How To Tell Someone How Much They Have Hurt You In 3 Easy Steps
Sharing feelings is hard. Saying "I love you" for the first time is straight up terrifying. (It's a "never have I ever" for me.) I even have a hard time saying, "I had a great time" at the end of a date. Being vulnerable is akin to saying, "Yo, you wanna reject me?" It's scary. But what about vulnerability once you are in a relationship? You've said "I love you," but then someone goes too far in a fight. It can be hard to tell someone how much they have hurt you in clear, concise, non-2 a.m. text-spiral words.
I probably shouldn't hold back when it comes to the upset kind of feelings. I have often tried to keep things "chill" and "cool" when I am really "pissed" and "very hurt." Pushing these feelings down always leads to an eventual volcanic explosion in which I express my emotions like a mid-tantrum toddler. To follow? I'll have some shame and self-loathing. Delicious.
Had I just stated, "That deep cut you just flung my way really hurt my feels," I could've maintained my status as an adult in the relationship. (Even better, I could say "feelings" instead of "feels.") Ugh. Can we all agree to just tell each other when we feel hurt instead of burying our feelings deep down? Here are some ways to do that:
1. Figure Out Why You Feel Hurt
There's no way to maturely and clearly state what's hurting you to another person if you're not even sure what's got you in a tizzy. The first step to telling someone that they hurt you is boiling down what you're actually upset about. It can be hard to know; humans have lots of feelings. (Also, hanger is real, so have a snack.)
Try to name why your partner or friend or whoever is making you feel like garbage. Are you dating someone who has been evasive out of nowhere? Great, that's annoying. You are hurt by their lack of communication. You're probably also in some denial about what confronting that means. (I've been there; it sucks.)
Are you upset because your best friend ditched you during a tough time in your life recently? Uncool. You're upset because you expected more from her. Is the hurt stemming from the picture of your ex and their new boo you just caught a glimpse of? Makes sense. You're hurt because that's f*cking painful. (You might not need to let your ex know about this one, though.)
2. Practice What You Want To Say
OK, full disclosure, I wanted to be an actor for the first 25 years of my life, so I'm a fan of rehearsing important words before saying them. Now that you've cleared up what you're upset about, it's time to think about how you want to say it. I recently had a misunderstanding with a best friend, and I ended up being the one to say, "Can we talk about this?"
I could have simply met up with her for drinks, but I think I probably would have let my emotions get the best of me. (We both were going through some very big losses in our lives; it was complicated.) Instead, I figured out what I wanted to say to her. I didn't practice a monologue in my mirror, but I did craft some bullet points about why I was hurt that I thought it would be important for her to hear.
3. Decide When And Where You Want To Say It
This is important. I often find that people are more receptive and less defensive to critique or big feelings talks when they receive an email about it, as opposed to feeling hijacked at a dinner. Plus, I sound much more mature and level-headed when I have time to edit my words.
You've identified what your partner, friend, or even bodega man did to hurt your feelings. (My neighborhood bodega man once told my roomie that her sister was prettier than her, so...) Now, you've got to do yourself a favor and communicate it. This is the super scary part.
If emailing isn't your style, set up a time with your partner to "have a chat" rather than springing it on them. If your partner is having an awful day at work, then receives a text-rant from you, the conversation probably isn't going to be very productive. Find some time, sit down (sober) together, and take a deep breath. Clearly state why you are hurt, and wait for your partner's response.
The way they respond to you will be extra telling. They could blow up in defensiveness, or they could genuinely be shocked and remorseful. Maybe they didn't realize what calling you "self-righteous" in the middle of a heated argument would actually do to your psyche. (I mean, they're not a mind reader.)
Remember, usually two people are responsible for complications in relationship, so give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to their response to you as openly as you can. Turn off your temper as best you can — I know it can be so hard. No matter how your partner responds, you will feel brave for having said what hurt you out loud. Vulnerability is power. Good luck, bbs!
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