Experts Say These 9 Phrases Can Threaten Your Relationship
When a relationship isn’t going well, you know it. You feel disconnected from your partner. You fight, a lot. Or — on the flip side — maybe you don’t fight at all. Maybe you don’t even talk, but instead just exist in the same space, rotating miserably around each other. Some relationships have a slow decline into misery, while others explode in a giant ball of fire. But are there certain phrases that will end a relationship? Some therapists think so.
On the other hand, some experts think that there’s no one phrase that ends a relationship. . “I don’t think there is one magical phrase that could end any relationship,” Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT, tells Bustle. “There are four predictable ways to erode your relationship that will absolutely reduce happiness and increase the changes that the relationship will end. John Gottman, PhD calls them the four horsemen; criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. Your relationship is in trouble when any of the horsemen appear in your relationship.”
While most of us try to be kind and understanding with our partners the majority of the time, there are certain things that we say in the heat of the moment that can have a much bigger effect than we intended. Here are nine phrases relationship experts say to avoid.
1. “You Always ________"
“This is usually a phrase that, by itself might not end a relationship, but if repeated very well could,” Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship expert in Los Angeles with over 25 years working with singles and couples, tells Bustle. “I've seen it happen. Heres why. When we say ‘you always’ it is almost a certainty that your significant other does not actually do or not do, say or not say, something literally ‘always.’ This is an extreme word to use. If your significant other hears it enough, they may likely grow to distrust your judgment because you are painting them in an extreme way. Of course, it may be true in certain cases. For example, it might be accurate to say, ‘You always tell me you won't drink excessively when we go out, but then you do every time.’ If that's the case, then it would be accurate to say ‘always.’ Just be careful with this one.”
2. ”I Can't Take It Anymore. I'm Going To Leave This Relationship” Or "I'm Going To File For Divorce”
“These are phrases that should almost never be used in the heat of battle because we are not always our rational selves in the middle of an argument,” Dr. Brown says. “This is why I teach couples to never threaten the existence of their relationship during a fight. You don't want to threaten your relationship when you're upset.”
3. "My Ex Never Did This!"
"There is a reason they are an ex, and that's probably not the same one that the partner is currently complaining about," Kate Moyle, psychosexual and relationship therapist and partner at Pillow App for Couples, tells Bustle. "Anything that compares your partner to other people — a put down as a you versus X — is just not helpful and all it does is make that person feel bad about themselves, which can damage self esteem. It also means that people can then start to censor themselves and stop expressing openly how they are feeling, which is only going to cause more trouble for the relationship the more it happens."
4. "It Wasn't My Fault / I Couldn't Help It."
"You always have a say in every situation," Moyle says. "When you don't, it means that you are not taking responsibility for your actions. Don't portion blame or back away from admitting that you may have had a role in what went down. We all get things wrong, but being stubborn about saying it isn't helpful. Although nobody feels comfortable about admitting vulnerability or fault, it is important to do so."
5. " I Love You, But..."
"Love and being in a relationship with someone is about taking the rough with the smooth and accepting someones imperfections with everything that is great about them," Moyle says. "We are all perfectly imperfect and nobody should be made to feel that they are not good enough. Remember that you are two different people, two individuals and the way you think about and do things is going to be different based on your experiences, feelings and genetics."
6. "This Relationship Has Been One Of The Biggest Mistakes Of My Life."
This one comes from couples counselor Dr. Wyatt Fisher and it's pretty self-explanatory. Why would anyone want to stay in a relationship with someone who considers them a mistake?
7. "This Relationship Is Beyond Repair."
Another one from Dr. Fisher that I think any of us could imagine ending a relationship. If a relationship is truly beyond repair — to the point where you're willing to say it out loud — then it's time for it to end.
8. "My Parents Will Never Accept You — And I Need Their Approval."
This one comes from Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D. MSS, MA, Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist. Dr. Wish has witnessed firsthand the effects of this phrase in her own practice and says that it's a sure relationship-ender.
9. "I'm Done."
This one is from Dr. Fisher. Because if you're done? You're done.
Will these nine phrases end a relationship? Maybe. But they’ll certainly do some damage.