You Hurt My Feelings: How to Speak Up for Yourself

Women often do not want to rock the boat, and end up resenting their man because of it. It’s important that we realize how we are still combating strong forces of inequality that only we can protect ourselves from. Just listen to the songs topping the charts today, women are still being objectified, and most of us don’t even realize how our behaviors can enable those tendencies in men.

While it’s not our fault that we are at a disadvantage in the work field, we can choose whether or not to be equally valued in our relationships. While the law protects women in the workplace, we are the judge, the jury and the prosecutor of our personal relationships.

Often the only one who really knows what is going on behind the scenes in your relationship is you. That means you have sole discretion over how you are treated. Here are ways to stick up for yourself and say directly: You hurt my feelings when you did/said that! I know it’s not always easy but you’ll get better at it over time.

Notice if you’re just used to it

Sad young woman at home

Sometimes we just put up with things because we are used to it. We are in a perpetual state of disappointment, and become almost addicted to being let down because we forget what it’s like to put our foot down. Well ladies, it can be intimidating to find your backbone, but you have a choice to do it. You can either continue to get walked over, or stick up for yourself and voice your opinion.

Some men have no idea how women think, and they may not even have a clue that their actions are hurting your feelings. For the most part, men just act like the other men around them and their actions are usually insensitive. If you often complain about how your man treats you with your girlfriends, chances are you haven’t found a way to be direct and tell him how he is hurting your feelings.

Try to bring it up the right away

Try bringing it up the next time he hurts your feelings right away, so that he is aware of what he just did. If you wait, you might not remember what he said and he might be confused as to why you didn’t just tell him right away.

Being honest and transparent with how you’re feeling is a muscle you need to exercise not only in your personal relationships but in your daily life. If we, women, walk around on eggshells, not really saying how we are feeling, no progress will be made for the children that will be our age in twenty years. It’s not just for us; it’s for our friends that will learn from our actions, our children and our relatives.

Many women sit on the sidelines and suppress the way they are feeling because they are scared to speak up because of retaliation. If you’re dealing with a man with a temper, it can make it even harder to speak up for yourself, but if you don’t, you can actually become depressed, and life is too short to be unhappy.

Use a peaceful approach

Not all men who step on someone’s feelings are bad people. Misunderstandings are often the culprits in situations where your feelings are hurt. When you have a nice guy, it can be even harder to bring in negativity to your relationship. Your approach is very important here. Just say it in a non-threatening way, without raising your voice or calling him names.

Be neutral and give him an opportunity to see things from your perspective without attacking him in a mean way. Give him the opportunity to apologize and see where you’re coming from without taking swings at him. You don’t want to lower yourself to the point of making slanderous statements because that will only poison your emotional well.

If you don’t, it gets worse

closeup of young brunette cleaning carpet

If you don’t learn how to speak up for yourself when your feelings are hurt, chances are people will start to use you as a doormat more often. If you don’t tell someone what is ok and what is not, they will often see what they can get away with. For instance, at work, your boss may continue to give you more work until you put your foot down and ask for a raise or say you can’t handle any more projects.

Of course, this is unethical behavior, but it happens all the time. Often the men in the office will talk and take long lunch breaks, letting the women do all the legwork and punishing them when mistakes are made. This inequality dynamic is far too common and can be overcome by either working for women or working for men that are emotionally intelligent.

Similarly, in a relationship, you may be used to cooking, cleaning and just sitting there looking pretty. The way out is to realize that not all men are emotionally stunted, and there are good men out there that will treat you as an equal. Do not settle for less. The key word here is settling. There are a lot of cultural pressures to settle.

The pressures of image and age often make women feel like they should live their life a certain way and be married by a certain time. The pressures are an illusion that perpetuate inequalities and put a pause on progress for women’s liberation.

If you thought women’s liberation was just something your grandmother lived with, someone put a blindfold over your eyes.

If you love him, don’t enable him

Here is another perspective to consider for sticking up for your feelings. If you are truly his friend, you do not want to enable behaviors that will only isolate him from women. If you let him treat you disrespectfully, these behaviors will become deeply ingrained, and he won’t think anything of it.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is also the right thing to do. Sometimes hurting the people we love the most is the only way to protect yourself and send a message to them about their behavior without condoning it.

