Did you ever hurt someone's feelings?

I have, several times. Sometimes I'm completely oblivious to the fact that I hurt their feelings until later.

I was living in my college apartment with my best friend (not a good idea BTW), and I was working two jobs. I was a hostess at a diner in the morning, and a waitress at night. It was extremely taxing on my body and mind.

One night, a particularly bad incident happened at the restaurant where I was waitressing. I've written about it here: Krysta Storer (クリスタストーラー)'s answer to What is the worst thing you've seen happen at your place of work?

I got Home to the apartment, and I was still in shock. Someone at work had been hurt very badly, and I was just not dealing with it well. My roommate followed me to the deck, where I lit up a cigarette and frantically started telling my story.

About halfway through my story, I stopped. I noticed something different about her. She had cut her hair - a lot. She went from having quite long hair to fairly short.

I paused and asked her, in a deadpan voice

Me: Did you cut your hair?

Her: (perky and happy) Yes!!

Me: Why?

Her: I just wanted to see what it would look like!

Me: Hmmmm. Ok. (Then returned to telling my story)

I didn't mean to be so cruel - my brain just couldn't hold any more information that day! I was at capacity, any new information just got rejected.

I heard from her boyfriend the next day that she was extremely hurt by my words. I could understand why. I was pretty bitchy!

I made sure to apologize ASAP, and tell her that her hair looked great.

She accepted my apology, but I got an earful of how insensitive I had been.

I could see it from her perspective. But, someone did have a fairly gruesome injury at work.

Oh well - it's all in the past! I was the maid of honor at her wedding, so she really did forgive me.

Oh, Antoni, let me count the ways!

Most people consider me a loving and kind man. And, I was also a high school math teacher until I was 71 years old. Yet, hurting peoples' feelings was an occasional happening at school and elsewhere in my life.

Here is the story of a time when I hurt a young woman's feelings with a stupid action on my part. I was always joking in class, often not filtering my jokes too well. The kids and I had a lot of fun, but this time, I was 100% off the mark. There was one very pretty young girl in the back of the room. We already had a good teacher-student relationship. She was a red-headed girl. One day, she raised her hand among others to ask a question. I pointed to the back of the room and said, "the ugly redhead in back." In my simplistic and oh-so-erroneous mind, that she was ugly was obviously not true and that I was simply making a stupid joke was all too obvious. I was wrong: she was reduced to tears almost instantaneously.

...there is a good corollary to this story. She had to move out-of-state for a while to be with her dying grandmother. She was gone for about three months. We arranged for her to continue our Algebra II class long distance (this was before the internet). She was a smart math student and managed well on her own. However, when she did get stuck, she would call me on the phone in the evening, and we both discovered that if we each wrote the problem down as I went over it, it was almost as if we were sitting side-by-side, and we never had a problem quickly clarifying anything where she was confused. I used that technique for more than a decade after our experience to help students who were given my home phone (all of them were).

That instance of hurting someone's feelings had a story attached to it: there are oodles more. As we go through life, it is good to become more and more sensitive to our effect on others and to hurt feelings less and less. But, we are all human, and we will hurt feelings. Oh, here is an even more poignant story:

My son was about 10 years old and he was learning how to ollie on his skateboard. He came to get me from inside to show me when he had successfully done the maneuver. However, when he failed for about five times in a row, I thought that he might be getting embarrassed, so I suggested he practice it a bit more and come and get me when he had it down. He, however, took it as a complete rebuff, as if I had said what I said in complete disdain of his failed attempts. He carried that hurt into adulthood and only after he had gone through some psychological counseling did we ever talk about it. It was then we both realized that the incident was experienced completely differently by each of us.

Yeah, we hurt each other intentionally, unintentionally and stupidly. And, we learn to do better, hopefully.



Did you ever hurt someone's feelings?


I hurt people's feelings fairly often, but that's more about them than it is about me. I generally place a higher value on truth and accuracy than on feelings, even my own. The truth doesn't care about your feelings, or mine.

Quite often, I will state objective facts, or simply my opinion, and someone's feelings get hurt. Mostly this is because some people do not have the emotional maturity to handle dissent or disagreement. If someone disagrees with them, they get upset and react emotionally. If someone disagrees with me, I generally would like to know why.

So, what happens if I hurt someone's feelings? Well, that depends entirely on my opinion of the person. I don't care about most people, so I don't care if I've hurt their feelings. Of course, the majority of people are like this, regardless of whether they realize or acknowledge it. Most people do not care about everyone they meet. This is not to say I'm a cruel asshole, but simply that I have no emotional investment in most people.

If I care about the person, depending on the situation, I may or may not apologize. I don't change my views just because someone doesn't like them, but it may be worthwhile to mend the relationship. It depends.

I rarely hurt people's feelings deliberately, and much less so after entering adulthood.

Of course. Many, many times.

Most of those times I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings. But I also did it on purpose a few times.

Often, people are offended by what I say or do. Often, I don't know why. I'm not trying to offend people, but they get offended nevertheless.

For instance, when I was at my first semester at engineering class, there was a girl who was having some difficulty with polynomials. The underlying reason was because she didn't know how to do operations with fractions.

I said to her "Fractions are 4th grade content."

She got mad at me. I didn't get it at first. I was trying to convey to her the message that "Oh, you can do it, this is easy since fractions are 4th grade content."

However, a little while later I understood (from my friend telling me) that she actually got the message "You are stupid, you should know this because fractions are 4th grade content."

It's very easy to offend people without meaning. And the offended party is on their right to be offended.

We are only humans, and humans hurt each other, even without meaning. Our rough edges sometimes poke our friends and family!

Of course. Those are my regrets in life. It took me a long time to learn that maybe we are here to learn to be guided by love and not fear. Occasionally we do have to poke some bubbles to prod people to at least consider change. So I'm not above doing that. But I now avoid as best I can hurting people. Sometimes it's unavoidable. Like if someone is completely smitten but you realize the relationship isn't going to work, maybe you're incompatible or have diverging life goals, or for whatever reason you know that inevitably later on the parting will actually be more painful. That is one harm that is rather deep that I am ok with. The rest though, i really try and avoid.

I'm sure I have. I didn't mean to, but it happens.

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