People rarely wonder about how a man feels when he hurts a woman. Do they feel angry or guilty about it at all? Since it’s the woman who is at the receiving end and the man who has been causing harm, it’s easier to empathize with the woman and, understandably, it does not quite matter what a man feels. And though abuse in relationships can never be justified, trying to understand the other side of the coin can offer a better perspective on the situation.
My ex, Jason, and I were in a toxic, codependent relationship for a very long time. Manipulation was served as dessert at every meal. We’d scream at each other a lot, a few times he’d hit me, and I’d cry while he avoided me (because he was feeling guilty about it). Later, he’d say he’s sorry, offer support to me, and we’d get back together.
I always thought that if he felt sorry or if a man feels guilty, then that was enough to redeem him of his mistakes. But men feel more than just guilt or anger in the aftermath of situations like these, and there is a far greater emotional impact. And the key to improving this toxic mess of a relationship is figuring out what men feel when they hurt their partners emotionally, be it unwittingly or on purpose.
Why Do Guys Purposely Hurt You?
Kris, 27, a baker, shares, “My friends are used to me sitting with them and thinking out loud, ‘If he loves me, why does he hurt me?’ He uses hurtful words every time he gets jealous of me meeting up with a guy friend and then tries to control my life choices.” Men’s inability to express their feelings is the root cause of a lot of problems in relationships. Most don’t feel ready until much later to properly open up to their partners. This makes it harder for them work out issues in their relationship, causing more harm.
Sometimes, they become narcissists or emotional abusers due to their own childhood problems and thus feel a sense of control by emotionally manipulating their partners. Even though it appears that they love you because they keep buying you gifts or spending quality time with you, you’ll notice how they are actually vindictive in nature, don’t really give you your personal space, and use your feelings against you to win arguments.
Research has often suggested that narcissistic individuals are driven to behave badly because of their own insecurities rather than their partner’s attributes. Essentially, a man does not really want to subject himself to the the karma of hurting a good woman, or act out of malice. It usually goes much deeper into his own psyche and inability to practice any kind of self-compassion.
15 Different Things A Man Feels When He Hurts A Woman
It’s not uncommon for people to hurt each other in a relationship even though they love each other immensely. Because oftentimes, it’s not intentional. A person may end up hurting their partner with their words or actions even if they didn’t mean to. Such misunderstandings can be resolved by practicing open communication.
But what if it’s intentional on the guy’s part? When a man hurts you emotionally, does he feel bad about it?
Men may hurt your feelings as a defense mechanism. If men feel threatened or insecure in a relationship, they often resort to toxic behavior which ends up making things far worse in the relationship. In such cases, men are always aware of their actions. They’ll rarely say what they feel, but there will always be some signs he knows he hurt you. By trying to understand how a man feels when he hurts a woman’s feelings, you can recognize the reason for his insecurity in the relationship.
If He Loves You, He Will Try To Make Amends
In this section, we’ll talk about remorseful men. While a man might lash out and behave in a way that hurts you deeply, a real man who loves you will do everything to make you feel better again. He will apologize, tell you that he wants to change, and consciously alter his actions to shed his insecure nature that hurt you in the first place. After hurting a woman knowingly or unknowingly, here’s what you can expect from a man who really loves you:
1. He regrets it immediately
When a guy knows he hurt you, he may immediately regret it and take responsibility. This is not the case with every man. But an empathetic man will show many signs he regrets hurting you because he knows that hurting someone is not a way to express emotions. If that’s the case, he’ll apologize sincerely for hurting your feelings and try to make amends.
Per a study, one participant identified threats as violence: “I have yelled divorce every single day. It is psychological abuse.” The study says, “Those men who had behaved violently in their intimate relationships experienced feelings of bewilderment, regret, and shame.”
But not all men are secure enough to acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong. Many men find ways to pin the blame on you. Often, it’s a result of childhood trauma that leads them to deflect blame instead of accepting responsibility for their actions. If he’s not comfortable apologizing due to low self-esteem, he’ll become more communicative and will constantly check on you.
2. He feels annoyed when he doesn’t understand what’s going on with you
Research suggests that men have less empathy than women and they may even not realize that they’ve hurt you. So, they often rely on verbal or physical cues to judge your reaction. When there are no cues to let them know you’re hurt, they find it difficult to understand why you’re upset or need space.
