Maybe you’ve heard the expression that we hurt the ones we love the most. Romantic relationships often push our buttons quite like nothing else.
Sometimes cutting, spiteful, or downright cruel things come spilling out.
But when you’re in a relationship, you need to be able to communicate effectively without hurting each other.
Words can do serious damage. Here are 15 upsetting things that should never be uttered in a relationship.
What are toxic things to say in a relationship?
1) “I don’t want this anymore”
This is an incredibly common way for people to end their relationships. It’s usually said after months of fighting, arguing, and bickering over petty things.
But plenty of people also use the threat during an argument in order to hurt or punish their partner. In reality, they don’t really mean it.
When they calm down, they usually take it back and want to try and work things through. But the damage has already been done.
Threats to break up, move out, or get a divorce is essentially lashing out.
The problem with saying this is that it doesn’t leave room for compromise. You can’t talk about what you both want and how you feel if one person is already done talking.
It’s a way of trying to get the upper hand over your partner and it closes down communication.
In the long term, it can have some serious implications for your relationship as it’s difficult to feel secure with a partner who appears to be uncommitted and wants to leave at the first sign of any problems.
2) “You’re not my type.”
We all have preferences in life, and the same goes for who we are attracted to. Many people have a “type” on paper, but real romance is more complex than that.
Even if it was meant innocently, saying to someone you are dating or in a relationship with that they’re not your usual type is a slap in the face.
It puts into question your physical attraction for them or your compatibility. And it can make them think you might be looking elsewhere.
If you find yourself thinking this kind of thing, ask yourself why. Is it because you secretly want something different from them?
If you are genuinely unsure whether you are compatible, then it may be better to wait until you know for sure before making such a statement.
3) “I wish I never met you.”
Ouch. This is perhaps the worst thing you could say to someone you care about.
There’s a huge difference between being upset about something bad that happened and wanting to cut ties with someone.
Even if you are having second thoughts about whether you want to continue with a relationship, saying you wish you had never met your partner ignores all the good times you may have shared.
It suggests that every experience you have had together was not worth it. And it also sounds like you want to see them go.
This is one of the most hurtful things to say to a partner or ex because you are telling them your life would have been better without them in it.
4) “You’re so annoying”
While this may seem like a harmless throwaway comment, it’s actually very insulting. It implies that your partner is irritatingly loud, obnoxious, or unreasonable.
It’s often used when someone is feeling annoyed by what another person is doing. But finding someone’s actions irritating and them being annoying are two different things. One is their behavior and the other is their character.
Calling someone annoying can feel like an attack on their character.
It’s also a form of passive aggression. By saying this, you are letting off steam while still keeping control of the situation.
5) “You’re too sensitive.”
Sensitive people can still be seen by some as somehow weak or needy. Telling someone they are too sensitive is a way of dismissing their feelings.
Everyone is different and responds to situations differently. When you tell your partner they are being “too sensitive“, you are essentially suggesting they are overreacting.
Even if you do believe that’s the case, it’s unfair to tell someone they are being overly emotional when they are trying to express themselves honestly. There are far more tactful ways to approach it.
Don’t assume that your partner is overly sensitive because they get upset by something that wouldn’t bother you.
Consistently shutting down a partner who is trying to communicate their hurt or sadness to you could even be considered gaslighting.
Rather than listen to them, disapprovingly calling them “too sensitive” can make them question their own judgments and reality.
6) “You’re boring me.”
Calling someone boring is always cruel and unnecessary.
Boring is a word that describes how dull or uninteresting something is. Saying someone is boring is a way of putting down their intelligence, personality, or interests.
It lacks both patience and compassion. It’s a way to make fun of them and is likely to trigger insecurities in your partner.
Telling your other half they are boring is a way to inflate your own ego whilst deflating theirs.
What is boring is incredibly subjective. Often when we say someone is boring, what we actually mean is that our needs aren’t being met in some way. We’re not feeling entertained, excited, cared for, attended to, etc.
Saying “You’re boring me” shows a lack of self-responsibility. It’s not the job of your partner to fulfill all your emotional needs. That’s down to you.
7) “You’re so stupid.”
Calling your partner stupid, dumb, or an idiot is a sign of a toxic relationship.
It’s a cruel insult that belittles someone’s intellect.
You might find yourself accidentally saying it in certain situations without giving it much thought. For example, when your partner doesn’t get something right away, does something wrong, or makes some kind of error.
But calling someone stupid is always a way of demeaning them. It is a way of showing contempt for them. Even saying “that’s stupid” can have the same effect.
