Why does love hurt? This isn’t just a question of the heart. Why do some men physically, emotionally and even spiritually hurt the women they love? These six reasons some men harm or even abuse women in relationships may help you see your own boyfriend more clearly. I wrote this article for a woman who is being hurt by her boyfriend, but these reasons apply to marriages as well.
In How to End a Toxic Love Affair Before it Ruins You, Janet writes that it took her a long time to leave her boyfriend because she kept making excuses for his abuse. When she finally left him, he punished her. He tried to take her children, home, and identity. Janet is working to rebuild herself and believe in herself – and God – again.
Here are six reasons why some men abuse. Sometimes these are given as excuses by both men and women for being abusive or tolerating abuse in relationships. These are not valid reasons for abuse. They may not even fully explain why some men hurt their girlfriends or wives, because almost every person on this planet struggles with the problems below.
There is never a good reason for abuse. Are you being hurt by a man who says he loves you but hurts you physically or emotionally? Find someone to talk to about the definition of love. Learn how to protect yourself – because you do not deserve to be treated this way.
Why Do Men Hurt the Women They Love?
These reasons some men hurt the women they love may not apply to your relationship. It depends on what you’re experiencing and how your boyfriend is hurting you. Feel free to share your story below; your experience is unique, which means these reasons some men are abusive may not fit with your relationship.
1. He has anger problems
If your boyfriend has a bad temper and loses control of his emotions, he may have an anger problem. Some men are abusive to their girlfriends or wives, but not their neighbors, coworkers, or other family members. Some men take their anger out on the women closest to them: their girlfriends or wives. If your boyfriend can control his temper at work or out in public, then he should be able to control himself when he’s with you! This is an excuse for abuse. Your boyfriend is using your love to hurt you.
Is your boyfriend often angry and resentful? He is using his anger to intimidate you and regain control over you. Read How to Live With Your Husband’s Anger Problems.
2. He is stressed at work or school
Sometimes men hurt the women they love because they’re stressed out. Some husbands or boyfriends blame their abusive behavior on work stress, unemployment stress, school stress, or even just life stress. If your boyfriend lives with a lot of stress – which most of us do – then he may say stress is why he abuses you.
You live with a lot of stress, don’t you? So do I! Are you abusive to your boyfriend? Probably not. This is a common excuse for abuse in relationships. Just because your boyfriend is stressed does not mean you deserve to be treated the way he is treating you.
3. He has mental or emotional health issues
Some abusive men have been diagnosed by doctors or counselors as having personality disorders or mental illnesses that lead to abuse. There is nothing “wrong” with having a mental health issue; it’s how your boyfriend is coping with his problems that is problematic. Is he using depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia as an excuse for abuse?
Here are two questions to help you determine if your boyfriend has a mental or emotional health issue: Does he display unhealthy or abnormal behavior around other people, or just you? If he is often depressed, angry, or odd with you but not others, then his “mental health issue” may be just an excuse for abuse. Does he use his emotional condition as a reason for abusing or hurting you? If so, then he may not be actually or truly struggling with a serious mental illness. Maybe he’s just learned how to use it as an excuse to hurt you.
4. He was abused as a child
Has your boyfriend suffered childhood abuse? Sometimes men hurt women in relationships because of the pain and trauma they experienced as young children. You boyfriend may be repeating the pattern of abuse as an adult. But even childhood abuse is no reason for abuse in a relationship. Men and women both get hurt as children; as adults they have to learn how to get healthy so they don’t hurt others.
It is your boyfriend’s responsibility to get the help he needs to overcome the pain of his own abusive childhood relationships. Your boyfriend is an adult who is responsible for his behavior and healing now. He is not doomed to repeat the pain of his past by abusing you, his girlfriend. Love does not have to hurt.
If you’re caught in a cycle of abuse, read 5 Stages of Leaving an Abusive Relationship.
5. He is struggling with addiction
If your boyfriend has an addiction problem, he will be hurting you – the woman he says he loves – as well as his coworkers, supervisors, friends and family. He may not be in control of his abusive behavior. Drugs and alcohol are terrible excuses for abuse because it means your boyfriend has two problems: 1) the addiction, which is a terrible disease to overcome; and 2) the abuse problem, which is a difficult pattern to break.
Is your boyfriend abusive even after he sobers up? Get help. Call Al-Anon, read books about living with boyfriends who are alcoholic and abusive. Find ways to protect yourself. Tell your friends and family members about your boyfriend’s behavior. Ask your loved ones for help, advice, support and tips. Open the discussion, even if you feel scared or embarrassed about how your boyfriend treats you.
6. He doesn’t know how to resolve conflict
Not knowing how to solve relationship problems is a common reason men hurt the women they love. If you feel attacked by your boyfriend – or intimidated or humiliated – then you and he have not learned how to resolve conflict in your relationship. Your boyfriend may never have learned how to solve problems with people he loves, which is why love is hurting both of you.
Love should never hurt. Love can be painful because it leaves us emotionally vulnerable to loss and grief, but love is not supposed to hurt you. A man who says he loves a woman never has a good reason for hurting her. If your boyfriend or husband can’t treat you with love, talk to someone who can help you decide what to do about your relationship.
In Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change, Robin Norwood explain why many women find themselves repeatedly drawn into unhappy and destructive relationships with men. They then struggle to make these doomed relationships work. This book takes a hard look at how powerfully addictive these unhealthy relationships are. It also gives a very specific program for recovery from the disease of loving too much.
What do you think? I hope these reasons men hurt the women they love help you see your relationship – and your boyfriend – more clearly.