Fighting is a not-so-great part of nearly every relationship. Couples argue and disagree because people just truly can't agree on absolutely everything all the time. But the way that you speak to one another when you're arguing is super important and can tell you a lot about your relationship and the dynamic between the two of you. If your partner says any of these things during fights, your relationship probably won't last. And knowing that your partner isn't treating you the way they should be when they're upset or angry might be the red flag that tells you that the two of you might not work out long-term after all.
The worst fights between couples can sometimes raise slight doubts about the strength and longevity of the relationship. This is understandable, even though that's something that might make you concerned if it's happening to you or someone close to you. "Couples need to be better [at] controlling their emotions during high level conflicts, especially as it relates to the fight or flight response that takes away any protection for their partner that they might have had," Allen Wagner, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email. "Couples have to have rules in place to slow the progressions down, and regarding areas and things that are off limits. Once the safety and feelings of permanence around the relationship are gone, people become more open to others, and begin to look at the pros and cons of staying."
If you notice these kinds of red flag comments during arguments, it might warrant further reflection, discussion, and perhaps outside help to get to the bottom of things and determine if you're dedicated to trying to stay in the relationship or if it's time to move on separately.
1. "I Can't Handle This Anymore."
If your partner tells you that they simply can't deal with what's going on, that could be a sign that your relationship might not last as long as you thought. Dr. Brie Turns, LAMFT, the founder and CEO of The Family Therapist, tells Romper by email that everyone says different things when they're thinking about ending a relationship and that this is one of those comments that could give you a hint that that's on their mind.
2. "Maybe We Aren't Right Together After All."
"Couples have difficulty holding back raw emotion during high level conflicts, and while they may not always say what they mean, often it is what they feel in that moment," Wagner says. "When couples start to attack the long-term goals of their partner or their families and friends this can be hurtful but as most people know, this can happen." And when you hear your partner say something like this, that you're not meant to be together, it'll likely make you upset and start to question if you can trust this person and your relationship.
Pointing fingers and playing the blame game isn't a good tactic during arguments with your partner, so if they're doing these things to you, that's potentially a sign that things might not work out. Julie Ingenohl, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email that this is one of John Gottman's "four horsemen," which he found in research can hint that a couple might be more likely to divorce. Chances are you don't "always" or "never" do very many things, so your partner shouldn't accuse you of that.
4. "I'm Done."
Wagner says that this kind of comment can make you feel like your partner has abandoned you in your relationship and that can cause some big issues. "This overall lack of safety begins to build a wall of mistrust, and people tend to stop investing and holding back," Wagner adds. "When this occurs, people no longer show their parter their authentic selves, and things start to feel hopeless, and fake."
5. "This Just Isn't Working."
Turns notes that this is another way that some people indicate that your relationship is going to end. If your partner says that your relationship isn't working, that's not a comment that you should just brush off as nothing. "When fighting, the two individuals need to know that they are a team fighting the problem, not fighting one another," Turns adds.
6. Anything That's Them Getting Defensive
Defensiveness means that they're refusing to take responsibility for their actions, and most arguments aren't just one person's fault. Ingenohl says that this is another of Gottman's "four horsemen" and that therapists can help couples learn to communicate with one another without doing these sorts of things. But when in doubt, there are some things that you can do to model the sort of communication you should be using with one another. "When you are angry upset use 'I statements,'" Ingenohl advises. "Listen carefully to what your partner is saying to you. Repeat back to them what they have said so they know you understand. Take a pause before you respond so you are not defensive."
7. "You Need To Change X, Y, Z."
"These types of phrases say that only one person is 'responsible' for the fight, when in fact, it takes two," Turns says. "The manipulation should be confronted and if it isn't change, then the relationship needs to end. Manipulation is one of the biggest issues in relationships nowadays."
There shouldn't be conditions on you for your partner to be willing to stick around. If that's part of your argument, that's not a good sign.
Fighting fairly is important and knowing that how your partner speaks to you when you're in the middle of an argument matters when it comes to predicting the potential success of your relationship can help you take note when these kinds of comments crop up in your fights. Addressing them between the two of you or with the help of a therapist might enable you to move forward.