For any man in a long-term relationship,it is an essential skill to identify and heal the hurt feelings of the woman he loves.  Why?  Because every so often,we men accidentally do or say something that causes the hurt feelings in the first place.  Being able to heal even the smallest of emotional wounds will keep both of you happy and in-love.  I successfully use the 4-step plan below to quickly restore connection between my girlfriend,Sarah,and I.  The perfect example was the time when I put my big foot in my big mouth and unilaterally changed our plans.

Last year,Sarah and I were in San Diego for the weekend. On Saturday morning,our plan was to look at a house to rent,then go to the beach for the day. We were getting a late start,and I was so excited to get to the beach that I was worried I wouldn’t get enough time there. So I said,“Let’s just go to the beach.” 

1. Recognize the Signs

Immediately, because I had learned to read the signs, I knew that I had hurt her feelings (see chart below).  I could see her withdraw.  She wouldn’t look at me.  Her face looked emotionless.  She also would not answer my questions.  So I knew that what I had said hurt her feelings.  

2. Say the Words and Wait

Before I learned about hurt feelings, I would have apologized, but just to make peace and not really take responsibility.  Since then, I’ve made a distinction between my intention and my result.  My intention, though selfish, wasn’t meant to hurt her.  But the result was hurt feelings.  Therefore, it was my responsibility to fix the result.

First, I sincerely apologized for hurting her feelings.  “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings,”  and I truly meant it. This brought her back enough that she could talk to me again.  I asked if she got hurt because I changed the plans.  She nodded yes but then said, “Just go to the beach.”

3. (After a short time) – Have an Honest Discussion

After some more time and conversation, I could tell that she was coming back from the hurt.  I then asked what she thought it meant when I unilaterally changed the plans.  She said she felt that I was more important than her and that I didn’t care about what she wanted.  I explained why I changed the plans and that I did not think I was more important than what she wanted.  In fact, I really didn’t think at all and was just acting on my excitement to get to the beach. 

4. Both of You Accept and Reinforce Your Agreements, Commitments and Responsibilities To Each Other

Men, it’s important to see the difference between your intention and the result.  Without a doubt, I know that for a vast majority of men, our intention is never to hurt.  But when our conduct results in hurt feelings, taking responsibility is the single most powerful action to heal the emotional wound.

Once we both understood each other, we were able to reconnect and talk about our agreement to always share our thoughts about our plans.  I recommitted to this agreement and took responsibility for my part.  The whole event took about 10 minutes and we were able to get it completely clear of our minds and hearts.  Afterward, we ended up having a great day at the beach.

Talk about and practice these four steps as if it were a fire-drill.  Because hurt feelings are an emergency that requires an immediate response.

Note: The reverse can occur as well.  As men, we can easily get disrespected by women.  In this case, the same 4-step plan will work both ways.

Thank you for reading!

Love Chris – Partnership and Love

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