Stop saying toxic things. Your words have more power than you realize.
This article first appeared on SHE'SAID' and has been republished with permission.
The new year is well underway, and this is about the time when many of us might be feeling guilty about already blowing that resolution to go to the gym every day, start waking up at 5am, or kick our addiction to sugar. Good news: a hot bath might be better for you than going for a run, science says you shouldn’t force yourself to be a morning person if you aren’t one naturally, and here’s an amazing, easy brownie recipe that will totally justify your sugar habit.
Even more good news: it’s not too late to make a resolution for 2018. And if keeping resolutions is hard for you (who isn’t it hard for?) you might try focusing on your relationships, rather than on yourself. After all, life is about relationships. But in our romantic relationships, after the initial infatuation has worn off and we get comfortable, most of us fall into habits that can slowly chip away at the foundation of our partnerships – like saying things that aren’t very kind. While some of these seem to be well-meaning, these are actually little digs in disguise. If you think your partner doesn’t know that, don’t kid yourself. No one knows you better than the person you share your bed and your life with.
Your words have more power than you realize. Do you want to be the person who lifts your partner up and makes him feel great about himself? Or do you want to wear him down and make him feel terrible? If you find yourself saying any of the following things to your partner, you might want to resolve to remove them from your vocabulary.
1. “You always…”
Any sentence that starts with these words needs to go. Focus on the specific instance you’re talking about, rather than making sweeping statements.
2. “You never…”
Similar to the above, it’s another exaggeration that weakens whatever you’re actually trying to say.
3.”Do you really have to do that right now?”
This is a pretty passive-aggressive way of asking someone to knock something off. If he’s doing something that bugs you, either come out and ask him directly if he could please stop, or remove yourself from the vicinity and leave him in peace.
4. “My ex always used to make a huge deal about my birthday.”
Comparing your current love unfavorably to past flames is not only silly, it’s mean. There’s a reason they’re your ex, right? Just don’t do this.
5. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
This is not an apology. When you do something that upsets your partner, the correct thing to say is, “I’m sorry.” Full stop. Anything else is passive aggressive BS. In fact, if you use this line, your partner is fully justified in breaking up with you. It’s that bad.
6. “You’re being too sensitive.”
This is one that men typically use on women, but it can go the other way, too. Anyone who’s trying to get around the fact that they’ve said something shitty is liable to trot it out. If you’ve hurt your partner’s feelings, try apologizing. If it’s about something else, try listening.
7. “No wonder you think that, considering what your family’s like.”
Talking smack about his family should be strictly off-limits, even if he does it himself. Let him vent – you keep a lid on it.
8. “You’re such a $%!”
Name-calling is never okay. Yes, we all get angry sometimes, and fights are part of a healthy relationship. But this is the person you’re supposed to love above all others. If he’s such a $%, then why are you with him? Tell him why you’re angry, but refrain from calling names.
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9. “Never mind – you wouldn’t understand.”
Cutting off a discussion midway because you’re feeling misunderstood or uncomfortable is understandable, but it’s also unfair. Your partner deserves a chance to hear you out and help you out.
10. “I don’t care what we do.”
Admit it. Most of the time, you do care, and if he chooses “wrong,” you’ll be annoyed. If you know what you want, ask for it. Don’t expect him to read your mind.
11. “Stop overreacting.”
This minimizes your and dismisses your partner’s feelings, and could actually be a mild form of gaslighting. If you’re lucky enough that your SO will open up to about how he feels, it’s best to shut up and listen.
12. “Are you sure you want to eat that?”
Policing your partner’s food choices isn’t a good look. If he’s struggling with his eating choices, maybeoffer him something healthy and make sure to keep the kitchen stocked with nutritious options, but don’t call him out on something he’s about to put it in his mouth. You’ll only make him feel terrible – and possible start hiding his junk food habit from you.
13. “If you really loved me, you’d…”
If you really loved him, maybe you’d stop being so manipulative and learn some healthier communication skills. Couples therapy is a great idea for everyone.
14. “You were in such great shape when I met you.”
And how does he look now? Ouch. Instead try, “You’ll always be the hottest guy I’ve ever met,” and maybe ask him if he’d like to start going to the gym together because you want to get in better shape.
15. “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.”
This kind of game-playing will never, ever be part of a healthy relationship. Yes, it’s annoying that our partners can’t read our minds. Life would be so much easier if they could. Alas, we have to actually be adults and use our words if we want people to know how we feel.
16. “You can’t do that.”
The reality is, you’re both adults, and you can do whatever you want. Try, “I’d really like it if you wouldn’t do that,” or even better, “When you (think he’s doing), I feel (how you feel).”
17. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”
If it isn’t really fine, don’t pretend that it is. Talk it out and get on the same page. “Actually, I’m pretty upset and I’d like to talk about it,” is all you need to say to get the ball rolling.
18. “If you ever do that again, I’m out of here.”
Threatening to end the relationship is just low. If he’s done something that’s a deal breaker for you, then either have a serious conversation with him about it, go to couples therapy, or break up with him. But don’t constantly act like you’ve got one foot out the door.