recording exactly how you feel your thoughts and emotions.

For example, you can say:

  • I feel angry
  • I feel beaten
  • I feel lonely
  • I feel scared
  • I feel hopeless
  • I feel helpless.

What are you feeling? Coin it.

Leland Val Van De Wall said, “Observation is power, and judgment is weakness.” Remember, here, the focus is identifying one’s own feelings, a sort of self-diagnosis. This is successful when we are willing to be authentic with ourselves.

Accept your hurt feelings just as they are

Accepting what is, is another powerful mental skill. Once you have identified your hurt feelings, accept them just as they are.

One of the truths in life is that nothing is permanent. Everything is constantly changing. We can easily move to the next step when we accept what is.

Accepting does not mean you agree with the people or circumstances you were hurt. It means embracing what has happened through a positive mindset that “this too shall pass.”

It’s practicing the law of non-resistance, which states that whatever we resist because we are emotionally charged towards it and focused on it stays with us creating chaos in our minds and bodies.

Conversely, what we accept we allow to flow past us, allowing life to flow through us, and we can easily let go. Acceptance is a choice that requires willingness.

Related: How to Let Go of the Past and Move On

Most people find it hard to accept because they confuse acceptance with weakness, conformity, or agreement that the circumstances under which they were hurt are justified; this is not the case.

Make decisions about what needs to be done to move forward

Many people, including good and well-meaning people, neglect the very important step in dealing with hurt in a relationship which is action. Most of the people stop at either the acknowledgment stage or acceptance.

However, for conscious change to happen, we must take action. Action entails making decisions about what needs to be done to move forward without regret, remorse, resentment about the hurt experienced positively. It also entails agreeing on how to move forward either together or apart.

When we ignore action and let life go on while harboring these terrible triplets (regret, remorse, resentment), they will trip us, and we are bound to go down the same road that put us in the position of being hurt in the first place.

Action includes:

  • Are we examining the boundaries we have or do not have that have allowed the hurt to happen?
  • Is this hurt coming from our own insecurities, or did it genuinely result from someone breaking my boundaries?

Lasting changes almost often happen when we work on ourselves first because we are the only person we control.

Have a conversation with the person in this relationship

After this self-examination, examine the relationship and the situation where hurt occurred. Then have a conversation with the person in this relationship and communicate how you feel aggrieved.

How they crossed your boundaries and therefore injured us and what needs to happen next. Listen to their side of the story. Sometimes there are genuine reasons based on ignorance on their side.

But be sure to listen for minimization, justification, dodging, and other indications that the person doesn’t care for you and will not take responsibility for their behavior.

Abbe Lang

Abbe Lang

Certified Professional Life Coach

We must recommit to our journey of self-love and healing

When our partners hurt us in our intimate relationships, it can cut deeper than any pain imaginable. Our partners know our buttons, our weaknesses, and our pain. When they wound us, they have touched on a childhood issue.

We have conflicts in our relationship when our partners hurt us. Conflict or hurt is only growth trying to happen. When we feel hurt or angry, we must recommit to our journey of self-love and healing.

In doing so, we recommit to our partner by saying, “I will stick with this uncomfortable feeling and work it out with you.” We don’t want to shove that hurt feeling down inside and let resentment build.

Sharing that hurt with our partners in a constructive way

Our next step is sharing that hurt with our partners in a constructive way. I teach my clients to use Imago Dialogue to share their feelings of pain and disappointment.

Imago Dialogue enables each partner to have a turn in talking while the other person listens, repeats, validates and acknowledges. This is a powerful tool in getting to the root cause of your hurt or pain.

Effective communication is crucial to a healthy relationship. Having good communication skills may not solve or resolve every problem or issue, but no problem or issue will be resolved with them!

Some days we may communicate better than others, but we can never choose not to communicate or shut down in our intimate relationships.

We often aren’t even aware of how little we listen to our partners. They speak, and in our minds, we think, “I have heard this a million times before.”

Maybe you have heard it, but never have you really listened, repeated your partner’s feelings, validated those feeling, and then finally empathized with your partner for having these feelings in the first place.

When you take the time to understand what your partner says what they mean accurately, you will deepen your love connection and avoid unnecessary hurt and pain.

Let’s go over these steps of conscious communication with your partner to resolve your hurt and angry feelings.

The first step is mirroring ⁠

Mirroring is the process of completely listening to your partner and accurately reflecting the entire “content” of their message. Most times, repeating the exact words that your partner is saying is most effective.

Some specific phrases for mirroring include:

  • Let me see if I got you
  • I heard you say
  • Did I get that

After repeating back your partner’s feelings, you always ask, “Is there anything else?” This enables your partner to continue to share on a deeper level. Your partner will often get to the bottom of their hurt and angry feelings by digging deep here.

The second step is validation⁠

Validation is communicating to your partner that the information you are receiving and mirroring “makes sense.”

It is very important that you always remember these feelings are not your own. They are your partner’s hurt and angry feelings, and you need to agree and validate them no matter how crazy they may seem.

