I hear this question a lot from clients and on social media and my answer is not what you’d expect. Here’s how I think about it.
The questioner is in a relationship with someone who repeatedly violates boundaries and treats her in highly disrespectful ways. Treatment could be anything from name-calling to hitting, blaming to criticizing, threatening to trivializing. Whatever the behavior, it is repeated and it hurts the questioner.
Invariably the questioner has told the partner that the behavior is hurtful and not okay.
The question, “Does he know he’s hurting me” is a reasonable question if one assumes that people who love each other don’t intentionally hurt each other.
So, what is going on?
Reasoning through this we will see something like this:
People who love each other don’t intentionally hurt each other.
He tells me he loves me.
I love him.
He’s hurting me.
Everyone I’ve worked with who finds themselves in a toxic relationship has problems with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. It’s one of the reasons people end up in toxic relationships and then have a hard time leaving.
It’s a relationship where one person violates the other person’s boundaries, values, and identity on a regular basis. These relationships are verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive.
When I talk with people who are in toxic relationships common themes emerge.
Have you ever been arguing with your partner or family member and realized you didn’t want to be fighting? You wanted to stop but you didn’t know how to get your point across without continuing the fight?
We’ve all be there and it feels like being caught in quicksand. The more you talk, the worse it gets.
Instead of talking, find the right moment and give your partner or family member a hug.*
First, find the right moment.
This is important because if the argument is currently happening, your partner isn’t going to be receptive to a hug. But later, after things have cooled off, go up to your partner and ask for a hug. No reference to the early disagreement, no explanation. Just ask for a hug.
As a matter of fact, I recommend hugging your partner (and other family members) multiple times per day.
The magic of a hug lies in the neurochemistry that happens when you hug someone. Both people in a hug release oxytocin, a neurochemical responsible for bonding....
Have you ever wondered if you are in the right relationship? At some point while you are dating, you are going to wonder if this relationship is right for you, if this partner is truly THE ONE. How do you know if you are making a good decision or if you are blinded the honeymoon phase of the relationship? There are lots of articles online that help you identify unhappy relationships or toxic people. But, if you are in the honeymoon phase everything could look much rosier than they will be later. So, how can you tell the difference?
The biggest sign of a good relationship is TRUST. Do you trust your partner with your most intimate thoughts and desires? Do you know whether he or she will be there to support you if you need help? Would your partner help out around the house, come to your rescue if you were stranded, or stay by your side if you were going through a difficult time (emotionally or physically). Do you know your partner has your best...