5.7
September 8, 2013

Saying “Whatever” is a Relationship Killer.

Resist passivity and communicate what you want.

We are all guilty of it. And, most of us don’t even realize how frustrating these statements are to hear, especially when they make their way out of our own mouths.

But when we are the ones that hear these statements over and over again from our partners, we know the frustration I’m talking about. We wonder why in the hell can’t he/she make a decision. We ask ourselves, “Does he/she really not care at all?”

We know the exhaustion and resentment of always feeling like we’ve got to run the whole damn show.

So, some of you already probably know where I’m going with this. Right? You get it.

Communication can be so complicated at times, what with the verbal, non verbal, and the tone of voice—all to be taken into consideration at the same time in order to flush out what is being communicated to us. It’s so easy to make assumptions about what the other person is saying, thinking, or intending to say.

So, if we can find ways to make it a little less complicated—we can save ourselves from a whole lot of unneeded frustration, confusion, conflict, and hurt feelings.

The following three phrases all essentially communicate the same thing to your partner. Something along the lines of “I don’t want to put in extra effort right now, so that is your job.” Of course, we are not necessarily even intending to send this message, but it’s typically how it is interpreted, unfortunately.

And then, guess what happens? The partner who hears this, typically disengages or becomes angry and we think to ourselves, “What in the heck is their problem?”

These following three phrases tend to be conversation “stoppers.” They typically do not add anything to the conversation, and when so much of our relationship depends on us communicating and connecting, they create subtle distancing over time.

Whatever.

Get rid of it. Get rid of “whatever you want”, also. Again, it puts the responsibility to choose on the other person. Find an opinion and communicate what you think. Your partner wants to hear what you think and when you take the time to have an opinion, it communicates to them that the relationship is important to you.

I don’t care.

We’ve all said this. A everyday scenario is, “Honey, what do you want for dinner tonight”. “Whatever, I don’t care,” is typical response. With the constant chaos of life, it can be such a welcoming relief to have help with what seems to be such a small decision, especially for the person who typically takes on this role. Not “caring” about what is for dinner, makes the decision feel more like a chore for the other person, in most cases.

I don’t know.

Sometimes we really do not know—such as with a math problem or some other kind of factual information. But if your partner is asking about an opinion, “I don’t know” can be interpreted as, ”I don’t want to take the time to find out.” Find out. Have an opinion.

Again, communicate that opinion to your partner. It makes them feel good. It makes them feel included. It makes them feel like what is important to them is also important to you.

It’s connecting. It’s good for the relationship. And, it’s so simple—it offers huge results.

 

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{Photo: via Laura Parlot}

Ed: Catherine Monkman

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