How Saying Hurtful Things To Someone You Love Affects Relationships  

Unhealthy Relationship | | , Writer
Updated On: April 17, 2024
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We often say hurtful things in a relationship during a fight or a disagreement. In the heat of the moment, it doesn’t occur to us that we may be damaging the entire relationship by saying harsh words. We don’t take into account the emotional abuse we may be inflicting upon our partners.

Saying hurtful things to someone you love can cause lasting resentment. By the time we cool down and begin to understand how we might have caused pain, it is too late. Sometimes, a simple “sorry” just doesn’t cut it. That’s precisely why understanding the gravity of how insulting words can harm a relationship is of utmost importance.

If you know just how deeply rage can cut your relationship in half, you’ll have a good reason to stop saying mean things out of anger. To that end, let’s understand the seriousness of the damage that harsh words can cause.

How Saying Hurtful Things In A Relationship Affects It

Saying hurtful things to someone you love can have far-reaching consequences. The ability to communicate effectively without using harsh words can strengthen a relationship. But, when your partner resorts to verbal attacks and says hurtful things when angry, it weakens the foundation of the relationship. It can even lead to emotional abuse when the tension reaches the boiling point. So, why do we say hurtful things to those we love? People say it could be due to:

  • An inability to control one’s anger
  • One partner feeling superior and wanting to gain the upper hand in a fight
  • Partners taking each other for granted
  • The need to score a point
  • A partner trying to assuage one’s ego

There are hurtful things you should never say to a partner, as recovering from them may be impossible. If your partner says hurtful things when angry, you may:

  • Begin to fear their anger
  • End up in an emotionally abusive relationship due to the constant verbal attacks
  • Eventually end the relationship

So, tread carefully and always be mindful of how disrespect in a relationship affects it. It is easy to slide into the slippery slope to an abusive relationship. Here are 15 ways in which saying nasty things to someone you love affects a relationship.

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1. It scars the relationship and shows that you don’t care

Saying hurtful things to someone you love can be the beginning of an abusive relationship. A mental scar from the incident will always remain in your partner’s mind. They will feel frustrated, and that’s how saying mean things to someone you love causes lasting damage.

Claudia, a college student from Wisconsin, says, “My boyfriend says hurtful things when angry. But does he mean what he says when he’s angry? I’m constantly worried that things can escalate. If he can be verbally abusive, who’s to say he won’t take a swing at me in a fit of rage? Besides, every time he resorts to verbal attacks, it just chips away at the love and affection I have for him.”

Can someone truly love you if they say hurtful things? A Reddit user says, “Yes I believe so because sometimes we don’t know how to channel our attitude and it comes out in a negative or hurtful manner. We feel instant regret but if they have no regret obviously they don’t care at all.”

2. Your partner loses respect for you

When a husband says hurtful things, the partner feels disrespected. Over time, anger, hurt, or even fear can creep in. People say that once respect leaves a relationship, there’s often no hope of recovery. Also, a verbally abusive relationship can turn into a physically abusive one with a controlling partner. Both partners must embrace healthy communication to start rebuilding love, trust, respect, and connection.

Related Reading: How To Deal With A Husband Who Thinks He Does Nothing Wrong

3. Your partner becomes distant

The poet Atticus said, “Words will scratch more hearts than swords.” When a spouse says hurtful things to you, it often plays on your mind. You may regret your actions later and lament, “I said hurtful things to my boyfriend/girlfriend, and I feel awful.” But your feelings of guilt won’t make the hurt go away. If the tables were turned and your partner said hurtful things when they were angry, would a simple apology fix it all? Unlikely, right?

4. Saying hurtful things to someone you love can result in hostility

How to get over hurtful words in a relationship
Distance themselves from you

If hurtful exchanges of words are a pattern, it can damage the relationship in many ways. Here are a few instances:

  • Hostility and passive-aggressive behavior may seep into the relationship
  • A vicious cycle of revenge to hurt each other might creep in
  • There can be a complete lack of understanding
  • The victim may feel frustrated and may react aggressively
  • One or both partners may check out both mentally and emotionally

If your boyfriend says hurtful things when angry, you will feel upset the moment he loses his temper, because you know what’s coming. At this point, the relationship may be beyond the point of figuring out how to react when your spouse says hurtful things or how to handle your partner lashing out at you. If there are no corrective steps, the relationship will eventually end. 

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5. The frequency of your fights increases

When your spouse says hurtful things, it’s tough to forgive. There are chances that the topic might become a bigger issue in your future fights. And the cycle of saying mean things out of anger might continue. Practicing forgiveness in a relationship fraught with so much negativity isn’t easy. Every fight, argument, or new tirade becomes an act of picking scabs off old wounds, leaving them tender and hurting all over again. That’s how saying mean things to someone you love increases the frequency of fights.

