You Always Hurt the One You Love

The song from which I borrowed my title continues: “The one you shouldn’t hurt at all.” Yet it does indeed seem to be nearly universal that we hurt, and are hurt by, those with whom we believe we are “in love.”

When we are on the receiving end of the hurt we usually try to understand it in one of four ways:

  1. My partner doesn’t understand enough about my sensitive spots, and if I can just get him or her to understand where I am vulnerable then he or she will be more careful not to poke me in those spots.
  2. My partner is unconsciously angry at me for some reason, perhaps my gender, and is acting out that anger in a hostile way.
  3. My partner has some conscious anger at me for some way he or she feels I have been the cause of his or her pain and I need to either:
    1. explain that he or she took my words the wrong way and therefore should not feel hurt, or
    2. acknowledge the way I have caused him or her pain and promise to refrain from doing it again.
  4. I am just being completely paranoid and misinterpreting my partner’s loving behavior as something hurtful.

While all of the above theories may account for some of the pain we experience in intimate relationships, there is a larger perspective that encompasses all of them and can help us stop hurting each other. This perspective is the spiritual one. Much of it is outlined in Deepak Chopra’s book The Path to Love: Renewing the Power of Spirit in Your Life.

From the spiritual point of view each attempt at intimate connection with another human contains a projected spiritual component. We try, usually unconsciously, to experience intimate union with The Divine through our intimate human relationships. This happens fairly naturally and easily when we “fall in love.” The other is experienced as perfect in every way—i.e. Divine. Over time this projected image of the Divine collides with human reality—“the honeymoon is over”—and the real work of sacred union through a human relationship can begin. The trick is to realize that the glimpse of The Divine seen when falling in love occurs is something that can be sustained, but that it requires the real interpersonal work of the cultivation of intimacy. The deepest hurt comes from feeling abandoned by The Divine when the honeymoon is over. Without the conscious awareness that one was seeking to connect with The Divine one ends up blaming one’s partner for this terribly painful feeling of abandonment.

© Copyright 2009 by John Rhead. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Eliza

    Eliza

    November 2nd, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    Don’t you think that a lot of this stems from the fact that we hurt those that we love the most because we are pretty sure that these are the people who will continue to love us in return no matter what we do? I think that in some ways it feels safer to take out our anger and frustration on these people because we know that in the end they are always going to stick around because they care for us. This does not make it right but we all have the habit of giving the most grief to our soft places to fall. But writing this out makes me realize that I better be a better friend and family member because it could be just as easy for them to get tired of all of the drama and turn and walk away someday.

  • Chuck Holmes

    Chuck Holmes

    November 2nd, 2009 at 10:03 AM

    The bond we share with our partner is a very complex one, but simple things like understanding your partner, a little bit of forgiveness and plenty of love is sufficient to sustain a healthy relationship.

  • Oliver

    Oliver

    November 2nd, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    Hurting our loved ones stems from one thing- we take our loved ones for granted… okay,not that we really want to, but it does happen automatically over time… you see,when we are close to someone, we get comfortable…and then we get more comfortable, when this comfort level is at a high we somehow tend to take them for granted…it is human nature…

  • Jeff

    Jeff

    November 3rd, 2009 at 5:50 AM

    But these are the very ones we should not take for granted. These are the people who have been there for us through thick and thin. Why punish them when they ahve always simply been there to help us through our lives?

  • marsha

    marsha

    April 22nd, 2010 at 5:41 AM

    I think we hurt those we love out of fear,fearing you might lose that person if you don’t do what u think its right for ur relationship

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