6 Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner, According to Psychologists
These phrases have no place in fair fighting.
While you've already been asked the easiest question of your life (and answered it without skipping a beat), there are plenty of other things you'll say to your partner that you'll end up regretting. Every relationship is bound to have its fair share of silly arguments, important discussions, stressful periods, and huge fights, and you'll need to weed through those experiences together. While relationship experts and psychologists note that it's perfectly normal-and even healthy!-to experience ebbs and flows in your love affair, there are certain phrases you should leave out of your fighting vernacular if you want to maintain a solid foundation.
No one is perfect, so remember that it's normal to slip up from time to time and let your anger or frustration get the best of you. Even so? Experts say to try your best to avoid saying these things to your partner, if you can help it.
1. "You always do _____________"
He or she might always remember to pick up your favorite flowers from the grocery store, or that you like your orange juice with pulp and your coffee black. But in the heat of an argument, you might find yourself backtracking to other things your partner always does that maybe aren't as thoughtful or sweet. The risky part about this phrase is that you're dragging up your relationship's past instead of focusing on the here-and-now, according to psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez. Remember: You're upset about the current situation and not your partner in general.
"You should focus on attacking the issue and not each other. Too often people resort to personal attacks as a means of winning an argument, but in doing so, they actually cause deep and wounding damage to the relationship," she notes. "If they focus only on the issue at hand, and make a point not to make personal attacks, they will strengthen their relationship, and their overall respect for each other."
2. "You never do_________"
Similar to "you always," throwing out "you never" is an absolute that can be dangerous to your connection. This overarching generalization is not a complete truth, considering that it's unlikely that your partner always drops the ball on your needs. They'll probably be quick to point out times when they didn't make you upset with concrete examples that'll only infuriate you more.
"If you come at your partner with these absolutes you're setting your partner up to be defensive and they will either come right back at you with something or they will shut down. Your time will be better spent if you focus on what the real issue is and work on resolving that together instead of hurling insults at your partner," Crystal Bradshaw, a psychotherapist specializing in relationships, explains. "These generalizations are loaded with judgment and criticism and no one likes to feel criticized or judged, especially by their partner."
3. "It's your fault that I'm unhappy."
Although many of your favorite memories and experiences have been shared with your partner, you might also be quick to blame them when you're going through a funky phase. The truth is, if you're unhappy in your relationship, it's likely a mix of disconnect and what's personally happening in your life. "You may be playing a very passive role in the relationship in which you are unhappy rather than being more proactive in finding a productive, healthy way to deal with," Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., says. "You shouldn't say this to your partner because it can decrease his or her self-esteem and can make him or her shut down, lash out, or both. Ironically, by saying this to your partner, you each may end up feeling even more unhappy and alienated."
4. "I'm not attracted to you anymore."
Even if you're going through a period where you're not as intimately or sexually attracted to your partner as you once were, telling them this is only going to be hurtful. As Thomas says, "Critical or negative statements made to a partner about personal things are notoriously some of the harder ones to forgive and forget." Instead, she recommends thinking realistically and considering how you'd want your partner to approach this feeling if the tables were turned. If they've put on some weight and it's made you less into them, suggest that you go to the gym together or try a new workout class. If they are skipping their typical sweaters or tanks because they're anxious about their appearance, it can be beneficial to remind them how much you love them, building their confidence, and inspiring them to get healthier and active again.
5. "How can you be so stupid?"
Your partner went over the budget that you've carefully mapped out so you can go on a one-year anniversary trip. Or they completely forgot the vino and your dinner party guests are arriving in five minutes. Even if you're boiling over because you feel like your partner wasn't considerate, Thomas says to hold back on the insults because they can have long-lasting effects. "Statements like this can cut right to your partner's core and permanently stay with him or her, eroding self-esteem, self-confidence, and the quality of your relationship itself, too. In a healthy relationship there is no justification or good enough reason for emotional abuse," she says.
6. "I don't need you."
While making an active decision to welcome someone into your life is healthier than depending on them wholeheartedly for your happiness, licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D., says that telling your partner they don't add anything of value to your life is a bad idea. Not only is it hurtful, but most couples want to feel needed by their partner, and it can be difficult to take that statement back in the future.