6. Your partner feels unloved

When a partner says hurtful things when angry, they are essentially telling their significant others that they are not valued, respected, or cherished in this connection. In that situation, it is only a matter of time before they begin to doubt the sincerity of your feelings for them. Saying hurtful things to someone you love has many consequences including:

  • Low self-esteem on the victim’s part
  • They feeling vulnerable, unloved, and unappreciated
  • Creating the perception that you are taking them for granted
  • They doubting themselves
  • They going through feelings of emotional neglect

Among the most hurtful things to say to a woman/man are attacks on their appearance or their core personality traits. If you tell your partner that you hate the way they talk or that they annoy you enough to warrant abuse, they might start having second thoughts about how much you even love them. 

Psychologist Nandita Rambhia (M.Sc. in Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couple’s counseling says, “When it comes to emotional neglect and hurt, more often than not, people don’t realize that their words and actions may have a terrible effect on their romantic partner. It is often unintentional, which is why you should initially give them the benefit of the doubt.”

when a husband says hurtful things
Harsh words can scar the relationship

7. Resentment seeps into your relationship

When you say mean things to your boyfriend or girlfriend, it can have a lasting impact that can alter the nature of your relationship. Deliberately attacking each other’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses can cause resentment. The most hurtful things to say to your boyfriend or your girlfriend include attacks on their capabilities. Not only does the victim’s self-confidence shatter, but they also hold it against their partner.

Letting go of resentment in a relationship is difficult. The mean, nasty words compound into overbearing emotional baggage. Then, every time you disagree, you not only have to deal with the present problems but also the weight of this baggage. You can wonder how to get over hurtful words in a relationship all you want, but there is a good chance that neither of you will be able to forget the pain.

Nandita says “When it emotionally hurts, we tend to put all the blame on the person who hurt us. We think they’re terrible and insensitive, which usually prevents us from shifting our mindset. One should try to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view if they want to deal with the negative emotions.”

Related Reading: Does Your Wife Hate You? 8 Possible Reasons And 6 Tips To Deal With It

8. Your relationship turns toxic

You may say, “I said hurtful things to my boyfriend”, or “I lashed out at my girlfriend in anger and said some mean things” and yet get into ugly fights later. Well, it isn’t uncommon to experience guilt and vow to never resort to such behavior again. Yet, when the next fight takes place, you might find yourself doing the same thing.

If not checked, it becomes a pattern characteristic of a toxic couple. To break this pattern, you need to first understand why we say hurtful things when angry. It is because it is the easiest way to vent your frustration and pain. Also, it’s a lot easier than focusing on your issues and working on resolving them. Once you realize why you end up choosing the most hurtful things to say to your boyfriend or girlfriend, you can figure out how to stop it.

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9. You both start looking for love elsewhere

Saying mean things in a relationship can overshadow the love between the two of you. The most hurtful things to say to a woman/man result in:

  • Doubt about the relationship
  • Doubt about the respect left in the relationship
  • Doubt about the love in the relationship
  • Partners looking for an opportunity for a fresh start elsewhere
  • Higher chances of an emotional affair, which may drive the hurt partner further away from the one who hurts

It often doesn’t matter if things said in anger are true or not. At some point, most people will opt to cut ties with their current partner if the insulting words never seem to stop.

10. Impact on children

In case there are children at home, verbal and emotional abuse will significantly affect them too. Jane, a friend, confided, “I am just beginning to realize how severely my children are getting impacted by the toxic cycle we are in. Their grades have dropped, and they are no longer as happy while at home.” It’s clear that both parties must learn how to stop saying hurtful things when angry, if not for their sake, at least for the kids. If not, they may need to consider leaving the marriage peacefully

Related Reading: The 9 Fair Fighting Rules For Couples | By Expert

11. Damage to intimacy

“My husband called me a fat, ugly bitch during an argument,” said Jane. She continued: “And that very night, he expected physical intimacy. I felt sick to my stomach because that comment hurt. He knows that I am struggling with low self-esteem after the birth of our baby.” It doesn’t matter if hurtful things said in anger are true or not, the impact remains the same. It can cause irreparable damage to any physical intimacy, ultimately leading to a failed relationship. 

12. Impact on mental health

A continuous barrage of hurtful comments hurled at each other or one partner can have a devastating mental impact. Its also a sign that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. When a husband says hurtful things to his wife constantly, it results in a vicious cycle of verbal and emotional abuse that can lead to:

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-doubt
  • Guilt 
  • Isolation

It’s worth noting that the wife may very well be the perpetrator, resulting in mental effects on the husband. You must learn how to stop saying hurtful things to each other if the relationship is to survive. 

Here’s what a Reddit user says about the same, “My boyfriend says hurtful things and his words really affect me. I’ve asked him to be careful with what he says because a lot of the things he’s said to me out of anger will stick with me and make me feel insecure for a very long time. It’s extremely damaging to my self-esteem and security in this relationship.