Break old cultural paradigms

If you man tries to tell you how to dress, what type of job to have, how to behave in public, you’ve got to learn how to stick up for yourself. If your man is acting old school, you need to introduce him to the new school of ‘that stuff doesn’t fly anymore.’ Put him in his place and don’t look back.

You can’t worry about if sticking up for yourself will hurt his feelings when it comes to breaking through old paradigms of gender discrimination. If he is belittling you, making you feel inadequate, less than equal, dumb, or just telling you what to do, run in the other direction. If you are being treated like a child or a china doll, you need to get out of dodge and move the heck on.

How does he make you insecure?

Man pleading with his crying partner on the couch at home in the living room

Not all men are carved out of a block of pure evil; I’m not a man hater at all. Some extremely kind and sensitive men will still have a way of making you feel insecure. Usually narcissists have a way of interacting with you that makes you feel confident, but also breaks your self-esteem down at the same time.

If you feel less than equal in your gut, chances are that guy is stringing you along for his own ego, and he’s probably not going to change anytime soon. Women do this too though. Do you know any women that dangle a few men at an arm’s length because they like the attention? If you know how that feels, you’ll know you shouldn’t do it to men.

If someone is dangling the carrot in front of you, be the bigger person and don’t give them the attention they are seeking, and let them know how you feel so they don’t do that to other women. Serial carrot danglers can cause a lot of women a lot of pain, and we need to call their bluff.

Give specific examples

If you’re trying to salvage a relationship and stick up for yourself in the process, which is a totally reasonable thing to do if you are in a healthy relationship, it’s best to give specific examples of when your feelings were hurt. The simpler you can put it, the easier it will be for him to understand.

If he’s worth it, he’ll apologize

A humble man can take some heat from you. If he blows up when you stick up for yourself, that’s a sign he’s not emotionally mature enough to treat you well. If he apologizes and ensures you he will do everything he can not to repeat the behavior that hurt your feelings, that is a good sign. If he shows no remorse and laughs at you, making you feel even smaller, that man is not worth a dime.

Be direct

One of the things many women struggle with is being forthright. We often beat around the bush about things because we don’t want to step on toes. It’s important to say exactly what you mean and not sugar coat it. If you can’t stick up for yourself in direct ways, you will be preyed upon in many different situations in your life, and it will cripple your ability to execute on the things you want to accomplish in life.

Being direct will build your self-esteem, and you will get used to it over time. Practice being direct and it will begin to feel more natural as you retrain your brain to be firm and decisive. Think of women you know who speak directly, if you don’t know of any, join a women’s support group or watch some videos about how to communicate with directness and how women can build their self-worth.

I’m not saying it’s an easy hurdle to jump, but it’s a necessary one if you want to have a healthy long-term relationship of any capacity, whether it’s a work, social or personal one.

You’re not hypersensitive

Couple fighting

Men often try the scapegoat and dodge by calling you hypersensitive. They will make you feel like an idiot for bringing up the fact that your feelings were hurt, and this will build their ego while making you feel like a fool.

If this is happening to you, chances are your man is hyper masculinized and insensitive, and to be perfectly candid with you, it’s very hard to deflate a big ego. They say you shouldn’t try to change people and no matter how much you love someone, if they are verbally abusive, you should not stay in the relationship.

If he is not willing to listen to your feelings and show compassion, he may have never learned that skill. Many men are taught that big boys don’t cry and live by that. If you’re with an emotionally closed-off man, it’s going to be hard to get your bill to the floor, let alone get it passed. If you’re living in a dictatorship and not a democracy, you can bet your voice will be extinguished until you swing the vote.

You’re not crazy

Finally, my dear, you are not crazy. Do you know how common this very issue is? It happens to women every day, and most of them never speak up about it. They keep what they feel to themselves and they have no voice. We have to be supportive of each other and break this way of thinking.

Many mothers feel afraid to stick up for themselves, because they feel they must sacrifice for their children. It’s not always easy to say things that could rock the boat, but protect yourself by standing your ground no matter what, and you’ll find greener pastures.

To end on a positive note, saying that he hurt your feelings may very well improve your communication and bring you two closer together.

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