5 Things to Never Say When Arguing With Your Partner, Therapists Say
How many of these have you said?
It's inevitable that you and your partner will argue from time to time. It may be something small, like who's supposed to do the dishes that night, but when emotions escalate, fights can cut a little deeper. No quarrel needs to turn into an all-out brawl, however—and no matter how big an argument gets, thinking about what you say before you say it can keep your words from making things worse.
Even during an argument (and perhaps especially then), it's important to remember that both your and your partner's feelings need to be heard and affirmed. If things are getting heated, it's okay to take a step back and re-group so you can gather your thoughts before coming back to a space where you're ready to talk.
Best Life spoke with therapists, who shared some things you should never say when arguing with your partner. Read on to learn what words or phrases to avoid next time you and your beloved find yourselves butting heads.
Invalidating statements like "you're overreacting," "calm down," or "it's not that big of a deal" can quickly add unnecessary fuel to the fire. Lee Phillips, LCSW, certified sex and couples therapist, explains that while you may not agree with your partner that something is a big deal, it's important to look at things from their point of view—and validating their feelings is one way to do that.
"With this process, you might even discover that you can find a solution together, where it doesn't matter whether either of you are right or wrong… the underlying pain is what really needs to be addressed," she says. "It's key to listen to your partner without letting your own feelings take over."
Natasha Deen, LCPC, owner and therapist at Golden Hour Counseling, adds that these phrases can come off as dismissive and patronizing. "Your partner may become defensive or be hurt, because it can feel like you don't care about what is making them upset."
"You're a #$@!%."
Throwing out hurtful words might happen in the heat of the moment, but it's best to try and avoid name-calling. Yelling and cursing at your partner or saying things like "you're an idiot" ultimately creates a pretty hostile environment. "This can also create a power dynamic where you hold power that is harmful to your partner by belittling them," says Deen.
When insults come into play, your partner may try to diffuse the current situation, rather than focusing on the problem that caused the argument, which will only prolong everything else. If your first instinct is to sling mud, you may want to take a step back from the discussion.
"I never said that."
Denying your partner's experience can feel like gaslighting, which is not only manipulative, but is a form of emotional abuse that makes its victims feel crazy. Speaking to each other like this will only intensify your emotions and put both of you on the defensive, Phillips explains.
"In other words, you are telling your partner how to feel, or you are assuming they are feeling some type of emotion," she says. If you and your partner can't stop throwing barbs at one another, it might be beneficial to seek out professional help.
"You always ___" or "You never___"
Extreme statements almost always lead to defensive responses. After all, most of the time these things aren't true—and such harsh generalizations don't leave a lot of room for real feelings and honest communication.
Deen recommends instead using "I" statements, such as "I feel ___, when you ___," instead of attacking your partner. "This more clearly states what the issue is, without blaming anyone, and more effectively communicates how you feel," she explains.
"We should just break up."
If you don't really mean it, threatening to end the relationship during a fight is a bad idea. Over time, it sends a message to your partner that you don't want to be in the relationship anymore.
"This makes it hard for your partner to trust that you'll stick around," Deen tells Best Life. Choosing to go the breakup-threat route also demonstrates that you run away when things get difficult, rather than taking the time to truly acknowledge the problem.
Phillips adds that your body language is key here as well. "I recommend not folding your arms, turning away, walking away, rolling your eyes, or picking up your phone when your partner is talking to you," she says.