This is crucial. Don’t let your ego get in the way here. It isn’t about winning an argument. It is about uncovering your partner’s childhood wounds.

Some typical validation statements can include:

  • “You make sense to me…”.
  • “I can understand that you feel this way given that….”
  • “I can see how you would see it that way because sometimes I do….”

The final step is empathy⁠

Empathy is recognizing the feelings your partner is sharing. It is the process of reflecting, imagining, and participating in how your partner is feeling.

Empathy allows both partners to overcome their own individual feelings, even for just a moment, and experience a genuine meeting of the minds. This experience has tremendous healing power.

Some typical phrases for empathic communication include:

  • “I can imagine that when that happens, you may feel…”
  • “I can see that you are feeling…” (at the deepest level)
  • “I am experiencing your (feelings)….”

A relationship is like a spiral repeating the stages of love and the experience of repair and connection through conscious communication.

You enter the relationship through a doorway of love, hit the hurts and power struggles, repair and work on your connection again. Your wounds and pain become lessened each time you complete the conscious communication process through the proper safe dialogue.

This is because you can truly understand what is going on for your partner and are willing to take that journey to help heal them.

It would help if you understood what caused them

Before attempting to remedy hurt feelings in a relationship, it is important that you understand what caused them. When one knows what caused the hurt feelings and then acts to understand, feel empathy and show compassion, it changes the relationship for the better.

Hurt feelings happen because we can cause injury to a relationship as human beings.

What is an “injury?” An injury is anything someone does to another person perceived as hurtful. Injuries in a relationship can happen every day and in ways, we do not stop to think about.

It can be as big as an affair to minor injuries that repeatedly happen. The problem arises when injuries occur, and they are not talked about to heal them. As single injuries collect over time, they create more and more distance. Over time, injuries result in attachment problems.

You may be asking yourself, “What types of injuries can cause such harmful damage to a relationship?”

Let me give you some examples, and keep in mind that the extent of injury depends upon the person.

  • Speaking down or harshly to someone can be an injury — What about dismissing a person’s thoughts and opinions as if they do not matter? Could not valuing the other person’s need for space turn into an injury?
  • It could be anything that a person finds hurtful, painful, or unexpected — The challenge is to be watchful of potential injuries you might inflict. Plus, it would be best to communicate what causes harm to you.

One heartfelt “I’m sorry” can go a long way

How did two little words become so difficult to say? Unfortunately, “I’m sorry” is not always the easiest thing to say. Maybe saying it is a phrase you were taught to avoid.

Others may view these words as a sign of weakness. Whatever your past experience may have been with the words, “I’m sorry,” now is the time to incorporate these simple words into your relationship.

Why is it so hard for people to say, “I’m sorry?”

Over the years, I have discovered it mainly comes down to three common reasons.

Let us take a closer look at what those are and how to change the behavior so relationships can thrive through the years, even when disagreements or problems arise.

Because people think they need to be correct

For many people, it is difficult to say “I’m sorry” because they need to be correct. Of course, you never apologize if you think you are in the right. It would seem like a couple would be at an impasse with one or both taking this position.

Because people must mutually agree to let go of the need to be right in a relationship

How in the world do you move forward? Although challenging, a couple must mutually agree to let go of the need to be right in a relationship. Each needs to accept the other for who they are, the thoughts they have, and what they do.

We need to realize that when the words “I’m sorry” are said, it provides the opportunity to have a discussion. Those words may stop the conflict when it is happening.

The hope is to open the door to resolution instead of feeding a loop of frustration and anger.

Here is something to ponder: Do you want to be right or loving?

Because each may have a different idea of what an apology means

Another situation is when a couple may each have a different idea of what an apology or “I’m sorry” means. An example is when a couple does not recognize the need for the other person to hear the words “I’m sorry.”

Let us say that a wife will not say it. She says, “Why am I saying sorry when I haven’t done anything wrong?” From her point of view, there is nothing to be sorry for.

The husband may not be looking for her to take any blame. Instead, he just wants to know she is sorry for their current situation. Then, the wife cannot bring herself to say she is sorry about their painful experience.

Are there injuries in the relationship?

It can be a challenge to open a discussion if one partner is not willing even to acknowledge the need of the other to hear “I’m sorry” for the situation.

The truth is that behind the wife’s refusal is likely a deep pain for an injury or series of damages that had occurred in the relationship that had not been processed and resolved.

For this couple and others like them, this behavior becomes a cycle that must be understood. It is tough to take that first step, but those words can be all it takes to begin the journey of healing and recreating a relationship of trust.

Related: How to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You Emotionally

Take responsibility for the injury or hurt you caused

There also may be times saying “I’m sorry” is about taking responsibility for the injury or hurt you caused. This cannot be easy. We as human beings have a natural reaction not to take responsibility for something that has happened.

Yet, if we acknowledge our part in an injury and say, “I’m sorry,” it can be one of the most healing statements that someone could say.

