How do you know when a guy feels bad for hurting you?
Men don’t always show how they feel, at least not very obviously and not in a way that women understand.
But the signs he feels guilty for hurting you will be there if you observe carefully.
One thing to keep in mind is that how a guy reacts to his own guilt depends on:
Let’s explore 17 of these signs right now to help you discern just how guilty he is feeling.
Table of Contents
If he is avoiding you or making excuses not to be around you, it may be a sign that he feels guilty for hurting you.
I know it doesn’t feel that way, because when a guy hurts you it feels better if he just makes amends rather than running away.
But the reality is that he may be trying to avoid the difficult feelings that come with facing you and dealing with the consequences of his actions.
Sometimes he may be avoiding you to try not to hurt you even more as well.
Guilt often comes with a feeling of remorse. If your man is feeling remorseful, he may express this through excessive apologies.
He may apologize repeatedly for the same thing, or for things that aren't even related to the original act that hurt you.
Though this type of behavior can seem strange or off-putting at times, research on apology and guilt have shown that people who feel guilty tend to apologize more frequently and more intensely than those who don't feel guilty.
For example, a study published in the journal "Personality and Individial differences” found that people who feel guilty are more likely to apologize and to use more apologetic language than people who don't feel guilty.
But just a heads up on apologies:
Excessive apologies can also be a sign of manipulation.
So it's important to observe the context of his apologies and the sincerity of the apology rather than just the frequency.
Guilt as an emotion is valuable in the sense that it helps us right a wrong.
A guy making himself emotionally and physically available for you is a positive sign that he feels guilty for hurting you.
He is trying to take responsibility for the damage he has caused, and for re-establishing lost trust.
In contradiction to the previous sign, certain types of guys may also cut you off when they are guilty deep down.
But I’d caution you in seeing this as a definite sign of guilt, and instead consider it a potential sign of guilt.
This is because although cutting you off can be a sign of guilt, it is more likely to indicate that he is vehemently resisting feeling the full extent of the guilty feelings.
Perhaps he cannot handle it or doesn’t know how to react to such an emotion.
There is one phrase I recommend you say to him in this situation. This specific phrase will raise your value in his eyes as well as allow you to capture his attention and test him to see how willing he is to make things right…
If he is feeling guilty, he may withdraw emotionally from you and from the relationship.
He may become distant, less affectionate, or less engaged in conversations and activities that he once enjoyed with you.
If he has this type of reaction and you have difficulty reaching him emotionally and physically, it may be a sign he is emotionally unavailable and has insecure attachment patterns.
Specifically, an avoidant attachment style.
People who are securely attached generally have the ability to make amends on time and with less resistance or fear.
Of course if you have also caused him hurt in the past or have acted toxic due to your own insecure attachment patterns, this may cause him to pull away even more and become less likely to want to reach you.
Would you like to discover what your primary attachment patterns are? You can do that with our free quiz:
(Why is this important? It is because your core attachment style largely dictates and influences what happens in your relationship. Thus it’s imperative you understand your core attachment style!)
Interestingly, psychological defensiveness is also related to the previous sign, because when people experience psychological defensiveness, they can also pull away or disengage entirely from the situation.
It probably comes as no surprise to you that guilt can also manifest as defensiveness.
If he is feeling guilty, he may become argumentative or defensive when you bring up the situation or express your feelings.
He may try to deflect blame on to you or make it seem like you are the one in the wrong.
Don’t let this get to you, and don’t convince yourself that you’re at fault.
If a guy has really done you wrong yet he is trying to deflect blame onto you, this is a type of gaslighting.
If you recognize gaslighting early, you’re less likely to fall into the toxic spiral of abuse with him.
On the other hand, he may become overly attentive if he’s feeling guilty.
He may go out of his way to do nice things for you or to show you that he cares.
While this may feel nice, just make sure that it’s a genuine response to learning that he hurt you.
Some guys will just do this to try to stop you breaking up with them. If that is indeed your guys’ intent, then he won’t be able to keep up the facade of attentiveness for long.
As a woman, you should always make sure that you’re testing a man’s intent.
You don’t want to avoid testing his intent just to be a nice girl (or avoid being seen as manipulative).
Testing is normal and necessary, as you don’t want to waste time with a narcissist or a toxic, non committal man.
So now you may be wondering what is the best way to test how genuine he is with you?
By far the best way is to use high value banter, also referred to as playful banter. But why banter?
Because it allows you to inject playfulness and more importantly, spontaneity into the interactions with him.
Toxic, narcissistic and manipulative men never respond well to spontaneous or playful banter, because they need to uphold a facade about themselves.
They also will not have room for spontaneity, as they spend all their energy trying to stay in control and keep to their internal script, or in the case of players, their “game”.
So as a woman, there’s nothing more important than having the skill of playful banter. If you’d like to get some examples you can copy and paste to use today, we have something special for you.
It is a FREE class on high value banter. CLICK here to discover why you as a woman need to use the dark art of “High Value Banter” in order to quickly weed out the wrong types of men and create emotional attraction with the "BEST of MEN"! (...Even if no man has ever given you any love and all you've encountered so far are pen pals, ghosts, booty calls, and incredible duds!)
Don’t know what the dark feminine art of “High Value Banter” is? CLICK to find out.
Sadly, guilt can also make a man more critical of you.
He may start to pick apart your actions and words, looking for ways to justify his own behavior.
He may also try to blame you for the situation or make you feel like you are in the wrong.
Obviously if he’s doing this, he is feeling so guilty that he can’t bring himself to take full responsibility for his actions.
