55 Most Common Things Toxic Partners Say + How to Respond
Toxic relationships are like slimy, wilted, overwatered plants that are rotting in humidity with no sunlight stinking up the entire house (I hope that’s not too relatable).
Simply put, toxic relationships are ones where there is a constant tug-of-war between love and hate. Both emotions are experienced at their peak intensity as if the relationship itself suffers from bipolar disorder.
This constant oscillation between opposite emotions is what often makes toxic relationships addictive.
Toxic relationships come in all shapes, sizes, and intensities but some of the most common patterns revolve around some sort of manipulation, control, gaslighting, and blame-shifting, along with emotions of resentment and guilt.
All of these toxic behaviors are usually exhibited by toxic language patterns.
There are specific things toxic partners say and you’ll find these same patterns repeat in any toxic relationship regardless of nationality, culture, language, and literacy.
It’s almost as if we humans have a hidden code to turn toxic (don’t quote me on that). When it’s switched on, we all become pretty much the same kinda toxic people no matter where we are or who we think we are.
Breakdown of communication, explosive arguments, mistrust, and insecurity are all characteristics of toxic relationships.
Why it’s Important for You to Recognize Toxic Behaviors
When we are emotionally invested in another person, it can be quite difficult to recognize their toxic behaviors. Often the things toxic partners say seem usual and “normal” because we are so used to hearing them all the time.
In reality, such toxic language patterns can have a huge impact on the other person’s mental and emotional well-being, as well as their self-image and their perception of the world.
It’s crucial to bring these toxic language patterns into conscious awareness so we are able to respond to them effectively instead of absorbing them or reacting to them.
Top 55 Things Toxic Partners Say
Sometimes I just like to add a touch of humor to my content so it isn’t as dry as eating sand, but I don’t quite recommend you reply with the responses I’ve written to each toxic phrase (unless it makes you both burst into uncontrollable laughter and breaks the pattern then that’s fine!)
- You did this. It’s your fault: I might as well be responsible for hurricanes and tornadoes, who knows?
Jokes aside, this is a classic thing toxic partners say to shift blame and avoid personal responsibility. It’s difficult to make things better when your mind immediately tries to find someone else to blame for the problems you are facing.
- It’s not that big of a deal. You’re overreacting: Did I throw a chair through the window or something?
This kind of dismissive behavior invalidates the other partner’s emotions, making them feel that their feelings and concerns are unimportant.
- You being irrational/unreasonable: Totally, that’s probably why I’m listening to you right now.
Yet another way of dismissing and devaluing the other person’s thoughts and opinions. It’s okay to disagree but disrespecting your partner’s thoughts and emotions only destroys the rapport between the two.
- You’re overly sensitive: Spot on! I am indeed sensitive. That’s why I always cry at the end of Titanic.
It’s easy to label someone’s emotions are disproportionate when you don’t experience the same intensity of emotions about something.
- You’re just being insecure/jealous: Of course, I’m jealous! Who wouldn’t be when their partner is such a catch like you?!
Romantic relationships are prone to feelings of jealousy and insecurity at some point. It’s the nature of the relationship. Trying to find and eliminate the triggers that are causing the other person to feel insecure and jealous is a much more productive approach. Now of course, there’s a natural level of jealousy that all couples can feel and then there is a level that becomes unbearable and lead to toxic and controlling behaviors which must be dealt with appropriately and not tolerated.
- You’re insane/crazy: Thanks for the diagnosis. Now can I get a prescription for some ice cream to cure my craziness?
If your partner is going through a mentally rough time, it’s not very healthy to call them crazy. We all go through rough patches mentally and emotionally and during those times a supportive and understanding partner can make a world of a difference.
- Okay, fine, I’m sorry, but…: Ah, the classic ‘but’ apology. The equivalent of a backhanded compliment.
There’s a concept in Neuro-Linguistic-Programming that saying “but” after a statement often negates it. If someone is apologizing followed up with a BUT, you know their apology is just a formality. In essence, they were looking for a way to convey their explanation or blame after saying sorry.
A sincere apology doesn’t have ifs and buts. It’s just “I’m sorry” followed by a hug, not a “but”.
- Don’t be ridiculous: That’s like telling a bird not to fly, it’s what I do best!
