Yes, communication is the key to a happy relationship. But that holds good as long as the communication remains healthy and constructive, and doesn’t escalate to saying hurtful things to someone you love. It’s okay to have a difference of opinion and let the negative feelings out. It all goes wrong when your harsh words become the reason for emotional abuse for another person.
For instance, “I am done with you. You are not the person I thought you were” or “Stop using your anxiety to get people’s attention” – these are pretty toxic things to say in an argument. And by the time you realize the blunder you have made, it might be too late to make it all go away with an apology.
Hurtful words once uttered, stay in their mind forever. So, we are here to give you a heads-up about the things you should never say to your significant other. But how do you fix a relationship AFTER saying hurtful things? How to fix contempt in a relationship and restore peace and harmony between you and your partner? We have suggestions for that too.
how saying hurtful things damages a relationship
We’ve all had our fair share of fights and exchanged angry, hurtful words with our partners. The problem is that a relationship feels weird after arguments, and it might not be the easiest task to come out unscathed from that setback. The thought of “My partner doesn’t appreciate me” sticks with you.
A few weeks back, my friend Sharon shared a similar situation with me, and I think our readers here can resonate. Her exact words were, “I can’t do anything right in my relationship. Everything I say is wrong to my partner. He calls me crazy when we fight. I have heard how negativity can kill a relationship, but never thought the same thing would happen to mine. I feel frustrated all the time. How long can I sacrifice my self-respect to save this relationship?”
Maybe not in a day, but if saying hurtful things when angry becomes a pattern, it can slow-poison the most loving, long-term relationship. Every person has their limit when it comes to putting up with disrespect and once that threshold is crossed, they would look for a way out. Here’s what happens when hurtful words take over a relationship:
- It becomes evident to your partner how less you care about their feelings
- It affects their self-esteem leaving them with a deep emotional scar
- They start losing trust and respect for you
- They would slowly drift apart, share less, and avoid your company
- Your rude behavior will make them more hostile leading to endless fights
- The situation might stoop as low as physical abuse
- Being hurtful to your partner leaves the door open for infidelity as they will look for love and comfort elsewhere
- You become the bad guy in their book forever
12 Hurtful Things You Or Your Partner Should Never Say To Each Other
When your spouse attacks your character for no reason or your partner is always bringing up past mistakes in relationships, it becomes difficult to remain calm. To defend your honor, you too might end up saying a few ugly things. Not your proudest moment, we get it. After all, it’s not a perfect world and we are not saints.
Or perhaps you are – you both are the most understanding, rational people, except getting drunk and saying hurtful things has turned out to be your most toxic trait. Your relationship is slowly drowning in the darkness of hatred. This is why, here are 12 things you should never say to your significant other:
Related Reading: 9 Things That Kill Long-Distance Relationships
1. What have you ever done for me?
We tend to ignore the efforts and sacrifices our significant other puts in for us. We see only our version of the relationship and tend to set our perception and opinions solely on those. When you are in the midst of a fight asking what your partner’s contribution to the relationship is, it’s natural for them to think, “My partner makes me feel like a bad person.”
Efforts in the relationship don’t always have to be spoken or reminded of. Your partner might have done a lot for you without you even knowing about it. Dismissing their value just like that is one of the most hurtful things to say to a woman or a man after all their hard work. You may label your spouse as a lazy husband or wife, or a selfish partner who doesn’t think about you. But when you cool down, you will see all the things they have been doing for you. Unfortunately, the hurtful words are already out in the air by then.
2. You just ruined my day
People in successful marriages/relationships understand that their partner is not responsible for the things going wrong in their personal affairs. No matter how bad a day you’ve had, you should never tell them that they are the cause of external or internal bad events. You might be facing some pressure at work or had a long day dealing with some family drama. Nonetheless, it doesn’t give you a free pass to lash out at your partner.
It’s possible you were just overwhelmed by your situation and didn’t mean it. When a person says one thing but means another, even then, nothing justifies blaming your partner for ruining your day. Just face it, it was already ruined. Imagine how you would feel if and when your spouse says hurtful things like these. This kind of behavior will only end up making your relationship toxic.
3. Look at them and look at us
“I hate my relationship but I can’t leave Randall. I wish we had what you and Josh have” – You could always confide in a friend and share your relationship problems. But you shouldn’t throw something so hurtful at your partner’s face. Every relationship is different. There’s no need to fall in the comparison trap; it could be the most hurtful thing to say to a man or woman.
If you have issues, talk them out. Don’t set another couple as a benchmark. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. What you’re seeing might just be a façade and not the reality of their relationship. They might ignore each other completely when no one else is around. Or they might truly be in sync. In that case, too, that’s a bond to aspire to and learn from, not use it to throw yourself and your partner under the bus.
