Sex & Relationships

If Your Partner Ever Says These 25 Things, You Should Break Up

#7 is such a red flag.

Originally Published: 
If Your Partner Ever Says These 25 Things, You Should Break Up
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From the outside looking in, it’s often easy to spot when it's time for a couple to break up, but it isn’t always crystal clear when you’re in the middle of it all. Any relationship will have good days and bad days, so it’s easy to brush off small tiffs or mean comments from a partner, especially if they’re quickly followed by a happy, cheerful moment.

Things can also get confusing if your partner is trying to control or manipulate you. At that point, even the biggest deal-breakers in a relationship can start to seem normal thanks to things like gaslighting. That said, once you know how to spot red flags, including the types of things toxic partners say, it becomes easier and easier to tell when a relationship is no longer good. And over time, you’ll be able to trust your gut.

If your partner says something rude, pointed, or slightly off-putting, don’t ignore how it makes you feel. According to Isolde Sundet, M.A., LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, it may help to let your partner know that their words hurt. If they meant nothing by it, it’ll be simple to clear things up — and it will never happen again.

Be aware, though, that truly emotionally abusive relationships will often be mind-boggling. A toxic partner isn't going to readily agree that they're being toxic, and when you add in gaslighting and lies, it’s tough to decipher what’s what. That’s why it’s often necessary to reach out to friends, family, a therapist, or a hotline for outside support and reassurance, especially if you’re finding it difficult to leave.

Whatever the case may be, if your partner ever says any of the things listed below, experts say it may be time to move on.


They're Rude To Strangers

Does your partner snap at servers, yell at Uber drivers, or say rude things to people on tech support lines?

According to NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, you should pay close attention to how your partner treats people in these roles, as well as strangers on the street.

While they may be super nice to you, how your partner talks to others is a sign of their true character and one that might be directed towards you in the future.


They’re Rude To Family Members

Keep an eye on how they treat their family and friends, too, says Hershenson.

You might have an opportunity to see them in action at a holiday party or a backyard get-together. If not, you might hear them on their phone with their mom or see how they text their brother.

While any family is entitled to a casual argument or two, take note if your partner is mean, demanding, or rude with their relatives all the time. Because if they can't be kind to their grandma? Well, that really says a lot.


They Say You Can't Go Somewhere

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Even if they try to frame it as a loving, caring thing to do, it’s never OK for a partner to prevent you from going somewhere.

According to Jonathan Bennett, a relationship expert at Double Trust Dating, a partner should never set rules for you, and that includes saying where you can or cannot go.

Even rules that seem to make sense can be a sign of a problem — like maybe they say you can't go to bars alone because it makes them jealous. It's something you'll want to discuss ASAP, but it should never result in you agreeing to some form of isolation.


They Say You Can’t See Friends Or Family

Similarly, a partner should never tell you that you can’t see your friends or family. Not only is that controlling, it’s also a common tactic for abusive partners who try to isolate their partner away from loved ones, says Bennett.

They often do this to prevent outside opinions from impacting how you view the relationship. If things are truly toxic, they won’t want you to tell your friends or your parents, as they’ll encourage you to leave.


They Tell You How To Think

Pay attention to a partner who tries to correct or change how you think.

According to Bennett, a healthy relationship will be built on mutual respect, compromise, and open communication, and that never includes attempting to change or manipulate what someone thinks.

In fact, telling a partner what to think is a common technique many manipulative people use, and it can quickly escalate from seemingly innocent comments to full-on control.


They Get Weird About A Lie

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If you catch your partner lying or suspect that they might be, Sundet recommends paying attention to their reaction when you confront them. If your partner swears they didn’t lie and does whatever they can to cover it up, that’s a huge red flag.

While some partners might admit that they messed up, toxic partners often lie and gaslight to save face or to get their way. If it seems like they’re willing to say or do anything to cover up a lie, take that as your cue to leave.


They Tell You To Stop Acting A Certain Way

A good partner will never make you feel bad for being you. They won't tell you to stop talking, they won't claim you're being "embarrassing," and they won’t say you’re being too much. So keep an eye out for these types of undermining comments.

On the one hand, if you're constantly rubbing each other the wrong way, it might just be a sign you aren't compatible, and it could be as simple as that. But on the other hand, these types of comments could also hint at underlying toxicity.

