Are there things your partner should never say to you? The answer is “yes,” even if you’re married and promised to be with her “for better or worse.”
According to some statistics, up to 50% of people undergo verbal abuse in their relationships. That’s a big deal, and the worst part about the statistic is that they may not even be aware of the ongoing abuse. Are you part of that statistic? Let’s find out.
This article will cover the five signs you’re being verbally abused by your partner, the ten things she should never say to you, and what to do right away when you’re sure you’re being verbally abused.
Signs You’re Being Verbally Abused
How do you know you’re being verbally abused by your partner? How can you be sure you’re not just going through totally normal, healthy relationship conflicts? To answer, check if you feel any of these five signs:
A nagging fear
This is when you’re afraid of your partner to the point of deferring to her. Firstly, you might feel afraid of being judged by her—you’ve come to know her judgment as painful, embarrassing, and demotivating.
Secondly, you might be afraid of being ridiculed by her. She might be smarter, more successful, or more popular than you are. And because of that, she regularly teases you for your lack of smarts, success, or popularity—and it stings every time.
Or third, you might feel afraid of being humiliated. Your partner might have grown into the habit of insulting or embarrassing you. You’ve realized the more you talk, the more chances you get humiliated, so you tend to keep quiet when you’re with your partner—especially when you’re in public.
That’s the first sign you’re being verbally abused by your partner—a nagging fear that wouldn’t go away. A healthy relationship doesn’t and shouldn’t have it, so if yours does, that’s a red flag—one of many red flags every man should know.
Feeling like you have to tiptoe around her feelings
When you’re about to talk to your partner, have you ever felt like you had to plan your words and actions well ahead of time to make sure she’d “take it the right way?”
Or do you sometimes feel like you must be absolutely careful about what you say and do around your partner; otherwise, you’d end up offending or triggering her?
If you’re always tiptoeing around her feelings—like you’re walking on eggshells all the time—then you’ve likely had more than your fair share of verbal abuse. It’s like one false step, and she either goes ballistic on you—or gives you the silent treatment.
Note: When she gives you the silent treatment, she’s trying to keep you on your best behavior so you’ll do whatever she wants. If she keeps doing it and you want her to stop, here’s how to handle the silent treatment with dignity.
Feeling insignificant or ashamed of yourself
Think about one of the times you felt bad about something she said or did to you. Or it was one of those times when she made a mistake, and you felt the urge to point it out. Or perhaps you wanted to make an honest, sincere suggestion…
…but you ended up keeping your mouth shut and not saying a word.
Have you ever done that? Have you ever stopped yourself from speaking up because you felt insignificant—like you thought, “Who the hell am I to talk to her like that?”
If that’s how you feel around your partner right now, watch out—especially if you used to be a lot more confident before your relationship started. Her verbal abuse likely has twisted your self-esteem to the point that you have near-zero confidence around her.
What’s worse, the lower your self-esteem gets, the worse the relationship becomes. It’s a downward spiral you’ll want to escape as soon as possible.
Feeling like you have less and less freedom and privacy in your relationship
Do you sometimes feel like you exist solely to make your partner happy?
Or do you feel like you’re getting less and less freedom and privacy as your relationship with her goes on?
For instance, she might insist on checking your phone or knowing all your passwords. And when she finds out you’re going to spend the weekend with the fellas, she bans you from doing so.
If this is what your relationship is like right now, she probably did something (and is still doing it now) to make you feel enslaved. They may be little snide remarks, guilt trips, or some “woe is me” outbursts that force you to drop what you’re doing and give her your time.
As a result, you have near-zero freedom in your relationship, and you might think wanting a little more freedom makes you a terrible person.
And yes—such toxic beliefs are a sign she’s been verbally abusing you lately.
Feeling like everything wrong in your relationship is your fault and not hers
This is a big one. When things go badly in your relationship, do you feel everything’s your fault? It’s like you think you’re not doing a good enough job as a boyfriend or husband, and that’s why things are falling apart.
Meanwhile, you feel your partner is blameless and innocent, and fixing the relationship is your responsibility.
Well, guess what—that’s precisely what an abusive partner would want you to feel. The lower your self-esteem is, the more quickly she can control you. And to abusive partners, control is the name of the game.
If any of these five signs sound familiar to you, you’re probably being verbally abused by your partner. To find out, see if she has said any of the lines in the following section to you.
10 Things Your Partner Should Never Say To You
Now, it’s time to get specific. Which among the following 10 categories of verbal abuse have you experienced with your partner? Check the hurtful lines that fall under each category and count how many have been said in your own relationship:
What is gaslighting? It has three parts:
- It’s when a rational, sane person (that’s you)…
- …is convinced of their own “proven” incompetence, even though it’s not true…
- …by a perpetrator who wants to control you.
Here are a few common examples of gaslighting phrases in romantic relationships:
- “Why would you think that? What kind of person thinks like that?”
