Just Because You Don’t Understand Your Partner’s Pain Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Real

In the “First Do No Harm” (healthy relationships) chapter of Living Well, Despite Catchin’ Hell (which everyone can read, not only Black women/men), Dr. Melody T. McCloud included eighteen medical “pearls of wisdom” to help readers heal and bolster their interpersonal relationships.

Check out an excerpt of her much talked about book below and remember that just because you can’t feel, see, or understand something doesn’t mean it’s not valid or  real. You can find more of Dr. McCloud’s work at Psychology Today.com.


A friend once informed me he was “almost finished with chemotherapy.” When he volunteered the details, he told me, “It took six months for them to make the diagnosis. I kept telling the doctors about my pain, but I don’t think they believed me! Initial tests didn’t show anything and they’d always just tell me to ‘go home.’ Only after six months of my insisting that I had severely intense pain did they finally seriously pursue a workup…and found I had lymphoma.”

As a physician (and as a friend), I was upset as I thought about how much valuable time was lost in his case. Months of suffering and pain he endured could have been avoided, and his treatment could have begun so much earlier, had his complaints been taken seriously and earnestly evaluated. That gentleman is now dead.

In affairs of the heart, pain is oftentimes as much a part of the relationship as are love and glee. The very thing (and person) that can give you so much pleasure and joy can likewise cause an equal degree of pain and emotional distress.

For this reason, it is very important that you never underestimate how much someone hurts. Just because you can’t see the pain–or you feel that what your spouse or friend says hurts them shouldn’t hurt because after all, it doesn’t hurt you–doesn’t mean the pain is not real and extremely palpable to him or her. What hurts them to the core may not even ruffle one feather of yours. But don’t be insensitive. If someone you love actually has the courage to tell you, “This has hurt me,” make sure you actually hear what’s being said…and not just the formulation of the words, but the heartfelt, pained emotions behind those words.

Have you ever noticed that when there has been some argument or breakdown in communication between you and your loved one or friend, it’s because one of you has experienced pain? If the expression of that pain is ignored, and the emotion is actually minimized by your loved one, then another more volatile emotion usually erupts–anger.

The sooner you appreciate another’s pain, the sooner the emotional issue can be identified, and the sooner the healing can begin.

For the full article, CLICK HERE.