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My feelings have been hurt many times. Sometimes, I thought I was being too sensitive, but other times, I felt like my partner (or another person) wasn't being considerate enough. If your partner has made you feel bad, it doesn't mean the relationship is doomed, but it might mean it's time to communicate with them about how you feel. It’s not always easy to know how to tell someone they hurt you, so if you're wondering how to broach this tricky convo, I spoke with experts to get the tips for you.
Hurt feelings don't have to be anyone's fault — sometimes, they just happen. And as relationship coach and clinical psychologist Morgan Anderson confirms, the confrontation that follows doesn’t have to be a red flag, either. “Conflict is a normal and healthy part of any relationship,” she tells Elite Daily. “Having conflict simply means you are growing as a couple.”
With this growth can come growing pains, and figuring out how to tell your boyfriend he hurt you or how to tell your girlfriend she hurt you isn’t always easy. You might be worried that you will start an argument, lash out, point fingers, or revert to any old habits you’ve been trying to shake. But with a few key pointers and an extra deep breath, you’ll have the tools you need to navigate potential conflict.
Before Telling Them How They Hurt You, Take A Beat
Are you unsure of how to tell someone they hurt your feelings without sparking an argument? It can be helpful to give it some time before bringing it up with your partner. "Sometimes you’re so hurt and flustered, that you’re not focused and composed and you can’t bring it up in the moment," relationship and etiquette expert April Masini tells Elite Daily. "Don’t worry. Later is often better because it gives you time to compose your feelings and what you want to say." It's OK to sit with your hurt feelings for a few hours or even days. You'll remember what hurt you, and you'll be able to remind them of the interaction.
It can also be useful to give yourself a bit of emotional distance before having a collected conversation about it. Then, once you’ve taken the space you need and feel ready to chat with your partner, Anderson suggests actually inviting them to the conversation. One example she offers is, “I’m noticing that I’m upset about something that happened earlier. Are you open to talking about it? I feel it would be helpful for us to process this together instead of me continuing to hold it in.” This way, you won’t be springing the topic on your partner, and you can both enter the conversation in a good mindset.
Focus On Your Own Hurt Feelings
Make sure you keep the attention on yourself when you're bringing up your feelings. "Explain how you feel when something your partner does, or did, happens. Tell them what you feel, why you feel it, and what you’d like them to say or not say or do instead,” Masini suggests. “This doesn’t just give your partner information about your feelings — it gives them a flow chart to modify behavior."
The key to doing so, according to Anderson, is to master the “I-statements.” As she explains, “Develop comfort with the following three sentence starters: ‘I feel,’ ‘What I need to feel supported is,’ and, ‘The story I am telling myself is.’” If you focus on how you feel, your partner is less likely to feel attacked. They may have hurt your feelings by accident, and it could put them on the defensive if you focus on their behavior. Keeping the focus on yourself can help you communicate hurt feelings to your partner.
Stay Calm & Collected
When considering how to tell someone they hurt your feelings, it’s useful to remain calm. While it's difficult to not get angry when you feel upset, it will ultimately benefit your relationship if you keep your temper in check. "If they’re laughing and making a joke out of something that hurt your feelings, don’t use the opportunity to lash out and [get aggressive] on them," Masini says. "This will just fast track a fight. What you want to do is explain your feelings, but if you get upset and get angry, you’ll lose that opportunity to segue into a conversation."
Instead, be specific. Try explaining the exact words they used that hurt you, but express your hurt feelings calmly rather than with anger. It's totally OK to be angry, but when communicating with your partner, it might be easier to get your message across if you can avoid lashing out at them.
Explain How They Hurt You Without Placing Blame
Even though your partner hurt your feelings, it can sometimes be useful to avoid pointing fingers. Your partner might be more willing to have an open conversation about what happened if they're not feeling attacked. "If you point fingers, it puts them on the defensive and that isn’t a great place from which to get to a productive solution," Masini says. "Remember, it takes two to form a relationship dynamic, and your sensitivity plays a part in this. Instead of having one person be wrong and one be right, explain that you’re sensitive and so when this happened, it made you feel hurt."
You're not being overly sensitive by having hurt feelings, but your partner also might not know exactly what upset you. Instead of blaming them (even if you feel like it's their fault), try to speak openly about the way you feel. Your feelings are always valid. “Ultimately, we decide how we react to our partners when we are hurt,” Anderson says. “If we can give ourselves compassion, and then decide to brave these tough conversations with honesty and patience, the relationship will undoubtedly grow stronger in the process.”
Hurt feelings happen in relationships, but it doesn't mean the partnership isn't working out. By opening up a dialogue, you can learn how to tell your partner they hurt your feelings in a productive, comfortable way. After all, you deserve to feel good in your relationship, and your partner should know what upsets you. Additionally, it's always OK to reconsider a relationship you're not happy in, too. The most important thing is that you find the amazing relationship you deserve. And you will!
April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert
Morgan Anderson, relationship coach, clinical psychologist, and host of Let’s Get Vulnerable podcast
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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