You always hurt the one you love, the one you should not hurt at all;You always take the sweetest rose, and crush it till the petals fall; You always break the kindest heart, with a hasty word you can't recall; So if I broke your heart last night, it's because I love you most of all." —Mills Brothers
Love, which is such a noble attitude, often involves seemingly paradoxical behavior when we hurt the one we love. How can we explain such negative conduct toward someone whom we love so much?
In this regard, we can distinguish three different behavior patterns:(a) Hurting the one who loves you (b) Unintentionally hurting the one you love (c) Intentionally hurting the one you love
The phenomenon of hurting the one who loves you, which is different from hurting the one you love, is common. Profound love involves reciprocity, the lack of which is painful. For both sexes, mutual attraction is the most highly valued characteristic in a potential mate. The lover wants to be loved in return.
The lover is ready to be committed, but expects to find similar commitment in the beloved's attitude.
A lack of reciprocity—that is, the knowledge that the one you love does not love you—is painful and humiliating, because it is a profound blow to your self-esteem. Unrequited love is painful, and this pain can drive you to hurt the one you love.
There are many cases in which lovers are likely to hurt their beloved without intending to do so. Love is a close and intense relationship. Lovers spend considerable time together, and many activities of each have significant implications for the other person.
Naturally, in such circumstances, the lover may unwillingly hurt the beloved. For instance, one may devote a lot of time to work, thereby neglecting, and unwillingly hurting, one's beloved.
In many cases, a by-product of an enjoyable activity to one person is an unpleasant situation for another. The more time two people spend together, the greater the likelihood of such situations.
The great significance in our lives of those we love is that these people are both a source of great happiness and deep sadness; they may benefit us as well as hurt us.
The phenomenon of hurting without intending to do so can also be explained by referring to the trust and sincerity which are essential in love. Accordingly, the role of politeness or good manners, which may prevent some kinds of insult, is of less importance in such a relationship, and lovers are less careful in what they say and do.
This opens the way for a lover to easily get hurt. The price of being able to behave freely without having to consider every consequence of your deeds is saying and doing hasty things that may hurt your lover.
There are many cases in which we unintentionally hurt our beloved as a result of external circumstances that are beyond our control. Take the case of two lovers who are married to other people, but profoundly in love with each other.
The woman, who can and is ready to get divorced, may be hurt by the man's inability to leave his wife, believing it indicates that his love for her is more superficial than hers for him.
However much the man might really want to make her the happiest person in the world, his external circumstances are beyond his control and make him behave in a way that hurts her
Hurting the beloved on purpose indicates the presence of conflicting perspectives, such as short- and long-term perspectives, or partial and comprehensive perspectives. Cancelling a date with a married lover may hurt her in the short term,
but might be beneficial in the long term, as their short-term separation could facilitate their long-term relationship. In such cases, the hurt caused to the beloved at this moment for the sake of her comprehensive well-being in the future can emanate from love.
Hurting the loved one can also be the last resort which the lover takes to bring this dependency to its appropriate proportion. Mutual dependency has many advantages, stemming from the fact that two people are joined together in an attempt to increase each other's happiness.
However, a sense of independence is also important for each person's self-esteem. Sometimes lovers hurt their beloved in order to show their independence. Other times, however, hurting the beloved expresses an opposite wish:
the lover's wish for more dependency and attention. Indeed, a common complaint of married women, far more than of married men, is that their partners do not spend enough time with them.
Hurting the beloved by, for example, stopping to communicate with him may be the last alarm bell that warns of the lover's difficulties; it is an extreme measure signaling urgency. If the relationship is strong enough, as the lover wishes it to be, it should sustain this measure.
I do not want to say, as Oscar Wilde did, that "each man kills the thing he loves"; however, hurting one's beloved is frequent. Since the beloved is a major source of happiness, this person is also a major threat to our happiness: more than anyone else, the beloved can ruin it
The people we know and love the most are the same people we're most awful to in word and deed -- and vice versa. That’s the takeaway of three decades’ worth of aggression research, distilled and published in a new review in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.
