Why It's Important to Hurt Your Partner...Sometimes

I’ve seen a trend with some men. They are very afraid to hurt their female partner. They explained that they learned as kids, often from their dads, that “You don’t hurt a woman. Ever.” Kids generally don’t have the brain capacity to develop nuanced understandings around such topics. Therefore, by adulthood, this statement becomes a black and white obligation for men around a very complex emotional situation.

How might this show up for an adult man in a relationship?

He always says yes but then doesn’t follow through. He keeps his opinions to himself but slowly builds resentments over time. He denies responsibility or blames his partner when she is hurt by something he’s done.

Why is this problematic?

This pattern of communication can create big relationship problems. It’s all based in fear: fear of confrontation, fear of feeling horrible for hurting the woman you love, or fear of seeing her cry. But it’s imperative to recognize the difference between “small hurts” and “big hurts.” Small hurts, handled responsibly, can avoid big hurts.

All 7 billion people on the planet have their own unique perspective on the world. This means when two of those people are in relationship, they will have disagreements. This is natural, normal, and healthy. People get disappointed, choose to compromise, and are sometimes hurt. This is all part of the negotiation required to merge two lives. When we choose how to negotiate the small hurts honestly and responsibly, we can live more from love than fear, and keep the big hurts from growing.

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexuality Speaker, Sex Therapist, College Sexual Health Speaker, Sexologist