Hurtful Words | 3 Types of Comments That Weaken Your Relationship
Have you ever experienced the situation where you say something, thinking it is funny, only to realize later that your partner didn’t take it the same way and got upset? An innocent comment can be the start of a very intense conflict, and in the daily lives of lesbian couples, this scenario can be quite common.
Take Alex and Jamie, for example. They were enjoying a conversation at their favorite coffee shop, dreaming about moving in together, when Alex blurted out, “Do you think we’re moving too fast?“
Alex intended her comment to be funny, making a tongue-in-cheek reference to U-Haul lesbians, and didn’t realize that Jamie took her seriously until Jamie asked, “What do you mean? Are you having second thoughts about us?”
This is the first type of hurtful comment in lesbian relationships. I call them blurts. Blurts are well-intended, but often impulsive or mindless comments that are received as hurtful.
In an effort to correct this, Alex explained, “No, no, babe. It’s not what you think. I was joking. You know how I like to play.”
Though relieved to hear Alex’s explanation, Jamie still felt a lingering sense of unease. In an effort to reduce her hurt but not wanting to get into a conflict, Jamie replied in jest, “Oh, so you’re just playing mind games with me now? I guess I’ll have to keep my guard up then!”
Recognizing that Jamie’s delivery didn’t match her words, Alex felt uncertain about what was happening. This is common with the second type of hurtful comment, which I call Flips. Flips are comments made casually or flippantly, with the intention to address a concern or issue without directly causing conflict or hurting the other person.
hurt and now anxious about Jamie’s comment, and she lashed out, saying, “You always find a way to twist my words and make me feel like I’m not enough for you! Maybe you should find someone else!”
Flippant responses are the second type of hurtful comments, and they aim to avoid conflict or hurting the other person while conveying a concern or issue. This can make it challenging for the receiver to discern the true intention behind the comment.
Jamie, taken aback by the sudden intensity of Alex’s words, felt a sharp sting in her heart. That’s the power of a zing, the third and most hurtful of the three types of comments, because they explicitly intend to hurt or insult someone.
Flips and Zings are ineffective forms of self-protection. They are designed to ward off hurt by hurting someone else. Unfortunately, they cause more harm than anything.
Fortunately, Alex and Jamie have the skills to turn things around.
Regretting her zinger, Alex immediately apologized, saying softly, “I’m sorry, Jamie. I got scared when you saw me as someone who wants to play mind games with you.”
Understanding Alex’s reaction, Jamie empathized, “I should not have said that, I’m sorry. I felt hurt thinking that you are not as excited as I am to move in together when you joked about us moving too fast.”
Taking ownership of her actions, Alex apologized, “I can see how my comment could land that way. I am excited to take the next steps with you, and I don’t want to talk to you like I did. I am sorry; I want to be more mindful of my words.”
Jamie acknowledged her responsibility, too, saying, “I need to hear what you are saying, not what I fear; I will work to be better, too.”
What started as an enjoyable morning became a misunderstanding (blurt), leading to a mixed message (flip) and ultimately an intentionally unkind comment (zing). When you notice, name and take responsibility to correct your blurts, flips and zings, you can safeguard your relationship more effectively.
Ready to Improve Your Communication in 6-Weeks
The Art of Wholehearted Communication (TAWC) helps lesbian couples connect on a deeper level, with more self-awareness, less self-protection and greater compassion.
Designed specifically for lesbians (by a lesbian), TAWC and offers a synthesis of healing modalities, neuroanatomy and physiology research and relationship theories, including:
- Imago Theory
- Gottman Method
- Nonviolent Communication
- Emotionally Focused Therapy
- Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
- Polyvagal Theory