Why do we hurt the ones we love?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Socratic Spelunker, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Socratic Spelunker Registered Senior Member

    I've noticed that people are always more polite to strangers and guests than they are to close friends and family.

    Is there a psychological term/explanation for this?

    Is it because we feel more relaxed around those closest to us and inhibitions drop? Or because we know they "love" us, so we take for granted their capacity to forgive? Or some other reason?
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  3. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

    I suppose it's just more likely to hurt someone who cares about you. Are you familiar with the golden oldie?
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  5. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    I'd think that because they know you and you know them would mean that you're already understanding each others likes and dislikes so you know you can get away doing certain things with those you know. You won't know what reaction a stranger will have if say you told them a dirty joke but know well that your father in law would enjoy hearing it. Same thing with playing pranks on your love ones, they know that you only mean no harm and are just fooling around with them however a stranger might not. So we sometimes get ourselves into doing things that might hurt those we love like scaring them one night when they are coming in the house late at night.

    Then again there's the other thing that we do, we take out our problems on those we love for we think they should be able to handle those tirades and arguments as they know that we sometimes fly off the handle so they just let us rant and rave awhile until we calm ourselves down or they help us calm down. A problem happens when we carry things to far by hitting someone we love because we are angry at something, it might not even be them, and strike out at the ones we love because we think they can take it. Well they can't and shouldn't take abuse of any kind from anyone, especially someone who loves them.
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  7. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Because people are people, and familiarity bestows knowledge. We know how to.
    Simple as that.
  8. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

    I think it's a combination of everything in the last line of your OP.

    My sister just went through a nasty divorce, and hates the world right now. She lashes out all of time at me and my mom. I've recently given her the nickname "minefield"...because that's what talking to her is like....any slight mis-step..and BAM!! she explodes for no reason. She tore my head off the other day for asking about a couple of cans of spray paint she had bought for a project.

    She knows, that since I'm her little brother, and love her unconditionally, that she can yell at me for no reason with no consequences. She knows I will (eventually) forgive her, and all will go back to way it was before the lashing. I did find out later that the day I asked about the paint was her former anniversary with her ex-husband...and I imagine that was on her mind, and was the reason for the outburst, and not anything I did. I was just an easy target.
  9. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

    It looks like everybody is right! (How about that?) The Marquis though is especially correct. Familiarity really does breed contempt. So maybe we ought best to adopt Ghenghis Khan's view: it is better to be feared than loved.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Kinda looks like G.K. is blowing us a kiss here though, don't it?
  10. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    No, it's not contempt. It's overestimation and maybe too-high expectation.

    Politeness is easy and cool; you can do that with anybody and it puts nothing on line; risks no humiliation or diminishment.

    With our loved ones, we expect to be able to show our true self, our true feeling, our true desires and frustrations to people who love us. We expect them to be on our side and want what we want and sympathize with, if not share, our feelings.
    And it's so very important! It's so important to get them on side, to gain their support, to have their approval! It's so important that we lose control and yell and make them cry sometimes... and then we feel like shit.
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's not exactly psychological. More cultural.

    If you substitute for "polite" the synonym "courteous," you'll find that it comes from the word "court." In other words, this is behavior that's suitable for the king's or queen's court: formal and respectful. In a court there are always emissaries and ambassadors from other courts with whom your monarch may wish to establish peace, trade relations, etc. But at the same time your two kingdoms may practice different customs and have different beliefs. So you need to be courteous to all those people to maintain tranquility in the court.

    This is not true within your home. You know each other intimately so you don't have to guess at which subjects you generally agree on and which might cause a fight. You know how each other react. But also, the whole point of being a family is that you can be honest and informal. If you're angry or depressed you can say so. Within the home the family may not actually be feeling very tranquil at the moment, so rather than pretending to be tranquil, they need to deal with the problem. You may make each other angry but that's just part of family life. Family life is not formal.

    Out in the streets of the city, that's a tough call. Obviously at the beginning of the Neolithic Era, when villages were small and all the residents knew each other (and most of the families were even related to each other), the appropriate behavior out "in public" was pretty much the same as it would be at home. These people were well acquainted with each other and didn't need to be treated like visiting dignitaries from another kingdom.

    Life may still be like that in small towns today.

    But as our cities become increasingly cosmopolitan, they more closely resemble the court than the home. We encounter people every day who are from different countries, different religions, different political parties, different everything. So courteous behavior is appropriate. You don't need to, and therefore should not want to, let them know that you've had a bad day at work or that your daughter's boyfriend is in jail. You certainly don't want that kind of information from them! Just smile and go on your way.

    Be courteous.
  12. keith1 Guest

    Yeah, a kiss goodbye. Once the masses get them to dress up candy-ass for the history cameras, it is the beginning of the decay process...

    The other appropriate line:

    You keep your friends close, and strangers closer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2012
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This is usually said as a quote from Michael Corlione in "The Godfather":
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.​
    The line is an abbreviated version of a section in Machiavelli's The Prince.

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