They end up thinking it’s either a plea for attention or that you’re overreacting to mundane things. This annoys them and may lead to arguments or distant behavior. To be able to experience how a man feels when he hurts a woman, you need to ensure he knows that he has hurt you. The simplest, most effective way of doing that is to share that you’ve been hurt, instead of playing passive-aggressive mind games.
A Reddit user shares how her boyfriend would often do things that caused her physical pain and dismissed them as a joke. Upon everybody’s advice, she talked to him about it. She updated later, “Last night I brought it up and tried just communicating my feelings. As far as I can tell, he was really receptive and he apologized. Hopefully, he‘ll be more mindful in the future.”
Related Reading: 20 Things That Make Wives Unhappy In A Marriage
3. He feels guilty for hurting you
The feeling of guilt manifests in people when they feel responsible for certain actions. As a result, a guy feels guilty when he intentionally hurts you. He may try to get over this guilt by justifying his actions, especially when he is hurting after a breakup.
You may also notice a tendency to fix things or make things better, like getting you a new set of glasses if he’s broken any in a fit of rage. This is also how stages of guilt after cheating manifest. I’d always find my ex avoiding me because he felt guilty, but he’d always ensure that he’d get me everything I needed without asking him.
4. He feels ashamed of himself
While guilt is the feeling of being responsible for a wrong, shame comes from not meeting someone’s expectations. He’ll be ashamed of hurting you if he considers himself a mature man who should have exercised more restraint and better judgment. It is possible that he may not express his feelings entirely about how he regrets his behavior, but you will notice a sharp change in how he is around you.
He may become recluse, stop reaching out to you, and there might even be some emotional distance in your dynamic as he wants to avoid hurting you any further. In such difficult love situations, it can be hard to gauge what is right or wrong, or who should reach out to the other person. He might be avoiding you because he is having a hard time forgiving himself. In this case, if you feel okay with it, you can try to talk to him. Making things right can start with you if you’ve reconciled with the hurt he caused.
5. When a man realizes he has lost you, he feels scared
How does a man feel when he hurts a woman he loves? Does he ask for forgiveness? Does he take responsibility for his actions?
Even though he wants to make amends with you because he realizes that he has wronged you, due to the heavy weight of his own guilt, he will find it very challenging to do that. Men usually take time to express their feelings and feel comfortable in talking about the problem. This is because they feel so scared of confrontation.
This behavior can sometimes end up making matters worse due to a lack of communication. However, know that he is emotionally hurt as well and will take some time to reach out to you again. At this point, he is probably just having a tough time dealing with his own feelings and deep remorse for his actions. But wait it out, and you’ll see him come back and ask for forgiveness.
6. He feels angry at himself
Toxic masculinity has always encouraged the idea of extreme machismo, which shuns any display or even acknowledgment of a man’s feelings. As a result, men often grow up without knowing a healthy way of processing their emotions and end up having caused harm to themselves, either physically or mentally. If a man feels angry when he hurts a woman, then you will notice him hurting himself as a punishment for hurting you.
Instead of adopting a constructive way and talking the problem out with you, you’ll see his underlying issues surface as he will express extreme frustration, anger, and disappointment with himself. Yes, men actually find it easier to feel hurt than change themselves.
7. When a man hurts a woman he loves, he feels confused
A man may experience confusion after hurting his partner when there is too much going on in his life. If he’s going through something traumatic and has to deal with a confrontation in his relationship, he may behave erratically without intending to. It’s the brain’s response to extreme events and the guilt from the pain he caused to the woman he loves. You may observe confusion as an inability to remember what he said or a lack of attention during conversations.
8. When a guy feels bad for hurting you, his hero instinct kicks in
Hero instinct in men has been termed as a sexist concept, but in reality it is a biological drive that hardwired people, specially men, to want to protect their mate. In fact, it can actually be a good thing as a person just wants to make their loved one feel safe and protected.
The hero instinct may get activated when a guy knows he hurt you as a mechanism to protect you from that pain. Even though men might not be able to express their feelings in words about how sorry they feel, they will start overextending themselves to please a woman. This could manifest as a desire to give you extremely expensive apology gifts or do acts of service that bring you comfort.
