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What not to say to your boyfriend?

28 Things Your Partner Should Never Say to You (Like Never, Ever)

You’re already clued up on the things you should say to your one and only every day, plus the magic words that can diffuse pretty much any argument. But what about the things your partner should never say to you? Read through our list of blunders and aggressions below and you’ll never need to waste time scrolling through AITA relationship threads on Reddit again.

1. “You’re crazy!”

This one is an example of contempt, which the relationship experts over at the Gottman Institute dub one of the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse. (In other words, it’s a guaranteed relationship destroyer). Contempt is best described as words or behaviors that “disrespect, mock…[or] ridicule.” Per the experts, this type of negative communication is more extreme than run-of-the-mill criticism as it entails attacking a person’s character—not just their behavior—and is used as a means of assuming “a position of moral superiority”. It’s also an example of blocking or diverting, a key sign of gaslighting in a relationship. If you think this sounds toxic, you’re right.

2. “What’s wrong with you?”

Yep, file this one under contempt.

3. “You never do [insert specific complaint].”

Don’t brush this one off as a heat-of-the-moment expression of exasperation. Your partner might not realize the damage done by this careless exaggeration, but chances are you feel it. Chanel Dokun, a certified NYC life planner trained in marriage and family counseling, tells us that ‘never’ is one of two words you should, er, never say in an argument with your SO—namely because it communicates dismissiveness and a lack of appreciation for the other person’s efforts. Not to mention, it’s probably not even true (because you do the dishes on occasion, right?)

4. “Oh, yeah? Remember that time you…?”

Weaponizing ancient (or not so ancient) history is never a constructive thing to do during a disagreement, says licensed psychologist Dr. Bethany Cook. “When one person brings up past mistakes or the other person’s vulnerabilities during a ‘new fight’ this merely muddies the water and soon you’re not sure what the argument is even about.” That said, Dr. Cook adds that it is OK to bring up patterns of behavior that bother you, but only when things are calm and neither party is upset or triggered.

5. “Stop being so needy.”

The wording of this one puts it into the category of criticism—a form of communication that, per the Gottman Institute, is distinct from critique and complaint in that the “the latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an ad hominem attack.” In other words, criticism often sounds more situation-specific and restrained than full-blown contempt, but takes aim at your character, nevertheless.

6. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

An exceedingly insulting and dismissive phrase like this is just another example of—you guessed it—contempt.

7. “After what happened last time, maybe I should be the one to pick the restaurant tonight…”

There are infinite variations on the above phrase, and they’re all pretty easy to recognize since they’re likely to feel like a dig in the moment. The reason? This is another example of rubbing someone’s face in a past mistake—and it can be as hurtful when done casually as it is in the heat of an argument, particularly when it happens on a recurring basis. “Think of those comments like layers of dirt,” says Dr. Cook. “One or two will hurt but not impede the other person’s life, but multiple layers and people will get sick of it.”

8. “Grow up!”

Remember what the Gottman Institute said about contempt being a character attack used to assert moral superiority? This one fits the bill.

9. “This is probably why your ex left you.”

Another major rule of healthy partnerships (and common decency) is not to throw salt in someone’s wound. Emotional intimacy is a major part of a relationship, so chances are you’ve made yourself vulnerable by sharing insecurities, worries, or maybe even past trauma with your partner. If your partner weaponizes any of this privileged information, it’s a very bad sign. Per Dr. Cook: “Never, ever, ever under any circumstance do you have a right to lift the flap and throw salt at your partner just because you’re hurting. Once a person has shown you their battle wounds and you purposefully hurt them more, it’s hard to regain that level of trust again.” Amen.

10. “You complete me.”

You might be thinking, aw, that’s so sweet! But check yourself—the script of a positive real-life relationship shouldn’t read like a scene from Love Actually. This sort of sweeping romantic statement is more of a red flag than anything else, since it communicates an unhealthy understanding of love and the potential for codependency.

11. “That’s it—I’m done!”

Do you or your SO have a habit of pulling a fake-up (i.e., fake break-up) during a fight? Dr. Cook describes this behavior as “writing checks you can’t cash” and explains that it is often damaging to both parties. “If you constantly threaten to leave, but don’t, you’re failing yourself and the relationship. Not only does making empty threats add cracks to the foundation of your relationship, but it may also lead to negative feelings towards yourself and contribute to cognitive dissonance.”