Make saying “I’m sorry” a part of the relationship

Since saying “I’m sorry” can be a powerful tool to maintain a connected relationship, how do you make those words a part of your relationship?

It is a three-step process that couples can follow and avoid pain, frustration, and potential damage to a relationship.

Acknowledge if you always feel you need to be right in a relationship

The first step is to acknowledge if you always feel you need to be right in a relationship. Once you recognize it, you can change that behavior. Accept the other person for who they are, how they think, and what they do.

The significant benefit in making this an approach to any conflicts or disagreements is avoiding injuries before they become one. To say “I’m sorry” provides the chance to discuss at the time a conflict occurs.

Be sincere when you apologize

The second step is to be sincere when you apologize. It should not be an offhand comment; instead, it must come from the heart. After all, you are saying this to the person you love and sharing your life with every day.

Your relationship is special and unique. How you communicate with one another, mainly when working through conflict, needs to be done with love at its foundation.

When an “I’m sorry” is genuine, a couple can move beyond the specific issue and work through the problem or behavior.

Apologizing needs to be part of your interaction

We are all familiar with the saying, “practice makes perfect.” In the final step, saying “I’m sorry” needs to be made part of your interaction together as a couple.

There are times that “I’m sorry” can be used even in the small activities of everyday life. Be specific about what you are apologizing for because it is more meaningful.

Let me give you some examples. If you come home late when you had promised a specific time, say, “I’m sorry I was late tonight. I said I would be home by 6:00 p.m.”

Here is another. If you argue and you raise your voice, say, “I’m really sorry I spoke to you in that tone.”

These are exchanges that allow you and your spouse to practice saying, “I’m sorry.” It will not become a behavior that you take for granted. Instead, it can make you constantly aware of your partner’s feelings and let them know you respect and love them.

I encourage you to think about how you can make the words “I’m sorry” a part of your relationship. Talk to your partner about it.

Practical insights:

  • Saying “I’m sorry” can change a relationship for the better. Talk with your partner about introducing saying “I’m sorry” into your relationship. Remember to be specific when it comes to expressing your apology.
  • Talk about an injury when it immediately occurs. An “I’m sorry” may help in resolving the issue. When we apologize, it opens the opportunity to talk about injuries the moment they happen.

    Doing so can keep your partner from feeling hurt about words you said or actions you took, even if unconsciously done.
  • Make “I’m sorry” a part of your relationship regularly. Talk with your partner about making “I’m sorry” a regular part of your life exchange. Share any issues so that they can be addressed early to avoid hurting your relationship over time.

Relationships ask us to be vulnerable, authentic, and caring. We cautiously move outside of our protective emotional walls to share some of who we are with someone else.

The deeper the relationship, the more trust is created, and the more likely, something will hurt us or our partner emotionally. Since having hurt feelings in a relationship is normal, developing strategies to deal with them will prepare you to overcome them.

Think about whose feelings have been hurt

When considering how to deal with hurt feelings in a relationship, first think about whose feelings have been hurt. If you have been hurt, you will want to minimize your hurt and deal with your strong emotions.

If your partner has been harmed, you will want to de-escalate their intense emotions and then address any problems that cause the hurt.

Identify precisely what emotions you feel

Let’s start with your hurt feelings. The first step is to identify precisely what emotions you feel. You want to check off as many feelings as possible.

Here’s a list to help you isolate your hurt feelings:

The Sad Emotions

  • Lonely
  • Vulnerable
  • Depressed
  • Abandoned
  • Victimized
  • Fragile
  • Grief-stricken
  • Powerless

The Anger Emotions

  • Humiliated
  • Bitter
  • Frustrated
  • Betrayed
  • Resentful
  • Disrespected
  • Ridiculed
  • Indignant
  • Violated
  • Furious
  • Provoked
  • Hostile
  • Infuriated
  • Annoyed
  • Withdrawn
  • Numb

The Fear Emotions

  • Anxious
  • Insecure
  • Week
  • Rejected
  • Worthless
  • Inadequate
  • Overwhelmed
  • Helpless

Assess how you feel in your body

The next step is to assess how you feel in your body. Check off any of the following physical feelings you might have when you have been hurt in a relationship.

Some physical feelings include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain (particularly in the neck)
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the arms and legs
  • Stomach ache
  • Exhaustion
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Crying or sobbing
  • Chest pain or tightness

Identify your behaviors

The third step is to identify your behaviors and how you reacted to being hurt in a relationship.

Some common behaviors include:

  • Verbal aggression
  • Fighting and arguing
  • Shouting
  • Withdrawing
  • Running away
  • Avoid
  • Giving the cold shoulder treatment
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Frowning or grimacing
  • Getting drunk or high
  • Bingeing on comfort food like ice cream

You now have an inventory of emotions, physical feelings, and behaviors you experience when you are hurt in a relationship.

You can soothe yourself by saying the following to yourself, “I am feeling (list every emotion you checked off).

Here’s an example, Immediately upon feeling hurt, you would say:

“I’m feeling angry, frustrated, disrespected, and unappreciated. I feel abandoned and alone. I don’t feel connected. I’m sad and feeling grief. I don’t feel loved.”