Though it’s one of the most unpleasant reactions to internal guilt, it’s definitely one of the signs he feels guilty for hurting you.
Guilt can also lead to feelings of isolation and alienation.
If a guy is feeling guilty, he may start to withdraw from you, from friends and family, or from activities and hobbies that he once enjoyed.
The responsibility of guilt is a real burden and he may feel too much shame to show his face around you or others.
How do you know when a guy feels bad for hurting you?
Sometimes the bad feelings manifest as physical symptoms in his body.
Yes, guilt can take a physical toll, so he may start to experience difficulty sleeping or eating.
He may have trouble falling asleep or wake up frequently during the night. He may also lose their appetite or start to overeat.
Disturbed sleep can also coincide with digestive troubles and muscle tension.
Another of the signs he feels guilty for hurting you is that he is anxious or depressed.
If he is feeling guilty, he may start to experience symptoms such as:
He may also start to withdraw from social activities or have trouble concentrating.
The most telling and positive of the signs he feels guilty for hurting you is that he is actively taking steps to put your mind and heart at ease.
If he’s willing to take steps to prevent the same mistake from happening again in the future, and he listens to what you need in order to feel trusting of him again, that’s a good thing.
Of course, it has to be long term. If he’s just doing this for a week or two and then gives up completely, either he’s not serious about you or he thinks it will be completely impossible to earn back your trust.
A guy has to be emotionally committed enough that he’ll do anything it takes you keep you in his life.
Would you like to discover exactly how commitment friendly your guy is? Find out yourself with our quick and easy quiz!
…and your well-being.
If he is constantly texting or calling you throughout the day to check in and see how you're doing, asking whether you're okay and if there's anything he can do to make things better, consider that a sign that he feels guilty.
It may have taken him a while to fully grasp the gravity of the pain he caused you, but once he did find out he’s overly concerned about your wellbeing.
And so he should be, right?
…and make concessions in the relationship.
A guy will usually do this as a way of showing that he's sorry and wants to make things right.
Guilt has a way of making us more humble so if he was previously all about himself and now he’s allowing a lot more room for your needs and priorities, he likely feels guilty.
This includes behavior such as questioning whether he deserves your forgiveness or whether he can ever make things right.
Usually, if a guy wants something serious with you, he will want to feel capable of earning your respect and trust.
If he doubts his own ability to achieve that, then it may put him in a slump, and he will get down on himself.
Last of the signs he feels guilty for hurting you is that he is being overly affectionate.
He wants you to feel loved and he wants to assuage his own guilt, so as repentance he tries to offer you affection.
Obviously affection isn’t enough, but at least he’s trying….I guess.
Guilt is a complex emotion that can manifest in a variety of ways.
Recognizing the signs he may be feeling guilty for hurting you can be challenging, but it's important to pay attention to his behavior, moreso than his words.
It's important to note that not every man will exhibit all of these signs, and the severity or duration of these signs may vary.
Furthermore, the signs of guilt your man exhibits will also depend on your relationship history and on how many negative versus positive associations already existed in your relationship before he made his grave mistake.
Additionally, some of these behaviors can also be signs of other issues, emotions or motivations.
As such, it's crucial to keep an open mind and try not to make your life and his life harder by constantly punishing him for his actions.
Remember that healing and forgiveness are possible, but it's important to take the time to process what has happened, and to make sure that both of you are on the same page before moving forward.
Case study: Learn how Kristin went from being completely burnt out with online dating, sick of getting ghosted and completely exhausted from giving her heart and soul with nothing in return… To having high value men begging for her attention & having the most “electric” date of her entire life. (…All by changing one simple strategy.)
You may still want to explore the conundrum, how do you know when a guy feels bad for hurting you, so we’ve answered some common questions on this topic below.
When a guy hurts you, of course you hope for an apology and remorse in some way.
However, not everyone who hurts us is truly sorry for their actions, including the man we love.
In fact, some men may not take responsibility for their actions and may not show genuine remorse.
Here are some signs he is not sorry for hurting you:
If he doesn't take responsibility for his actions and doesn't show remorse, it's likely that he doesn't feel guilty or remorseful.
If he minimizes or denies his actions, it's a sign that he is not truly sorry for what he did.
He may try to downplay the severity of the situation or make it seem like it wasn't a big deal.
If he is truly remorseful for his actions, he will likely take steps to change his behavior and prevent the same situation from happening again.
If he doesn't make any effort to change his behavior, it's a sign that he is not truly sorry for what he did.
If he seems indifferent to your feelings, words and pain, it's a sign that he is not truly sorry.
He may not show empathy or concern for how you feel, which can be a sign that he doesn't understand the impact of his actions.
If he repeats the same behavior that hurt you in the first place, it's a sign that he is not truly remorseful.
He may have apologized, but if he doesn't make any effort to change his behavior, it's likely that he doesn't understand the impact of his actions.
The best way to make him feel his guilt is by being authentic about your feelings.
But if you just want to keep punishing him, I caution you against that behavior, because it will only push him away and block any progress towards reconciliation.
Even if you don't want to get back together with him, it keeps you in the cycle of hurt. It's best instead to grieve and try to move forward to a better, higher quality of life.
Penny is a writer and part time dating coach. She lives in Brisbane, Queensland with the love of her life, their two daughters and their three dogs. Penny is passionate about helping women realize their high value and harness the innate feminine energy that they were born with.
Author & Editor For National Council for Research on Women. Founder of the popular women's dating & relationship advice website, The Feminine Woman.
P.S. I hope you've enjoyed this article. Here are some other articles that I think you'd really like too...
© Copyright National Council for Research on Women. All Rights Reserved