By: Dani Kessel
Far too often, we don’t recognize toxicity in our daily lives. Manipulation, gaslighting, and other red flags are misconstrued as romantic and caring. That old playground phrase is wrong. Sticks and stones definitely can break your bones. But, words can hurt, haunt, scar, and irreversibly damage your psyche. Words have power! It’s time we stop denying that. We need to start recognizing some phrases for what they are–toxic.
Here are 35 typically-toxic phrases that should raise alarm bells and red flags.
- “Nobody will ever love you as I do.”
- “I only want what’s best for you.”
No. This is almost always said by someone who wants another person to do exactly what they want. They don’t care what anyone else thinks is best. They don’t care about other folks’ desires. They are simply trying to impose their expectations on others.
- “You’re just being dramatic.”
- “You’re just like your [insert toxic/abusive family member here]”
- “You’re stupid.”
- “I’ll kill myself if you leave me.”
This is beyond manipulative and verges on mentally abusive. You are not responsible for any other person’s life.
- “You’ll never succeed in life.”
- “You’re lucky I haven’t cheated on you.”
- “I only hit/yell at you because you [insert excuse here].”
- “Let it go, and move on!”
- “You’re the only thing that matters to me in the whole wide world.”
Obsession is not romantic, nor is it healthy. It is never good in any personal dynamic to put this kind of pressure on someone. Get a hobby, a friend, a book club–ANYTHING.
- “All my exes are crazy.”
If a person cannot recognize their faults in a relationship, they are either very immature or they are ignoring their own negative behaviors.
- “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”
- “You will never do better than me.”
- “Nice guys finish last.”
Self-proclaimed “nice guys” are almost never ACTUALLY nice. They aren’t kind or genuine. They are nice for the sake of getting something out of someone else. And, the minute they don’t get it, they usually lash out.
- “Well, I don’t remember it that way.”
- “Family never gives up on each other.”
Being related by blood or by marriage doesn’t give anyone a get-out-off-Hell-free card. Toxic people are toxic whether they have been in a person’s life for a few months or since the day they were born. And accountability is crucial.
- “You’re going to ruin my reputation if you tell.”
- “Stop playing the victims.”
- “You’re so mature for your age.”
This is almost always said by an older person (a predator) to a teen or child (intended victim). This is 1000000% NOT OKAY. There is no such thing as 13 going on 30. Someone saying that you are mature for your age while making romantic advances is simply an attempt to normalize grooming.
- “Either you support everything I do, or you don’t support me at all”
False dichotomies are used to twist a person’s thoughts. They create feelings like guilt, unhappiness, and being cornered into one singular option.
- “Let bygones be bygones.”
- “I’m not racist/homophobic/transphobic, but [insert prejudice comment here].”
- “You’re just making that up.”
- “Why can’t you ever take a joke?”
This almost always is said by someone after they’ve made an offensive, homophobic, racist, transphobic, ableistic joke. We can take jokes. We just don’t like bigotry. Want to hear an actually funny joke? “What does corn say when you give it a joke? Aw shucks!”
- “This is why nobody likes you.”
- “Nobody cares about you except for me.”
This phrase isolates the listener from their friends, family, and anyone who may be able to help them leave a toxic, abusive environment.
- “You’re just trying to make me look bad.”
- “You’re crazy.”
- “Look what you made me do.”
- “Boys will be boys.”
This phrase applies to a little kid coming home muddy from rolling down a hill. It is not a free pass for misogyny, r*pe, or locker talk. It isn’t an excuse for a boy who learned that they are entitled to women.
- “We’re married, so you owe me sex.”
Nobody OWES another person sex. Period.
- “You’re worthless.”
- “Real men don’t cry.”
- “You’re my everything.”
Toxicity is not okay whether coming from yourself, romantic partners, family members, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances. Everyone has the right to feel valid and appreciated. Manipulation and gaslighting are not okay. If you’re hearing any of these phrases on a regular basis, it may be time to re-evaluate what the person saying them contributes to your life. Are they really a positive force or do they exude negativity? If you find yourself saying these phrases frequently, it may be time to reflect on yourself, your mentality, and your choices which lead to toxic behaviors. It’s important to recognize our shortcomings and address our choices in a healthy manner. Therapy might be a good starting tool.
No matter which side of a toxic relationship you are on, remember what Georg Christoph Lichtenberg said. He stated, “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.”
To everybody reading this, I hope you know that nobody has the right to make you feel small and unimportant. I see your innate value as a human being. Do good things. Try to leave the world a little better than you found it.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Let us know in the comments what phrases you view as red flags. And before you leave, please consider sharing this and subscribing to Girl on the Go.