15 Different Things A Man Feels When He Hurts A Woman

how a man feels when he hurts a woman
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People rarely wonder about how a man feels when he hurts a woman. Since it’s the woman who is at the receiving end, not the man, it’s easier to empathize with the woman. 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.

Jason and I were in a toxic codependent relationship. Manipulation was served as dessert at every meal. We’d scream, a few times he’d hit me, and I’d cry while he avoided me because he felt guilty. Later he’d say sorry, we’d get back, and life went on. That relationship changed me. Even after all this time, I want him to know how much he hurt me.

I always thought that if he felt sorry, then that was enough. But men feel more than just guilt or anger in the aftermath of situations like these. And the key to improving a toxic mess of a relationship is figuring out what men feel when they hurt their partners, be it unwittingly or on purpose.

15 Different Things A Man Feels When He Hurts A Woman

It’s not uncommon for people to hurt each other in a relationship. 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 communication. But what if it’s intentional? Why do guys purposely hurt you? Men may hurt your feelings as a defense mechanism. If men feel threatened or insecure in a relationship, they often resort to means that make them feel better or safer. 

In such cases, men are always aware of their actions. They’ll rarely say what they feel, but there will always be some signs a guy knows he messed up. 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. 

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1. He regrets it immediately

When a guy knows he hurt you, he may immediately regret it. This is not the case with every man. But an empathetic man will regret causing you pain 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. 

But not all men are secure enough to acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong. Often, it’s a result of childhood trauma that leads them to deflect any blame onto others instead of accepting responsibility for their actions. If he’s not comfortable apologizing due to low self-esteem, he’ll become more communicative, will constantly check on you, and show other signs he regrets hurting you.

2. He feels annoyed

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. 

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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.”

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3. He’ll feel guilty about hurting you

The feeling of guilt manifests in people when they feel responsible for certain actions. As a result, a man will feel 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, 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. The feeling of shame could also be rooted in social norms such as the need for a man to be chivalrous or gentlemanly. Hence, cultural conditioning may also affect what your man feels about hurting you.

5. When a man realizes he has lost you, he feels scared

Several times a man may hurt a woman because he feels scared, especially when he realizes that he may lose her for good. This suggests an insecure attachment style, which causes him to lash out in a desperate attempt to salvage the relationship or make his partner stay. This behavior is often noticeable as outbursts about your habits or friends, and how he is better off without you. In such cases, the man could get extremely rude and may say things he didn’t mean and may regret later.

6. He feels angry at himself

Toxic masculinity has always encouraged the idea of machismo, which shuns any display or even acknowledgment of emotions. As a result, men often grow up without knowing a healthy way of processing their emotions and end up harming 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. 

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7. 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. 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 sexist, but it’s a biological drive that hardwired men to want to protect their mate. The hero instinct may get activated when a guy knows he hurt you as a mechanism to protect you from that pain. This could manifest as a desire to give you apology gifts or do things that bring you comfort.

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, 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. As a result, they often overcompensate instead of expressing their emotions healthily. 

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10. He goes into denial

Denial is another defense mechanism that the brain uses to come to terms with the new reality after a stressful situation. When they are hurt after a breakup, men not 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. In a situation like this, a man will go to any lengths to avoid thinking about the fact that he has hurt you, including blaming you for ruining the relationship.

11. How a man feels when he hurts a woman when he is a narcissist – He feels justified

It is not uncommon for men to not realize that they’ve offended someone. Research indicates that men tend to apologize for 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. 

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 don’t feel they’ve done anything wrong even after hurting you. This is primarily the case when you’re dating 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.

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 religious institutions 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.

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. This Reddit user experienced it with her boyfriend. 

He’d take out his frustration of working for her father on her, not realizing that he was hurting her all the time. She shares, “If I speak up about the fact that I don’t think my dad is doing this to him or I haven’t done anything, (then he thinks 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 other people, 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.

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14. He sees it as a way to get back at you for your mistakes

This is again a sign of a toxic guy. 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 when you get caught cheating. He will call it a way to balance out your wrongdoings. But it’s just petty revenge because he is convinced that you will not understand what he went through when you hurt him previously. And 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 boundaries

The most twisted explanation for how a man feels when he hurts a woman. 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 what hurts a woman most in a relationship – betrayal. 

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 realized this too late for 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.” Considering this behavior, it’s possible that he will continue his abuse, since he realized she still had unresolved childhood trauma.

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What To Do When He Hurts Your Feelings?

I asked almost every girl in my office about what she did when her man hurt her feelings. 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. And one girl said she’d never take any trash from a man and showed them the door as soon as they showed their abusive side.

To each their own. But to sustain the relationship, 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. If it’s his low self-esteem or insecurity that is causing him to lash out at you, talking about it can help him. 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.

Key Pointers

  • Men have been conditioned to hide their emotions and so 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

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 help him process his emotions and can understand how a man feels when he hurts a woman. 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.


1. Do guys feel bad when they hurt a good girl?

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.

2. Does he know he hurt my 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. 

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