This Is the Worst Thing You Could Say to an Ex
Choose your words wisely when you're both so vulnerable, even if the love is gone.
Relationships end in all kinds of ways—from amicable to downright acrimonious. But no matter the cause of your breakup, if you are going to communicate with your ex, it’s wise to do so with dignity and mutual respect. Of course, with so many emotions—and so much baggage—in the mix, that can be hard to do with a former partner. However, some phrases are worse to say than others. According to relationship and communication experts, the absolute worst thing you could say to an ex is “I never really loved you.” Read on to find out why, and for the sentence you shouldn't utter to a current or future partner, here's The Worst Thing You Could Say to Someone in Bed.
Whether or not it’s true, saying "I never really loved you" is an unnecessary twisting of the knife. It also revisits history when the goal should be moving on instead. "This type of comment reinforces feelings of self-doubt and may lead them to question themselves in relationships going forward," explains Cassandra LeClair, senior lecturer in the department of communication studies at Texas State University.
“Saying something that undermines their security or sense of self is hurtful and damaging," she adds. "This includes bringing up a topic or area that the other person was or is self-conscious or insecure about, either in the relationship or within themselves."
Gregory Canillas, CEO of the relationship coaching business Soul 2 Soul, agrees. “Two of the worst things anyone could say to an ex is, ‘I never loved you,’ or, ‘Our relationship was a waste of time,’" he says. "Although often spoken in anger, both statements are deeply painful for the recipient to hear.”
Want to know how else you should tread lightly when talking to a former flame? Read on for more expert advice, and for a kind of platonic relationship that also requires care, check out The Worst Thing You Could Say to an Old Friend.
“I’m in love with someone else now.”
Sure, it was bound to happen: When a relationship ends, partners typically move on. But it doesn’t always happen on the same schedule, and gloating about your newfound love to an ex is unnecessarily hurtful.
“In many cases, one person still has some feelings even though you were not right for each other. And this is especially true if they haven’t met anyone else,” says Sandra Glavan, the founder of Super Sensitive Sandi, a resource aimed at helping people reduce and manage anxiety. “Even if you are in love and happy—that’s wonderful—but you don’t have to say this to your ex. You can simply say, ‘I am doing OK,’ as this is far more sensitive.” And if you're wondering if it's time for you to get back out there, here are The Signs You're Not Ready to Date Again, According to Dating Experts.
"I always knew it wouldn't work out with you.”
This might be a statement of fact, or it might be an expression of frustration and anger—but no matter the motivation, it’s not something you should say to your ex. “If you tell him/her how you were never happy in the relationship and knew the end was soon to come, it will make them feel shameful and inferior,” relationship expert Amy Olson warns. “You both definitely have a sour history, but now it is past you." And for more tips on navigating life with someone new, here is The One Dating Red Flag That Never Ends Well, Experts Say.
”We could have made this work.”
On the flip side, you don’t want hang on to the past after a relationship ends. You both want to move forward and find your happiness on your own. Suggesting that things could have been (or should have been) different hardly serves the goal of moving on healthily and with grace. “It’s not optimal to create additional and unnecessary feelings of longing and suffering when we don’t have to,” says author and life coach Aidan Park. “If you are not together, you are not together for most likely many reasons. Move forward with your life rather than try to create an emotional affair.” And for the signs you're in a toxic situation, here are The Tell-tale Signs Your Partner May Be Emotionally Abusive.
“I’m doing so much better now.”
If you’re doing well now, that’s great. But flaunting your post-breakup success only serves to pour salt in the wound… and it might come off as disingenuous anyway. “One of the worst things that you could say is comparing your old life together with how you're currently doing,” says alternative health expert Jeanine Duval. “Saying something [like this] is just hurtful for both parties, especially if you’d rather finish the conversation as soon as possible. It's always best to stay friendly.” And for more helpful tips delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.