Today in Detangle
Raise your hand if you tend to lose your temper during an argument with your partner. I do that too! When I first got into my current relationship, I used to say some pretty bad things simply because I would let my rage and frustration talk. But words can deeply hurt the other person and even ruin a relationship. Here’s what you shouldn’t say to your partner during an argument!
Sometimes arguments feel like a chess match, especially in a romantic relationship. This can happen when both partners strategically state their cases, presenting key evidence to prove they are right—like seasoned lawyers. And there’s also the boxing match-type argument, when partners are verbally duking it out, which ends up with both parties emotionally bruised and cut.
While arguments are normal in a relationship, it should never feel like you have something to prove. This usually ends up hurting the other one, which usually makes him or her act alike. It’s a vicious cycle.
There are unhealthy and healthy ways to go about an argument. An unhealthy one is when both you and your partner take your focus off of the issue at hand. That’s when the disagreement turns more into a fight than a productive conflict.
But what about healthy arguments? To get there, you first need to stop saying these 10 things to your partner when you are arguing. Check this out!
1. Things you’ve been mad about in the past
We’ve all been there: you’re arguing with your loved one, and suddenly you bring up something from the past. Or worse, you’re yelling about a totally unrelated thing that got you mad at some point.
Therapists name it “kitchen sinking,” and it is when you and your partner throw out all the complaints you have about each other in breathless run-on sentences. It’s definitely easier to do that, but it’s not helpful at all.
Doing this can make an argument toxic because the other partner may soon resort to counterattacks. It’s important to realize when you start doing that and stop, as it’s much healthier to focus on the one thing that got you arguing firsthand.
2. Character attacks
When you’re feeling upset, you may be tempted to put your partner in a bad light by attacking their character or calling them names. But harsh words will only make a disagreement worse.
According to relationship therapists, when a dispute turns from certain complaints, such as “You didn’t do the dishes as you promised to do,” to statements like calling your loved one “lazy” or worse, the other person automatically feels like this is a no-win argument. That’s definitely a toxic approach, and both you and your partner should stop doing that if that’s the case.
It will only make the two of you get defensive, which leads to shutdowns or counterattacks. No problem-solving can happen when your loved one’s character is attacked instead of their actions.
3. Threatening to cheat
This is definitely one of the worst things you can say to your partner during a fight. According to therapists, it’s usually thrown up when one party isn’t satisfied with the level of intimacy in the relationship. Some partners, experts say, may bring this up out of frustration with everything that is going wrong in the relationship.
In any case, threatening to have an affair is very destabilizing to the relationship and does serious damage to your loved one’s sense of security in it. Just think of how you’d feel if your partner said this to you.
Even if you’re just throwing it out because you’re mad, it’s better to focus on the problem at hand. I know it’s easier said than done, but it gets easier with practice.
4. Saying you’d rather break up
Threatening to call it quits is heartless and can make your partner feel anxious even after the argument. Similar to the cheating threat, it can wreck your partner’s emotional security. Unless you’re truly ready to end the relationship, never say this in the midst of an argument.
According to therapists, some partners may make this kind of threat during a fight, thinking that it would convince the other one to stop doing certain things. It’s manipulative, and it doesn’t bring anything good.
If it’s gotten to the point where both you and your partner are making these types of threats, it’s best to take a step back and calm down. Promise to talk about the issue in a few hours, or maybe the next day, when you can do this with cooler heads.
5. Questioning your partner’s love
It’s very important to keep in mind that, even in the midst of an argument, you’re still on the same team and you’re still a couple. Which is why asking things like “Do you even love me?” tend to be a bad idea.
Experts say that a disagreement shouldn’t invalidate their feelings for each other. By questioning your partner’s love, you’ll only worsen the situation, causing both of you to miss the point that caused you to argue in the first place. It’s possible to love each other and still have arguments. In fact, your feelings for each other will allow you to overcome the fight and learn something from it.
6. “Why can’t you be more like…?”
Comparing your partner to someone else, be it a friend or even a neighbor, can be seriously damaging. It basically raises the idea that you think your partner isn’t good enough for you and that you’d wish to have a different person as your loved one.
It’s important to know the reason why you said what you said. Is it because you may have too high expectations? Or perhaps you’re in an unhappy relationship. But if neither of the two describes you or your relationship and you still have feelings for your partner, chances are you’ve said it because you were mad.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t sometimes wish for your partner to be more like this or that. For instance, if you want them to have more patience, try to ask them, “How can I help you to be more patient?”
7. “You’re just like your mother/father.”
This is a card that some partners tend to play regularly, whether they are men or women. It tends to be brought up in relationships where one partner doesn’t get along with the other partner’s parent(s).
Drawing a negative correlation between your partner and one of their parents is like throwing gas on a fire. You can’t expect to solve an argument with your loved one if you say something like this. In fact, the whole disagreement can become worse.
According to therapists, those are the things that you can’t really take back. Even if you say you didn’t mean it, there’s still a shred of truth in you that believes this. The point here is that thinking your partner’s flaws are the same as their mother’s is one thing, but throwing them in their face is completely different.
8. Throwing around insults
Insulting your partner is very unhealthy and toxic, especially since insults can ring in their ears after the argument is over. When you’re feeling hurt or angry, it can feel good, and it’s tempting to sling an insult at your loved one.
Words like “stupid,” “pathetic,” or “worthless” can hurt the other person, making them either withdraw or counterattack. Moreover, personal attacks don’t help solve an issue. They only serve to arouse emotions. Whether you think the other person deserves those words or not, it’s always best to maintain respect and focus on the reason for the argument.
Talk about what you’re mad about or what your partner did to upset you without calling them names.
9. “I hate you.”
Here’s another awful thing you should never say to your partner during an argument. It’s no wonder why. Hate is an incredibly strong word, and by telling your loved one that you hate him, you’re basically saying that you hate him as a person, not just something that they did.
Maybe no one has ever told you that they hate you, but let me tell you something. These words aren’t easily forgotten. You can despise poverty, illnesses, or bad guys who do bad things, but you should never use that word on your partner, no matter how hurt or angry you are.
10. “I don’t need you.”
This is another hurtful example of one of the things you should never say to your significant other during an argument. We all want to feel needed by those we love. Telling your loved one that you don’t need them could even make your partner think that they aren’t enough for you.
According to therapists, this is usually what triggers those with abandonment issues. People struggling with this often fear that if they are no longer needed, they will be left or replaced by someone else. Here’s a book that may help you understand these issues better.
Instead of blurting these words during an argument, try to think about what may be making you feel this way. Are you trying to overcompensate for some feelings of codependency, perhaps? Or do you want to assert the fact that you could happily live without your partner? Consider what’s really happening instead of telling your loved one you don’t need them.
You may also want to read 8 Signs You Need Couples Therapy in Retirement.