Dear Man Who Loves The Woman Who Has Been To Hell And Back


Dear Man Who Loves The Woman Who Has Been To Hell and Back,

Last year I published the article, How To Love A Woman Who Has Been To Hell and Back. This article has since been republished on more websites than I could even tell you. It has been shared hundreds of thousands of times all around the world, and has received millions of views. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of messages I’ve received from women who have thanked me for giving them the words they could never say.

But in the last while, my inbox has also been filled with messages from men such as you. Men who are trying to love the woman who has been to hell and back, but are struggling. Men who are doing the best they can, but are hurting. Men who are trying to understand more, do better, love harder, but aren’t sure if it’s worth the pain and exhaustion. Men who are confused, unsure, lost, and in need of answers.

Dear man, the fact that you love your woman so much that you are willing to read an article to understand her more is a truly wonderful thing. That you would message me in the hope of knowing how to love her better is admirable. Men like you are rare, precious, and so appreciated. The world needs more men like you. Men who are strong, brave, resilient, determined, loyal, and willing to love at a high cost because you understand the worth of the woman you hold in your arms. You are a testament to the masculine heart that encompasses both strength and gentleness, fierceness and kindness. Hearts like yours are worthy of respect, and I give thanks that you have chosen to love the woman in your life with such determination, commitment and resolve.

I understand how hard it is to love a woman who has been to hell and back.

Because the thing is, this woman carries in her heart a lifetime of pain that you didn’t cause. You didn’t inflict this pain on her. You didn’t hurt her. You didn’t damage her heart. You aren’t the reason she cannot fully love or trust.

But you are the one she pushes away. You are the one who tries to get close to her, to love her, but fails. You are the one she won’t turn to when she’s in pain, the one she won’t talk to when she feels alone, the one she won’t draw near to when she needs someone the most.

You are the one she hurts, because she is hurting.

And you don’t deserve that.

I know what that does to your heart. I know of the times you are so damn frustrated at not knowing what to do. I know you feel like no matter how much you love her, it will never be enough. I know you are exhausted at times, and are not sure how much more you can take of this storm. I know you feel confused and sometimes none of it makes sense and you lay awake at night and wonder if it’s worth it.

But the thing is, you’re still there.

You’re still there because something tells you this is worth it.

It’s difficult for me to tell you how to best love the woman who has been to hell and back. No situation is ever the same, and I have not the mind and heart of a man in your shoes.

But this is what I can tell you.

My original article was not written to condone abuse of any kind. Our society is vocal when it comes to domestic violence where women are the victims, but far less vocal to speak of men who are abused by women. It’s real, and it happens, and I understand how my article may have been interpreted in this respect and how that may have confused and upset you. But abuse is never okay, no matter from a man to a woman, or a woman to a man.

There is a difference between a woman who is hurting and inadvertently hurts others as she works through her pain, and a woman who justifies hurting others because she has been hurt, so that makes it okay. There is a difference between a woman who is willing to acknowledge that she has hurt others, who seeks forgiveness and redemption, and who strives to do better, and a woman who plays the victim card, blames others, and does not seek to change her ways but expects others to be her punching bag. There is a difference between a woman who struggles to love but does her best to give all she can to the relationship, and one who merely expects, takes, and gives nothing in return.

I know sometimes the lines can seem blurred, and because of this you struggle to know whether to stay or leave. But you are not obligated or responsible to stay there in the face of abuse. You must still, always, protect your heart. The woman who has been to hell and back needs to be responsible for her own healing. It’s not an easy journey, nor a fast one. There are many hard days, many times she will get stuck and not know the way forward. But the important thing to consider is that she is trying – for herself, for you, for your relationship.

No-one can tell you whether to stay or leave, only you can determine what you see in her heart, whether you see growth and change and promise, or whether you merely feel like her doormat. To love a woman who has been to hell and back is not easy. But it should never mean abuse, lack of respect, lack of boundaries, or that you become a scapegoat for someone who is unwilling to heal. This is something you must be able to understand the difference between in order to answer the question of whether you should stay or leave.

I can tell you that you are not responsible for fixing her, nor does she want you to. Men are fixers, and I understand it’s in your nature to want to make this better; make her better. But this is her journey. This is her pain. Her healing will not be pretty. At times she will be the hurricane and you will need to be the storm shelter – let her rage, let her anger and her fury and her pain unleash from her heart, let the weight of the trauma she has stored in her body for so many years come undone. Don’t fight it, don’t stop it, don’t fix it. Just be that safe place for her to come home to when the storm ends and the tears begin. You cannot fix her, you can only love her.