12. “Try not to keep me waiting for 20 minutes this time.”

See entry numbers four and seven.

13. “I don’t have time for this.”

This brings us to Gottman’s fourth horseman: stonewalling. Anytime “the listener withdraws from the interaction, shuts down, and simply stops responding to their partner,” it is stonewalling—but that doesn’t mean the offending party is entirely mute. Stonewalling can also refer to phrases designed to dismiss and shut down the conversation. That said, the experts at the Gottman Institute point out that stonewalling is sometimes a defensive behavioral response to perceived contempt—so if you encounter this one, it might be wise to reflect on how you’re coming across and give your SO some space before you try to tackle the issue again. If you’re communicating respectfully and the stonewalling persists, you’ve got a problem on your hands.

14. “I can’t stand you.”

Yet another example of contempt, which in case you need a reminder, is a sure-fire way to hurt your partner and destroy your relationship. In fact, it’s one of the biggest predictors of divorce, according to Dr. John Gottman. “When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean,” says the relationship expert.

15. “You really need to work on being more organized. Isn’t that how you lost your last job?”

Here, the first horseman (i.e., criticism) meets salt-in-wound…and you don’t need a chemistry degree to know that this combo spells bad news for a relationship.

16. “I wish you were more like [insert person’s name here].”

More words of wisdom from Dr Cook: Comparisons kill. Per the expert, it doesn’t matter who your partner is comparing you to, since the problem lies in the fact that “comparisons inaccurately measure worth and insinuate that one is better than the other.”

17. “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”

Well then let’s just drop it, I guess. Nope—you’re being stonewalled.

18. “[Friend’s name] looked really hot tonight.”

Unless both you and your partner are completely on board with this sort of thing, it can be considered an implied comparison…and a hurtful one at that.

19. “It’s just one thing after another with you.”

A searing combination of contempt and stonewalling, this phrase does double duty by a) insinuating there’s something wrong with you for expressing your needs and b) shutting down any subsequent conversation about said needs.

20. “[radio silence”]

Remember what the Gottman Institute said about stonewalling? Well, here it is in its purest and most recognizable form, friends.

21. “You’ve always been like this.”

You’ve been on the edge of your seat, wondering what the second forbidden word is (in life planner Chanel Dokun’s book, that is). Spoiler: It’s ‘always’. Because just like the word ‘never,’ this one comes across as dismissive and hurtful.

22. “The next time you do this, I’m done.”

It’s a scary threat intended to make you comply with your SO’s request or hear their complaint. But threats and ultimatums aren’t the best way to communicate about issues—and when this technique is employed regularly with no follow-through, it’s safe to say your partner is (again) writing checks they can’t cash to the detriment of the relationship.

23. “You’re not the same person you were when I met you.”

Is there something wrong with you? Are you no longer lovable? Statements like this are a perfect example of contempt in that they point to what the Gottman Institute describes as “long-simmering feelings of negativity about the other partner.” It’s also important to remember that it’s completely normal for people and relationships to evolve. A nurturing partner will allow for that change (provided that it’s the good kind of change, of course—if someone changes in a way that causes emotional or physical harm then that’s a big red flag) and find ways to understand it and learn ways to manage differences.

24. “Don’t be so sensitive.”

Sensitivity is a positive trait, so the real problem here is that your partner is communicating that caring about your feelings is beneath them. File this one under contempt.

25. “That’s just the way I am.”

This sort of inflexibility in a partnership is a very bold way of saying that if you want harmony, the onus is on you. It’s also a creative way of stonewalling, since it effectively puts an end to any conversation that revolves around a healthy give-and-take.

26. “I’m working my a** off…what do you even do all day?”

Or some other equivalent phrase that equates worth to money. Per Dr. Cook, “the amount of money you bring to a relationship should not influence the balance of power and value of each member of the couple.” As such, no one should hear anything like this from a partner, because such statements “inherently devalue one person while incorrectly inflating the other’s position within the couple.” (We see you, stay-at-home parents.)

27. “Why don’t you ask [friend’s name] how she lost the baby weight?”

Another hurtful comparison, likely intended to prod at a sore spot or insecurity.

