Hurt Should Not be a Demand

A broken arm or a bloody wound demands attention. In a relationship feeling hurt does not mean an automatic entitlement to attention.Manipulation through tears, hurt as demand

Feeling hurt requires a large amount of dialogue to help both people understand what has occurred. Too often in relationships one person’s hurt becomes a way to manipulate instead, just like a toddler’s relentless tears in a grocery store when told no candy is allowed.

Authentic hurt has four qualities: raw, open, vulnerable and responsible. In these qualities there is room for two people to talk. Respect is not erased because “you did me wrong.” Immediate dialogue may be difficult but with some time passing, it’s possible.

Fury that insists on immediate attention is suspicious. Truth is most often quiet and does not require a lot of noise. Manipulative hurt has these four qualities: aimed, closed, determined and full of blame. In a manipulative experience it feels like the story has already been decided.

Truth can only emerge from uncertainty.

It’s the self-righteous certainty of manipulative hurt that’s so enchanting. Everyone is manipulative with hurt on occasion. It’s a consistent pattern of these qualities that is troubling because there is a victim flavor to many of the problems that evolves over time.

Responsible means considering what your part may be, which is a grown-up activity. Hurt is a complicated business and rarely, can blame be distributed to only one person. Hurt needs thoughtful consideration, not the simple dumping of blame.

Stored up hurts and resentments can destroy the fiber of any relationship. Resentments that have layered over the years because they’ve been silent and ignored are especially difficult to deal with. This can be one of the primary roadblocks to success in treating couples.

One of the saddest things in the world for me is when a man works very hard to change, makes great efforts and it is just too late to be appreciated. Women often have been unhappy for so long that their anger has become a third person in the room that extinguishes any hope for a better future.

I’ve witnessed this tragic state of affairs many times over more than 30 years. Often men have been too conveniently oblivious for too long. Women have gotten tired of saying the same things and they don’t attend to articulating the true depth of how they feel. Then it all falls apart because it’s too late. It’s sad when so many couples don’t get into therapy soon enough.

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