How to Tell a Friend They Hurt You Even If You’re Emotionally Constipated

1. Organize Your Thoughts First

When you’re sitting with uncomfortable feelings it might be tempting blurt something out right after an argument, but Dr. Forshee suggests taking a step back first. “Organize your thoughts outside of the heat of the moment, when you are in your rational mind,” she explains. Essentially, your mind will be calmer and better able to process your feelings with a little space. “Take some time to really reflect on what you’re most upset about and why,” Forshee adds. Some people may also find it helpful to write down key thoughts and feelings in advance of telling someone they’ve hurt you.

You might know exactly why you feel hurt, or it may feel really confusing. Forshee recommends investigating those feelings. “It could simply be something from our past that’s been triggered on a subconscious level and we’re not so in tune with it, like something that happened to us that we put away and compartmentalized. That’s where people need to consider looking into what this situation reminds you of. Is this something that I’ve been sensitive to for a period of time because of something that happened to me in life?” These types of probing questions can help you further articulate your thoughts.


Here are some things not to say:

1. “Can I see?”

Avoid voyeurism, Freeman says. While you might be curious to hear the details, they’re not relevant in getting your friend help. You also run the risk of reacting negatively to what your friend shows you, which can be stigmatizing.

Meghan had this experience with a different friend who asked to see her injuries after learning what was going on but then was visibly upset when she obliged. “I didn’t blame her for her reaction, but it definitely hurt my feelings a little,” Meghan says. “You’re already pretty ashamed and judging yourself.”

2. “Things aren’t that bad.”

Don’t attempt to convince your friend that their feelings aren’t justified or that their behavior isn’t “rational.” Glass half-full isn’t going to work here.

Your friend is likely in tremendous pain, and the last thing you want to do is invalidate that, Zendegui says. “That can really minimize their experience and make them feel worse,” she explains, “and even damage your relationship with them.”

3. “If you don’t stop, I can’t be your friend anymore.”

Do not give your friend any kind of ultimatum, Zendegui says. Quitting self-harm requires much more than willpower, NAMI explains. There is a decent chance that issuing an ultimatum will actually make things worse.

Hurt quotes for him or her

21. “Many of us don’t realize the power words have. The words we use impact and influence the people around us more than we realize. They can hurt, they can encourage, they can change a person, they can inspire, and they can offer support and comfort.” – Catherine Pulsifer

22. “Broken hearts hurt but they will make you strong.” – Unknown

23. “When hardship occurs, it is easy to focus on hurt feelings attributed to the individuals you thought would show up that don’t – but I encourage you to instead embrace all the individuals that come out of the woodwork and surprise you.” – Steph Gold

24. “Develop compassion for someone who hurt you rather showing bitterness that will enable you to forgive them and make you feel comfortable.” – Lisa Adams

25. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” – Mahatma Gandhi

26. “Do talk about what needs to change, but try to find a positive way to go about it, this should help to lessen the chances of feelings being hurt, and still resolve the problems.” – Lesley Harriot

27. “There are times when it seems your heart is open to hurt but remember that every heart that is real also has the ability to recover and be stronger than before.” – Byron Pulsifer

28. “Nothing feels blessed about being broken. In fact, certain circumstances in life hurt so intensely that we think we will never heal. But blessing can come in the wake of our being broken.” – Charles Stanley

29. “When you hold a grudge, you want someone else’s sorrow to reflect your level of hurt but the two rarely meet.”  – Steve Maraboli

30. “You cannot be with someone just because you don’t want to hurt him. You have your own happiness to think about.” –  Melissa de la Cruz

Know the Warning Signs of Suicide

The risk of suicide is high in those living with depression. No matter what you say or what you do to help your friend, they may still experience suicidal thoughts and feelings. Make sure to be on the lookout for warning signs of suicide and know when to seek help.

Some signs to watch for include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Expressing that they feel like a burden to others
  • Feelings of extreme hopelessness and sadness
  • Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Giving away possessions or making a will
  • Making ambiguous statements about not being around in the future
  • Open discussions about suicide or having a suicide plan
  • Previous suicide attempts

If you spot warning signs of suicide, you should talk to your loved one and ask them to speak with a mental health professional. When there is an immediate risk, you should remove dangerous items from the home, make sure you don't leave them alone, and get help from a medical professional immediately.