"The people who are likely to cause us harm of any sort are likely going to be people we know," review author Deborah South Richardson, a psychology professor at Georgia Regents University, explained to The Huffington Post. "It's not the strangers we need to fear."
Richardson, who calls the phenomenon "everyday aggression,” has been researching interpersonal aggression since 1974. She, and other researchers like her, focus on defining aggression based on someone's intent, and not on whether an aggressive action actually ends up hurting someone.
"Whether or not you actually caused harm isn't the critical issue," Richardson explained. "It's that you intended to. If I aim my gun and shoot at you but miss, my intention was still aggressive."
However, she said the field can be difficult to study because of limits to what people admit to themselves — and aloud to researchers. "One of the challenges for even defining and studying aggression is asking how you look in someone's head to figure out what they intended to do," Richardson said. "We ourselves aren't always conscious of what we intend to do."
What else is known about aggression, based on what has been studied on the topic? We highlighted a few of the other main findings from Richardson’s review:
We're more likely to be aggressive to the people we know and love the most -- not strangers. Whether that’s because we spend the most time with them, or because our relationships with them are more significant, is still unknown, Richardson said.
One of the basic types of aggression is direct aggression. This involves yelling, hitting, confrontations and hurtful actions and words. Men are more likely than women to use this kind of aggression, including sexual aggression.
The other basic type of aggression is nondirect aggression, which means hurting without a confrontation. There are two types of nondirect aggression: indirect, which is hurting someone through something or someone else, and passive, which is hurting someone by not doing something.
Examples of indirect aggression include gossip, spreading rumors or destroying someone's favorite possession. Men and women both use indirect aggression equally, and they both use it more than direct aggression.
People are also more likely to use indirect aggression if they're connected to their friends in dense networks -- in other words, when friends all know each other, they can (perhaps unwittingly) carry out hurtful deeds on behalf of others more easily.
Passive aggression can include things like ignoring phone calls, giving someone the silent treatment or showing up late to an event.
Significant others and friends are more likely to receive the brunt of a person’s anger, according to a study among college students. However, the students were more likely to use direct aggression toward siblings and significant others.
Richardson speculated that people might feel the freedom to be directly aggressive to their siblings precisely because their sibling relationship is so strong -- not weak, as some might assume. "Direct aggression with siblings, either verbal or physical, might be a safety issue,"
Richardson said. "As in, I can confront my sibling, and I'm safe when I do it. I don't need to be indirect. I don't need to be passive. My sibling will always be my sibling." She guessed a similar dynamic of familiarity can apply to romantic partners, too.
Friends are more likely to be targets of nondirect aggression -- either indirect or passive aggression. "Both of those are non-confrontational, and therefore they're very deniable," said Richardson. "I could say, 'Oh, I didn't mean to hurt you!'"
Aggressive people can be genuinely confused about the motivations behind their aggressive actions. "Some of our aggressive behavior is not conscious,” said Richardson. "People don't really say to themselves,
'I'm really annoyed at this person so now I'm going to spread rumors about them.'" Researchers can only ask study participants about aggressive behaviors they're conscious of -- thus excluding all possible non-conscious acts of aggression, Richardson explained.
Aggression is often confused with assertiveness. Assertiveness is about expressing your needs or concerns, but aggression involves the intent to actually hurt someone. To Richardson, there is no "healthy" level of aggression, except perhaps to use it situationally to protect yourself if someone is trying to hurt you physically.
"If we define aggression as behavior intended to harm another living being, it's hard to think there's a healthy level of aggression," Richardson said. "Psychologists encourage people to confront and deal effectively with issues, but we don't encourage them to do it aggressively."
We still don't understand exactly how harmful aggression is to both the targets and the people who express it. "If you're constantly having to deal with someone who refuses to engage with you, what is the potential harm to you?" Richardson asked. "What is the possible harm to our relationship?"