In the heat of the moment, we can all say some pretty crappy things to our partners. While most of the time they understand you were just angry and didn't really mean it, there are some phrases that can have a super negative effect on your relationship. David James Lees, relationship therapist and co-founder of Wu Wei Wisdom, says these are the 12 sentences you should never utter to someone you care about.
1. "If you really loved me, you'd do it."
This is emotional blackmail, according to David. It may not be on purpose, but subconsciously you're trying to manipulate and pressurize your partner into doing what you think is right because you either a) want to get your own way or b) believe you know best. "Saying this will create an imbalance and a power struggle in your relationship, which will lead to anger and frustration on one or both sides," David explains.
Say this instead: "I'm really interested to understand why you don't want to do this?" or "Tell me your thoughts on why you don't want to do it."
2. "You make me whole."
This can be a self-deprecating statement and it exposes low self-esteem and confidence. By saying it, you're implying that somehow you weren't totally content or satisfied before you met your partner, and are incapable of being happy with out them. It's dangerous ground. David says, "This statement creates an energetic imbalance in the relationship as it elevates your partner to a higher or more dominant status. In a healthy relationship both partners should be equal."
Say this instead: "Together, we are stronger" or "We make a formidable team."
3. "I wish things were how they used to be."
Ahh come on, we've all said it. When you're going through a rough patch or a bit of a tricky time, it's hard not to reminisce about the honeymoon period where you were banging 24/7 and having just one giant laugh together. "We cannot relive or recreate the past, so this type of statement is NEVER helpful. It also creates a sense of longing, yearning, and wishful thinking, which devalues the positive aspects of the current relationship, and corrupts and restricts it's future growth," David says.
Say this instead: "With all our wonderful times and fantastic history, we can create a better future for ourselves" or "Let’s work together and use all the lessons we have learned, so we never make those same mistakes again."
4. "You make me feel guilty for hanging out with friends."
Look, the last thing you want is to hand your feelings over to someone else. They're yours and yours alone. David says, "You are the creator of your feelings, not the victim of them, and so you'll only experience uncomfortable feelings of guilt if you actually believe you're in the wrong."
"First you need to take back control of your emotions: Do you believe you spend too much time with your friends at the expense of spending quality time with your partner? If so, change it. Do you think your partner has different expectations about how much time you should spend together? If so, begin an open and honest conversation about this by asking them directly."
Say this instead: "I'm unsure if I'm managing my time with friends correctly, I'm going to re-adjust it in the future" or "My friends seem very demanding of my time right now, what do you think?"
5. "You're so boring—you cramp my style."
Erm, this one is so mean and anyone who's had it said to them will know being called boring is basically the ultimate knife to the heart. "This is a very unloving and harsh statement, and no good can come from this adversarial position," David says. "Any negative criticism, comparisons, or judgements like this will always create harmful separation and division in a relationship."
Say this instead: "It seems like our relationship has become a little flat—I've got lots of ideas to pep things up, are you interested?" or "Do you think our relationship is the best that it can be?… How could we make things even better?"
6. "Why do you NEVER listen to me?"
It can sometimes feel like your partner never bloody listens, but David says this is one of the least helpful things to say. "This type of limiting statement is normally made in a long-term relationship where the value of healthy two-way communication is taken for granted or ignored, or one partner has become very dogmatic and blinkered in their opinions. Continually repeating this statement, either in a more emotional or aggressive tone, will also never work."
Say this instead: "Can we take a fresh look at this situation together?" or "Why do you think you're right on this? I want to fully understand your reasons."
7. "You're so selfish!"
If only I had a pound for every time someone said this to me (jokes). But it is an easy thing to fall out of your mouth when you feel you're not being heard. "This is a judgemental and critical statement, which attacks the person, not their actions, and will create separation and disconnection within a relationship," David says. "This type of adversarial statement is often be said in the heat of the moment, but beware; it'll box you into a corner, shut down helpful communication, and it's very difficult to undo the damage that it can cause."
Say this instead: "Your focus seems to be elsewhere right now, is this true?" or "Could you explain how that action/statement benefits you, me, or our relationship?"
8. "You've changed."
"This type of judgemental statement will never help develop or nurture a relationship. If you truly believe this claim, you also need to consider the possibility that you may have changed, too," David says. "A person or relationship can never be static or stay the same. To be healthy, vibrant, and flourish, both partners and the relationship itself should be allowed to dynamically grow and transform."
Say this instead: "We've both changed so much since we first met, how do you think we have managed?" or "What do you think has changed the most in our relationship?"
9. "I feel like you don't need me anymore.’’
We're human; it's nice to feel needed sometimes. But just think about how insecure this statement makes you sound. David says, "Many people seek out partners who are emotionally dependent on them, just to boost their poor self-esteem, but this isn't the basis for a healthy relationship."
"It's good to be in a mutually supportive relationship, but also one where your partner chooses to be with you simply because they love you, without manipulation, obligation, or pressure."
Say this instead: "How do you think our roles in this relationship have changed since we’ve met?" or "How do you think we are dealing with the way our relationship is developing?"
10. "Do you love me more than her?"
"If you ever have the need to ask this question, and you know it’s not about a minor pang of insecurity or jealousy, your relationship does need to be seriously re-assessed," David explains. "Everyone should be free to share their life and be in a relationship with whoever they choose, but if a third party enters and begins to destabilize the relationship, you owe it to yourself to confidently and calmly bring matters to a head."
Say this instead: "It's obvious you're in a dilemma; I'd like you to make your decision now, so that we can both positively move forward—either together or apart" or "When you make your decision over who you want to be with, we can then discuss our future."
11. "Don't leave me—you make me complete."
As well as being very insecure, this statement is also needy and manipulative—the holy trinity! "You must accept that a relationship will only be successful if both partners want to be together," David says. "If you ever find yourself wanting to make this statement, it's likely that your relationship has already broken down and may be beyond repair."
Say this instead: "I'll be very sad and upset if you leave, but I know I'll be better off being with someone who loves me as much as I love them" or "It will be a deeply shocking for me if you walk away, but I accept that no one should be in a relationship if they're unhappy."
12. "My ex would never do that!"
I can confirm it's horrible when the person you're in a relationship with compares you to an ex. It makes you feel angry, worthless, and insecure, which is never good. David says, "This is a very poor and comparing statement that'll only create separation and animosity in your relationship. If you don't believe your partner is treating you with appropriate care and consideration, this is what you need to begin to address with them."
Say this instead: "Could you please explain to me why you did that?" or "I don't understand why you did that."
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.