Best Life: The Worst Thing You’re Saying to Your Partner Without Realizing It


Words of affirmation can really make your partner’s day. But there may be times when you think you are showing your significant other appreciation and gratitude, but your so-called kind words may actually be making things worse. According to relationship experts, the one “compliment” you should avoid telling your partner is that you “can’t live without them.” Ultimately, those words put too much pressure on your significant other, even if you don’t realize it. Read on to find out why this phrase could be detrimental to your relationship, and for more words to watch, check out The Worst Thing You Could Say to Someone in Bed.

“Phrases such as ‘I can’t live without you’ trigger an unconscious bias in which the listener is given a heavy psychological load of responsibility that the speaker may not realize they have imparted,” explains Lori Lawrenz, PsyD, a clinical psychologist with the Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health. “When one partner uses an ‘all or nothing’ statement like this, there is a heaviness underneath that puts accountability on the one who is praised. This accountability can be weighty, so much so to trigger negative emotions.”

Lawrenz says these resulting negative emotions can include your partner seeing you as needy, dependent, or even lacking self-worth. It’s also simply not attractive, according to Channa Bromley, PhDc, a relationship coach and CEO of My Love Gurus Coaching. “Humans are drawn to others that live passionate, curious lives and have a confident, self-assured glow,” she explains. So putting all of your value on your partner can lead to reduced passion in a relationship.

“Imagine a table with only one leg to hold it up—it’s not very steady, is it? If the partner is having a bad day and is feeling deflated themselves, and not able to ‘fill-up’ the other’s emotional hole, the table will collapse,” Bromley says. “That is exhausting to think of maintaining for an extended period of time.”

Relationship coach Lucress Irizarry, author of Getting on My Last Nerve!, says this notion can often prevent your partner from living their own life, as well. They may avoid spending time with other people, building new relationships with others, or engaging in new experiences. “Your partner may feel hindered and stifled from enjoying life to the fullest because they are constantly preoccupied with the thoughts of whether or not you are OK in their absence,” Irizarry says.

But “I can’t live without you” is not the only phrase you’re misusing as a compliment when it comes to your partner. For more things you should avoid saying to your significant other, read on. And for the signs your relationship is in trouble, discover why Your Relationship Is Doomed If Your Partner Does This, Experts Say.

“You are my entire world.”

Laura Louis, PhD, a licensed psychologist and founder of Atlanta Couple Therapy, says this kind of phrase can be a huge red flag, especially if the relationship is fairly new. “There is such a thing as being overly dependent on a significant other,” Louis says. “We shouldn’t expect our partners to meet our every need. This sets yourself and your partner up for failure and disappointment.” And for more red flags to be aware of, find out why Half of Men Say They Would Break Up With a Woman Who Does This

“You saved my life.”

Irizarry says the statement “You saved my life” can give your partner a dangerous sense of power over you, as it “elevates your partner to a position of a savior or a god.”

Plus, she notes, “the seed is planted that the expectation is set so high for them that they cannot be human and make a mistake, which they know is inevitable and an unreasonable expectation.” And for more things you may be doing wrong in your relationship, check out The Worst Way You’re Thanking Your Partner, New Study Says.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

The phrase “I don’t know what I’d do without you” has the same sentiment as “I can’t live without you,” says Nicole Arzt, LMFT, a licensed marriage therapist who works with Well Beings Counselling. She says while you may think this sounds sweet, it actually makes you sound helpless, which can “make your partner feel uncomfortable or even trapped.”

“You complete me.”
Despite what Jerry Maguire would have you believing, your partner cannot “complete” you, says Darcie Brown, LMFT, a marriage therapist based in California. Saying statements like this “diminishes your own autonomy,” she explains, which in time, will make you feel less empowered and in control of your own life. Both you and your partner need to know that you could live life without one another, as no one can “predict how long a person will be in their lives.”

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