3 August 2011
Seven phrases that can kill a relationship
Some topics of conversation are like poison to your love life. If you're the type of person who doesn't have a 'mute' button, avoid these seven phrases at all costs - once you've uttered them there's no going back.
Do you find that your relationships keep grinding to a halt when certain words slip out of your mouth? Does a particular subject cause an instant change in atmosphere between you and your partner? Discover the top phrases to banish from your vocabulary to keep your love life on track.
1. ‘Then maybe we shouldn’t be together!’
You wouldn’t tell your boss you’re quitting unless you really meant it, but sometimes people are tempted to drop a bombshell just to get their partner off their back: “If you don’t like the way I make lasagne, you’ll never understand me. We should just break up!”
Reserve this kind of talk for when you really want to end a relationship or you’ll risk your partner taking you up on the offer. Never use it as a rhetorical weapon.
2. You’re lousy in bed’
You were expecting fireworks, but your partner didn’t quite deliver. Although you may be frustrated, resist the temptation to mock or criticise the person you love for their poor performance. You’re on extremely sensitive ground. In intimate situations, a person is sharing something very private and special with you and they are at their most vulnerable. Even gentle teasing is likely to be extremely hurtful.
Instead, positive words will yield the best results. Talk about what you like in bed, rather than what doesn’t work for you. ‘I’d love it if we could stay in this position’ will be better received than ‘stop squirming!’ Being a bully in bed is likely to make your loved one want to search for someone more sensitive.
3. ‘Why can’t you be more (or less) like my ex?’
Every partner teaches us about what we do and don’t want from a relationship. But your current beau wants to feel unique, not like the sequel to a bad romantic comedy. Never suggest you’re still hung up on the past by comparing him or her to an old flame. Be specific about how you feel and what you want – but in the context of today.
4. ‘I can’t help you with that now. I’m just too tired from work.’
You might well be exhausted from that high pressure meeting or from a frantic rush to meet a deadline, but these days, most men and women have taxing jobs outside the home. This is the worst excuse in the book.
Remember that the person you love is likely to be as tired as you are and, even if they’re not, they shouldn’t have to rush around picking up all your dirty washing, move the couch by themselves or take the children off to football practice. If you really don’t have enough energy, ask to trade or defer chores. Or just do what you need to as fast as possible so that you can sit back and relax together.
5. You did that once, too!’
When your partner complains about your behaviour, instead of apologising, do you retaliate by dredging up something similar they did in the long forgotten past? We all make mistakes every now and then but small errors made years ago shouldn’t be tools for avoiding blame in the present. ‘You were late for our date five years ago!’ is no excuse for bailing on your anniversary dinner today. Bringing up past transgressions will only exacerbate bad feelings.
6. You knew I was like this when we first met!’
While you should never enter into a relationship with the mission of changing your partner, people’s personalities and behaviour naturally adapt as they grow older. We generally get better at looking after our money, time management and social interactions. If one of you is growing and the other is staying static, this could be a big obstacle to your relationship.
Claiming that you’re allowed to go out drinking every night or spend hours playing computer games because that’s what you did when you met is effectively like saying ‘I’ll never grow or change, so don’t get your hopes up.’ Rather than sticking rigidly to old habits, work out what aspects of yourself you could change for the better. If your partner is making unfair demands, tell them what you can alter and give logical reasons for what you can’t.
7. No comment’
Sometimes you can kill a relationship with what you don’t say. Non-committal responses can be just as damaging as saying too much. Communicating with your beau and expressing what you mean is essential to a healthy relationship. If you don’t listen to what they’re telling you and always say “fine” or “no problem”, then any problems you have as a couple will never be resolved. If you stifle conversation you’ll also suffocate intimacy and leave your relationship gasping for breath.