How do you recognize a toxic relationship? Most of the time, we don’t realize until it’s too late. Manipulators are charming smooth talkers. They love bomb or charm their way into our lives. Once we invest in the relationship, they show their true identity. So, what should we be looking for? The things toxic partners say fall into four categories:

  • blame,
  • criticism,
  • gaslighting,
  • guilt-tripping.

15 Things Toxic Partners Say


“Look what you made me do.”

Physically abusive partners say this to avoid responsibility for their actions. It’s your fault they slapped you because you were looking at that girl in the store. They punched you because you left the house in a mess.

Things toxic partners say often revolve around blame. It allows them to excuse their behavior.

“It’s your fault I’m like this.”

Toxic partners say things like this to avoid their abusive behavior. They put the onus on you and what you’re doing.

For example, if you weren’t such a flirt, they wouldn’t get jealous. Or, if you did not ruin dinner every night, they wouldn’t have to complain. Shirking responsibility by blaming you makes you question yourself.

“You knew what I was like when you met me.”

Controlling partners often say things like this to excuse how they behave. They’ll tell you they’re too old to change and you must accept them for who they are. Whether they are emotionally or physically abusive, they cannot change, and you shouldn’t ask them.

Again, it’s your fault and a way of getting away with toxic behavior.

“Why do you make it so difficult to love you?”

The toxic partner wants to keep you in the relationship but doesn’t like you. So, they portray you as difficult, and loving you is taking its toll. You are so unlovable. Your partner is a superhero for putting up with you. Why can’t you do better, be better?

Of course, this is a controlling tactic to undermine your confidence. If this person really thought that badly of you, they wouldn’t stay.


“God, you’re so stupid.”

Things toxic partners say often involve criticism of some sort.

Towards the end of my relationship with a coercive-controlling partner, I recall him telling me I was “f****** ugly.” Why would a person want to be in a relationship if they thought that? Demeaning language and criticism lower your self-esteem, making it less likely for you to have the confidence to leave the relationship.

“Are you going to ruin another day?”

Lack of empathy for someone’s weaknesses is a telltale sign of toxic behavior. Abusers will weaponise your problem and use it against you. Toxic partners accomplish two things with such statements. They humiliate you and increase your anxiety.

Will you make them mad the next time your social anxiety makes it hard for you to accept that invite? Are they going to get moody because you don’t like driving long distances and there’s that trip coming up soon? You live in a constant state of worry.

“No one else would put up with you.”

As far as things toxic partners say, this is a classic phrase manipulators use. It elevates their status as the ever-suffering partner, whilst lowering yours as the problematic one. Other examples include:

‘You’re lucky I’m still around’,

‘If it wasn’t for me, you’d be on your own’,

‘You owe me for everything I’ve had to put up with’.

Abusers can’t control what goes on around you, but they can influence what you think of yourself.

things toxic partners say

“I’m the only person who understands you.”

You are so awful you’ll never get another partner, and you should feel grateful to be in this relationship. This is an isolating tactic used to ensure you rely solely on your abuser. There’s nowhere else for you to go.

“You’d be nothing without me.”

Toxic partners say things like this to undermine your confidence. They make you believe you are useless and wouldn’t be able to cope without them.

A favorite method is to target your weaknesses and amplify them out of proportion. This chips away at your self-esteem until eventually you become dependent on your partner.


“You’re crazy.”

Gaslighting is a technique used to mess with your mind. An abuser will do or say something and then deny it happened. ‘I never said that’ or ‘I wasn’t even there’ are typical things a toxic partner says. Then they’ll claim you are misinterpreting their actions.

You question your judgment. Maybe it didn’t happen the way you remembered. Have you imagined it all along?

“Calm down, it was just a joke.”

Sometimes things toxic partners say are disguised as jokes. Manipulators hide cruel words and barbed comments in jokes. When you get upset or question the remark, you’re told to stop being so sensitive, or told you can’t take a joke.

As a result, you doubt yourself. Perhaps you were being too sensitive. Maybe you should loosen up a little. What’s wrong with you? Now you are afraid of overreacting, and you keep your feelings to yourself.

“It’s no big deal.”

This is a similar tactic to ‘it’s just a joke’. Your feelings are being invalidated. Why do you have to make such a big thing out of the situation? You always spoil things. I never had this problem with my ex and so it goes on. They make you feel as if you are the problem when the reverse is true.


“If you really loved me…”

My ex once said to me, ‘If you really loved me, you’d stop going to evening classes’. He’d become jealous that I was mixing with other students who shared a common interest. He thought someone who shared my passion would sweep me off my feet.

At first, I placated him. It was the start of our relationship, and I didn’t understand the manipulation. However, he started sulking and giving me the silent treatment every time I attended classes. I soon learned it was easier to pack in my studies than continue.

toxic parent signs

“You owe me after everything I’ve done for you.”

A toxic partner says things like ‘You owe me’ to keep the relationship going. The idea is they’ve done so much for you they can dominate you. They make you feel ungrateful and guilty. It’s possible they have done a lot for you in the past, but this is guilt-tripping. It makes you beholden to that person.

“I’m only like this because I love you so much.”

This is how some manipulators excuse toxic behavior, such as jealousy and control. Their love for you is so overwhelming it makes them say toxic things.

Perhaps they’ve called you a slut in that dress or slapped you in front of your friends for smiling at the server. They’ll excuse their behavior because they have your best interests at heart.

They only want the best for you or to stop you from looking foolish. It’s all down to love. They can’t help the toxic things they say because they love you so much.

Toxic partners say things like these after they’ve done something abusive or controlling. It’s another avoidance technique to shirk responsibility for their actions.

Final Thoughts

Do you recognize any of the things toxic partners say to their partners? Words hold power. They can lift or diminish you. Love is not conditional. It does not have to meet certain requirements or expectations and it certainly does not involve demeaning language.


  3. Featured image by Freepik

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