I can tell you the woman who has been to hell and back has a story written on her heart. A story which says everyone who should have protected her, didn’t. Everyone she trusted, hurt her. Everyone she loved, left her. She waits for you to continue the story, to be the next person to reject her, abandon her, hurt her. She expects it. She thinks it’s only a matter of time. And this is why she pushes you away, hurts you, leaves you, when you have only ever loved her. She doesn’t believe she is worthy of a love like yours, and believes it’s only a matter of time until you realise this too.

You asked me what it means to love harder.

It means you will need to be better than anyone else at love. It means you will need to love with more strength, more patience, more grace, more determination, more understanding, more perseverance. It means you will need to love her more than anyone else has before or will again. It means you will need to love her until she understands what love is, and believes in a love she’s never known.

It means you will need to love her hard enough to be the one to re-write the story on her heart.

But dear man, you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t everything she needs, and didn’t have everything it takes, to love the woman who has been to hell and back.

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32 thoughts on “Dear Man Who Loves The Woman Who Has Been To Hell And Back

  1. My God……….We and by we I mean my wife and I were just blown away by this truly wonderful piece. We have been through Hell and back several times , who knows we might have to numerous more times before our time on earth is done. My sister has deserted me because of my wife (my sister doesn’t like her) i have grown to except this because no matter what choice i would make wouldn’t please my sister. Our marriage has been through seperations, additiction, the loss of parents…….and the kind of hurt a human should never experience but we both have. Thank you Kathy Parker……..

    1. Terry, thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart with me.

      I’m so sorry to hear of the grief and pain you have suffered, in more ways than most ever should.

      I’m so thankful though to hear that you were able to reconnect with your wife, and that even though it has been hard, you are both choosing to let love win, and to love each other harder through the pain.

      Wishing you all the very best x

  2. I am a man who is deeply in love with this woman who has been to he’ll and back and is still there, she’s divorced and living on her own now…but I know love but when you say love her harder and more than she ever has, what is it in your meaning of living harder or more…anyone can say the love but to mean it or make it known is another thing, it’s not always the flowers or cards, but how do you show it if she’s pushing you away?

  3. A woman who’s been to hell and back…how do you show,or love harder if she keeps pushing you away, or distancing herself, shortens communications? I’ve already fallen in love with this woman, and do realize what her past is about…she pushed me away once before because she didn’t feel I loved or cared for her, when I had felt that it was to soon to tell her…in which case I was wrong and was something she said she wanted to hear, now I tell her and she is feeling overwhelmed with everything, feelings, past and present….need help, beginning to be confused and feeling lost.

    1. Patience dear friend. EXTREME patience. Instead of “telling her” what you think she wants to hear, why not ask her what she wants – period. Ask her what she is feeling. And listen, then listen some more. Remember to always clarify what she said by repeating back to her what she said. She will push you away many times. Love is about patience. She is most likely finally discovering what it means to be self sufficient and it’s a new and exciting and frightening feeling all at the same time. Again, patience. It will take a monumental effort on your part to show her patience. She expects you to run away. She’s been abandoned in the past. It’s all she knows. It’s because she was programmed this way by previous relationships. If you truly want to be with this woman because you believe she is worth the investment, then show her. Listen. Listen some more. Let her talk. And, let her initiate any sort of romantic gesture. Allow her to take the lead. She is scared. If she is discovering independence for the first time, it’s a new and empowering feeling. Let her feel. She has not been allowed to feel these things in the past. Give her the space she needs to experience these new emotions. Be there for her. All you can do is wait. And then wait some more. And if she wants to talk about her feelings, allow her the time to talk. Don’t try to rescue her or fix her. That’s not what she wants. Again, patience. It will be the most difficult love of your life, but if you hang in there and show extreme care and patience, and remind her that you aren’t going to run away, I can guarantee you that in the end, you will have the love you have always sought.
      A guarded heart has been destroyed in the past and is learning how to exist on its own.
      I should know – I’ve been where she is. I’m a victim and survivor of a sociopathic relationship. Heal with her. Time is what she needs and lots of it.
      Give her that time. Don’t rush.