28. “Oh, I see you didn’t get a chance to vacuum today…hmm, dinner’s nice but it needs more salt…when was the last time you showered?”

Have you ever heard about the 5:1 ratio? Here’s how it works: Per relationship experts, for every negative interaction during a conflict, a happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions. So yeah, the above statements may all be true but if you don’t pepper in some loving or funny interactions in between, then your relationship could quickly enter into divorce territory.

Experts Say You Can Keep These 10 Thoughts To Yourself In Relationships

Do I have to tell my partner everything? You can keep some thoughts to yourself.

Nine times out of 10, you’re going to want to be open with your partner and let them know what you’re thinking, feeling, hoping for, and so on. Communication is, after all, one of the most important factors in maintaining a relationship. But should you tell your partner everything? Experts agree that you don’t have to.

“I absolutely think that is not only normal, not only OK, but really great to have some private thoughts or things in your life that are just yours,” dating and relationship expert Cora Boyd tells Bustle. “And I don’t think that has to exist in the same space [as] deceit or omission whatsoever.”

In fact, keeping a few thoughts to yourself can be beneficial at times, especially if they won’t contribute to your relationship in a positive way. «Total honesty isn’t always the best policy,» Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. If revealing this information will serve no real purpose, or if it will cause hurt feelings, he says, then it may be something worth keeping to yourself.

It’ll be up to you to judge what needs to be said and what’s OK to keep quiet. You may find that «some things are best kept private in order to spare others pain and keep peace in the relationship,» Bennett says. As well as respecting boundaries and sparing feelings, keeping some thoughts private can also help you maintain an individual identity while in a relationship. “It’s really, really important for the health of the relationship to continue to nurture and have a connection with your own individuality,” Boyd says. This can come with breaking the notion that you have to tell your partner everything.

Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t discuss tough subjects or have deep conversations about whatever’s going on in your relationship. Open communication is undoubtedly the key ingredient to a healthy partnership, and you should never be hiding information or starting sentences with, “Don’t tell my boyfriend, but. ” (If you find yourself prefacing convos with your friends like this, it might be time to reevaluate some things in your relationship.) Every couple is different, meaning that each pair will have their own communication styles that feel comfortable for them. So, while this is by no means a definite list, you may want to avoid some of the topics below in the interest of maintaining a harmonious connection.

1

Small Quirks You Find Annoying

Delmaine Donson/E+/Getty Images

«When you’re around someone all the time, it’s easy to notice that person’s flaws and imperfections,» Bennett says. You might feel irritated by little things your partner does throughout the day or zero in on their small quirks. «But if you’re happy and the relationship is solid, it’s not worth focusing on the little things that bother you,» he says. «It’s better to keep them a secret than to make your partner feel insecure or hurt” by pointing them out.

While it’s always great to be open with your partner if any of their actions are hurting you or your feelings, chances are their loud chewing or quirky laugh isn’t bringing anyone harm. And, as Boyd says, “Criticism erodes connection. So, we want to be selective and intentional with giving feedback.” You can try to bring up certain issues in a positive way, especially if the quirk is causing problems. But the reality is everyone has a «flaw» or two, and many can’t be helped or changed.

2

Leftover Feelings You Have For An Ex

«Complicated feelings for exes are normal,» Bennett says. You might still be recovering from the end of that previous relationship. Or you might wonder, for brief moments, what your ex is up to.

But is that something you need to say out loud to your current partner? Maybe not. «Even in the most secure of relationships, it is not always necessary to make your ex present in the room,» Dr. Racine Henry, Ph.D., LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Sankofa Marriage and Family Therapy, tells Bustle. «That person is from your past, and you can discuss their new job, marriage, [or] haircut with your close friends who will be better able to keep things in perspective.»

It’s also important to recognize that there is a difference between sharing helpful context about your prior relationship and emotionally processing this past with your partner. “It’s not appropriate and is actually really unhelpful to do emotional processing about your ex with your current partner,” Boyd says. If you are considering talking about your ex, try to decipher if this is simply a “relaying of information, versus a processing of your thoughts, narratives, and feelings around your previous relationships,” Boyd explains.

3

How You Feel About Their Family

Unless the family is creating some sort of toxic situation — in which case you should speak up and let your partner know — there’s really no need to share minor things you dislike about your partner’s loved ones. After all, «getting into a serious relationship with another person means you also enter into their world,» Bennett says. And that includes spending time with potentially annoying little cousins or aunts who always say the wrong thing.