Keep at this until you feel a sense of calm descend upon you, and use the emotions listed above for help. This usually takes about 90 seconds.

Once you have calmed and soothed yourself by labeling your emotions, combine the inventory by filling in the blanks to the following sentences.

“When I am emotionally hurt by my partner in our relationship, I experience (name a dominant emotion), I feel (name a prevalent physical feeling), and I (name a behavior). When I experience (the emotion you listed), I need more ______.

When I feel (the physical sensation), I need to feel ___________.

When I (name a behavior), I’m trying to ________________.”

Here’s an example of how this works:

“When I am emotionally hurt by my partner in our relationship, I experience grief and abandonment, I feel exhausted, and I run away.

When I experience grief and abandonment, I need connection and love.

When I feel exhausted, I need rest and sleep.
When I run away, I need to feel safe and secure.”

How you were programmed for romantic failure

What if I told you that you were programmed for romantic failure? (And that it’s not your fault!) The truth is that we’re programmed not to succeed in relationships.

Hurt feelings in relationships flow because we are trained for relationship failure rather than relationship success. But we don’t know this because no one has ever told us this before.

Instead, we think we are entitled to relationship happiness as a matter of right. When our expectation is shattered by something our partner does that hurts us, we feel deep hurt and betrayal, and we are confused.

“Why did they do that to me?” “What did I do to deserve being hurt in our relationship?”

The reality is that you and your partner are acting out the unconscious programming you received from your parents, and they received from their parents going back hundreds of generations.

This vicious cycle of emotional abuse has come to light only in the past ten years. Remember when you were two or three years old, and you fell, scraped your knee, and started crying.

What were you told?

  • “Don’t be a sissy”
  • “Rub dirt in it”
  • “Get over it”
  • “Big boys/girls don’t cry”

Guess what?

  • You were taught that emotions are weak
  • Emotions are invalid
  • Emotions are evil
  • Emotions are irrational
  • If you cry, you are less than a man
  • You are less than feminine and desirable if you show anger or frustration.
  • You learned that emotions were painful and shameful.

You were being programmed to become emotionally incompetent. As a result, you were set up for relationship failure because relationships are all about emotions.

Many people get emotionally stuck at 6 or 7 years old, and they grow physically into adulthood with the emotional immaturity of a child. This is why, when we have hurt feelings in a relationship, we revert to the hurt and pain of childhood and feel it all again, even more intensely.

Suppose you or your partner have not been taught to be emotionally competent. In that case, you will inevitably hurt each other in your relationship because you will be acting out your unconscious childhood programming.

Listen to your partner’s hurt feelings

Hurt feelings in a relationship arise because couples fail to listen to each other at a deep, emotional level.

For example, when an argument or fight appears, the need to be heard and validated overpowers the desire to listen to the other person. Thus, fights and arguments escalate as each person tries to be heard.

The antidote is deep, reflective emotional listening, called affect labeling. Brain scanning studies show that affect labeling or touching reflection inhibits the brain’s emotional centers while activating the prefrontal cortex.

The effect is to calm an angry, hurt, upset partner in less than 90 seconds. You’ve already used affect labeling on yourself in the exercises above. We will apply it when your partner is emotionally hurt in your relationship.

Reflect emotions

When your partner is hurt, the fastest way to calm things down and build trust is to affect the label. Using the list of emotions above, you will reflect on the feelings your partner seems to be experiencing, starting with the most apparent emotions.

This is a three-step process:

  1. Ignore your partner’s words.
  2. Read your partner’s emotions (use the list above).
  3. Reflect your partner’s emotions using a “you” statement.

Here’s an example of how you would affect label your partner’s hurt feelings in the relationship:

  • “You are angry and frustrated…”
  • “You feel disrespected…”
  • “You don’t feel heard or appreciated…”
  • “You are confused and upset, and sad…”
  • “You feel abandoned and even a little betrayed…”
  • “You don’t feel loved, and you feel rejected…”

Notice how you reflected multiple emotions, one after the other. You keep doing this until your partner says something like, “Yeah!” or “Exactly,” sighs and drops their shoulders in relief.

Your partner will calm down, and you will both be able to talk about what caused the hurt and how not to do it again.

Learning how to manage emotions in a relationship is not complicated but does take practice. Unfortunately, too many couples get caught in the programming that causes relationships to fail—emotional incompetency.

With your partner, your best strategy is to learn how to be emotionally competent with each other.

Chelsea Austin

Chelsea Austin

Writer | Speaker | Certified Life Coach

Figure out what your feelings are and why you’re feeling them

Before launching into a discussion of your feelings with someone else, take some time to feel them, which I know can be so challenging. Sitting with your feelings and just breathing while you feel them is one of the most challenging yet most necessary things to do when you’re experiencing “less-favorable” emotions.

No matter what you’re feeling, your feelings are valid.