Another dismissive phrase that shows that you aren’t taking your partner’s concerns seriously.
- You’re lucky to have me: Well, if being belittled and made to feel worthless by someone you love is lucky, then yeah, this might be the luckiest day to be alive!
- Your argument is not good enough. Do you know what else isn’t good enough? Your haircut!
- When will you change? It’s a slow process. Meanwhile, do you wanna grab a snack and settle in?
- You’re pathetic. Do better. Ah, I see we’re using the ‘constructive criticism through insult’ method again. Very effective and inspiring words. I’ll put them on a motivational poster to remind myself to be less pathetic next time.
- I don’t wanna be with someone who…: Let’s talk about who you wanna be with then. That will be a more productive conversation.
- If only you were…: If only I were a unicorn, I would be flying in the rainbows and wouldn’t have to put up with this.
- I doubt if I even love you: I understand. We all have our own doubts. I doubt if I ever liked your cooking. That paste you made yesterday gave me stomach cramps.
- If it weren’t for me…: If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to constantly need a vacation.
- Good luck finding a partner OR nobody would care for you like I do: Oh my, where would I ever find someone else who makes me feel so constantly belittled and unloved? You are a rare gem!
- You’re too skinny/fat/short/tall/dark etc: Don’t worry, I’m actually working on a revolutionary growth serum that will make me instantly thinner, taller, and the perfect amount of tan all at the same time!
- You need to do better in bed: And you need to do better at communication!
- Why can’t you get anything right? It’s all part of my master plan to lower your expectations so that you’ll be extra impressed when I finally do get it right.
- I wish you were smarter than this: and I wish you were funnier than this but we can’t always get what we want, can we?
- My ex used to…: Oh, your ex? The one who’s not with you anymore? Sounds like a great role model.
- Honestly, you’re not my type: It’s okay. Not everyone is blessed with good taste.
- I feel like I’m not ready to be with you: No worries, I can understand. I mean, I wasn’t ever ready for any of my maths tests either, but I still had to face them.
- This is how I am. You’ll have to adjust: I guess I’ll have to start practicing my patience and deep breathing exercises while stocking up on my favorite snacks and find a good Netflix series to watch while I adjust to your quirks.
- If you want me to stay with you…: Ah so we are negotiating terms here. Well, you gotta make those terms and conditions a bit more lucrative for me to consider, or else no deal.
- I promise I won’t do it next time. I’ll change: I’ll believe it when I see it, just like I’ll believe goats can fly when I see one with an official pilot’s license.
- I’m different. I’m not like other men/women: Interesting. What species do you specifically belong to? Do you have a scientific name?
- What do you want from me? Just your undivided attention, eternal loyalty, and a lifetime supply of cookies and chocolates. No big deal.
- You are not allowed to…: But I already asked my mom for permission. She says I can!
- Do as I say. I know what I’m doing: Ah famous last words. That’s what they said on the Titanic.
- You will have to make a choice between me and…: I’m kinda good at juggling, so can I have both? In fact, let me choose a large pepperoni pizza over any of the choices.
On a side note, sometimes an ultimatum can be productive, especially when setting boundaries. Just never use them for emotional blackmailing.
- You haven’t proven your love to me in all these years: What? Putting up with your loud snoring every night wasn’t enough proof?
- I think you shouldn’t hang out with them: But they’ve got the best snacks every time. Are you trying to deprive me of those snacks?
- Leave me alone: Fine, I’ll just make friends with this wall over here but you’ll have to promise to never come between me and my snacks!
- You are not fun to be around: And that’s not a very fun and exciting thing for you to say.
- Get a sense of humor: Do you have any recommendations for where can I get one? The holiday sale is just around the corner, so I may consider buying it.
- Have some common sense for once: You’re lucky to have someone with uniquely uncommon sense. It’s rare you know.
- You don’t make me happy: That’s right, I don’t. That wasn’t on my resume.
- I wish you were a better partner: If only I had more shares in our company called “marriage”.
- Why don’t you understand: I honestly don’t know. Tough question…need some time to think about that.
- You can’t even take a joke: Oh so you were joking? Umm, I guess you too should avail that holiday sale on humor. It’s 75% off!
