These are the 18 things you should NEVER say in a relationship, according to Tracey Cox – and here’s what to do if you’ve already blurted them out
- Sex expert Tracey Cox reveals the things you should NEVER say in a relationship
- Saying there things in a relationship one should never say as words are powerful
- Including ‘You don’t turn me on’, ‘You’re crazy’ and ‘You’ve turned into your mum’
Are there certain things in a relationship one should never say? Plenty!
Words are powerful. There are lots of things that, once out of our mouths, cannot be ‘unsaid’ and no amount of back-tracking, justifying or explaining is going to alter the fact your relationship has been changed forever because of it.
The really bad things (‘I don’t love you and never have’) we tend to shout in arguments; others (‘Your bum looks big in everything so yes; it looks big in that too!’) come tumbling out in moments of intense irritation. Either way, damage is done and sometimes it’s irreparable.
Think before you speak. Even in the middle of that red-hot rage.
Here’s some things that should NEVER come out of your mouth.
Sex expert Tracey Cox reveals the 18 things you should NEVER say in a relationship – and what to do if you’ve already blurted them out (stock image)
This is all your fault
A popular thing to sling at your partner when things haven’t gone your way. ‘It’s your fault we didn’t get invited to that party/live in the right area/our kids aren’t doing well at school’. For starters, it takes two to make a relationship work and fail.
If they are doing something that’s causing an unproportionate amount of damage to your life, call them on the specific behaviour. Laying all that’s wrong with your relationship at their feet is unfair and unworkable.
I don’t fancy you anymore/You don’t turn me on
Expert Tracey Cox says think before you speak. Even in the middle of that red-hot rage
Tell your partner they don’t look good enough for you to want to sleep with them or that they can no longer excite you and you kill your sex life with one sentence. How do they come back from this?
You’ve decimated their self-esteem and set alarm bells ringing furiously. It doesn’t just crush all sexual confidence, it’s a not-so-subtle hint you might go outside the relationship to satisfy your sexual urges.
And by the way, you’re also rubbish in bed/have a small penis etc
We often tack things like this on the end when we want to inflict pain but can’t really think of anything else constructive to say.
Nasty and spiteful, it literally hits below the belt and makes your partner doubt their sexual prowess from that moment forward.
Criticising things you partner can’t change – like penis size – is inexcusably cruel.
You’re effectively saying, ‘Nothing you feel or say is worth considering because you don’t have a strong grip on reality. Your opinion or judgement can’t be trusted’.
If your partner is going through a difficult time and feeling wobbly and vulnerable, this is even more unforgiveable. Otherwise known as hitting someone when they’re down.
BETTER THINGS TO SAY:
Take three deep breaths the next time you’re tempted to say something you might regret and instead…
Criticise the behaviour not someone’s character. ‘You’re crazy’ expresses contempt. ‘It’s crazy that you’re behaving like that’ expresses concern.
I feel hurt/angry/upset by what you’ve said/done. You are streets ahead if you use the word ‘I’ not ‘You’. ‘I feel this’ not ‘You’ve made me feel this’.
Can I explain why that really upset me? This lets your partner know you want to discuss the problem rather than hurl insults.
Do you think we should take some time out until we both calm down? Saying ‘both’ means you’re not pretending you aren’t also about to blow a fuse; asking rather than dictating means you want to work as a team.
Is there anything I’m not doing that would make you happy? This is going to get a very different result than accusing your partner of not loving you anymore. Ditto, ‘When we argued earlier, you said you don’t feel loved by me. What can I do to show you that I do love you?’.
I don’t understand why you’re so upset. Can you explain to me why? If you’ve just been busted having an affair with the secretary, this isn’t going to cut it. But if you genuinely aren’t sure how you’ve offended or upset your partner, it’s better than saying, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong. There’s clearly something wrong with you’.
We keep going around in circles with our arguments. Do you think we should get some professional help? Yup. This could be explosive rather than calming, depending on your partner’s view on therapy. But if you can’t solve recurring problems, therapy is just what you need – and the sooner you seek help, the better.
I hate you
Ironically, this is the sentence that packs the least punch for me. It’s reminiscent of saying ‘I hate you Mummy/Daddy!’ when you’re five and been denied sweets.
It’s so childish, it makes me want to laugh rather than feel deeply insulted. Having said that it’s still not pleasant to hear and I don’t recommend anyone say it lightly.
I would be deeply insulted if my partner said, ‘I can’t stand you’: that’s an adult phrase and far more sinister. But still not a patch on the most gutting, heart wrenching sentence of all…
I don’t love you anymore
Even relationships with strong foundations are completely destabilised by this statement. During your most bitter, mean, red-hot rows, you should know, deep in your heart, that your partner loves you. They might not LIKE you at this very moment, but they do love you.
Take that away and what do you have left? You need a lot more than love to make a relationship work but love is what motivates us to put in the effort and push through the bad times.
Easy to say in the heat of the moment but it has the opposite effect to what’s intended. If you mean, ‘Please listen to what I have to say/Let me finish’, say that. Otherwise, the answer from your partner will inevitably be, ‘Don’t you tell ME to shut up!’, followed by an hour-long rant.
