Are the following eight phrases part of your vocabulary when dealing with the love of your life? Remove these fighting words from your love lingo and you’ll reap the rewards. Don’t, and your relationship just might meet the grim reaper!
“Then I guess we shouldn’t be dating!”
You wouldn’t tell your boss you’re quitting your job unless you meant it, would you? But sometimes, in a relationship, people are tempted to pull out the nuclear option just to get the other person off their backs: “If you don’t like the way I season veal, then you’ll never understand me! We should just break up!”
Save breakup talk for when you truly want to end a relationship, not as a rhetorical weapon. Otherwise, you risk your match taking you up on the offer and leaving you crying over steak for one.
“Why can’t you be more/less like my ex?”
We all have exes that have taught us what we do and don’t like in relationships. But the person you’re with now wants to feel special, not like the sequel to a bad romantic comedy. Don’t make it sound as though you’re still hung up on the past. Tell your current love specifically how you feel and what you want, but in the context of the present.
“I’m just too tired from working all day to help you with that.”
Of course, you’re not lying – you probably did get exhausted from rushing around and dealing with your boss all day. But in the modern era, when most men and women have taxing jobs outside the home, this is the lamest excuse in the book. Remember, the man or woman you love is probably as exhausted as you, and even if they’re not, they shouldn’t have to pick up your dirty socks, move a couch by themselves, or take the kids to lacrosse practice just because you did a little work. If you’re really tired, ask to trade or defer chores. Or better yet, just do whatever it is eagerly and quickly, so you can have time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
“Let’s go grave digging!”
Have you ever complained to your loved one that they forgot to do something, and instead of apologizing they brought up something slightly similar that you once did? Everyone makes mistakes, but small infractions done long ago are not hooks to hang your hat on when you want to avoid blame for something you’re doing in the present. “You forgot to feed the dog five years ago!” is no excuse for forgetting to feed the cat today, and bringing up past transgressions simply leads to an escalation of blame and hurt.
“Do as I say, not as I do!”
It’s hard to come home and find that the kitchen is a mess, but… when was the last time you took out the garbage? If you’re going to criticize your spouse or your girlfriend or boyfriend for something they’re neglecting to do, it had better be something you do fairly consistently. Otherwise you’ll come off as a nag who wants the rest of the world to get busy while you put your feet up.
“You’re a lousy lover!”
You were hoping for fireworks – but your sweetie is a sparkler at best. Though you may be frustrated, the worst thing you can do in the moment is to ridicule or insult the person you love for their romantic performance. In intimate situations, when a person is sharing a very private and special part of themselves with you, they are at their most vulnerable, so angry words take on an especially hurtful tone.
If you want to heat things up, positive reinforcement yields better results than angry criticism. “I’d love it if we could stay in this position” works a lot better than “You never stop squirming!” Being a bully in bed might make your beau yearn for someone a little less romantically selfish.
“You knew I was this way when you met me!”
On the one hand, it’s not a good idea to get into a relationship with the intention of changing who someone is. But on the other hand, people naturally change as they grow older, often getting better at time management, financial planning, and social interactions. If one of you is growing and changing and the other is staying stagnant, that’s a big problem. Claiming that you’re allowed to go drinking every night or leave the toilet seat up because that’s what you did when the two of you started dating is effectively saying “I will never grow or change, so don’t invest any hopes in me.”
Rather than freezing your personality in time, address the issue at hand. Come to the table with some things you feel you can change. Then give logical, personal reasons why you prefer to stay the same about other things.
With all the relationship-killing things you can say, it may be tempting to say nothing at all. But talking and interacting with the other person is your principal job in a relationship!
If you’re not truly listening to your partner, and not expressing yourself – if you’re always saying “fine” or “no problem” – then your issues will never work their way toward resolution, and your partner won’t be able to feel close to you. If you stifle conversation, you’ll suffocate intimacy as well, and soon find your relationship breathing its last gasps.
These are all good things to avoid saying when speaking to a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even someone you’re just beginning to date. Are there some stock phrases you’ve said, or been told, that eventually led to a breakup? Let us know if there’s a phrase that rubs you the wrong way. And let us know if you’ve found some good alternatives to these phrases, to enhance the conversation and lead to greater closeness