That also means that no matter what the other person is feeling, their feelings are also valid. When our feelings get hurt, it’s natural to immediately point to the person who hurt us and tell them all of the things they did wrong.

But before doing that, take some time to sit with what you’re feeling and ask yourself what exactly it is (actually name the feeling) and why you’re feeling that way.

Sometimes we feel hurt because we’ve been hurt in the past by someone, and the current situation brings up all of those feelings again, making us much faster to react even if our reaction isn’t all to do with the person in front of us.

Get quiet and be with your feelings before responding

Sit with a journal, or get quiet and be with your feelings before responding. When we understand why something that someone else did hurt us, it’s easier to articulate it in a way that can help both parties grow.

When dealing with feelings of any kind, it can be so convoluted because it means you’re also dealing with interpretation. Everyone interprets situations differently.

We bring all of ourselves and our past experiences to every situation, sometimes without even realizing it, and our lived experiences can influence how we see any given situation.

The sooner we can understand that our interpretation of a situation is just that, the easier we can start to work through hurt feelings in a relationship and better understand our partners, friends, family, and colleagues.

Think about a minor car accident. You have the drivers of both cars, two passengers, and a witness on the street. Everyone’s account of the same event will look different because we are all different people.

It’s like when you ask a couple to recount how they met or what their first date looked like. The two individuals never tell the exact same story. This is also is true in situations where hurt feelings arise.

So make sure you know what you’re feeling, and if you can get to the why too, that’s amazing and helpful when you sit down to communicate your hurt feelings.

Articulate your feelings and your “why” with compassion

When you want to tell someone that they hurt you, it’s natural to want to yell and scream at them, but typically when someone is being yelled at, they will want to shut down instead of hearing what you have to say.

When you’ve taken the time to understand what it is you’re feeling and why you can then sit down with your partner/friend or whomever and explain calmly the feelings you’re experiencing and why those feelings are coming up for you because you’re no longer in the eye of the storm.

When someone understands why you have certain feelings, it’s also easier for them to empathize and see how they can act differently in the future and better understand you, creating deeper bonds between you.

Typically people don’t set out on a given day to hurt others. It’s likely that when someone has hurt your feelings, they didn’t do it on purpose, so by approaching them with compassion, you’ll have an easier time reaching them and coming to an understanding for both of you as to why they did what they did and why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.

And maybe with that understanding, you can see their side of the story and empathize with them. This is not easy, that is for sure, but it leads to a potential of a much deeper relationship built on a solid foundation of communication.

Regardless of how the other person reacts when you share your feelings with them, though, know that your feelings are still valid no matter what.

Ask for what you need to move forward

Whether you’re the person who feels they’ve been hurt or the person being told they’ve done the hurting, make sure you ask for what you need to move forward. Presenting a problem without feeling open to a solution is challenging to recover from.

But if you can say, “Hey, I’m feeling hurt, and I feel that if you were able to apologize and understand where I’m coming from, I could move forward.”

That gives the other person a chance to succeed. We don’t want to set our friends, family, partners, etc., up for failure. We want to allow them and us to grow in the relationship.

So, see what you want or need to move forward and be open to the other person having wants or needs to move forward.

Give space and time when needed

It’s hard to receive criticism or be told you’ve hurt someone, and it’s hard to feel hurt. Some people need more time to process their emotions than others, and receiving criticism can be very upsetting.

So, if the other person needs time to process, respond, or figure out what it is that they are feeling, even if you would rather everything got worked out immediately, give them some space to sort out what it is that they need, just like you took time to figure out what it is that you needed.

Ask them how much time they would like not to feel left out in the cold and respect their space.

Everyone needs time to process, and giving people space and time when they need it to do so can again lead to a deeper understanding and a longer-term solution than if you’re putting on the pressure to figure things out right now. It can also lead to more genuine apologies.

Learn to apologize and mean it

Whether you’re the person who is hurting or the person who has caused someone to feel hurt, it typically takes two people to tango. Often I find that when hurt feelings arise, both people in any scenario are feeling or are hurting about and that apologies on both sides can be necessary.

If you want or need time before you apologize to someone else, take that time. Don’t feel like you need to rush into an apology. You can ask for time to digest whatever is coming up for you. And utilize that time so that it can come from your heart when you do apologize.

Every time I have hurt feelings in my relationship with my husband, they come in pairs. If I’m hurting, he likely is too. We both are probably unconsciously (or sometimes consciously) doing things that hurt the other person, and we both end up apologizing.

At the end of the day, I know more than anything I would rather be happy than right in my relationship. I take time to see my husband’s side even when I’m hurting, and more often than not, we both end up apologizing.

Pauline Yeghnazar Peck

Pauline Yeghnazar Peck

Licensed Psychologist

Acknowledge that this will happen in a relationship

Relationships are part rupture and part repair, so the first thing we can do is realize that this will happen. Having our feelings hurt in a relationship is both painful and inevitable.

Adjusting our expectations to see ruptures as a natural part of being with others can reduce our anxiety that hurt feelings, conflict, and disagreements are signs of something wrong in the relationship.

