How to Deal With Hurtful Insults from Someone You Love

It hurts quite a lot to be insulted by someone you care about.

I don’t often insult people just to be mean, but if I decide to, I can cut a person down with only a few well-chosen words. The better you know someone, the easier it is to hurt them. You know all their weaknesses and insecurities. You know the character flaws that they are most ashamed of. And you can use these things against people.

If you’re a mean person, that is.

Luckily for me, I am not a mean person.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had my mean moments, but I don’t often set out to hurt people with my words.

I make an effort not to gossip and ‘bitch’ about people. Yes, you know I even hate the word ‘bitch’. When someone is asking me my opinion on someone, I imagine that person standing next to me. I only say things that I would want them to hear. I try to be as nice as I can.

a photo of a sad woman

Every now and then, we all need to vent. There are appropriate ways to do this. Recently, I went through a bad breakup and had to rely heavily on my friends and family to pull me through without losing my mind. Luckily I have great friends and a very supportive family, and I am now ok – without having to resort to unnecessary meanness, pettiness and name-calling.

There were times I was so upset I wanted to call my ex and yell at him and tell him all the terrible things I thought about him. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to make him feel the same pain that I was feeling. But I didn’t do that. What did I do instead? I phoned a friend and vented to them instead.

My poor friend.

For a solid 15 minute block they heard me ramble on and on about my ex and say very constructive things like, “I MEAN he’s JUST and IDIOT… you know? Like YOU KNOW. Like, HOW could he do that? You KNOW?”

My friend didn’t try to justify my ramblings; my friend didn’t try to stop me. My friend simply said, “I know. I know. It’s hard. You’re hurting” until I came to my senses and realised how silly I was being. That’s what a good friend does. That’s what a good person does. My friend’s listening ear allowed me to get my venting off my chest in a (mostly) appropriate way, and I was able to move on without involving my ex or hurting him any further. Good luck and good riddance, I say!

There is no need to be mean.

I have an older ex (both in timeline and age) who had a real tendency for being mean. Ok, what do I mean by that? He would often trot out hurtful insults that had nothing to do with an argument. These insults were designed just to be hurtful. There are a few things we learn never to say to someone. We all have our insecurities. I do not have a thick skin at all. I am so incredibly sensitive that even little insults really cut me.

There is one word you can never use in front of me.

It’s the F word.


If someone ever, ever, ever uses that word around me, I am not just insulted, but I shut down emotionally. I have an ex-ex-ex (ok, count ‘em, that’s three so far mentioned in this post) who was highly critical about my appearance. He went so far as to book my hair appointments for me and enlisted one of his female friends to take me shopping, as he didn’t like my ‘look’. He was paying, so I said “sure”.

Over the years, his constant fixation on my appearance had a negative influence on our relationship. I increasingly felt as if I was being ‘sized up’ every time I set foot in his apartment, and that does not make for a relaxing night. After a while I became so insecure that I had to stop seeing him at all. A woman wants to feel beautiful around her boyfriend and a man who does not provide this simple, free incentive is on borrowed time.

What are some tips to deal with insults?

One method is Acceptance

From Psychology Today: ‘Consider three things: whether the insult is true, who it came from, and why. In general, if I respect the person who insulted me, I ought to give thought to the insult and learn as much as I can from it. On the other hand, if I think that the person who insulted me is not worthy of my consideration, I have no reason to take offense at him, just as I have no reason to take offense at a naughty child or a barking dog.’

Another method is to Walk Away

Ever felt that someone is goading you just to get a response? Bullies do this all the time. “Bullies will often take any reaction as encouragement to continue” according to wikihow. There is nothing more satisfying than beating a bully at his or her own game. If someone has thrown something at you to make you react – then not reacting might drive them crazy. It’s a good technique, provided you can discipline yourself.

Another method is Using Humour

This can often deflect the insult and throw your attacker off. Using humour can be a great way to disarm someone. Having said that, it does take a lot of self-discipline and may not always be an option that you reach for in the heat of the moment. From Psychology Today: ‘Sometimes, it might even be appropriate to exaggerate or add to the insult so as to make a mockery of the insulter and, by extension, of the insult. Ah, if only you had known me better, you would have found greater fault still!’

Put downs really hurt but esoterically speaking, only you can make yourself feel bad.

Got that?

Only you can make yourself feel bad… or good.

No one has any power over your emotions, except for you personally.

“On days I am feeling insulted, I walk through the park and see the trees and they look do bland to me, so cold, so dull. I walk through the park when I am feeling elated, and the trees look so grand! So beautiful! But they’re the same bloody trees as yesterday! It’s only my emotional mindscape that makes me feel one way or another.”

By learning to control my emotional reactions – I am learning to free myself.

I have updated this post as well. Here are some further thoughts on dealing with insults – from my post Why am I being criticized? The answer is: people criticize those they admire


  • John says:

    That friend that listened to you ramble must really care a lot about you.

  • Hi, thanks for visiting my blog and If i must say you’ve got interesting articles to read-on here, Nice blog.

  • alycevayle says:

    Thanks for your comment Kim! I’m always at the variety of blogs I find on wordpress. I’m trying to post almost daily – it takes a lot of work!

  • Tori says:

    Hi I really appreciated this article. I’m in a relationship with someone I care so dearly about, but he is unable to communicate his feelings and it’s been having a big effect on my happiness. After he calms down he blames me for things that aren’t true and tonight he really tore me down. I’m not sure if you have any advice for that… But your words really helped me get my head back.

    • Alyce Vayle says:

      Thanks so much for your comments, Tori.
      I wrote the post about someone I cared about who always seemed to tear me down with his words. I came to realise that it was something in himself he was lacking – something that I could never give to him. People who are confident in their own capabilities and lives do not need to tear people down, they are too big for that. When we criticise someone else, it is an unfulfilled part of ourselves that we are trying to legitimize. Tearing down the person next to you is really just a distraction.
      Good luck with your relationship and remember to value and love yourself, with all your heart.

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