Compassion in Romantic Relationships – part 2

See the previous post for the beginning of this discussion.

Now I want to write about compassion in situations where a particular hurting hasn’t yet led to a conflict within a relationship. These are crucial moments where conflict is avoidable. In relationships where the participants talk with each other (and maybe in some where they don’t?), people will often express their hurtings to each other. This can happen so subtly or complicatedly that the listening person either misses it altogether or treats it as an accusation.

The trick is simple: search for an expression of hurting in everything you hear.

Bear with me, it’s less depressing than it sounds.

The expression of hurt doesn’t have to be blatant, or even verbal – it might be in the tone of voice, body language, any other number of cues which can sometimes be misread as accusatory when the intention is actually the opposite. What’s the opposite of accusation? Trust. Rather than trying to assign blame for a particular hurt, people often choose to express said hurt to a loved one because they trust that the other person can somehow help them. The more trust in the relationship, the less the expression of hurt is likely to be buried (and I’m my own source on this; you may be different).

Now about this not being depressing: when I say search for an expression of hurting in everything, I don’t really mean you should assume everything you hear is an expression of hurt. I mean listen. If it sounds like an accusation, or like one might be imminent, search for a hurt cue. The key to preventing conflict in relationships is not avoiding the expression of hurtings, but responding to those expressions with compassion. All of us have been hurt in one form or another. Our hurts can bring us closer instead of dividing us.

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