Comparing yourself with other couples in front of your partner makes them feel demotivated and lowers their morale. But in the modern world of fake relationships and social media PDA, we end up comparing our love life with those projected in the virtual world.
Related Reading: What Are The Habits That Kill Romance In A Relationship? We List 7!
4. Why do you always embarrass me?
Such a thing happens when both partners belong to different backgrounds. Your partner tries to match up to your relationship expectations, but something or the other always lacks. Instead of appreciating your partner’s efforts for trying to fit into your world, you reprimand them for trying to embarrass you. Instead of introspecting on how you don’t learn enough about your partner and their struggles, you hold on to classist or ableist mentality.
It’s like when your husband says hurtful things when he is embarrassed with your lack of table etiquette at a party, or your wife makes fun of your outfit for the night. No matter whom this humiliation is coming from, you or your partner, the point is that you don’t think the other person is capable enough to match up to your perceived level.
That’s hurtful enough to damage your partner’s self-confidence and make them think, “I can’t do anything right in my relationship. My boyfriend/girlfriend hates me.” If you are genuinely interested in learning how to stop saying hurtful things when angry, you have to accept and welcome your loved one into your world instead of demotivating them with cruelty.
5. Your job isn’t as important as mine
“My husband treats me with contempt,” says Melanie, a 28-year-old kindergarten teacher from Brooklyn. She adds, “He would keep reminding me how insignificant my job is. Anyone can do what I do but as an investment banker, he is the superior one. What’s worse, my husband mocks me when I cry. I hate my relationship but I can’t leave because of my son.”
What should you do when your husband belittles you? Melanie’s narrative is the story of many households where one person is a homemaker or doesn’t make as much money as the other (irrespective of their gender). Every hurtful word uttered has its consequences and belittling your partner will only make them lose respect for you. No matter whose job is more demanding, a job is a job and everyone takes pride in doing what they do. Unless you respect that, this can create a permanent wound in the relationship that could be hard to heal.
6. You are my biggest mistake
Here’s another one of the examples of dismissive comments. Our reader Andrew writes to us, “My boyfriend always tells me to leave when we fight. Getting drunk and saying hurtful things is one of his many red flags. When he sobers up, he apologizes and makes amends. Should I try to make this work or just leave, like he tells me to?” Well, Andrew, you know what, we all have relationship doubts at some point, but it’s usually a phase. We discuss them openly and gently with each other.
Sometimes when things get heated up, we do tend to tell our partner that getting involved with them was a mistake. At this point, all the months or years of courtship are put into question just because of this phrase. Even though we didn’t mean it, our partner begins to think that we don’t love them anymore. However, this being said one time, in the heat of the moment, is understandable. If your partner keeps repeating it, there’s a good chance you are not as important to them as you think you are.
7. Why don’t you try being like him or her?
What should you not say in an argument? A hurtful comment that will judge your partner for being themselves. The moment you tell them to become like someone they are not, it hurts them a lot. They might not tell you how much it impacts them, but in reality, it cuts through their image, their ego, and their self-esteem.
They would start looking at themselves in a different way. You asking them to be like someone else gives them the idea that that ‘someone else’ could replace them if they didn’t change. It will make them overly conscious of their abilities, behavior, and looks. And that not only threatens the relationship, but also makes your partner feel that you could be cheating on them.
Related Reading: 15 Ways To Solve Relationship Problems Without Breaking Up
8. It’s your fault
No matter how hurtful, it is one of the most common things people end up saying in a romantic relationship. Many a time, one of the partners screws things up and you get stuck in the vicious cycle of blame-shifting. Even if they have made a mistake, there are other ways to tell them how it could be avoided and talk to them calmly instead of playing the blame game.
Your partner may not have committed the mistake intentionally and your hurtful words will only make things worse. If it’s the other way around, it’s better to acknowledge your own fault wherever you went wrong. Always telling your partner “It’s your fault” gives rise to more resentment in their heart.
9. I want a breakup/divorce
This is the most hurtful thing to say to a man or woman whom you have loved so dearly all these years. In a relationship/marriage, all is not roses. There will be times when you will not be on the same page and you would want an out. At this point in time, your frustrated self will start acting up and say things that you don’t even mean. Every time things go wrong, you may wish for a divorce/breakup.
You forget what your partner must go through after your impulsive outburst. They are probably worried sick thinking, “My husband said something I can’t get over. How can he ask for a divorce over a petty fight?” or “My girlfriend/boyfriend tells me to find someone else when mad. These breakup threats are getting under my skin.” Is it really worth ruining your world with your sweetheart? Think about it.
