If Your Partner Ever Says These 11 Things, You Should Break Up
Almost every relationship issue can be discussed and improved, so if you're encountering a few problems with your partner, you'll definitely want to talk about what's going on before calling it quits. There are, however, a few comments and conversations that can be a sign it's time to break up. And this is especially true if they're toxic, and your partner brings them up constantly.
When that's the case, it's up to you to decide what flies and what doesn't in your relationship. "A dealbreaker is any behavior that is unacceptable to you," Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a NYC-based therapist, tells Bustle. So while one comment may be a dealbreaker in your friend's relationship, it may not be for yours. And that's OK.
Experts do agree, though, that there are a few topics that should almost always be considered dealbreakers in a relationship, usually because they're toxic in nature. In many cases, rude or hurtful comments are used intentionally in an effort to control or manipulate, which is obviously not OK. And other comments can serve as red flags pointing towards underlying character flaws that may affect your relationship in the long run. That's why, if your partner says any of the things listed below, experts say it may be time to move on.
1. They Say Something Extremely Rude To Another Person
Everyone's entitled to a bad day, and a few slip ups here and there may not be a big deal. But if your partner is consistently rude to others, it's a sign that they're a toxic person, and possibly one worth running far away from.
"Rudeness in general is a huge turn-off," Hershenson says, "and you should pay close attention to how your partner treats people who serve them, their parents, the elderly, and friends for an indication about how they might treat you further down the road."
While they may be super nice to you, if your partner is rude to servers at a restaurant, for example, then you may be getting a glimpse at their true character, and it might only be a matter of time before they turn that negativity towards you.
2. They Tell You What To Think Or How To Act
It may seem cute at first when a partner cares a lot about what you say or do. But this can easily go too far. "If you are [...] reprimanded for your thoughts and opinions, or are told who you can and cannot associate with, these are all huge red flags that you are in an [emotionally] abusive relationship," Hershenson says.
After all, "a healthy relationship is built on mutual respect, compromise, and open communication," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle, and that doesn't include being bossed around. Your partner should never try to set rules for you, Bennett says, even if it seems minor or innocent.
In fact, these are classic tactics manipulative people use, often as a way of getting a person used to be told what to do. And since it can escalate from tiny requests to full-on control fairly quickly, it's not something you'll want to ignore.
3. They Make Comments About Your Appearance
In the same vein, if your partner can't stop making comments about your appearance, you may be slipping into a toxic situation. And if they're doing so in a way that's particularly abusive or cruel, it should be a dealbreaker, Whitney Hawkins, MS.Ed, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle.
This is another manipulation tactic that can be used during emotional abuse, and one you should be aware of. Your partner has no right to tell you what you should or shouldn't do, or how you should or shouldn't dress. Not only can it damage your self-esteem, but it can also lead to other forms of control down the road.
If you are having difficulty breaking from this situation, speaking with a loved one, or even a therapist, can help you find the strength to move forward.
4. They Say "Everything Is Your Fault"
During an argument, it's typical to blame a partner for things going wrong, especially when things are getting heated. But your partner shouldn't be making every little thing your fault, or acting like you're the sole cause for the issues in your relationship.
"If their anger is always because you 'did something wrong' or you wouldn't fight so much 'if only you didn't act this way,' it is time to move on from this relationship because it may be [emotionally] abusive," Hershenson says.
In cases like these, reaching out to friends and family for support is a great place to start as you make the decision to move on. It can be tough to see these toxic situations for what they really are, but it can be much easier to do so when you have outside support.
5. They Threaten You In Any Way
In some cases, a relationship can become so toxic that one partner may start to talk about hurting the other, and then brush it off as a joke. But any type of comment that even hints at abuse or violence is a huge red flag.
"If your partner ever threatens to [hurt] you, it's time to leave," Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a relationship counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle. "Threats to [hurt someone], even if they are later taken back or claimed to be a joke, should always be taken seriously. Don't stay in a relationship with someone who would say such a thing. For your safety, it's time to get out."
Even if you're told it's a joke, trust your gut. In situations like these it's important to find a way out, while keeping your safety in mind. There are places you can call, like help hotlines, where you can get in contact with a professional and get the best advice specific to your situation.
6. They Direct Angry Outbursts Towards You
Whether or not they say anything scary like the above comment, it's also important to reconsider a relationship when a partner directs their anger towards you.
