The way that someone speaks to another really matters, regardless of the context in which it is. In a romantic relationship, the way that you and your partner speak to one another is certainly important. Just because you're in a relationship with the person and the two of you claim to love one another does not mean that either of you can treat the other poorly or speak to the other in whichever way you'd like. If your partner ever says these things, they're toxic, and that's something about which you might want to know.
Dealing with the difficult, toxic, or emotionally abusive things your partner might say, even if they claim that it was in the heat of the moment, can be stressful and emotionally exhausting. And though it's possible that they didn't realize what they were saying and didn't recognize that they were crossing a line, hurtful and destructive comments aren't something you should just have to overlook. Reaching out to a therapist or counselor or someone else (like a family member, close friend, or organization with resources) who can be supportive and help you determine how to try to repair the relationship or extricate yourself from the situation can be your best bet. If your partner or your relationship is toxic, you need to make sure that you're taking care of yourself and doing what's best for you in the long-run.
1. "You're Just Like Your Mother."
Though some might interpret this comment as a compliment, if your partner knows that your relationship with your mother is strained or that you would otherwise likely not take this as a compliment, it's probably a toxic comment. Sara Stanizai, LMFT, tells Romper by email that this sort of statement is designed to malign or hurt you in some way, which is what makes it toxic and unacceptable.
2. "I Never Said That."
If your partner truly didn't say something, that's one thing, but this kind of statement often qualifies as gaslighting. Gaslighting is not OK in a relationship (any relationship), so if your partner employs this kind of talk, that's not a good sign.
"It's a huge red flag if the person has knowledge about the damage they are doing," Dr. David Hovey, PsyD, LPC, a counselor and psychotherapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "[T]he person who is willfully hurting the other rarely owns up to what they are doing. They usually stay in blame, acting like the victim."
3. "I've Never Had A Partner Who Does This."
Stanizai says that this comment only serves to compare you to past partners, which can be unnecessarily hurtful. "Anyone can accidentally say something — that's how we learn when we've overstepped," Stanizai says. "The important thing is to apologize and not do it again. If you notice that your partner keeps bringing up sensitive topics in a mean way, that is a red flag that the relationship is toxic." If these sorts of things come up again and again, it's definitely time to reevaluate if the relationship is the right one for you or not.
4. "Why Can't You Be More Like So & So?"
Hovey says that a comment like this one is toxic because it's designed to "belittle and demean the other person." Comparing you to someone else or asking you to change to be more like someone else typically isn't meant (or interpreted) as something complimentary or encouraging. They're not saying this to genuinely help or to be kind, they're saying it to hurt you.
5. "Don't You Think You Should Eat Something Healthier?"
If you're self-conscious about the way your body has changed (or even if you're not) and your partner says something about your food choices, that can certainly sting. And it's definitely a comment that, regardless of how well-meaning they might have convinced themselves it is, is actually toxic. "It's not intended to be constructive, or expressing any particular feeling," Stanizai says. "It's meant to harm."
6. "I'm Not The Problem, You Are."
"This indicates a lack of ownership of your partner's end of the relationship," Christina Vazquez, a psychotherapist and the author of The Uncherished Wife: Recover from the Emotionally Absent Man, tells Romper by email. "It is a shifting of blame and responsibility on to the other person."
If your partner won't take any responsibility for their part in any of your issues or complications, that's not a good sign.
7. "I Didn't Have A Choice. You Left Me No Other Option."
"If you ever hear this saying, know that it is absolutely not true," Vasquez says. "We always have choices how to respond or act as thinking, logical beings who can foresee outcomes, although we may not always like our choices." Again, your partner is blaming you, shifting the focus, and trying to dodge accountability. That's not OK.
Ultimately, there are a number of different things that your partner can say that are toxic. "What is crucial to a healthy relationship is pliability, honest reflection of one's behavior, and the ability to hear things we may not always like to hear, such as how our behavior affects the other person," Vasquez explains. "If these attempts fail, seek a qualified, trusted objective third party to mediate in hopes of getting below the surface of the deeper issues." Regardless of how you choose to proceed, you shouldn't have to go it entirely alone.