Wake-Up Call: We Hurt The Ones We’re Closest To

In 2014, a new study appeared in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science confirming humans are most awful to the ones we know and love the most. (???!!!) I was floored while reading the article. I’d always heard that speculation, but the fact it had been scientifically proven horrified me.

I read on. During the study, researchers monitored three decades of aggression trends to reveal a phenomenon dubbed “everyday aggression,” which includes two types of interpersonal aggression – direct and non-direct.

Non-direct aggression means hurting someone without a confrontation, hurting someone through something or someone else. For example, good ole gossip. Non-direct aggression can also include hurting someone by not doing something, such as consistently arriving late to an appointment, date, or event. (ie. Taking someone for granted and consistently falling short.)

Direct aggression…. That’s pretty self-explanatory.

Deeper in the article, I read significant others, family members, and friends are more likely to receive the brunt of a person’s anger. I guess this is supposed to be comforting?? “My friend was super horrible to me, but that’s okay – it just means they love me.” Ummm….. no.

Even further in, I read aggression is often confused with assertiveness or expressing your needs or concerns. However, the difference is this: Aggression involves the intent (conscious or sub-conscious) to actually hurt someone. In other words, you can be assertive and express your desires without being an ass. (I think some people in our world unknowingly – or knowingly – walk that fine line daily.)

So let’s recap… According to science, when we are close to people, we sometimes treat them like crap or take them for granted. I’m sure those of you reading this post (as well as the one writing it) have been on the giving and receiving end of these now scientifically-proven facts. I know I have, and here is my unscientific conclusion – neither side feels good to a person with any kind of ethics.

Additional conclusion: Duh… The people we’re closest to probably are going to annoy us the most. Why? We’re around them the most! We share much of our lives with these people. We share much of our hopes, dreams, and fears with these people. We encounter these people when we’re happy, sad, or worst of all, angry and annoyed. But what doesn’t change is how much these people love us. (So don’t be an ass to them!)

Yes, unfortunately we are destined to, at some point, love people who will hurt us. And most times, it’s hard to bounce back from that. I’ve had many people I love and trust, people I thought would never hurt me, crush my world in a blindsiding second. The result – me telling myself I am better off alone, that I should live a life of loneliness because it was better than being hurt. That I can never trust anyone again!!! (Pointer finger dramatically hoisted in the air!!!)

For some of the jerks that hurt me, I never trusted them again. Other jerks are hanging on by a thread. Then, there’s those I let off the hook because they’re human, and they were simply having a bad day.

There’s also those few that, for whatever reason, I keep coming back to. No matter how many times they zing me. No matter how many times I let them get away with being an ass, I can’t seem to let them go. (I still haven’t quite figured that one out….)

So what are The Takeaways here?

  1. Don’t be an ass!!!!!!!!
  2. If someone is an ass to you, STOP THEM! Set them straight and demand respect and appreciation. If they can’t see how valuable your friendship is, they’re not worth your time.
  3. Don’t take people for granted. No matter what – people can (and will) only take so much before they walk away. Blood or not. Family or friend. Loyal or not. And it’s true – you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And when it’s gone, it’s tragic.
  4. There’s no point in wasting energy being mean when you can use that energy to love and inspire.
  5. And finally, if you do encounter as ass, whether it is someone having an off day or a developing behavioral pattern, there’s no rule saying you have to take it. Don’t give someone the opportunity to hurt you. If you see a train wreck coming, get off the the tracks.

People we love have bad days. Everyone is allowed a slip-up. But it’s those who get in the groove of narcissism, arrogance, or negativity that establish pattern behavior, those are the ones that need a knot jerked in them. And as a friend, sometimes that’s our job. Nothing will change unless you take action. Sometimes being a good friend means initiating that change if you can. If you can’t….. “Bye, Felicia!”

The Challenge:

  • The next time someone is an ass to you, walk away. But before you do, tell them why in a simple, matter-of-fact way. Give them the knowledge to understand why you aren’t accepting their behavior, and give them the opportunity to change and right their wrong.
  • The next time you’re having a bad day and are confronted with a close friend or family member that annoys you, check yourself. Don’t be an ass. Because the person you’re about to snap at is someone who loves you and would do anything in the world for you.

About the author

Hi! I'm Dorothy! First off, thank you for visiting Life's A Dance! Secondly, you're reading this to find out more about me, so.... Long story short: I grew up on a cattle operation in the mountains of western Virginia, where I still live today. I enjoy Clogging, teaching at my dance studio, reading, writing, traveling, trying to be artistic, and finding new and improved ways to work while still enjoying this wonderful blessing we've been given - life. I'm a dreamer and an outside-the-box thinker that lives life slightly differently than most and is not a fan of conventionalism. I believe in living out loud, stopping to smell the roses, loyalty to family and friends, and being grateful to look up at a beautiful, blue sky.


    1. Unfortunately, I think we all can, Devonia. It’s not a fun thing, for sure, but we all have to stand up for ourselves. You are a beautiful person, and you deserve to be treated well!! If someone consistently treats you bad, then maybe they’re not worthy enough to be in your life anymore. It’s a sad thing, but sometimes we have to make those hard decisions… Sending love and peace your way!!

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