- “I don’t know why you think it’s a problem. It’s fine with me. It’s fine with everyone but you.”
- “That was never my intention. But sure, blame me, why don’t you.”
- "Great, now I'm the bad guy!"
When you constantly get gaslighted, you’ll tend to have diminished self-esteem, a distrust of others, and the urge to break free and “be your own man.” Unfortunately, the few pleasant, sweet moments with your partner might keep you from taking the leap.
Many couples playfully insult each other in their relationships, making it more of a way to bond with each other rather than an actual conflict. This kind of insult is totally normal and, in most cases, encouraged between romantic partners.
Meanwhile, other kinds of insults can be quite hurtful and damaging. These are the insults that establish the “pecking order” in an organization, and that includes romantic relationships like yours.
If your partner constantly hurts you with insults like…
- “I don’t know if I like this relationship anymore.”
- “You’re boring me,” or “You’re not as funny as you think you are.”
- “I wish I never met you.”
- "You're crazier than my crazy ex!"
…then it’s likely she wants to be higher than you on the pecking order. Again, it’s all about control—and if you feel inferior to her, she has it over you.
Blaming you for things going wrong
When something bad happens in your relationship—a disagreement, a missed appointment, a fight—does she always blame you for it? Check if the following lines sound familiar:
- “I wish you weren’t so hard to please.”
- “You never appreciate the things I do.”
- “It’s because you care about your hobbies more than me.”
- "If you didn't ___, I wouldn't have done that!"
If she’s a blamer, she wants you to make her feel better. Of course, she doesn’t know it’s her unreasonably high standards and expectations that are constantly disappointing her, not you.
Nonetheless, it’s never pleasant to be blamed for something you’re innocent of. It’s unfair and frustrating, yet you’re stuck with no choice but to make your partner feel better.
Banning you from doing certain things
Does your partner ban you from doing certain things? It could be from seeing your friends and family over the weekend, playing video games, or even going to school or work.
If she says things like:
- “So you’d rather go with your friends than go out with me?”
- “If you loved me, you’d show me the messages on your phone.”
- “If you cared about me, you’d call in sick at work and spend the day with me.”
- "You know I hate it when you do that. If you loved me you wouldn't do that!"
…then it means she’s either insecure or controlling—or both. Either way, remember that it’s your choice to let her control you like that or not. And if regaining your freedom means giving up the relationship, that just might be what you need to do.
It’s unfortunate, but some women out there are incredibly manipulative. They want to be happy in love, but they’ve been so messed up in previous relationships they can’t help but be toxic with their new partners.
If that sounds like your partner, and if you’ve heard lines similar to the following before:
- “If you don’t stop talking to that woman, I’m leaving you.”
- “If you don’t lend me money, I’ll tell your friends what you did to me.”
- “If you don’t come over tonight, maybe your best friend will.”
- "I'll hurt myself if you leave me."
…then, yes, you’re stuck with an emotional blackmailer who has no business being in a relationship in the first place. If this sounds like you, here’s how to deal with an emotional blackmailer.
This is probably the most prominent kind of verbal abuse. When your partner calls you names, she means to make you feel bad about yourself and less confident in your abilities.
See if she’s ever called you any of the following names (or similar):
Like insults, playful name-calling can be a way for happy couples to bond with each other. However, it can lead to lasting pain when done during an intense argument.
Has your partner ever humiliated you just for being yourself? She might have said something like:
- “I can’t believe you did that. That’s so childish.”
- “Seriously? Do you believe that rubbish? Don’t tell me you’d drink the Kool-aid, too?”
- “Come on—you’re acting like a girl. Man up.”
- "I could do better than you, you know!"
To be fair, humiliation can be a good or bad thing. If someone humiliates you because you did something wrong, it’s an excellent opportunity to improve yourself.
On the other hand, if you did nothing wrong—or tried to do something good, and you still got humiliated for it—that can tear you down. It’s emotional abuse that should have no place in a romantic relationship.
Accusing you of cheating
Does your partner accuse you of cheating, and it’s not even true? Whenever this happens, it’s usually because of one of three reasons:
- Either she has trust issues and doesn’t know how to express them positively…
- …she’s massively insecure about your relationship issues and is truly worried about losing you…
- …or she wants to control you.
The problem is that even if she’s only acting out her insecurities, being falsely accused still hurts, and you’re liable to react in a way that’s destructive to the relationship.
Remember, though, that when she flings false accusations at you, it’s her who has the problem, not you. And that’s the mindset that will help you find a positive, productive way to deal with the situation.
Whenever things get heated in your relationship, does your partner make threats? For instance, she might say something like:
- “If you don’t come over this minute, I’m breaking up with you!”
- “If you dare ignore me, I’m calling the police!”
- “If you ever leave me, I’ll kill myself!”