On TikTok, many people talk about their partner stealing their sparkle. If it seems like your SO won’t let you shine, go ahead and let them go.


They Comment On Your Appearance

If your partner can't stop commenting on your hair or makeup, your body shape, or what you wear, consider it yet another red flag.

This is a classic manipulation tactic that's often used during emotional abuse, says licensed psychotherapist Whitney Hawkins, M.S.Ed, LMFT, but it’s one that's easy to overlook or brush off as a funny comment and some people might even paint it as genuine concern.

Their goal, in many instances, is to ruin your self-esteem so that you don’t want to leave them or try to find someone else. And that's not OK.


They Direct Their Anger At You

Everyone is allowed to have intense emotions — to cry, yell, storm off, etc. But your partner should never direct their anger at you, take it out on you, or make you feel afraid when they get upset.

"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 [safe exit plan out of the relationship]," says Hawkins.

The same is true if your partner takes their anger out on inanimate objects. This type of fury can quickly escalate, so it’s best to get out as quickly as you can.


They Call You Names

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It’s also a good idea to leave the relationship if your partner calls you names, even if they apologize immediately afterward. Even if they claim they only said something rude "in the heat of the moment”, that doesn’t make it OK.

According to Hawkins, a good partner will never call you a derogatory name or insult your character or intelligence, no matter how upset they get. It’s a sign of immaturity, and it may also indicate that they don’t respect you.

While it's OK to argue in a healthy way, it's not OK for arguments to routinely turn toxic.


They Claim "Everything Is Your Fault"

Pay attention if your partner acts like you cause all the issues in your relationship because, for one, problems are never just one person's fault and secondly, that's a toxic and unfair mentality to have.

"If your partner is always saying you 'did something wrong' or they say you wouldn't fight so much 'if only you didn't act this way,' it is time to move on from the relationship," Hershenson says.

You deserve someone more mature who can take accountability.


They Threaten You

Any type of comment that even so much as hints at abuse or assault shouldn't be ignored.

In fact, if your partner ever threatens to hurt you, you should leave as soon as possible, says Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a relationship counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center.

After the fact, they might try to pass it off as a joke or promise that they’ll never do it again, and it might be tempting to believe them. But according to Bilek, this is one time when you shouldn’t let your decision be swayed.


They "Have A Lot Going On Right Now"

When someone doesn't want to commit, they often say they're too busy for a relationship — and that's fine. If some random person you met on a dating app isn’t ready to take things to the next level, they certainly don't have to. But it doesn’t mean they get to string you along, either.

This isn't about toxicity as much as it's about mismatched goals, so always take them at their word. If they're giving you relationship vibes one minute and then pushing you away the next, you have every right to decide enough is enough.


They Make Mean Jokes

If your partner ever says this, break up with them.

According to Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and author of The Joy Of Imperfect Love, you shouldn’t feel like you’re constantly the butt of a joke in your own relationship.

“It’s wise to pay attention to your partner’s words ­and the energy behind them,” she tells Bustle. “For example, some partners use sarcasm or joking to injure the other partner.” It’s only a joke, though, if both people are genuinely laughing.

Words can cause psychological harm when they are used aggressively or passive-aggressively,” she says. It chips away at your sense of safety, and it also reduces your sense of closeness.

That’s why, if a partner makes a pattern of weaponizing words, it’s important to take this toxic dynamic seriously and leave.


They Say They’re Always Right

If your partner has an “I’m always right and you’re always wrong” mentality, take note.

“These types of statements evidence an underlying pattern of black-and-white thinking that prevents connective communication and bonding,” says Manly. It’s impossible to talk with, much less argue with, someone who refuses to be wrong, and it can make for a very tough relationship.

This type of rigid thinking points to underlying emotional and mental inflexibility, she adds, and it’ll cause all sorts of problems down the road.


They Claim Everything Has To Go Your Way

Similarly, watch out for partners who claim you have to “have everything your way” at all times.

“Comments like this are often geared toward creating a sense of guilt within a relationship,” says Manly. It’s a way to make you feel bad about voicing an opinion, and it’s also another type of all-or-nothing thinking that’s unlikely to go away.