Related Reading: 5 Things Men Do When They Are In Love
9. He feels like he’s a failure
This is mostly the case with men who come from abusive families and instead of trying to acknowledge their trauma, they try to deny it. When these men realize they’ve been hurtful toward their partners, it’s especially hard for them since they feel like they’re being sucked into the same old patterns that they’ve been trying to escape from. This may leave them feeling like they’ve failed miserably. As a result, they often overcompensate instead of expressing their emotions healthily.
A study on violent behavior of men says, “Those who had experienced hardships since childhood felt that they did not have the right to live after they had assaulted their partner. They wanted to make amends for the suffering they had caused by hurting themselves or by contemplating suicide. They grieved about their past and about the irreparable injury they had inflicted.”
When He Doesn’t Love You, He Will Keep Feeling Angry
This section deals with men who are not able to acknowledge their mistakes, or learn how to conduct themselves better. They are convinced that they are correct in how they think or behave, and won’t budge if you tell them otherwise. Highly trained relationship coaches have often talked about the feeling of denial and how men who are so deeply caught up in their own insecurities will find it very hard to realize their mistakes.
10. He goes into denial
Denial, a defense mechanism, is what the brain uses to come to terms with the new reality after a stressful situation. In a situation like this, a man will go to any length to avoid thinking about the fact that he has hurt you, including blaming you for ruining the relationship. So don’t even bother expecting him to ask for forgiveness, or take responsibility for his actions in this case.
When some men are hurt after a breakup, they don’t just feel upset but may also feel frustrated because of unresolved emotions. The denial kicks in and they refuse to believe that there were problems in the relationship that they should have worked on.
11. How a man feels when he hurts a woman — He feels justified, if he is a narcissist
It is common for men to not realize that they’ve offended someone. Research indicates that men tend to apologize less than women, and do it only if they believe they’re wrong. Take the example of this Reddit user: Her boyfriend shamed her frequently for her weight, despite knowing she had problems with eating before. When she told him that he hurt her feelings, he’d ignore her.
In the worst cases, he’d victimize himself and would suggest taking a break from the relationship, knowing it would scare her. She said, “I told him I’d like to work on this together, that I don’t want him to beat himself up about it, that we can get through this together. Like I’m comforting him for hurting me – and he still left.”
This indicates a pattern where men may not feel apologetic if they feel they’ve done nothing wrong – even after hurting you. This is primarily the case when you’re seeing a narcissist who often blames others for his mistakes. By diverting the blame on you for things he doesn’t like, he convinces himself that you deserve his abuse.
Related Reading: Dating A Narcissist? Here Are The Signs And How It Changes You
12. He feels righteous or morally correct
Men aren’t always in denial about having hurt their partners. Sometimes they’re aware of the impact of their actions yet carry on brazenly. But why do guys purposely hurt you? This may be the case when your man feels entitled to you to the point where he feels hurting you is his right.
Certain cultural groups or misinterpretations of religious books instruct men to think of their wives or children as property and encourage them to inflict abuse on them for ‘immoral’ behavior. Men raised with such conditions usually hide behind a “code” or “scripture” to justify their behavior and relinquish all responsibility for their actions. They will find the worst things to say to someone who has betrayed their so-called principles.
13. He feels he has avenged someone else’s wrong behavior
It’s a common human tendency to displace emotions. When we face ill behavior at the hands of others, quite often, we take that out on those whom we know won’t answer back. This is called displacement. Blake, a factory worker from Michigan, shares, “He’d take out his frustration of working for my father on me, not realizing that he was hurting me all the time. If I spoke up in support of my dad even once, he’d think that I don’t love him because I won’t listen to what is going on in his head.”
When men feel like they have been treated badly by other women, or anyone, they may take out that frustration on you. It’s a toxic trait and probably the reason you can’t understand why he is constantly abusive to you for no fault of yours.
14. He sees it as a way to get back at you for your mistakes
Men who don’t love you will not try to make things right with you. Instead, a man like this will do everything to convince you that you are at fault and that you deserve the emotional pain which he has caused you. This is again a sign of a toxic guy, that many women continue to spot in their relationships.
A man may hurt you simply to get back at you for something you did in the past. For instance, he may exhibit this behavior, not when you get caught cheating, but much later, to remind you of what you did. He will call it a way to balance out your wrongdoings. But it’s just petty revenge. He is convinced that you will not understand what he went through when you hurt him previously. As if to prove the idiom — revenge is a dish best served cold — he’ll look for ways to hurt you when you least suspect it.