Moreover, feelings, hurt ones included, give us valuable information about ourselves, our needs, and our wants in the relationship giving us an opportunity to improve our relationships, increase intimacy, and build trust.

Normalize the experience and meet it with curiosity

Knowing that we will likely experience the full range of emotions in relationships, comfortable and uncomfortable and that there is valuable data in those feelings when we experience hurt feelings, we can normalize our experience and then meet it with curiosity.

  • What am I actually feeling?
  • What does this mean within this relationship?
  • What needs to be communicated?

Disappointment can highlight that we have unmet expectations and allow us to articulate what our expectations are. Had we talked about our expectations beforehand, or were we hoping for the other person to read our minds?

Anger can represent a boundary-crossing or violation and allow us to protect ourselves and set up new boundaries for the future.

Identify what the feelings are communicating

Explicitly identifying the feelings and what those feelings are in response to enables us to bring that information back into the relationship to repair and communicate our needs.

Repeated hurt feelings around previously communicated topics are also good information about the other person’s ability and/or willingness to be empathic to our experience and adjust their behaviors reasonably.

Komal Ramlagun McOptom

Komal Ramlagun McOptom

Lecturer and Ph.D. Researcher,

The more we care about someone, the more sensitive we become, and getting hurt becomes a natural by-product when our expectations are not met.

Unfortunately, being hurt in relationships can affect our mental and emotional wellbeing.

However, there are some ways to deal with hurt in a relationship.

Reflect on your feelings

The best way to deal with hurt is by turning inwards, i.e., reflecting on our feelings, e.g., why we are hurt, and also looking at the facts to avoid being misled by our emotions.

Contemplating previous instances where we felt hurt due to similar incidents can also help us discover the root cause of our hurt. Once we find this out, it becomes easier to change our approach and expectations mindfully.

Invest your energy in a creative pursuit

It is harder to deal with a hurt most of the time if we make the other person the center of our world. And as we place the other person on a pedestal, we forget about our existence.

It is a given that if we dedicate ourselves to a higher purpose and to help others, our sense of fulfillment will increase, and our ability to deal with hurt in a more positive manner will also increase. Take it up! What do you love doing?

Don’t lose sight of the good in the other person, even if they hurt you

Reminding yourself why you are with this person in the first place and why you love them can help. Suppose we are solely focused on loving them instead of expecting love in return.

In that case, our perspective will change and combined with taking care of ourselves and being responsible for our own happiness; the hurt will dissipate.

When it comes to hurt:

“Sometimes, it’ll drizzle, and sometimes it will rain heavily. At times, it will snow, and other times it may hail. Ultimately, it’s all water. Learn to let it pass.”

~ Om Swami.

Sandra Myers

Sandra Myers

Certified Matchmaker | President, Select Date Society

Let yourself feel hurt

It can be unhealthy to ignore or suppress your feelings. Allow yourself to feel the way you think and reflect on why you feel that way. When you let yourself experience the feeling, you will often work through it to feel better the next day.

Communicate with your partner

Your partner may not even realize the hurt you feel if you don’t tell them. Talk to your partner about what transpired to leave you feeling hurt.

Talk through how the two of you can repair any damage it has caused. Talk about your strategy, as a couple, for addressing hurt feelings in the future.

Take responsibility for your part

When there is disagreement in a relationship, it is rarely one-sided. Own up to any part you may have played and take accountability for your actions or lack thereof.

When you take ownership of your part, your partner will gain respect for you and be more likely to own up to their part.

Get clear on what is really going on

Being self-aware sets you up for successful relationships. Take time to ask yourself why your feelings were hurt.

Did your partner do or say something to hurt your feelings, or did they trigger past hurts that you have left unresolved?

Get to the bottom of what is really going on so that you can deal with the actual root cause of the hurt.

Seek professional help

Meet with a trusted advisor, therapist, or couples coach to help you work through your hurt feelings and proceed healthily.

If you are both willing to work with a professional to get back to a good place, it shows that the two of you are committed to the relationship and have a good chance of making amends.

Jisun Sunny Fisher

Jisun Sunny Fisher

Licensed Psychologist, UrLifeInspired, LLC

Work on yourself

Any relationship, especially the most important and closest ones in our lives, serves the purpose of reflecting back for us on what we need to work on next. If any triggering or resistance comes up in a relationship, it says a lot about what is required to change your mindset or limit beliefs.

For example, I had a client who was extremely triggered by her partner seemingly not “having her back.” After some unpacking, we were able to identify a limiting belief that she needed someone to protect her, something that was deeply engrained because of a past assault that had happened when she made an error by allowing herself to be vulnerable.

Let go of expectations

A primary reason many individuals I’ve worked with coming to the point of leaving their partners after years of exasperation is that they hold expectations of what they want their partner to be, do, or seem.

These expectations come from many different sources:

  • Patterns they saw from their parents while growing up
  • Heartbreak from past relationships
  • Trauma keeps their Autonomic Nervous Systems keep looking for what’s wrong.

