Saying “Whatever” is a Relationship Killer.

Via Tawny Sanabria
on Sep 7, 2013
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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.


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: Cat Beekmans


About Tawny Sanabria

Tawny Sanabria enjoys finding and generating connection and hopefulness with others, sharing her knowledge and experience of health and wellness and helping families increase their love and acceptance of one another. As a Marriage and Family therapist and yoga teacher, Tawny utilizes mind and body integration with clients on their journey to finding peace, hope, and growth. As a CrossFit L1 trainer, Tawny, also enjoys working with athletes to help increase flexibility in mind, body, and emotions, moving them toward further balance in their lives. She currently resides in Washington state with her husband and two teenagers.  You can contact her via her website or on Facebook.


5 Responses to “Saying “Whatever” is a Relationship Killer.”

  1. Karen says:

    Wonderful article. Thank you so much. I'm going to share it with my parents, who after 50 yrs of marriage, recently started saying "whatever" to each other. It's SO disrespectful! I don't know where it started, I just hope it stops.

  2. Thank you Karen, I am so glad you enjoyed it and thank you for sharing it! I hope it helps. 🙂

  3. Megan says:

    I just got out of a relationship with someone who would only answer with those three statements. It killed me. I never had any idea what he was thinking or feeling. I also never felt loved or respected or appreciated. When you try so hard to find out if something is wrong, what they like, how they are doing, and all you ever get is "I dont know, whatever, I dont care" it sucks!

  4. Kelli Esposito says:

    A great article. When I was married I heard those responses too often. Now that I’m single I still hear “whatever” and it makes me crazy with frustration.

  5. Angela says:

    I find that I say "Whatever" when I have repeatedly tried to express my feelings about something and have repeatedly gotten no where in getting the person I am saying it to to understand–their mind is closed and there is no negotiation about something or consideration for my feelings about something. I am left feeling hopeless and tired and shut out. So, for all those who have someone say "Whatever" to you, you might want to ask yourself if you are really listening to the person who said it and truly care about their feelings and needs about an issue. Ask yourself if you have repeatedly ignored their comments or requests or feelings about the topic being discussed. If you shut someone out enough, they may end up shutting you out and resentment begins to grow.