“…,but I don’t want to hurt you”


And just like that, you start to pity him. You start thinking that he may have been wronged before, or that maybe he’s finally realized that he might have acted like a total douchebag in the past. But now he wants to become a better person because he has finally found you (aka the princess he was waiting for), but he’s afraid of hurting you because he has this “dark past” or these “evil tendencies”, but you know that, truly, he never would, because you’re special. Or would he?

Unless you’re asking him to pop a zit that’s been sitting on your back and bothering the hell out of you, beware. Those words are not as delicate as you might think.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of the bad news, but any sign of possible commitment ending in the words “but I don’t want to hurt you” should be taken as a major red flag.

A very good example:

“I love you and I want to have a serious relationship with you, but I don’t want to hurt you.”

In fact, here’s a whole “pseudo self-loathing” list full of other lines that you should watch out for:
“…, but I’m a bad person.”
“…, but I don’t deserve you.”
“…, but I always mess thing up.”
“…, but you’re too good for me.”
“…, but I know that I’ll end up hurting you and I don’t want that.”

Well, if you couldn’t read between the lines and see the real message on that last one, you really need a wake up call. But if it makes you feel any better, many people DO fall for these, even the last one. And again, if it makes you feel better, you’ll have read this post and you’ll know better than to fall for that sugar coated trap next time.

The thing is, those sentences are all dramatic for a reason: they bring out sympathy from your side. We try to see the best in people, especially when we’re in love with them, but notice how none of these lines mention that the person learned their lesson. There’s no guarantee that they won’t repeat whatever they have done in the past. Being very blunt here, it’s a manipulation tactic – one of the worst, really. Most likely he knows he will mess it up.

Whether the whole dramatic line and/or the messing up part are conscious or unconscious acts is beside the point – by the way, a good rule of thumb: don’t try to analyze your date/partner. The point is that there is a clear warning here. It basically excuses the “I told you so” when he actually fucks it up. Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course there are, but there’s a 99% chance he’s already digging your heart’s grave. Never think of yourself as an exception – exceptions rarely happen. If everybody who has ever thought they were an exception actually was one, I wouldn’t be writing this and life would be a romantic comedy à la Notting Hill or any other movie with Hugh Grant – except for “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, that one he was just an asshole – but you know what I mean.

All that being said, I’d like to point out that many things can be seen during the dating process, we just don’t want to see them. That’s called cognitive dissonance, and I’ll talk more about it in another post. Although I do have to admit that this particular line that we “studied” today is tricky, most of them aren’t. Keep your eyes open and your brain alert while dating and you’ll save yourself from a lot of pain.

Paula Monteiro
Therapist and Dating/Relationship coach
For appointments and questions: paulaknowsitall@gmail.com


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