BY JEANNE CROTEAU
If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’ll know that we all say things we don’t mean from time to time, and we immediately regret them. Unless it’s something truly heinous, these moments are usually forgivable.
But when things are said repeatedly or without remorse, you should take them seriously. While it’s important for partners to feel open and honest when communicating with each other, some comments should be off-limits. From my time working with clients in the counseling setting, I’ve learned that there are some things that your boyfriend should really never say to you.
You’re not good enough
You’re not perfect. Big surprise, no one is! If your boyfriend harps on all of your peculiarities and failures while making a point to use them against you, his intentions are definitely questionable. Why would you want to remind someone of all of their flaws?
I’ve seen boyfriends use this tactic to try to prove that their partner isn’t “good enough” for them. It’s emotionally destructive and completely unnecessary. There’s nothing loving about this type of comment.
Pro tip: If someone starts raising questions about your value, you should probably turn the tables on them, and ask yourself if they are worth your time. Spoiler: they probably aren’t.
If you love me, have sex with me
Never ever let someone pressure you into having sex if you don’t want to. Sure, most of us can think of times when we might have been enticed with a good backrub, hot bath, and a little wine, but that’s not the same.
When I’ve asked my clients how they knew their partner loved them, the answers rarely involved sexual acts. Instead, they said things like “he hugs me when I’m sad,” “he remembers my favorite ice cream,” or “he’s there for me when I need him.” You want a relationship that is built on more than sex.
Pro tip: If you say you’re not in the mood and your boyfriend continues to pressure you, this is a red flag. If he suggests that you should prove your love for him by having sex, you might want to reconsider your relationship.
Your job is pointless
We all have opinions about different careers. In fact, this has never been more true than today, when an increasing number of people are choosing flexible job options. Regardless, we all must respect that what works for one person may not work for another — and that’s okay.
Your boyfriend should never talk about your chosen profession in a demeaning and derogatory way. It would hurt most people if someone suggested that their work is pointless so it’s especially painful coming from a significant other.
Pro tip: If you are happy in your job, stand up for yourself and tell your boyfriend that you won’t tolerate any negative comments about how you make your living.
Your goals are unrealistic
The beautiful thing about goals is that they are personal and our own. It’s a chance for us to meet our own objectives and follow our hearts. It’s truly unacceptable, therefore, for your boyfriend to shoot them down.
It can be so scary to share our vision with someone. It requires a certain vulnerability. When you let your guard down, it’s extra hurtful when someone is discouraging and critical. This just should not be happening in a loving relationship.
Pro tip: A partner is supposed to encourage you to pursue your dreams — not mock them. If your current boyfriend isn’t able to be supportive, a new goal could be to start finding a better companion.
You should lose weight
In the age of filters and Photoshop, many of us struggle with body image issues. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of voices encouraging us to embrace and love ourselves exactly as we are.
There is no way that a supportive and truly loving boyfriend should ever ask you to lose weight. Making negative comments about your body is a definite no-no and should never be tolerated.
Pro tip: Your body is your own business. You are the only one who has lived in it for your entire life! Be happy and comfortable with what you have and ditch anyone who suggests otherwise.
I hate your clothes
We’ve all got our own personalities and style and, usually, this comes out in the clothing we choose to wear. If you’re comfortable and happy with how you look, then who cares, right?
If your boyfriend complains about your clothing or suggests you wear something more revealing, you are justified in being annoyed. Unless your clothes are tattered and dirty, what you put on your body should not be up for debate.
Pro tip: Explain to him that you are happy with what you wear and remind him of the fact that you were dressed this way when you met. If he doesn’t like it, that’s his own problem to deal with.
Your friends and family are lame
Most of us know that issues between a boyfriend and loved ones will happen from time to time, but that eventually, those problems tend to work themselves out in one way or another.
It’s not okay, however, if your boyfriend makes an effort to put down your friends and family, especially if he discourages you from spending time with them. This could be an effort to control you by isolating you from the people in your life.
Pro tip: Give your boyfriend one opportunity to air his complaints about your friends and family. Address any issues that are legitimate and then make it clear that ongoing comments are not productive or welcomed.
My ex would have done it
Unless neither of you have dated before, you are well aware of the fact that there are people in both of your pasts. Dealing with exes is one of the most interesting, sometimes challenging, parts of any relationship.
It’s unacceptable, therefore, if your boyfriend starts comparing you to one of his former flames, especially in an effort to try to get you to do something you don’t want to (or can’t) do. Your relationship should not be compared to his with anyone else’s. Ever.
Pro tip: If your boyfriend continues to bring up people from his past, you might want to encourage him to leave you alone and go find them.
You’re not very smart
Every single one of us has moments where we don’t feel the smartest. Even the brightest of stars can have their dim moments. Still, the last thing we need is something standing there waiting for an opportunity to put us down.
If your boyfriend ever jokes about you being “dumb,” or questions your ability or intelligence, you need to shut that behavior down immediately. It’s one thing for you both to joke about something silly that happened, but you should never feel like you are being mocked or judged.
Pro tip: Don’t let these types of comments slide, because a negative pattern can develop: your boyfriend will think this behavior is okay and his steady comments may affect how you see yourself. Not worth it.
Your past is disappointing
We’ve all done things that we aren’t proud of but, for many, those are valuable learning experiences. They help shape and create and even stronger version of ourselves and we should never be ashamed of our pasts.
If your boyfriend dredges up ancient history and throws it in your face, especially things that happened before you started dating, he’s being extremely hurtful. You should not have to relive your mistakes on a regular basis. Why should he think he has the right to judge you?
Pro tip: It can be easy to get rattled by this type of behavior, since you might have your own negative feelings about your past. Do not give in to your boyfriend’s negativity. Hold your head up high and keep stepping — far away from him!
Birth control is your responsibility
When it comes to being in an intimate relationship, both partners are responsible for preventing an unwanted pregnancy (or, of course, the spread of an STD). Contrary to some people’s beliefs, this is a team effort.
It’s a bad sign if your boyfriend tries to make you completely responsible for birth control (or refuses to even talk about it). This should be an open and ongoing conversation until you settle on a solution that works for both of you.
Pro tip: Never put your fate in someone else’s hands. If he doesn’t want to use condoms and you do, pump the brakes and hold off on sex. This is your body and you should protect it.
Know when to move on
As we’ve already covered, most of us say things we don’t mean. We usually recognize the err of our ways and apologize, often immediately, so that we can move forward. Then we make an effort to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
When your boyfriend continues to say hurtful things, you’ll have to decide when you’ve had enough. No one should sit and listen to a partner belittle and berate them.
Have a conversation and let your boyfriend know which comments or topics are off-limits. If you want to, give him a chance to work on how he talks to you. If you can see that he’s making a real effort but still slips up from time to time, try to work with him and see a counselor if you think it will help.
If even after you’ve expressed your feelings and set your boundaries he continues to make certain comments, you need to put yourself first. Never let someone get comfortable talking to you in a way that hurts you. Gather your courage and walk away. Then the only thing left for your former boyfriend to say will be “goodbye.”