Threats like that weigh heavily on the mind, don’t they? They’re heavy enough to make you drop what you’re doing and follow her instructions. And guess what—that was precisely her intention.
One-time threats should be taken seriously, but if she uses the same threat more than once, she’s probably bluffing. And if the threats pose a serious threat to your life, it’s a good idea to take screenshots (if they’re on your phone or PC) and get law enforcement help.
Playing the victim
Lastly, does your partner play the victim in your arguments—even if she was the one who did something wrong? Psychologists call this “victimization,” and yes, it’s yet another kind of verbal abuse common in relationships.
Your partner likely has a victim mentality when:
- She’s rude or selfish, but she keeps telling you that you’re rude or selfish
- She makes one dumb mistake after another, but she doesn’t take responsibility for them and instead blames you for not helping her
- She keeps talking about her idiot ex-boyfriends but never about what she may have done wrong… and then she projects their bad traits onto you
- She keeps making things about herself instead of having a healthy give-and-take with you
If she has a victim mentality, it’s usually not her fault. She likely went through more than her fair share of trauma in the past, and it’s shattered her self-esteem.
That said, it is her responsibility, and she shouldn’t project her victimhood onto you and others. And it’s no excuse for her to torment and hurt your relationship.
Those are the ten things your partner should never say to you. How many do you see in your own relationship? If you see three or more, then it’s clear you’re suffering from verbal abuse—and now it’s time to do something about it.
Why You Shouldn’t Tolerate Verbal Abuse
Verbal abusers will hurt your self-esteem while making it look like they care for you. Whether they know it or not, control is what they’re really after. And the more power they get over you, the more abusive they become.
That’s why you shouldn’t tolerate verbal abuse in your relationship. Instead, you should either grow a thicker skin and confront your partner about her abuse—or end the relationship and leave her. Either way, you’ll end the abuse and give yourself a chance to recover your self-esteem.
Here are a few proven ways to protect yourself against a verbally abusive partner:
Take care of yourself
Low self-esteem can ruin your life, especially the longer it runs in you. You’ll know you’re suffering from it when any of the following are true:
- You compare yourself with other people
- You constantly replay past mistakes and conversations you’ve had with others
- You downplay your good qualities and think your flaws and mistakes are a really big deal
- You hide your self-esteem and relationship issues under a mask of supreme confidence
- You feel you’re “not good enough,” and you try to compensate by overachieving
Luckily, low self-esteem might be the springboard to the success, happiness, and true confidence you want. Here are some ways to raise your self-esteem:
- Ask yourself: “Who am I comparing myself to? Why do I feel like I have to be good at everything?”
- When you compare yourself to someone better than you, also compare their bad traits for a more balanced view
- Have the courage to catch negative self-talk about your past mistakes and tell yourself: “B.S. That’s not even true.”
- Start getting exercise—lots of it
- When facing a challenge, take a deep breath and tell yourself: “I got this.”
Make no mistake—your self-esteem is a big deal. Never, ever lose it.
Set better boundaries
Having weak or nonexistent boundaries for your life may be why your partner always walks all over you. Here are a few telltale signs your boundaries need work:
- Your partner takes advantage of you way too much
- You keep having to “save” your partner and other people
- Your relationship is either really excellent or really terrible… and it goes back and forth that way
- You overinvest in your partner while she does zilch in comparison
Naturally, you don’t want to experience that with the same person for the rest of your life, right? Set new boundaries, starting with these two:
- Taking full responsibility for your feelings, actions, and decisions—they’re yours and no one else’s
- Not taking any responsibility for other people’s feelings, actions, and decisions—those are theirs alone
Afterward, list down behaviors of your partner you will no longer tolerate. You may no longer let her invade your privacy, question your decisions, or laugh at your values—and if she persists, you leave her.
Those are good boundaries to start with, if you ask me.
Have an exit plan
And speaking of leaving a verbally abusive partner, it’s a good idea to know when to break up with her. You can try to play psychoanalyst and work her through her relationship issues, but in most cases, it’s just not worth the trouble.
By all rights, she’s probably no longer the same person you initially fell in love with. Here are a few signs it’s time to pack your bags, leave her to think about what she did to you, and move right on with your life:
- The verbal abuse isn’t going away—and instead, it’s getting more toxic
- You feel she has complete control over your life
- You once had a healthy give-and-take going in your relationship, but you’re no longer getting it
- You’ve lost your sex drive with your partner
- You’re constantly fighting, and it’s no longer fun
If your relationship is no longer meeting your needs and instead feels like a chore you can’t escape, then it’s definitely time to end it. The verbal abuse won’t end; that alone is enough reason to leave.
And in case you’re worried you’ll never find someone like her again, well—isn’t that the point, though? The sooner you regain your freedom and self-esteem, the sooner you’ll find yourself with a better woman and a healthy relationship.