      1. You are truly right, at the same time in torn as she is, my heart beats for her, but she says she doesn’t feel worthy, she doesn’t see herself as I do. She told me she looks in the mirror and sees a piece of sh*t..i look at her and see a woman who makes my heart skip a beat every time she is in my presents…i have seen these women go to he’ll and back, my mom was one, I’ve seen it all and have experienced it. I know that I can’t fix her or put her back together. I don’t want to I want her to do this but I want to be there for her when she needs. If only she could look through my eyes and see the woman that I see, she would then see how worthy she is of this love that she has not had or seen. I talk to her when she wants , and I listen and cry with her. This woman Is truly amazi g in my eyes and want to be careful and not scare her or make her hurt anymore than she is now. I believe myself to be strong, but at the same time I hurt as well because a big piece if me is missing and that is all her, her smile, her laugh and even the way she looks at me……i know more importantly that I have to listen, but any advice on what I should do more? Space myself, I just don’t want her to think I’ve already bolted at the first sign of trouble, which in no way have I.

        Thank you so much

  4. Kathy, thank you for your wisdom and insight. If you still have the contact information I sent you previously…if you would…if you are willing to…please PM my soul mate. It sounds adolescent I know…
    I have been a fool and I ache for her. I don’t want to be her lesson….
    I wish to be her prize.
    It will cost me everything….
    But I’m willing to pay it….
    We are soul mates and we both know it…and I’m dying more every day without her.

  5. My wife who left in October reposted your article the woman whose been to hell and back. Agter readinfg it poroabally fifty times im stoll blown away by the word’s. I sat amd tjough wjat many men have how can i love her back this article sums up mt wife especially now. And thr feelings im dealing with of how to weather the storm or even if i ahould. I know i should ive seen her heart more since reading this so tha k you

    1. Thank you so much – Im so sorry to hear of your wife leaving, and I hope that somehow through my words you are able to find healing and a way forward. Wishing you all the best x

  6. I’m reading this and crying as it’s truly my sad ,lonely life. How therapeutic for me to see my life in writing..I pray this will help me understand why I have tested and and pushed everyone , friends,men ,everyone.Thank You!

    1. Thank you so much for your beautiful words and sharing your heart with me. I’m so thankful my words found you and I hope they continue to be of benefit to your beautiful heart <3

  7. Some men are not built to love a woman who has been to hell and back. One of the last things @thiswornarmor said to me was “I want to love you the way you deserve”. He left the very next day without any indication he was not coming back and shut down all social media and changed his phone number. He is the sort of man who disappears on his way to get milk and leaves all of his belongings behind. “Soulmates” was just a word he used to weasel his way in.

    MEN, if you love a woman who has been to hell and back, don’t even try unless you are committed to her. Otherwise, you stand to cause more damage.
    Thankfully, I am strong enough to realize the issue was with him and not with me! I told him actions speak louder than words. His action told me volumes. He said he wanted to be my prize yet he was only my lesson.

    1. I am so incredibly sorry 🙁 I just cannot even understand, and my heart is with you at this time, and I thank God for the strength and resilience you have in your heart to know this is not about you. Much, much love you beautiful warrior <3

  8. After reading this I understand alot more. I’m new to this type of love, but I think she is worth every push away , every shutdown and every mad moment she has. These past few weeks of the last three months have been hard. I have left, stopped talking and have even gotten mad at stuff she has done but in the end she is worth it.

    Thank you

    1. Thank you Mike for your heartfelt words. Yes, it can be so hard at times. But also, so incredibly worth it. Thank you for being a man strong enough to love a woman who needs it more than you’ll ever know x

  9. Dear Kathy. I have read your article several times. It’s tough to love her. But like you said. .no matter how much you love her it will never be enough. She says that I have her heart but her actions say different. In her previous relationship her Ex committed suicide and that really put a number on her. It’s tough for her to receive love. I express my undying love to her every chance I get. Sometimes I think she doesn’t want to hear it so I back off. I’m still here in the trenches battling for her complete love. She is different from the others that I have dared in the past.

  10. Thank you for this! While I’ve not been through physical violence by a spouse, Ive been to hell my entire life with a dad who abandoned me during teenage years, to sexual abuse, to severe mental manipulation by my partner the love of my life, to a mother who was an addict and too many other counless things to mention. My partner and I got married and had a special needs daughter, (We met when I was 17 and were together 25 yrs). killed himself when my daughter was nine and abandoned me too. My mother had died just a year earlier. Ive been so devasted and different since then that Im not sure I know how to love and didnt know what to tell my new friend on why Im different than a lot of other women he has met. That he cant just fix me, I cant just be normal. This article was PERFECT. Thank you!!!

  11. Thank you for your words and instructions. I have found/placed myself in a relationship with a woman “who has been to Hell & Back”. Your words have helped me to understand what she is going through. Your words have helped me to Love her even more. I see the beautiful heart hiding behind those hurts. Your words have almost been like an “instruction Manual” for her. Thank you so very much and pray for me to be successful in “loving her better than she has ever known” !