You’re saying that your partner is ignorant, foolish, or lacking common sense — which is bound to be hurtful to them.
8) “I’m sick of you!”
Let’s face it, if you’ve been together for any length of time, then chances are you will eventually start to grow tired of each other at some point in a relationship.
Tiny things can start to add up and you feel like you need a little breather away from your partner.
It’s perfectly normal to get annoyed sometimes. Usually, it’s temporary and passing. One of you may be a bit impatient or irritable one day and you end up pushing each other’s buttons.
Even if the thought comes to mind that at this moment you’re sick of them, it’s best to keep quiet about it.
If you’re sick of them it says you don’t want to be around them anymore, and will probably sound more severe than you intend it to.
It implies a build-up of annoyance or exasperation towards your other half that you can’t cope with any longer.
If you genuinely have gotten to the stage where you’re sick and tired of your partner, chances are there have been a lot of things you’ve been failing to communicate with each other about.
9) “You always” or “you never”
If you want to get into an argument with your other half, accusing them of “always’ or “never” doing certain things is a quick way to get there.
We usually throw it around when our partner is not doing something we want. But these black and white statements are unfair because they suggest permanence.
Even if it feels like there are some habitual patterns that often show up, it’s accusatory to suggest it is 100% of the time. The overgeneralization disregards any effort your partner may be making.
It’s most likely going to get your partners back up and leave them feeling attacked. Not surprisingly, when we feel that way, we just get defensive.
That’s why saying “you always” or “you never” is a sure-fire way to close down communication.
10) “I don’t care”
“I don’t care,” can be used as a means of avoiding conflict rather than expressing genuine indifference. But it is incredibly passive-aggressive.
It’s similar to saying, “whatever”. On the surface, it sounds like you are refusing to engage, but in reality, you are making a dig.
When you use this phrase, you’re basically telling your partner that whatever they’re saying isn’t important enough for you to bother listening to.
It’s a way of dismissing what they’re saying. It can stimulate fear of abandonment and seriously damage a relationship over time.
When your partner tries to talk to you about something that matters to them, but you choose to ignore it, it makes them feel unimportant.
They might even wonder whether they matter to you at all.
Being in a relationship with someone means that you should care, even if at times you disagree with them or are feeling frustrated with them.
11) “Shut up”
This is a way of shutting down a conversation or a debate without having anything constructive to contribute.
It’s rude and aggressive, so using it towards your partner is definitely not OK.
If you think your partner has said something wrong, you need to address their concerns respectfully. You don’t need to resort to yelling or shouting them down.
Telling your other half to shut up, much like swearing at them, is verbally abusive.
It is far more of a reflection of you losing your temper, rather than reacting to something they have said.
Saying “shut up” is undeniably disrespectful and hurtful. No matter which way you look at it, it is a put-down.
12) “You’ve put on weight”
It’s not just statements about your partner’s weight. Negatively commenting on your other half’s appearance at all in an insensitive or casually insulting way is always hurtful.
Whether it’s about how they look, the clothes they wear, or their body shape, it is a way of belittling them. It’s in no way constructive and will only knock their confidence.
The worst thing you can do is make fun of your partner’s physical attributes. Don’t kid yourself that you can ever tease someone about it in a playful way.
We all want our partners to find us attractive, and comments like this might put that into question.
Insulting the way they look is going to strip away their self-esteem and could cause mental health problems.
13) “If you really loved me, you would”
This kind of phrase screams emotional manipulation in a relationship.
It paints your other half as a perpetrator and you as a victim. But someone who says this is far from a victim, they’re actually attempting to emotionally blackmail.
You might not be aware of it, but underneath the surface, this is controlling behavior. You’re trying to put pressure on your partner to do what you think is best.
You think you are right and they are wrong, and you want to get your own way.
There is nothing loving or romantic about this type of language. It’s manipulative and coercive.
14) “It’s your fault”
Laying the blame solely at your partner’s door fails to take responsibility for your role in the relationship.
If you’re blaming your partner for everything that goes wrong, then you’re not being honest with yourself.
It’s also unfair because it puts the burden of change onto your other half when really it’s both of you who need to step up and work out any issues together.
When you blame your partner for everything that happens in the relationship, you’re not taking ownership of your part in the problem.
Instead of pointing fingers, try working through problems together. This is a sign of maturity and respect.
15) “You’re pathetic”
Look at the definition of pathetic and it is fairly obvious why it’s one of the things your partner should never say to you— pitiful, feeble, inadequate, worthless. Do these sound like qualities we are all looking for from a romantic partner?