Unconditional love expects nothing in return. Having any kind of expectations is like keeping that person in chains of your limiting expectations that hold both yourself and your partner caged.

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, MS, LCPC

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin

Certified Imago Therapist, The Marriage Restoration Project

Communicate openly and honestly

It is important for a couple to learn how to communicate openly and honestly. When one can have a safe dialogue with their partner, they can open up and share safely with no blame or shame.

The challenge in relationships is that one partner does not typically feel comfortable opening up and sharing for fear of response.

The other partner who is comfortable sharing often does it extremely emotionally and sometimes critically or aggressively.

Learn a process that helps people feel seen and heard

The key is to learn a process that helps both people feel seen and heard so that it is safe to open up as well as to listen. We find that the Imago Dialogue process helps process hurts to lead to deeper connection.

That’s because one person shares and the other listens without responding. They mirror or reflect back on what their partner said, validate, and empathize. This powerful tool makes it safe for the couple to open up and share when they otherwise would not.

Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester

Neuropsychologist and Owner, The Narcissistic Life

Discover what is causing the hurt

The first step towards dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship is discovering exactly what is causing the hurt feelings. This is something that you should think about on your own before you engage in conversation with your partner.

Otherwise, it will be challenging to solve the problem if you do not have a clear understanding of what the problem is.

Have a calm conversation with your partner

The next thing to do is have a calm conversation with your partner. This is your chance to be honest and open with each other about how you are feeling.

This is often easier said than done, but communication is essential if you want to deal with your hurt feelings in the relationship and give yourselves a chance to move forward.

The ARE method

ARE stands for Attentive, Responsive, Engaged, and this is an excellent approach to dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship. To start the healing process, couples need to step away from the hurt at the moment and seek out the emotions that really need their attention.

Instead of meeting them with silence, you will both need to give the other person your full attention when they are talking and respond to what they are telling you. The conversation is essential, and you both need to be involved in this for it to work.

Seek guidance with a professional

If you are struggling to work out your emotional issues as a couple, you might want to seek help from a professional. Having a professional to guide you through the hurt in your relationship can help to bring you closer together.

They can help you acknowledge and work on the deeper issues in your relationship. Their expertise can also help you learn to communicate better if this is something that you have been struggling to do independently.

Michelle Devani

Michelle Devani

Founder, lovedevani

Deal with them immediately to avoid fostering negative emotions

No relationship is perfect. Along the way, we may unintentionally hurt the ones we love.

As a relationship and dating expert, neglecting to address hurt feelings can cause resentment, tension, and indifference in a relationship. If there are hurt feelings, deal with them immediately to avoid fostering negative emotions in your relationship.

  • Acknowledge their feelings
  • Communicate rather than blame each other
  • Discuss your problems and work together to resolve issues
  • Acknowledge and respect their feelings

Respect their boundaries and show empathy

You may not like how they feel, but you need to respect their boundaries and show empathy. Saying nothing or avoiding the hurt leads to bitterness and hate.

Be willing to take responsibility

Own up to what you did wrong; there is nothing wrong with apologizing first. Do not make excuses for your mistake. Make an effort to correct the behavior.

Be willing to show your partner that you made an error. Do not shift the blame from you to your partner. Avoid phrases like, “I’m sorry you got upset.” Instead, try to apologize sincerely by saying, “There is no excuse for what I did.”

Sameera Sullivan

Sameera Sullivan

Relationship expert

Put your sanity first

Normally, people tell you to simply get closure so that you can formally move on. I’m afraid I have to disagree; it’s not that simple. First, you need to decide if that closure is worth potentially messing up your sanity.

How did your relationship end? Is there any serious trauma associated with that individual?

Especially when it comes to manipulative, toxic partners, you might be better off not reaching out for closure – since they’ll use it to lure you into their web of lies again.

Distance and regain self-love

Try to distance yourself from the situation whenever you’re feeling hurt post-breakup (or even during your relationship).

You need that clarity and independence to learn how to control your feelings, and it’s that skillful compartmentalization that will help bring about a conscious feeling of self-love instead!

Related: Why Is Self Love Important?

I’ve always advised my couples to maintain their own friends, hobbies, activities, jobs, and so on.

Remember, it’s okay to take your time ⁠— and actually encouraged to do so! It’s not easy or fast. Instead, an iterative process that’s very much needed for the rest of your life.

Tatiana Gavrilina

Tatiana Gavrilina

Content Marketing Writer, DDI Development

Understand why you are experiencing hurt feelings in the relationship

It is important to understand what is weighing on you because we have to take responsibility for our own condition. Yes, our partner may misbehave, in our opinion, but we are not responsible for their actions. But we are accountable for our own reactions to those actions.

You need to answer yourself honestly about what it is that you don’t like about the relationship.

Don’t be silent and talk to your partner

Keeping silent won’t help you. It will only make you feel worse. Talk to your partner, but avoid blaming them. You should not say that your partner is terrible or how they should behave.