15. He is testing your boundaries
Of all the things he could be doing to actually improve the relationship so the two of you can be happy, a man who does not love you will manipulate you and push your buttons. Consider this the most twisted explanation for how some men feel when they hurt women.
If he gets away with hurting you, he may feel victorious as his objective is to assess how far he can push your boundaries. He’s checking how much you can bear and how far he can push you before you break down. He’ll gradually explore all the ways he can hurt you. From ignoring you to gaslighting you to what hurts a woman most in a relationship, which is betrayal — He’ll try it all.
Related Reading: 15 Relationship Red Flags In A Man To Be Watchful Of
Such men often profile their victims as women with low self-esteem, a smaller or non-existent friend circle, and who have previously suffered abuse. This Reddit user shared that her mother abused her throughout her childhood, which left her dealing with trauma.
This trauma made it difficult for her to recognize abuse in her current relationship. She had this unique insight too late; she had already signed a lease with him. She said, “He mostly brushes me off as overreacting or refuses to apologize because he was drunk when he hit me or he was half-asleep.” Such people will continue their abuse, specially after they realize the victim has unresolved childhood trauma.
Do Men Feel Bad When They Hurt A Woman?
They certainly do, and want to reconnect after a fight as well. Men are not vile creatures whose sole purpose is to hurt women they fall in love with. They are loving and caring but make mistakes and do hurtful things just like the rest of us. When a man hurts a woman, it does not always mean that it is intentional on his part or that he does not want to make things right with her.
If he truly cares, he might even feel bad for years, depending on what he did to you. Some men regret cheating for years. It does mean a lot to them that they have caused you pain. It breaks them on the inside that they are unable to change that fact. But the ones who don’t care as much or as not as self-aware, might feel bad for just a few minutes and then feel like they owe you nothing.
What To Do When He Hurts Your Feelings?
I asked almost every woman at my workplace about what she does when a man hurts her feelings. Here are the results of this informal survey:
- Most of them said they told their partner immediately. They said, “I want him to know how much he hurt me.”
- A few said they stopped talking as punishment or engaged in passive-aggressive behavior. “Trying to make a guy feel guilty for hurting you seems petty, but it comes so naturally sometimes,” shared one of them
- One woman said she’d never take crap from men; she showed them the door as soon as they showed their abusive side
Clearly, in order to sustain the relationship for the long term, you need to fix the lack of communication between you and your partner. It’s important to share with him that his actions hurt you. Especially when he isn’t aware that he has hurt you at all. If it’s his low self-esteem or insecurity that is causing him to lash out at you, talking about it can help. But if you feel that he is doing it intentionally and doesn’t feel he needs to change his behavior, then better get out of there as soon as you can.
- Men have been conditioned to hide their emotions and thus find it difficult to process emotions healthily, sometimes hurting others in the process
- They may feel regret, guilt, and remorse for hurting you if they care about you
- If men don’t feel they’re doing anything wrong by hurting you, then it’s usually because of a sense of entitlement
- Communicate with your partner if you have been hurt by him, either intentionally or unintentionally
- If it’s remorse and guilt, then communication can fix the situation, otherwise, you’re just the stress ball he can punch whenever he wants
Sometimes, what hurts a woman most in a relationship, even more than the abuse itself, is when men enjoy the abuse. At the best of times, men are ignorant of the pain they’re causing. In either case, it is important to understand the reason for his behavior and what he feels afterward. Through Bonobology’s panel of experts, you can pick a certified relationship coach of your choice and understand even better how a man feels when he hurts a woman, and ask your many questions that may still be baffling you.
Anyone should feel bad after hurting someone, either good or bad. But in the case of men, they seldom realize they’ve hurt someone. Whether a man feels good or bad is entirely dependent on his moral compass. When a man realizes he has lost you and that you may not be going back to him, he may lash out in frustration and humiliation even if you’ve been great to him. But guys feel bad for hurting you if they’re told their actions have caused you pain. So, you must share your feelings.
It depends on how empathetic the man is, and how expressive you have been about your feelings. One of the major signs a guy knows he messed up is that his ‘hero instinct’ is activated and he will try to comfort you or fix things for you, and even try to act like some kind of relationship hero to get you out of this rut as a couple. A guy who truly cares for you will do anything to make amends with you.