Even when your other half does something you think was wrong, being critical doesn’t help anyone. It makes matters worse.
It’s a form of bullying and verbal abuse. And it’s not fair.
Our partners deserve our love and support. They don’t deserve to be made to feel bad about themselves.
Your partner deserves better than to hear you tell them they’re worthless.
Never use words like ‘pathetic’ or ‘weak’. Instead, talk to your partner about what’s bothering you rather than projecting your feelings onto them.
Is it normal to say hurtful things in a relationship?
None of us are saints, and all of us have said unkind or mean things to other people at some point.
You may even be guilty of trying to think of the most hurtful things to say to your boyfriend or girlfriend, simply to try and get a reaction from them.
It often happens when we are feeling threatened in some way. Rather than be about the other person, it’s actually about us.
We may be feeling let down, hurt, angry, insecure, or vulnerable. At that moment attack can feel like your best form of defense.
Whilst it may be normal to say things we regret in a relationship from time to time, it still doesn’t make it right. If you find yourself using abusive language towards your partner, it’s important to stop.
The sooner you acknowledge the situation, the easier it will be to resolve. If you don’t address the problem it can become corrosive and ruin your entire relationship.
How to deal with an argument without saying hurtful things to someone you love
Arguments are inevitable in relationships. Sometimes, however, arguments become heated and start to escalate into name-calling and insults. But ultimately no one wins when you get angry. You both lose.
When you’re having a particularly difficult day, you can turn on each other. While it’s tempting to retaliate by calling your partner names, this only heightens the conflict.
Instead of getting caught up in the emotion of the moment, ask yourself how you could respond differently.
- If you’re finding it hard to keep calm, take a break. Go outside, go for a walk, or even lie down for five minutes.
- When you come back inside, sit down calmly and discuss the issue at hand. Consider writing down what you want to say.
- Make a conscious effort to express yourself more positively and think before you speak.
- Keep your tone positive. Don’t yell or scream. You’ll both feel better if you try to work out where you went wrong.
- Try to use ‘I’ statements, not ‘you’ statements. For example, “I feel like” rather than “you always”. This way your partner is less likely to feel attacked.
- Take responsibility for your part in the argument.
- Listen carefully to what your partner has to say. Be willing to change your mind.
- Agree to disagree. If you want to be in a relationship, you need to learn to compromise.
- Learn to accept that sometimes things aren’t going to go your way. Even though you might not agree with your partner, respect their point of view.
How to get over hurtful words in a relationship
Sometimes we say things we later wish we hadn’t. It’s easy to forget that the words we choose can leave a lasting impression.
You can’t control what others do or say but you can control how you react. When you’re angry, you may lash out verbally, and quickly regret it.
Depending on what was said, once the damage is done it isn’t always so easy to take it back.
When you have said hurtful things to your partner
- Think about what you have said and where you have been disrespectful or unreasonable. Then apologize sincerely.
- Acknowledge their emotions by actively listening to them about how it made them feel.
- You can try to explain what led up to you saying those things but do not try to excuse your words. It will only dilute your apology or seem like you are justifying your poor behavior.
- Understand that begging your partner to forgive you won’t make him/her feel any better.
- Acknowledge to them that you’ve done wrong and promise to do better next time. (This requires you to back it up with action, rather than simply promising with your words).
- Don’t expect forgiveness right away. You may need to build trust again after a fight.
- Try to put the incident behind you and move on.
When your partner says hurtful things to you
- Try to keep your cool. They may have resorted to unacceptable behavior but you do not have to retaliate in kind. If it helps, wait to respond and step back from the situation.
- Never allow anyone else to dictate how you feel. If you are hurt, know that your feelings are valid and you have a right to express them within your relationship. Identify the words or phrases that you found unacceptable.
- Remember that everyone makes mistakes. If you think your partner is being unkind, he/she could be having an off day. Whilst nobody should put up with abusive behavior, in a relationship, we do have to accept that nobody is perfect and people do say things that upset us occasionally.
- Do not let their actions affect who you are as a person or eat away at your self-worth. The way they behave is a reflection of them and not you.
- Try to get to the bottom of the reasons for what they said. What we say is more often a mask for deeper problems or issues that lie behind our words.
- If you’ve decided to forgive and forget, then let it go and try not to hold a grudge. If it is just an occasional argument, rather than a chronic pattern in your relationship, an apology could be enough for you to move forward.
Relationship coaching - done online
Find a coach from Relationship Hero’s network of coaches and finally achieve your relationship goals. Take a quiz, get matched, and start getting support via phone or video sessions. Affordable pricing + discounts available.