- Get over it! I can’t, I’m not that tall… I can get under it if you like.
- You are just like your father/mother: Genetics you know. Can’t defy laws of nature.
- You are the problem! Says the pot to the kettle.
- I don’t care what you think. Great! now I don’t have to hold back on my honest opinions anymore.
- You always/never…(generalized statements): You’re starting to sound like my horoscope. ‘You always do this, you never do that.’
- I’m done talking: Does that mean I can finally get a word in edgewise?
- You can leave if you’re not happy: Oh no, what will I do without your negativity, criticism, and diva attitude? Just stop with these ultimatums, will you?
- You are just being paranoid/dramatic: Well, I was actually going for a ‘highly perceptive and intuitive’ vibe, but I guess ‘paranoid and dramatic works too.
- You are just like all other men/women. Yep, the same 46 chromosomes! Homosapiens it is.
- Who are you to give me advice on this? Just a humble expert in common sense and a concerned citizen trying to prevent a disaster. But if you prefer to go at it, by all means, be my guest.
- Your family drives me nuts: Really, can you drive nuts in 21 century? Is this a new thing?
- Look what you’ve made me do: I didn’t realize I had such powers to control your actions. Only if I had known earlier, I would’ve made you do some crazy stuff.
- The Silents Treatment: The silent treatment is a great way to win an argument…if you’re arguing with a tree.
Giving the silent treatment is a lot of work though. You have to avoid eye contact, avoid saying a word even when you REALLY want that trash thrown out or when you’re feeling really cold when your partner turns up the AC, and let’s not forget resisting the urge to roll your eyes or throw shade.
Gotta maintain that stone-cold persona you know.
After a while you start to wonder who’s really suffering during all this act, the one receiving the silent treatment or the one giving it?
A lose-lose situation, isn’t it? So next time whenever you’re tempted to give your partner a silent treatment, remember that talking is easier and won’t make you look like a moody teenager!
How to Respond to Toxic Phrases from Your Partner
It’s important to recognize that toxic phrases aren’t just uncomfortable things a toxic partner says, a lot of them fall under verbal abuse which can be extremely detrimental to a person’s psychological well-being and can alter their personality over a period of time.
If your partner is constantly throwing such toxic phrases at you, it’s important to not ignore such behaviors and let them slide. This must be dealt with head-on for the sake of your own sanity and quality of life.
Here are 7 practical steps on how to deal with and respond to toxic phrases from your partner.
1. Recognize the Toxic Language Pattern
Pay attention when the conversation starts to turn toxic. The more you pay conscious attention, the more you’ll begin to recognize the patterns of toxicity. You’ll notice the triggers that turn them toxic all of a sudden.
Paying attention and analyzing at the moment can be a bit difficult in the start because you’ll be caught off guard and often emotionally overwhelmed by their behaviors.
But once you begin to recognize their patterns, it won’t be all that confusing because you would be able to see it coming miles away.
I’ve discussed more strategies and insights in the in-depth guide on How to Fix a Toxic Relationship. Check it out HERE.
2. Pause and Detach
Once you realize that you are caught in a toxic argument with your partner again, pause mentally and try to detach yourself emotionally from the situation.
This will allow you to analyze the situation more rationally and come up with proactive ways to respond instead of reacting and getting caught up in the flurry of emotions
At times, it’s near impossible to pause and detach in the middle of a toxic argument or immediately after your partner said something awful. Allow yourself the time and space to process your emotions and the situation at hand.
This could mean going for a walk around the block or finding a quiet space where you could take a few deep breaths and reflect on the situation.
3. Communicate Your Feelings Effectively
If your partner crossed the line by saying something hurtful or condescending, it’s important that you convey what you feel and not let it slide.
Avoid turning this into a blame game or an argument. Instead, allow things to settle down a bit by taking a break and telling your partner in a calm tone that you want to talk about what just happened.
Use “I” statements to express your feelings and how their words impacted you, instead of using “You” statements as that will usually lead to a blaming tone, which will only make them defensive.
- “When you said X, it made me feel disrespected and hurt.”
- “I know your intention might not be to hurt me in this manner, but the way you just talked to me is affecting our bond and relationship.”