The insinuation here is that your partner doesn’t have a valid point and is over-reacting to something. A man saying it to a woman is even more infuriating. As with ‘shut up’, telling someone to calm down when they are extremely upset inflames rather than soothes. It makes people more agitated because they don’t feel validated.
Body shaming – done in humour or said seriously – makes your partner’s self-esteem plummet. It’s not just a female thing: people of all genders and sexualities can be insecure about their weight or appearance.
No-one – but no-one – who has put on a few pounds needs their partner (or anyone for that matter) to point it out to them. (Unless of course you’re naturally a little too thin, in which case the insult is ‘You’re so skinny!’) Saying it makes the person feel unattractive and ashamed and neither of these emotions are conducive to giving them the positive incentive to eat healthily and exercise, if they do need to lose weight for health reasons.
You really have turned into your mother/father
Fine to say this if your partner admires their parents and would take it as a huge compliment. But if your partner has a toxic or unhealthy relationship with a parent, you’re pressing the ‘detonate’ button. It’s a rare person who doesn’t have the odd childhood issue rattling around in their psyche. If they’ve trusted you enough to tell you about it, throwing this in their face is inexcusable.
You made me do it
We’ve all been guilty of trotting this one out. It’s a semi-admission of guilt – ‘I know I did something wrong…’ – but shifts the bad behaviour onto your partner – ‘…but you drove me to it’. No-one makes anyone do anything. We are all responsible for our own actions.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE SAID SOMETHING HURTFUL:
Already blurted out something you regret? Doing this will help.
Wait until you’re calm. I am a huge fan of the 20-minute rule: next time you feel angry, take time out and do something that soothes you for 20 minutes. Call a friend, do some deep breathing, go for a walk. It takes 20 minutes for our central nervous system to return to normal.
Apologise. You need to say sorry. Just don’t follow that with ‘but’. Saying, ‘I’m really sorry I said you were stupid, but you made me so angry’, isn’t worth saying at all. The apology must be heartfelt, genuine and delivered without blame.
Your body language must match your words. Accompany, ‘You’re the most beautiful person I have ever seen in my life’, with a sarcastic eye roll and it’s clear you mean the opposite. Keep your face soft, look them straight in the eye, uncross your arms and legs, sit opposite your partner and, if it’s appropriate, touch them as you talk. Let them see you’re as upset by what you said as they are.
Explain what you did that was wrong. ‘Sorry’ alone won’t cut it. Saying WHY you’re sorry will. Show that you’ve thought through what happened and understand how that felt on their side. Make it clear you didn’t deliberately set out to hurt them.
Accept that you need to rebuild trust. You can apologise but you can’t erase what you said from your partner’s memory or heart. Be kind to them afterwards. Show them how much you care. If you want to make a grand gesture, show up with tickets to Paris but bringing a cup of tea, repeating how sorry you are and saying how much you love them will be just as (if not more) effective.
You don’t love me as much as you did at the start
Ah, here it is again. The good old ‘fairy-tale’ myth. The one that says if you’re ‘truly in love’ you’d feel and act the same as you did at the very beginning. Grow up! Sex and love five or ten years into a relationship are very different from what they were while you were in the grips of infatuation. Infatuation is the most unreliable love of all, based on superficial things like looks and hormone-driven lust. Long-term love – often called ‘real love’ by therapists – is the ‘warts and all’ variety. We see our partner as they really are and love them anyway. Mature adults don’t want to be loved like a teenager.
You’re wrong to be upset/angry/annoyed
You’re not in control of your partner’s emotions, so only they know how they feel. You might not understand why they feel a certain way but don’t attack their sensitivity.
I don’t care
It sounds throwaway and innocent but speaks to your partner on a primal level. Say ‘I don’t care’ often enough and they hear that you no longer have feelings for them or care what happens to the relationship. You’re physically there but have checked out emotionally.
You’re always or never…: It’s untrue – no-one ‘always’ and ‘never’ does anything. If you want your partner to give up completely on ever pleasing you, remind them they don’t ever get anything right.
Why can’t you be more like…
Comparisons kill. Who enjoys being compared unfavourably to someone else? Rather than make your partner adopt the qualities you believe are missing, it’s far more likely they’ll dig in their heels and resolve to do quite the opposite.
I knew this was a big mistake
This hints you had doubts right at the very start – the bit where everyone’s supposed to be intoxicated – and that you’ve been thinking about this before the argument even started.
Equally as cutting, ‘So this is why you can’t hold down a relationship/your ex left you’. It’s one small step away from…
I want a divorce/It’s over
These words should only come out of your mouth when you mean it: your marriage or relationship has eroded to such a point that you want to end it. Say them as an empty threat to scare your partner and you risk the relationship. That’s not all you risk: if you’re always issuing ultimatums and never follow through, you lose all power in the relationship.
Just as damaging as saying the wrong thing, is saying nothing at all. Sulking for days, giving your partner the silent treatment when there is an issue that needs talking about: what are you honestly trying to achieve here? Punishing them by stonewalling is one of the most destructive things you can do to a relationship. Problems don’t disappear if you ignore your partner, they build to an unbearable, unfixable crescendo.
Follow Tracey on Instagram @traceycoxsexauthor. You’ll find her podcast, SexTok with Tracey and Kelsey, here and details of her books and products at traceycox.com.