“This ‘me versus you’ type of narrative tends to be divisive in relationships as it works against the team-oriented mindset that relationships need to thrive,” she says. You want a partner who views you as a friend, not a foe.


They Refuse To Talk About The Future

In the same vein, you may want to break up if a partner refuses to talk about the future.

If you’ve been dating for a while, it’s definitely a red flag if they get weird whenever you try to bring up couple milestones, like meeting your family or planning a vacation. And the same is true for smaller things, like being wishy-washy about a date planned for next week.

Not only do you deserve to be with someone who envisions a future, Hawkins says that arguments about commitment can signal that there are bigger problems in the relationship and that your desires are not aligning.


They Tell You What You “Should” Have Done

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Whether they realize it or not, some partners slip into schooling their partner like a teacher, says Manly. This happens when they use “should” statements like, “You should have handled that differently” or “You should want to switch jobs.”

“Should statements tend to be shaming and controlling in nature,” says Manly. “When we ‘should’ a partner, the authoritarian tone works against intimacy and healthy communication.”


They Don’t Share The Same Stance On Kids

One thing you can’t compromise on in a relationship? Kids. This is why you should end a relationship if you can’t agree on if you do or don’t want to have kids.

"Oftentimes, individuals will think they will change their partner's mind," says Hawkins. It’s one of those topics that’s hard to talk about, too, so you might hope that it’ll resolve itself as time goes on, but it rarely works out that way.

That’s why it’s so important to talk about your vision of the future early on and take each other's answers seriously. If you don't want the same things, end the relationship ASAP.


They Say You're "Bad With Money"

According to social worker Jane Seskin, LCSW, the right partner will never make you feel like you're incapable of handling your own money.

If they offer to be the one in charge of your bank account, it could be a sign of impending financial abuse and it also might be a way for them to limit your access to money so you can't leave the relationship.

This one’s tricky, because it’s often presented in a way that seems romantic or helpful. A partner might pick up a bill or offer to pay your rent, but this is a slippery slope. The takeaway is to always, as much as you can, have some money of your own.


They Threaten To Leave

If your partner gets angry and threatens to break up during an argument, you may be able to work past it. But if they're constantly throwing this threat in your face whenever things get tough, take note.

As therapist Darlene M. Corbett tells Bustle, comments like this one are a manipulation tactic meant to slowly erode your sense of security and self-esteem.

If you're constantly afraid a partner is going to leave, you will eventually give in and stop arguing with them, sharing your opinion, etc. And for an emotionally abusive person, that's exactly what they want.


They Say You "Made" Them Do Something

According to Sundet, another common habit among abusive partners is blaming and then justifying in the same breath. They might say something like, “You made me yell” or “You pushed me to text my ex.”

Don't ignore this kind of pattern. "The truth is you are not single-handedly responsible for the emotional reactions of anyone else, including your partner,” she says. It’s just a way to wriggle out of responsibility, and it’s not OK.


They Say They Don’t Trust Your Memory

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Speaking of lies, let's chat about gaslighting and what it is.

Gaslighting is a "manipulative technique that can completely undermine someone's sense of value or worth, and perhaps even worse, can cause them to believe their own thinking is faulty," Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle.

If you confront your partner after an argument, they might say you aren't remembering it correctly or they might claim they never said something, even though you’re 100% sure they did.

They may also look at you funny and say they’re “worried” about you because your memory is “always wrong.” According to Rutherford, it’s a super confusing mind game meant to make you unsure of yourself, so they get to be in control.


They Claim You Don't Have Any Friends

If your partner is constantly making fun of your friends, claiming you don't have any, or saying yours aren't "good enough for you," take note. It could be their way of making you turn away from others so that you're more reliant on the relationship.


They Threaten To Harm Themselves

It goes without saying, but it’s a major, major red flag if your partner immediately starts threatening to hurt themselves or others whenever they get upset. "It is extremely important to not take these threats lightly," Sundet says. "Identify someone you can trust to confide in and consider seeking professional help."

Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the NDV Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit


Isolde Sundet, M.A., LMHC, licensed mental health counselor

Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, therapist

Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert

Whitney Hawkins, M.S.Ed, LMFT, licensed psychotherapist

Jane Seskin, LCSW, social worker

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, relationship counselor

Darlene M. Corbett, therapist

Dr. Margaret Rutherford, clinical psychologist

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