«For the sake of a peaceful relationship, unless the family causes a major issue, it’s best to keep your thoughts to yourself,» Bennett suggests. You can joke and laugh about it with your partner, but you may want to tread lightly and try not to say anything insulting.

4

That You Find A Friend Attractive

«Having an attraction towards another person is a normal human response and is nothing to be ashamed of,» Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC, psychologist, relationship expert, and professional matchmaker, tells Bustle. «However, telling your partner about this attraction will most likely only result in hurt feelings, jealousy, insecurity, and awkwardness.»

For some couples, it may be common practice to tell each other when you think another person is good looking — regardless of their gender, we can all appreciate an attractive human every once in a while. But it’s important to keep the intent in mind when sharing this sort of information. Boyd says, “Are you sharing it from a place of, ‘So and so’s a handsome dude,’ versus ‘I’m really attracted to your friend’?” If it’s the latter, then it’s probably best to keep those thoughts private. But either way, it may be a safer bet to not make a habit of telling your partner about people you’ve got heart eyes for. As Boyd says, those thoughts are “none of their business.”

If you happen to have a little mini crush, that’s fine, but it’s not necessary to tell your partner. As long as you aren’t acting on your thoughts, and they aren’t impacting your relationship in any way, you may be better off keeping them to yourself.

5

That You Have Fleeting Doubts About Your Relationship

«Words are powerful weapons, and once they are said, they cannot be taken back,» Fraley says. So unless you really and truly mean it, never say out loud that you’re having doubts about the relationship.

In fact, «throughout a relationship, it is normal to have thoughts and feelings about your connection and longevity,» Fraley says. «These thoughts may be fleeting, so it would be wise to sit on them and do some internal work before sharing such powerful (and potentially hurtful) thoughts with your partner.»

And you’ll never want to say anything like this in the heat of the moment during an argument. While you may be angry and upset, saying aloud that you’re having doubts can be a tough thing to recover from. It may be tempting to feel guilty for even having these thoughts, but try to relieve yourself from any sort of shame. “You are not your thoughts,” Boyd says. “Even if you sometimes imagine the prospect of breaking up, [that] doesn’t mean that is what you want. It’s literally just a thought.” It’s only natural for our minds to wander, so it’s best to not take every thought that crosses our minds as the truth.

6

Unsolicited Opinions About Their Friends

Shutterstock

As with family, it’s not always wise to share exactly what you’re thinking about your partner’s friends. «Unless this person is doing something to you that is offensive, you should keep your opinions [. ] to yourself,» Henry says.

You can also be perfectly honest about things you don’t like without it going down a toxic road. For example, «if your partner asks your thoughts about their friendships or familial relationships, tread lightly and do more listening than speaking,» Henry suggests. Approach the conversation with the goal of supporting your partner rather than leading with your personal feelings.

7

How You Feel About Their Goals

Sharing your life with someone means you get to talk about each other’s plans for the future, including your individual goals and how they might impact you as a couple. And yet, that doesn’t mean you get to rush each other or put unnecessary pressure on your partner to follow a specific timeline.

«There is nothing wrong with holding them accountable if they are receptive to your involvement, but overall, working towards one’s goals is a personal and often vulnerable journey,’ Henry says. «You can be supportive while also respecting their individual process, even if it seems like they are doing things the hard way.»

8

Your Family’s Opinion About Your Partner

«In an ideal world, our family and friends would feel positively about our partners and see them in the same light as we do,» Henry says. «Realistically, that doesn’t always happen.» Even if your family has a thing or two to say, that doesn’t mean it needs to get back to your partner, especially since these words can be difficult to forget. The memory of an offensive comment may stick around long after the family dynamic shifts — so even if your family grows to love and support your relationship, that initial hurt won’t fade easily.

«The people in your life should always respect your partner and your decision to be with them,» Henry says. So while you’re busy shielding your partner, you may want to stand up for your partner, too. It’s perfectly reasonable for your family to be concerned for your well-being, but they should also trust you and your ability to make choices for yourself.