You should speak on your own behalf, such as:

“It makes me sad when you act like this. I want to understand what you think. How you look at discussing/suggesting/trying it, and so on..”

Get help from a therapist or talk to supportive friends

You can get help from a therapist or talk to supportive friends, but it’s up to you to decide.

If you continue to experience hurt feelings in a relationship, you need to think about ending the relationship and dealing with your own life. You may not be doing what you really want to do.

Let’s summarize:

  • Engage in dialogue
  • Don’t blame, but talk about your feelings
  • Learn to listen to the other person
  • Talk to a counselor
  • If that doesn’t help, get out of that relationship, but don’t rush to start another one
  • Be happy on your own

Related: When Should You Date Again After a Breakup

Julie Teffeteller

Julie Teffeteller

Relationship Coach and Content Creator | CEO, Best Ever Marriages

Connect and process the hurt feelings

Connecting with hurt feelings is the quickest way to overcome them. Emotions need to be processed, so when we try to resist hurt feelings or push them down, it just intensifies and prolongs our own suffering.

Observe where you feel that emotion in your body

Try to observe where you feel that emotion in your body. Maybe you feel a tightness in your chest or a heavyweight in the pit of your stomach. Those patterns of energy in the body are actually our brain signaling that something is wrong and needs to be addressed.

By tuning into the feeling directly, we’re doing what our brain needs us to do by giving high priority to the issue at hand.

By mindfully being present with the emotion, we can break the cycle of ruminating on those hurt emotions and free ourselves from the downward spiral towards depression.

Sisanda CJ

Sisanda CJ

Transformational Speaker and Women’s Coach, Refined Eight

Put understanding at the center of the issue

A great way to deal with hurt feelings in a relationship is to put understanding at the center of the issue.

Oftentimes, we’re quick to lash out and argue without taking time to understand one another. Instead, give each other the opportunity to explain your intent and feelings.

Seek to understand why your partner reacted a certain way or what made them say something hurtful. Understanding brings insight into your partners’ world.

And insight will be a great aid in brainstorming the different ways to solve the issue and move forward with compassion for one another.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my partner doesn’t acknowledge my hurt feelings or doesn’t think they’re valid?

It can be disheartening when a partner doesn’t acknowledge or validate your feelings. In these situations, it’s essential to reiterate your emotions and explain why the situation has affected you.

Ask your partner to empathize with you and understand your feelings. If they still don’t acknowledge your feelings, it may be helpful to seek couples counseling or therapy to improve communication and understanding in your relationship.

How can we move forward after addressing hurt feelings in a relationship?

Once hurt feelings have been discussed and acknowledged, finding ways to move forward together is crucial. This may include apologizing, working on personal growth, or making changes in the relationship dynamic. Practice forgiveness and focus on restoring trust and emotional intimacy. Keep the lines of communication open and check in regularly to ensure both partners feel heard and valued.

How can I prevent hurt feelings from having a long-term impact on my relationship?

To prevent hurt feelings from causing long-term damage, maintain a relationship based on open communication, trust, and emotional support. Address issues when they arise and encourage your partner to do the same.

Practice empathy, active listening, and validation to create a safe environment for sharing feelings. Remember that it’s normal for feelings to be hurt occasionally.

However, if you consistently work on maintaining a strong emotional connection, you can minimize the impact of these moments on your relationship.

How can I manage my emotions and reactions when dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship?

Managing your own emotions and reactions when dealing with hurt feelings is critical to maintaining a healthy relationship dynamic. Start by taking a step back and giving yourself time to process your feelings.

Engage in self-reflection to understand the root cause of your hurt feelings and examine your expectations of the relationship. Practice self-compassion and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. When you feel ready, communicate openly with your partner and focus on your feelings without blaming them.

How can I distinguish between normal disagreements and patterns of hurtful behaviors that might be harmful to the relationship?

To distinguish between normal disagreements and hurtful patterns of behavior, you need to assess the frequency, intensity, and nature of the conflicts. Occasional disagreements and hurt feelings are normal in any relationship.

However, if these conflicts become persistent, escalate quickly, or involve disrespectful or abusive behavior, this may indicate a harmful pattern. Reflect on the impact of these conflicts on your emotional well-being and the relationship’s overall health.

If you’re concerned about a pattern of hurtful behavior, seek professional help to address the problem and support the growth of your relationship.

What role does self-awareness play in dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship?

Self-awareness plays a critical role in dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship because it allows you to recognize and understand your feelings, triggers, and reactions.

When you’re self-aware, you can better communicate your feelings and needs to your partner, which helps you work through emotional challenges together. It also promotes empathy because when you understand your emotions, you can better comprehend and empathize with your partner’s feelings.

Is it okay to seek support from friends and family when dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship?

It can be helpful to ask friends and family members for support when dealing with hurt feelings in a relationship. Trusted friends and family members can offer a fresh perspective, provide emotional support and share their experiences, which can help you cope with your feelings and find possible solutions.

However, it’s essential to maintain a balance and make sure you also address the issue directly with your partner to promote open communication and mutual understanding.

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