Whether it's a brief relationship that ends in heartbreak, or love that lasts a lifetime - there will always be some hurt that will occur along the way. This hurt can look different in different relationships. Its intensity, duration and frequency may vary.
However, there’s no love where you will never get hurt. Loving another inherently means opening yourself up to the possibility of getting hurt. You cannot love without ever getting hurt as hurt is inevitable and it is a normal part of every relationship.
Even in the best possible relationships, even the healthiest ones - you're going to get hurt sometimes. And no matter how deeply you love somebody, you will at times hurt that person. Not because you want to, but because you’re human.
This holds true not just for romantic relationships, but for parents, children, your dearest friend. You will hurt each other, and that’s just a part of the deal of loving and being loved.
In a loving relationship, where there is room for hurt, there is also room for healing. This is what we call ‘rupture’ and ‘repair’.
When hurt, the connection seems to be lost, where you feel distant from or misunderstood by the other. It is important to bear in mind during rupture that the connection is lost only temporarily till we work towards repair. Repair happens when this connection is restored again.
Sometimes it's tempting to think that it's all the other person's fault or wholly yours, however in most cases, dynamics of both rupture and repair are co-created by the actions (or in-actions) of two people.
This brings us to the question - how do we come together to repair after rupture? Here are some strategies:
If you’re feeling emotionally charged, take a time out. Actively practice self-soothing through breathing and grounding exercises to come to a state closer to equilibrium. You will be able to communicate better when you’re feeling calmer. The goal of this is to talk about your angry feelings instead of screaming with anger. Come back within a reasonable time frame to talk about the issue.
Use ‘I’ statements to express yourself such as “I felt hurt when you made fun of me in front of your friends”, as opposed to “You are a horrible, mean person.” Avoid generalization or catastrophizing. How we communicate influences the receptivity of the other person. Blame can make the other person feel defensive, which does not help with repair.
Take turns to express your subjective realities, without making it a game of winning. When one person wins, the other has to lose. This does not help the relationship or with repair. Practice active listening and aim to truly understand what was happening for the other person. Reflect back what has been said to make sure you are understanding each other and pause to clarify when necessary. Make room for gray areas.
Apologize for hurting the other person intentionally or unintentionally. Take accountability about what went wrong on your end and aknowledge how this impacted the other person.
Make requests for how you’d like things to be different going forward. Express your needs to the other person instead of wanting them to just know (or magically read your mind). It is important for you to help them understand you better.
Don’t let things fester for too long. Repair is important to resolve ruptures as we face them. This prevents an accumulation of hurt and anger that can corrode the relationship in a deeper way. It prevents walls from coming up, and resentment from growing.
Navigating conflict well is an important skill in a long term relationship, as conflict is a normal part of a relationship. It is bound to happen, just as getting hurt will. However, where we go from there matters.
Note: This does not apply to abusive relationships.