The Mating Grounds

9 Practical Ways to Support Your Partner through Self-Harm

Understanding Self-Harm and How to Help Your Partner Stop

Self-harm is a challenging and sensitive topic, one that can make us feel uneasy or unsure of what to do. But if your partner is experiencing emotional pain and is resorting to self-harm as a coping mechanism, your love and support can make all the difference.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why someone may turn to self-harm, the signs to look out for, and practical ways to help your partner stop.

Reasons for Self-Harm

Self-harm is a complex behavior that can be rooted in past trauma, ongoing emotional pain, or challenging life experiences. It’s important to remember that self-harm is not a sign of weakness or attention-seeking but serves as a means of coping.

Here are some common reasons for self-harm:

– Coping mechanism: When someone is struggling with intense emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety, self-harm may provide temporary relief. The physical pain can serve as a distraction from emotional pain or provide a sense of control.

– Past trauma: If your partner has a history of childhood abuse, neglect, or other types of trauma, self-harm may be a way of coping with trauma-related symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, or feelings of worthlessness and shame. – Emotional pain: If your partner is experiencing challenging life circumstances such as relationship difficulties, job loss, or financial stress, self-harm may be an outlet for overwhelming emotions.

Signs of Self-Harm

Self-harm can manifest in various ways, and it’s essential to be aware of the different signs so that you can offer support and help when needed. Here are some common signs of self-harm:

– Behavioral changes: Your partner may start wearing long-sleeved clothing or refuse to wear revealing clothing, may become more isolated or withdrawn, or may have trouble concentrating or sleeping.

– Psychological changes: Your partner may engage in self-loathing talk or express feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, or worthlessness. They may also exhibit sudden mood swings and seem irritable, anxious, or agitated.

– Psychosocial changes: Self-harm can impact various aspects of life, such as relationships, work, and education. Your partner may struggle with interpersonal conflicts or may isolate from friends and family members.

They may also experience difficulties with work or studies due to lack of energy and concentration. – Physical changes: If your partner is engaging in self-harm, you may notice cuts, bruises, or burns on their body.

They may also have unexplained injuries or scars that they do not want to discuss.

How to Help Your Partner Stop Self-Harm

When it comes to supporting your partner in stopping self-harm, it’s essential to approach the situation with compassion and non-judgment. Here are some practical steps you can take:


Date somewhere different – A change of scenery can help shift the focus away from destructive habits and promote physical activity. You can try a new hobby or activity that your partner has always wanted to try, such as hiking or kayaking.

2. Encourage them to talk to a friend – Emotional support from loved ones can be crucial in helping your partner feel heard and validated.

Encourage them to reach out to a trusted friend or family member. If your partner is expressing suicidal ideation or thoughts, it’s essential to seek professional help immediately.

3. Listen to music together – Music can be an effective coping strategy and a mood booster.

You can create a playlist of uplifting songs that you can listen to together, or your partner can listen to on their own when they’re feeling down. 4.

Experiment with guided imagery – Guided imagery and meditation can be effective tools for stress relief and relaxation. You can try using a guided meditation app or YouTube channel together, or your partner can practice on their own.

5. Do something creative together – Art therapy and creative expression can be useful in promoting flow state and diversion from destructive habits.

You can experiment with painting, writing, or any other creative outlet that appeals to your partner. 6.

Remove harmful objects – Removing any objects that your partner may use to self-harm can be useful in promoting safety and self-control. If your partner is not comfortable with doing this on their own, offer to help them remove anything that may trigger the behavior.

7. Avoid pressure and confrontation – Compassion and empathy are key in supporting your partner.

Avoid pressuring them to stop or promoting shame and guilt. Instead, focus on offering emotional support and non-judgmental communication.

8. Maintain open communication – Building trust and honesty is key in your relationship.

Encourage your partner to communicate openly about their feelings and experiences and seek help if they need it. 9.

Encourage professional help – Professional therapy and mental health support can be crucial in long-term solutions and addressing underlying issues. Encourage your partner to explore therapy options and support them in finding the right therapist for their needs.

In conclusion, understanding self-harm and supporting your partner in stopping is not an easy task, but it’s an essential one for promoting mental health and well-being. Remember to approach your partner with compassion, empathy, and love, and seek professional help when needed.

With your support, your partner can overcome self-harm and thrive. When it comes to addressing self-harm, it’s common for individuals to rely on coping mechanisms such as distraction, physical activity, or talking to loved ones.

While these methods can be helpful in the short-term, they may not address the underlying issues that lead to self-harm. This is why seeking professional help is essential for promoting long-term solutions and addressing any recurring thoughts or feelings.

Coping Mechanisms vs. Long-Term Solutions

Coping mechanisms can offer temporary relief from difficult emotions or experiences, but they may not address the root cause of a person’s self-harm.

Therapy can help individuals explore these underlying issues and develop long-term solutions to manage their emotions and behaviors. For example, if someone self-harms as a way of coping with childhood trauma, therapy can help them process the trauma and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

It’s important to note that just because someone is seeking therapy doesn’t mean that their coping mechanisms are invalid or unhelpful. Rather, therapy offers a safe and supportive space to explore one’s experiences and develop a deeper understanding of oneself.

This understanding can lead to greater self-compassion, healthier coping strategies, and greater self-awareness. Therapy can help individuals develop skills for managing difficult emotions and experiences, such as stress reduction techniques, mindfulness practices, and cognitive-behavioral strategies.

Additionally, therapy can help individuals identify any patterns in their thoughts or behaviors that may be contributing to their self-harm. For example, if someone struggles with negative self-talk, therapy can help them develop healthier thought patterns and self-talk.

Encouraging Seeking Professional Help

If your partner is struggling with self-harm, it’s important to encourage them to seek professional help. Encouraging them to consider therapy or other mental health support can show your support and validate their experiences.

Additionally, seeking professional help can help promote long-term solutions and offer a safe and supportive space to address any underlying issues. When encouraging your partner to seek professional help, it’s important to approach the conversation with compassion and empathy.

Try to avoid using language that can induce guilt or shame, such as “you need to stop doing this” or “why can’t you just stop?” Instead, use language that centers on self-care and growth, such as “I’m here to support you in finding the help you need” or “It’s okay to ask for help.”

If your partner is hesitant to seek professional help, you can offer to research therapy options or schedule an appointment together. Additionally, you can offer to attend sessions with them or provide emotional support during the process.

Remember that seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness or failure but a courageous step towards taking care of oneself. Encouraging your partner to explore therapy or other mental health support can promote healing and growth and show your support for their mental health journey.


Self-harm is a complex and sensitive issue that requires empathy, understanding, and support. While coping mechanisms such as distraction or physical activity can provide temporary relief, therapy and other mental health support can offer long-term solutions and address any underlying issues that contribute to self-harm.

Encouraging your partner to seek professional help can show your support and promote healing and growth. Remember, seeking help is a courageous step towards taking care of oneself, and with support and guidance, any challenge can be overcome.

In conclusion, understanding self-harm and supporting a loved one through it requires empathy, compassion, and seeking professional help. Self-harm often stems from deep-seated issues that require therapy and long-term solutions.

It is important to acknowledge that everyone has difficulties, and seeking professional help is a courageous step towards finding clarity and happiness. With care, support, and guidance, anyone struggling with self-harm can find a path towards growth and healing.

Remember, there is always hope even in the darkest times, and seeking help is a powerful way to move forward and create a brighter future.

Popular Posts