9

Things You Miss About Old Relationships

«Our minds work 24/7 at processing our lives, and this includes previous partners [and] comparisons with your current relationship, especially in newer relationships,» Jorge Fernandez, LCSW, an individual and family psychotherapist, tells Bustle. «This is absolutely normal and doesn’t indicate any sort of dissatisfaction with your current partner.»

And yet, as you might have guessed, these aren’t things you’ll necessarily want to say out loud to your partner. Instead, try to find a way to incorporate anything you miss — like traditions or adventures — into your current life. And if you’re still hung up on the past, Fernandez suggests talking to a therapist.

10

Details From Your Romantic History

Not only do you not need to share things you miss about your previous relationships, but any of the nitty gritty details about your dating history are up to your discretion. Whether that be information about your past sexual partners, your worst breakups, or the kinky activities you’ve tried in bed, you may want to take a beat before sharing that with your current partner.

Boyd suggests “just being judicious and intentional with commentary about your romantic history.” This means checking in with yourself and your intentions before bringing up an aspect of your dating, relationship, or sexual past. “It can provide context and help them understand you and know you better as a person,” Boyd explains. But on the flip side, disclosing your romantic history could be used “as a manipulative tactic to elicit jealousy.” Simply be mindful of your intent, and remember that it’s OK if you’d like to keep any of this information private.

You don’t have to divulge every thought in order to have a strong relationship, especially when that thought might do more harm than good. So take your partner and your connection into consideration, and know that it’s always OK to keep a few things to yourself.

Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC, psychologist, relationship expert, and professional matchmaker

Jorge Fernandez, LCSW, an individual and family psychotherapist

Dr. Phil’s 6 Rules of Talking and Listening

Dr. Phil McGraw

True or false: When you talk to other people it’s best to block your ears, dominate the conversation, and if they ask you what’s wrong, chirp «Nothing.» True! If you want to live alone for the rest of your life. If not, here’s the conversation repair kit for you.

When it comes to relating to each other, communication is perhaps the most overused term in our vocabulary. The problem is that most people don’t really know what good communication is. But talking and listening are essential tools for learning about your partner’s feelings, making your feelings known and solving problems that arise within a relationship. As the saying goes, «It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness,» so here’s my attempt to shed some light on the subject and help you get better at the art of exchange.

Rule #1: Insist on emotional integrity
You gotta tell it like it is! You must insist that everything you say, imply, or insinuate is accurate, and if your partner challenges you on those messages, you must step up and own them. Mean what you say and say what you mean. You don’t have to tell people everything you think or feel. But you do have to be accurate when you choose to disclose.

Suppose you’re upset. When your partner senses that and asks, «Is something bothering you?» emotional integrity requires that you won’t deny the message you’re sending verbally or otherwise by saying, «Nothing is wrong; I’m fine.» You may not be ready to discuss it, so the accurate answer might be, «I don’t want to tell you right now; I’m just not ready to talk about it.»

A lot of couples flagrantly violate this principle. Then they say, «We have trouble communicating.» Of course they do—they both lie like dogs! And while we’re on the subject: A material omission—leaving out something of crucial importance—is as much a lie as any actual misstatement.

Rule #2: Be a two-way, not a one-way, communicator
A one-way communicator talks but never listens and pays no attention to whether the listener appears to be «getting it.» For her it’s all about the telling, as in, «What I want you to do is go out there, get this work done, give these people this message, put those kids to bed, and come back in here.» If that’s how you communicate, all you know is what you’ve said, and you haven’t got a clue about what the other person heard. Result: conflict.

But as soon as a one-way communicator asks for feedback, look what happens:
She: «Here’s what I’d like you to do: A, B, C, and D. Does that sound okay to you?»
He: «Well, L, Q, R, and P don’t make a whole lot of sense to me.»

No wonder they’re not getting along—they’re not even talking about the same thing! When she checks to make sure that he has received the message, she uncovers a communication glitch. By soliciting feedback—by giving as much weight to what is heard as to what is said—you put a spotlight on the issues you, together, need to clarify.

Rule #3: Establish a motive
Whether you’re talking or listening, you need to be clear about why something’s being said. Motive and message are important. If you’ve got a husband who says, «You’re like the Spanish Inquisition. You’re always asking me these questions and bugging me all the time,» you need to look at what’s behind those words. Is he trying to make you feel guilty because there’s something he doesn’t want you to see? Or are you trying to control too much of his life because you are insecure? In answering those questions, you’ll figure out the motive and be able to move on from there.