If you or someone you love are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

How to Help a Friend Who Is Feeling Suicidal

Hurt quotes to make you feel better

81. “Honesty is the cruelest game of all, because not only can you hurt someone – and hurt them to the bone – you can feel self-righteous about it at the same time.” – Dave Van Ronk

82. I think we’ve all been kind of… everyone’s been hurt, everyone’s felt loss, everyone has exultation, everyone has a need to be loved, or to have lost love, so when you play a character, you’re pulling out those little threads and turning them up a bit.” – Mark Ruffalo

83. “I really believe I’ve been a good person. Not perfect – forget about perfect – but just learning by what I was taught and living by my own values. I might have stepped on a few ants – and a few other things as well – but I’ve never hurt anybody.” – Kiri Te Kanawa

84. “I have made terrible mistakes that have hurt the people that I cared about the most, and I am terribly sorry. I am deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and my actions.” – Anthony Weiner

85. “I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.” – Kobe Bryant

86. “There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take… The line between reason and madness grows thinner.” – Rosa Parks

87. “I have never been hurt by what I have not said.” – Calvin Coolidge

88. “Don’t waste your time on revenge. Those who hurt you will eventually face their karma.” – Matava Pearl

89. “Many times, the decisions we make the effect and hurt your closest friends and family the most. I have a lot of regrets in that regard. But God has forgiven me, which I am very thankful for. It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.” – Lex Luger

90. “It’s always funny until someone gets hurt. Then it’s just hilarious.” – Bill Hicks

Don’t be too aggressive with the blame

Yes, your friend hurt you, and while you should be firm and clear about that, you also want to remember that this is a relationship you’re trying to improve and maintain. Insulting them, being too aggressive with your blame, or approaching this without a willingness to have an open dialogue won’t work.


To avoid going into this with too much anger, give yourself time to cool off before having the conversation. Make sure you have organized your thoughts, done a little self-evaluation on your feelings, and feel comfortable with your position. Be open to hearing them out.


Oh, and don’t forget to check yourself. Be honest about if any of your actions (or inactions) might have contributed to the fight or whatever it was that hurt you. You can be hurt and have not been entirely in the right. Both are possible. Don’t shirk responsibility if you share some of it.

How to Turn Hurtful Words Around in Your Favor

The process of breaking down the individual pieces of who said what and why may help to lessen the pain and to steer you in a more positive direction. In addition, it may help you learn more about the person who broke your heart or your confidence.

The information you gather through this analysis may help you take a more in-depth look at your own imperfections and strong points, as well as those of the person who hurt you. It might prompt you to forgive and forget or to move past the negativity of what was said. It may also inspire you to recognize signs that the person who hurt you needs help or maybe they need somebody to show them what kindness looks like. At the end of this analysis, you will probably have a better understanding of who you are, who you are not, and who you aspire to become.

Step 4: Prepare for possible discomfort

On the other hand, it may be hard for your friend to hear that you feel like they’ve been too close for comfort lately, even with all of your efforts to use care and compassion when you address it. That happens. If things hit turbulence or don’t go well, remind yourself of your boundaries and why you wanted to bring it up in the first place. You deserve friendships that feel good to be in! 

RELATED: 4 Ways to Empower Yourself in Every Relationship

Some unhealthy friendships can be repaired—but some are too toxic. Asserting your boundaries helps you know the difference. If this conversation doesn’t go well, it will tell you that it might be time to pull the plug on the relationship, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve seen a quote while scrolling through Instagram lately: “The only people who get upset when you enforce your boundaries are the ones who benefitted from you not having any”—and it’s so true. Even if it’s hard to hear, a healthy friend will appreciate that you made an effort to improve your relationship and that you were honest about how you felt.


A healthy friend will respect your boundaries—and talking about them doesn’t have to be a brutal experience. Think of it as a halftime huddle—you and your friend just need to figure out how to get things back in a good rhythm. Don’t ghost the situation, and don’t let things build up too much. Instead, pat yourself on the back for realizing your boundaries have been crossed, and then use these tips to get some breathing room, without sending your friend packing. 




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