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13. Impact on physical health

Hurtful words in the relationship can impact physical health/well-being as well. And physical health is one of the signs of a happy healthy marriage

Some of the negative consequences of hurtful words include:

  • Stress-related illnesses and increased susceptibility to infections due to a weak immune system
  • Cardiovascular issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and increased risk of heart attack
  • Gastrointestinal distress, such as indigestion and ulcers
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight fluctuations

Why do we say hurtful things to those we love? It’s a hard question to answer because there are numerous reasons. Anger, betrayal, and loss of respect for each other are some of them. In a perfect world, both partners would be on the same page when it comes to the health of the relationship. Thus, it’s important to take the necessary steps to resolve conflicts to avoid having a failed relationship on your love resume. 

Related Reading: 12 Warning Signs Of Gaslighting And 5 Ways To Deal With It

14. Long-term relationship strain

When your husband hurts you with words every time, thinking about a long-term relationship is tough. The same applies if your wife is the one doing it. An accumulation of hurtful incidences leads to resentment, anger, and emotional separation. Before you know it, the relationship strain makes divorce a very attractive option. Relationships are hard work, and only those who apply themselves accordingly thrive. It’s hard, if not impossible to imagine a future with someone who treats you badly.

15. Your partner abandons you

It doesn’t matter whether things said in anger are true or not. There’s a limit to everyone’s endurance. Your partner may not show that they want out of the relationship but might just silently observe you. When they realize that they can’t take any more of your toxic behavior, they will abandon you, which might even start off under the garb of taking a ‘little breather.’

How To Get Over Hurtful Words In A Relationship

Getting over hurtful words can be difficult because sometimes it is unintentional. But mostly, partners get into a vicious cycle of name-calling. Although it is hard work, it is possible to get over hurtful words in the following ways:

  • Acknowledge the feelings of hurt to your other half before you start to address them
  • Get clarity on why we say hurtful things to those we love, to stop the cycle  
  • Communicate effectively in a calm and constructive manner
  • Establish clear boundaries on what is acceptable as name-calling in a relationship 
  • Prioritize self-care to avoid the overwhelming impact of hurtful words
  • Focus on forgiveness but don’t accept the hurtful words
  • Work on rebuilding trust while addressing the underlying issues resulting in the  harsh words
  • Practice empathy to understand the hurtful partner’s perspective
  • Seek professional support from a therapist for guidance on how to start healthy communication

It’s possible to stop saying hurtful things to someone you love. Clinical psychologist Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res, Manchester University), who specializes in couples counseling and family therapy, says that communication is the key to setting fair fighting rules among couples, but they must communicate effectively. She says, “Two partners can sit down at a peaceful time and set down some ground rules in a relationship. They can promise one another to not become completely uncivilized during an argument. Such a discussion will prepare them to control an argument, when or if they get into one.” 

Since we’re all only human, setbacks are inevitable too and you may not get on the same page with regard to the relationship. When it feels like it’s getting too much and you can’t find a clear path toward growth, Bonobology’s experts and counselors can help.

Key Pointers

  • Saying hurtful things to someone you love can cause lingering resentment, self-confidence issues, and mental scars
  • Being disrespectful to your other half or toward each other can also increase the frequency of fights a couple has 
  • Disrespect can also cause couples to split or emotionally check out of the relationship
  • If you’re wondering how to get over hurtful words in a relationship, well, it requires healthy communication and seeking therapy

Whenever you find yourself wondering about how to get over hurtful words in a relationship, remember these wise words from the iconic Hollywood actress Julia Roberts, “I wish I were a little girl again, because skinned knees are easier to fix than a broken heart.” So, the next time you’re tempted to hurl a few insults at your partner, make a conscious effort to restrain yourself. Take a deep breath, walk away from the fight if you need to, and then revisit the issue when you’re calmer and more in control of your emotions.


1. Is it normal to say hurtful things in a relationship?

No, it is not normal to say hurtful things in a relationship. Something hurtful can slip out involuntarily once or twice during an argument. You or your partner might regret it instantly and ask for forgiveness. But saying mean things during all kinds of arguments is not normal at all.

2. Why does my boyfriend say hurtful things?

He says hurtful things because he probably feels a sense of power when you get upset. He may also be unable to control his anger or his words because, in all probability, he’s had toxic parents who threw hurtful words at each other.

3. What to do when your husband hurts you with words?

If your husband is sarcastic and says hurtful things, it may turn into a very difficult situation for you that can push you into depression. The best thing you could do is zone out when he is angry and not listen to a single word he says. It’s fine if he apologizes later. But if his behavior keeps troubling you, consider seeking relationship counseling.

4. Is it easy to forgive someone who said hurtful words to you?

Some people do have the habit of saying bitter things when angry, but then they would tell you they didn’t mean a word of it. They would apologize and do everything to ensure you don’t feel hurt anymore. In that case, it is easy to forgive someone who said hurtful words. But if this becomes a pattern, you cannot forgive every time.

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