Why Do People Hurt the Ones They Love? Unpacking the Paradox

Humans are social creatures that rely heavily on relationships in their day-to-day lives. We form intimate connections with people we love and trust, and we often go above and beyond to maintain these connections. However, it is not uncommon to also hear stories of betrayal and hurt among loved ones. This raises the question: Why do people hurt the ones they love?

The Paradox and the Different Forms of Hurt

The paradox of hurting the ones we love is rooted in the idea that the people we love the most are the same people who can hurt us the most. This concept is often puzzling and confusing, especially since humans usually treat strangers or acquaintances with greater care and kindness than those they are closest to.

There are several forms of hurt that one can experience in an intimate relationship. The most common include betrayal, disappointment, neglect, abandonment, and emotional and physical abuse. These forms of hurt can often be direct, indirect, or a combination of both and can be caused intentionally or unintentionally.

Direct Hurt

Direct hurt occurs when someone intentionally hurts their loved ones. This can manifest in the form of emotional or physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, or any other form of intentional harm to oneself. Direct harm can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as anger management problems, unaddressed mental health conditions, or controlling behaviour.

Indirect Hurt

Indirect hurt happens when someone who is close to us unintentionally engages in behaviours that hurt us. Although there was no specific intent to cause hurt, it can still be experienced, and the effects can be just as damning. Indirect hurt can take the form of neglect, exclusion, lack of communication, or being taken for granted.

The Causes of Hurting the Ones We Love

The causes of why people hurt the ones they love are many and varied. Here are some of the common reasons:

Unresolved Conflicts

Relationships go through different phases, and during these phases, conflicts may arise. These conflicts can be resolved or remain unresolved. When they remain unaddressed, they fester and may lead to a buildup of resentment, which can manifest in hurtful behaviours.

Psychological Issues

Individual psychological issues such as trauma, anxiety, depression, and addiction can also contribute to why someone may hurt the people they love. Such issues can cause individuals to engage in behaviours that hurt those who are close to them.

Another cause of hurting the ones we love is a lack of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence involves being aware of, understanding, and managing one’s own emotions as well as those of others. This can be seen in situations where someone fails to recognise the consequences of their behaviour on their loved ones.

Consequences of Hurting the Ones We Love

The consequences of hurting the ones we love can often be dire, and they can negatively impact the health of the relationship. Here are some of the common consequences:


One of the most severe implications of hurting someone we love is the distrust that is created. The hurt caused can lead to the loss of trust that was previously established, making it difficult to sustain the relationship in the long run.

An Upset Balance

The balance in a relationship may be thrown off by an act of hurting one’s loved ones. This can cause one to feel insecure and unsure of the stability that the relationship once had.

An Atmosphere of Fear

When someone hurts their loved ones, it can create an atmosphere of fear, and it may be difficult to maintain an environment in which the hurt party feels safe and secure.

How to Deal with the Paradox of Hurting the Ones We Love

The paradox of hurting individuals that we love is a complex issue. Below are some tips on how to deal with it:

Develop and Enhance Communication Skills

Effective communication is vital in maintaining healthy relationships. Individuals should learn to express their needs, opinions, and emotions effectively in a way that is respectful to their loved ones. They should also listen actively to their loved ones and show empathy towards them.

Improve Emotional Intelligence

People should work on improving their emotional intelligence. Individuals can do this by being aware of their emotions and how they impact others. They should also learn to control their emotions when dealing with their loved ones.

Seek Professional Help

It may be beneficial to seek professional help or therapy to address any psychological issues, such as anxiety or depression, that may be causing the hurtful behaviours. This can lead to an improvement in the relationship and foster healthier behaviours.


In conclusion, people may hurt their loved ones for various reasons. However, the consequences can be dire and have a damaging effect on the relationship. Effective communication, improving emotional intelligence, and seeking professional help can help individuals deal with the paradox of hurting the ones they love.

Most Common Questions and Answers Related to the Topic

  • Why do people hurt the ones they love? People may hurt their loved ones due to unresolved conflicts, psychological issues, or a lack of emotional intelligence.
  • What are the different forms of hurt? The most common forms of hurt include betrayal, disappointment, neglect, abandonment, and emotional and physical abuse.
  • What are the implications of hurting someone we love? Hurting someone we love can lead to a loss of trust, unbalanced relationships, and an atmosphere of fear.
  • What can individuals do to address the paradox of hurting the ones they love? Individuals can work on improving their communication skills, emotional intelligence, and seek professional help to deal with any psychological issues they may have.


  • Sposito, A. (2020). Why do people hurt the ones they love? Exploring the paradox. Psychreg Journal of Psychology.
  • Cyrus, C. (2019). The psychology of hurting the one you love most. Psychology Today.
  • Babcock, J. C., & Jacobson, N. S. (2010). Partner violence: A comprehensive review of 20 years of research. Clinical psychology review, 30(5), 475-502.

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