Rule #4: Check in with each other
You and your partner must agree to test each other’s messages and respond honestly. No more b.s. Ask your partner, «Is what you’re saying really the way you feel? Is that true?» Remember that when you ask the question, you have to be ready to hear the true answer. And you’ve got to be willing to take the same test yourself. If asked, «So you’re really okay?» have the guts to say, «No, I’m not,» when you’re really not. Ask your partner the questions that will confirm his or her feelings.

Rule #5: Be an active listener
Most people are passive listeners. If you intend to become an active listener, you’ll need to master two important tools. A famous psychologist named Carl Rogers called them Reflection of Content and Reflection of Feeling. I don’t agree with a lot of what Rogers taught, but he hit the nail on the head with this one.

Reflecting a speaker’s content means that you listen to the person; then you give him or her feedback that makes it clear you’re receiving the factual message—but as you’ll see, it ain’t all about the facts. Here’s an example of someone’s getting the information but missing the message:

A: «Sorry I’m late. As I was leaving the house, my dog ran into the street and was hit by a car.»
B (reflecting the content): «So your dog got hit by a car?»
A: «Right.»
B: «Is he dead?»
A: «Uh-huh.»
B: «So what did you do with the dog’s body?»

In that example, Person B establishes that Person A has been heard, which addresses a fundamental need for A. But B has clearly missed the point.

To be an active listener in an emotionally relevant situation, B has to do more than just reflect the factual information that A has conveyed. Reflection of feeling tells your partner not just that he’s been heard but that you have «plugged into» his life and experienced it in some way, which is essential to his satisfaction. Reflection of feeling sounds like this:

A: «Sorry I’m late. As I was leaving the house, my dog ran into the street and got hit by a car.»
B (reflecting the feeling): «Oh, my gosh—you must feel terrible.»
A: «Well, I do. We’d had the dog for 12 years, and my kids really loved him.»
B: «I’m sure they must be so upset; I’m sorry you’re going through this.»

Being able to reflect the feeling, not just the content, is essential to the success of your communication.

Rule #6: Evaluate your filters
When you and I engage in conversation, I can’t control how well you communicate; I can only control how well I receive what you’re telling me. I can go on the alert to things that may distort the messages you’re sending me—I call them filters. To be a good listener, you’ve got to know what your filters are. Maybe you’re coming into a given conversation with an agenda. Maybe you’re judging the speaker and don’t trust him at all. Maybe you’re angry. Any one of these psychological filters can dramatically distort what you hear.

Filters cause you to decide things ahead of time. You may have prejudged your partner and decided that he’s a hound dog, that he doesn’t love you anymore. Result: No matter what he says to you, you’re going to distort it to conform to what you’re already thinking, feeling, and believing.

Take an inventory of your filters. If you’re not aware of them, you can defeat the best communicator in the world because you’ll distort the message, regardless of how well it was sent.

couple fighting

Photo: Thinkstock

Choose the Right Environment
When the subject matter is weighty and emotionally charged, find a place where you won’t be distracted and can devote yourself entirely to talking and listening.

Pick Your Battles
People’s willingness to listen goes down dramatically after the first criticism in a conversation. with each successive criticism, their defensiveness goes up and their receptivity goes down. By the third criticism, you might as well be talking to yourself. don’t wander into saying, «And it also really bothers me that. » If there’s something you need to address, stick with that point and deal with other issues another time.

Beware of Undoing
People will ratchet up their courage to say something extremely important, then sabotage their own communication by waffling. «You know, I think you’re really mean and hurtful. and I know I probably bring that out in you.» No; don’t apologize for your real feelings. Deliver your message. Own it. then stay with it.

Make Use of «Minimal Encouragers» to Let Your Partner Know He Is Being Heard
Minimal encouragers are the very least you must express to make sure the speaker knows you’re listening to him. They are very simple: Make eye contact, nod your head, say things like, «Uh-huh; right; gotcha.» what that says to the other person is «All right, I hear you. Keep going.» Let him know that he’s not speaking Greek to you.

Don’t Disguise Your Feelings in a Question
«Are you going out with your buddies this Friday—again?» Really, what you’re trying to say is that you want to spend more time with your partner. When your message is true, the response will be, too.

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