10. You are so selfish
There are times when you will feel that the relationship isn’t going your way. If your partner is not meeting your expectations, there could be many explanations behind their actions. Are you being unreasonably demanding? Is your partner in such a stage in their life where they need to prioritize themselves for their well-being? Think before you blurt the ‘s’ word.
Calling your partner selfish indicates that your partner doesn’t care for you, and this may not even be the reason for your lash-out. Think of all the sacrifices that your partner has made before saying hurtful things to someone you love. And ask yourself, are you being the selfish one in your relationship?
11. I miss my ex
Does your girlfriend keep bringing up past relationships because she still is not over a certain ex? It is sometimes hard for most people to move on after a breakup but this is no way to treat your current partner. You may be frank with your partner. That doesn’t mean you share your feelings about your ex regularly.
You need to understand that there are some things that you need to keep to yourself (or tell your close ones), otherwise, you will end up hurting your partner. Mentioning an ex and saying good things about them is okay, but doing this as you compare them with your partner is the most hurtful thing to do. Saying that you miss your ex often will make your partner feel like a rebound and they will start feeling inferior to that person.
Related Reading: Giving Up On Love? 8 Reasons You Shouldn’t
12. I am not in love with you anymore
“I am not in love with you anymore” – Doesn’t that sound like a final nail in the coffin? When your spouse says hurtful things such as these, your whole world seems to turn upside down. So, unless you are ready to end things with your partner, don’t ever think about using this phrase in any argument. In a relationship that has gone way past the honeymoon phase, there will be several ups and downs, and attractive singles luring you to get back in the game.
At this point, you may feel that you don’t love your partner anymore. Saying this to your partner will hurt them terribly, especially when they are so committed and dedicated to the relationship. Understand your feelings properly before you say such things..
How Do You Fix A Relationship After Saying Hurtful Things?
Marriages can survive many rough patches but repeating the things listed above can make them weak from within. It becomes difficult to get the same chemistry back once these words chip away at the foundation of your relationship, which is made from trust, emotional dependency, mutual respect, and most importantly, love. Your unkindness can take a toll on all of that.
Why do we say hurtful things in a relationship? Do we always mean it? Do we truly want to hurt the other person? Or is it because we just see them as a punching bag to release frustrations? No matter what your reason is, it’s time to seriously reevaluate the impact of these hurtful words on your partner. Given that you are here, we take that you are looking for suggestions to do some damage control. So, how do you fix a relationship after saying hurtful things?
- First of all, analyze the words coming out of your mouth during a fight or even a conversation. Did you genuinely mean what you said? If not, where did it all go wrong and what would be the right approach of expressing what’s on your mind?
- The next step is, of course, apologizing sincerely to your partner. Make sure you clarify what exactly you feel sorry about
- Acknowledge the fact that your partner is entitled to feel upset or even mortified after a war of words and may not accept your apology right in that moment
- It’s absolutely important that you give them the time and space they need to process their feelings and heal from initial hurt
- Remember, the blame game is never the right way to go about it
- Take full responsibility for your actions and words, at least when you are trying to make amends. Don’t come up with excuses to cover up for your rudeness
- Communicate effectively. If there’s something you wish your partner did differently, then sit with them and calmly explain why you want it handled this way and also listen to their perspective on the matter very patiently
- Show that you are sorry, not just say it. Apologize sincerely by expressing genuine remorse to regain your partner’s love and faith in you and the relationship
- Make it a point to yourself, and a commitment to your partner, that you will work on the issues that need to be addressed in order to check your temper
- Do whatever it takes, from meditation to reading books on anger management to going for couple’s therapy
- Control your own urges to say dismissive phrases like “Why are you so needy?”, “Here we go again!”, or “I am done with you”
- The damage in the relationship is already done and the remedy is that you be extra polite, affectionate, and respectful to help your partner heal from the pain. That will come effortlessly once you sort the interpersonal problems between you two
- Give it time; don’t rush the process
- Lastly, go all out with the romantic gestures to make them feel special and cared for again – From date nights, to gifts and flowers, to spending quality time with each other, just like the old days when you started dating
- Being hurtful to your partner will kill the trust and respect you have for each other
- Using dismissive, belittling comments to show them down will hurt their self-esteem
- Abruptly asking for a divorce or a breakup might weaken the relationship at its core
- You should identify the provocations that trigger you both to say hurtful things
- Effective communication, timely apologies, and genuine regret might help you make things better after a bad shouting match
I believe we are now pretty clear on “What should you not say in an argument?” Your partner will always remember what you said repeatedly and nothing that you do can take it all back. It will create a wall between you and your partner which only time can heal. By the time you both recover from it, you’ll realize that there’s nothing left in the relationship/marriage. So if you are saying hurtful things when angry, put a check on it immediately.
This article has been updated in July 2023.