- “Let’s find a better way to convey our feelings and opinions without bringing each other down.”
- “Let’s take personal responsibility to have civil arguments without disrespecting each other or getting personal.”
4. Boundary Setting
The core reason why a lot of people say the most hurtful things to their partners is the lack of healthy boundaries in the relationship. Boundaries are what maintain respect in the relationship and keep things civil and under control when the relationship is going through stress-tests of life.
When there are well-defined rules and boundaries in the relationship that both people maintain, there is no crossing the lines no matter how intense an argument or conflict gets.
Both people know that these are the defined boundaries that they should never ever cross and they stay clear of even wandering near those lines because they realize the damage it could do to their relationship if they do down that territory.
I have several articles covering the topic of boundary setting in quite detail on this blog. To learn exactly How to Set Healthy Boundaries in a Relationship, you can Start Here.
5. Avoid Engaging in Toxic Arguments
Once you learn about the toxic patterns that are constantly repeating in your relationship by curiously observing and taking notice of the triggers, make sure you steer away from feeding into those toxic patterns.
A lot of times when we react to someone else toxicity without thinking first, we essentially feed and magnify that toxicity.
Having emotional awareness of yourself and your partner during that moment allows you to decide what might be a more appropriate and wise way to handle the situation and even break the pattern of toxicity midway.
No matter how tempted you are to react, stick to your boundaries and avoid getting caught up in the argument.
6. Seek External Support and Guidance
If the toxicity in your relationship has gone to the extent of verbal abuse, please make sure to seek external help. Involve a trusted friend or a close family member.
A lot of people are reluctant to seek therapy (partly because it can cost a bit but nothing is as valuable as your mental and emotional well-being). Seek the recommendation of a good therapist in your area and get professional help.
This will help you get unstuck and open up multiple possibilities to approach your particular situation.
7. Consider Other Possibilities
Despite all your efforts, if your partner doesn’t want to cooperate or change their ways, isn’t willing to set and respect boundaries, and doesn’t take responsibility for their behaviors, it might be time to seek a way out.
In some relationships, the toxicity may be so severe and persistent that ending the relationship becomes the best option for both people.
It is surely a very difficult decision to make, but also a very important one when your mental, emotional, and physical well-being is at stake.
Again, it’s important to seek external help while making this decision and do it in a way that is safe and respectful.
We can try our best to change our ways and try to influence the people and circumstances around us, but we cannot control them. We cannot make other people change. It’s crucial to remember that.
Usually, things begin to improve when we improve the way we approach things in our relationship and handle things more rationally and strategically instead of acting on autopilot and reacting to life.
But in certain cases, they don’t. At this point, it becomes essential to know when to keep trying and when to call it quits. Often a fresh set of eyes help us see what we are unable to see at the moment.
How to Recognize if You Are in a Toxic Relationship
Apart from toxic language, there are other telltale signs and behaviors that are commonly seen in toxic relationships.
Whether you’re just starting a new relationship or you’ve been with your partner for years, it’s important to know the signs of a toxic relationship so you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
If you are interested to learn more about the warning signs of a toxic relationship and how to identify behaviors that might be harmful to you, read this quick guide to gain more insights about your relationship.
Healing from a Toxic Relationship
Healing from a toxic relationship can be a slow and long journey, but it’s also an opportunity to start fresh and rediscover yourself.
Whether you’ve decided to leave a toxic relationship or you’re still in the process of fixing your relationship with your partner along with untangling yourself, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that healing is possible.
It’s okay to feel angry, sad, and confused. Give yourself the time you need to process those emotions.
Focus on things that make you feel good, whether it’s going for a walk, taking a bubble bath, or treating yourself to your favorite meal. Immerse yourself in things that help you feel more centered and grounded.
Taking care of yourself also means surrounding yourself with people who understand and support you on this journey, and who are a source of positive influence.
Remember that healing from a toxic relationship can take time and effort, but it’s worth it. So be kind to yourself, and know that you have the resilience and strength to heal and move forward.
To learn more about Healing from a Toxic Relationship, read this guide (Coming Soon).
Hope this article and the other guides mentioned help you deal with your particular situation in some way. Take good care of yourself and I’ll take to you in the next one.