"Individuals who feel that they are being routinely criticized, yelled at, or verbally abused by their partner should consider their options and possibly formulate a safety plan," Hawkins says. "Your partner should not be calling you derogatory names or insulting your character. It's not always what you are fighting about, but rather how you fight. Couples should evaluate whether they are fighting fair and how their partner treats them in moments of stress."
While it's easy to brush painful comments off as an accident, be aware of the underlying meaning here, and the impact it can have on you over time. If it becomes an ongoing issue, and you don't feel supported or safe in the relationship, it is time to move on.
7. They Say They Don't Want Kids
If either you or your partner don't want to have kids, that's 100% OK. And it's also OK to talk about it, and agree as a couple about what you'd like to do. But if you've always dreamed about having children and your partner doesn't want to go down that path, or vice versa, it tends to be a scenario that leads to a break up.
"This is one of those decisions that I highly recommend [couples] discuss before marriage or making a long-term commitment," Hawkins says. "Often individuals think they will change their partner's mind and this does not always happen. This same logic can be applied for any other major life decision. Listen to what your partner is saying."
And believe them. No one is doing anything wrong by being honest, and it's this honesty that you'll need in order to make a decision about staying or leaving the relationship. If you don't want the same things, it likely won't work out.
8. They Say They Don't Want To Commit
When it comes to creating a long-term relationship, you and your partner obviously need to be on the same page. If you're looking for something long-term, and your partner isn't on board, it may be time to go your separate ways.
"If your partner consistently argues with you about making plans for the future or dodges this conversation, this is a red flag," Hawkins says. "Arguments about commitment can signal that there are bigger problems in the relationship and desires are not aligning."
Of course, you can talk about it, and you may be able to reach this stage eventually — especially if you both care a lot about each other and want to compromise. But if it's been years and you find yourself facing the same reaction time and time again, it may be best to break up.
9. They Say You Need To Change
Being in a relationship means growing and evolving as a couple, and that often means discussing each others' flaws, and working on them together. But there's a big difference between helping each other become better people, and demanding change.
So, does your partner make rude comments about your career, or encourage you to alter your personality in some way? "If your partner pressures you to change, it could be a sign they are controlling or toxic," Bennett says. "It can be acceptable if they are respectfully asking you to pursue positive changes that will benefit your health and well-being. An example would be helping you get healthier after a medical crisis." Or suggesting you both stop using your phones as often, as a way of reconnecting.
"However, if they ask you to change your personality or violate your core values," Bennett says, "this can be a sign of toxicity. Look also at their motives. If their reasons seem selfish or controlling, it's a red flag."
10. They Say They "Have A Lot Going On Right Now"
When people don't want to commit they often say things like, "I have a lot going on right now," or "I just want to take things slow," when asked about settling down. And that's fine. If your partner isn't ready to take your relationship to the next level, they're certainly entitled to that.
But if they're giving you relationship-y vibes on the one hand, while also pushing you away, you have the right to decide when enough is enough. And if you decide to leave, you may even be saving yourself a lot of heartache.
"Partners that make [this type of statement] are actually saying, 'we probably shouldn't be together, but if you decide to stay, you can't say I didn't warn you,'" Noni Ayana MEd, sexologist, principal consultant, and founder of E.R.I.S. Consulting LLC, tells Bustle. "This is clearly a manipulation tactic, that helps the waning partner stay clear of accountability and responsibility."
By weighing your personal situation, you'll be able to tell whether or not that's the case, and whether or not it's something you're willing to deal with until your partner makes up their mind.
11. They Constantly Threaten To Leave You
Again, it's common to say things you don't mean when you're upset, but that doesn't make it OK for a partner to hold the threat of leaving over your head.
As therapist Darlene M. Corbett tells Bustle, comments like this one can be a sign "of someone who is capable of being emotionally abusive." It's manipulative and is "used as a way to control and isolate," she says, so they can slowly erode your self-esteem — which is, in many cases, the goal.
If you find yourself having ongoing conversations about your future as a couple, or notice that you don't share the same vision, that'll be your cue to find another relationship, especially if you've discussed the situation and can't work it out.
Many times, comments that seem toxic usually are, and may even be a sign your relationship is becoming emotionally abusive. When that's the case, you'll want to seek help in getting out of the situation. Friends and family may be helpful, as well as hotlines that'll provide the correct steps to follow when it comes to getting out of a toxic situation.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.
Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, NYC-based therapist
Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle.
Whitney Hawkins, MS.Ed, LMFT, licensed psychotherapist
Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a relationship counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center
Noni Ayana MEd, sexologist, principal consultant, and founder of E.R.I.S. Consulting LLC
Darlene M. Corbett, therapist
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