    1. Thank you so much for you kind words Walter, I’m thankful to know my words have been of benefit to you and your relationship. Wishing you the very best in life and love, Kathy.

  12. Thank you so much for all of this.
    Your original essay was once sent to me by an incredible, but broken woman.
    It was a warning. But it was also a road map.
    I took every word to heart. I gathered by self and my soul, and was blessed by friends who drew close to my side.

    My friend, my love, suffers greatly. Mental illness and alcoholism. In many ways she is no different from any other alcoholic, but, as they say “this one is mine”.

    Time and again I reinvented our relationship. I brought all sorts of tools to bear to help, and I turned to find the support I needed.

    “Love Her Harder” is carved into a steel bracelet I wear 24/7. Its a reminder, a focal point, a source of power, and maybe, a little magic.

    As a single dad I have two wonderful children who love this woman who must be my first consideration. And when her drinking became something so out of control it spilled in to their lives, I drew a line. I would no longer allow her behavior, no longer cover for it, no longer make plans that would be cancelled, promises that aren’t remembered. She made accepting her “as-is” a condition of our relationship.

    The next time friends called me to collect her drunk form, I called her probation officer, not a cab. That was 8 months ago.

    A mutual friend asked recently if I still wear the bracelet “for” her. I said “No, I know now I can not do things for her. I do them BECAUSE of her.” I remind myself to be ready to help when she is ready TO BE helped. I know that love alone is not a cure, and love abused becomes a drug of enabling.

    I miss her terribly. I have guilt that I drew that line, no matter how much I know I did the right thing.

    And I know now that part of loving her harder, the really hard part, is loving her from afar.

    1. Ed, thank you so much for sharing your heart and your story, your words bring inspiration and hope that loving a person as they need to be loved doesn’t always look the way we think it should, but that protecting our own hearts, our own families, our own lives, must sometimes be the priority. Tough love isn’t easy, but necessary. I understand your pain and grief and the way you miss her. I hope and pray she is able to find her way through her hell and back to you, it sounds like she couldn’t ask for a better man to love her. Wishing you the absolute best x

  13. I swear on my blood that when I got to “Men like you are rare, precious, and so appreciated.” I started to crack up laughing. It took me a few good minutes to be able to continue the lecture. Appreciated?!
    His own soul put on a silver platter for her and a monument of her in his heart. Any man who reaches such a point once in his lifetime deserves to be called a hero.
    What am I to be called, Kathy, for having gotten there three times? I built as solid as I could, I stood still and took it all, I WAS there… and as many times I’ve been demolished to sheer dust. Appreciated!?
    Kathy, I know it’s not a joke. And I haven’t lost hope. And I have no freakin’ idea where my strength comes from. But no, Kathy, in real life men like me are not appreciated except in beautiful articles like this one here.

  14. Augusto, I am sorry for your pain. Your broken one can not appreciate you at this point in her life. Hell, that’s almost the definition of why she is broken. And I have been there myself. A year into a time where any offer of support is as likely to end in a call to the police as it is to end in a thank you.
    Demons posses bodies.
    I have come to think of my love as having a snake in her head.
    But there are those around you who see, and know, and are grateful.
    I am blessed that in my life another childhood friend went thru a dark time, she drank, she wrecked her marriage, her life, her career. She was in a DWI accident with her child in the car. She was in jail.
    Today she sees my fight, and not only is she my cheerleader, and my guiding light.
    She is my biggest fan.
    She tells me of how she could not appreciate those who loved her
    And she promises me that when Tara truly heals, she will know.
    She will remember what her eyes saw but her body could not react to.
    I hold on to that, that she’s in there somewhere.
    And if she isn’t, well then, YOU appreciate you, because you know you are doing what must be done.
    Don’t let the darkness take you too. BE the light. Be her light. Even if she is blind.

  15. I’ve tried to love the one I’m convinced was put here for me. She also shares the same thought.
    It’s long distance relationship for now. I’ve driven 4000+ miles in the last month to see her and be there for her. We have the best of times together and both feel so alive!!
    When I leave to come home, she barrages me with angry texts about leaving her and going back home to be with another woman. I’ve given everything to her, told her, showed her and nothing seems to be good enough. I’m truly heartbroken as this last time she has cut off all communication. I guess I’ll live the rest of life not understanding why she can not see the massive sacrafices I have made, just to see her smile. We are both 49 years young.

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