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Paul Burri: Hurting the Ones We Love

We expect more from the people we care about — and vice versa

Remember the old song “You Always Hurt the One You Love”? It went on to say, “... the one you shouldn’t hurt at all.”

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

Is it true that we always hurt the ones we love? If so, why?

I have always remembered an article that discussed that idea, and its premise was that we expect more from the people who are close to us and they, in turn, expect more from us.

A hypothetical situation may illustrate the idea.

Scene 1: You’re in the produce section of the grocery store shopping for potatoes. You take a plastic bag and fill it with 10 pounds of potatoes. Then, as you’re putting it into your shopping cart, the bottom falls out of the bag and the potatoes spill all over the floor. You’re embarrassed and a little irritated as you start to pick them up. Suddenly, a stranger comes over and begins to help you collect your potatoes. You feel overwhelmed with gratitude that a total stranger has come to help you.

Scene 2: Same produce section of the grocery store, and you’re again shopping for potatoes. This time, though, your significant other is with you. The scene continues — plastic bag, 10 pounds of potatoes, plastic bag breaks, potatoes all over the floor. You’re embarrassed and irritated as you start to pick up the potatoes. Your significant other helps you pick them up. You continue with your shopping.

Scene 3: Same scene as before, except that this time when the potatoes spill on the floor, your significant other walks away to look for the beer aisle. You’re not only embarrassed, but you’re furious at your significant other because he hasn’t helped you. You’re thinking, “If he loved me, he would help me pick them up.”

We expect much more from the people we love — and who love us — than we do from strangers, and because of that, we are more easily hurt when they don’t meet those expectations.

We always hurt the ones we love because they expect more from us. And vice versa.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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