9 phrases people with low emotional intelligence use in relationships (without realizing how hurtful they are)

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Emotional intelligence — it’s about being aware and in control of our emotions, and being able to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

However, what if you’re unknowingly using phrases that are hurting your loved ones?

In this article, we’re going to delve into some common phrases that people with low emotional intelligence often use in relationships.

The scary part? They often don’t even realize how hurtful these words can be.

So buckle up, because this might be a tough but essential read for many of us.

1) “You’re overreacting”

Let’s kick off with a classic one, shall we?

In the world of emotional intelligence, understanding and validating emotions is crucial.

But here’s a phrase that does the exact opposite: “You’re overreacting.”

This statement can be incredibly hurtful because it invalidates the other person’s feelings. It’s as if you’re telling them their emotions are unwarranted or excessive.

But remember, everyone has the right to their feelings. What might seem trivial to you could be significant to them.

Low emotional intelligence often leads to a lack of understanding of this concept. People may use this phrase without realizing that they’re dismissing the other person’s emotional experience.

The hard truth is, it’s not about whether you think they’re overreacting or not. It’s about acknowledging their emotions and showing empathy.

And if you find yourself using this phrase, it might be time to work on improving your emotional intelligence.

2) “I’m sorry you feel that way”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t it good to apologize?”

Absolutely, but here’s the catch. The phrase “I’m sorry you feel that way” is a classic non-apology.

A non-apology, you ask?

Well, it’s when someone uses the language of an apology but doesn’t actually take responsibility for their actions or behavior. Instead of expressing regret for what they’ve done, they’re simply acknowledging the other person’s feelings.

Here’s why it’s problematic.

This phrase puts the blame on the recipient’s feelings, rather than the speaker’s actions. It subtly implies that the issue at hand is the other person’s reaction, not the initial action that caused those feelings.

In essence, it sidesteps accountability.

People with low emotional intelligence often use non-apologies, not realizing how dismissive they can come across. 

They might think they’re extending an olive branch when in reality, they’re just brushing off their partner’s emotions.

3) “That’s just how I am”

At first glance, it might seem like an honest admission of one’s personality.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll see it’s actually a clever way of avoiding change or growth.

When someone uses this phrase, they’re essentially saying they won’t make efforts to change their behavior because it’s part of their identity.

In relationships, this can be particularly damaging. It suggests a refusal to compromise, adapt, or improve for the sake of the relationship.

In essence, it’s a dismissal of the other person’s feelings or concerns.

People with low emotional intelligence often resort to this phrase without realizing its impact. It paints them as inflexible and unwilling to address issues that could be damaging their relationships.

Ironically enough, acknowledging one’s flaws is a good thing, but using them as an excuse to avoid growth? Not so much.

4) “It’s not a big deal”

Have you ever shared a concern with someone, only to have them dismiss it with “It’s not a big deal”?

This phrase is another classic example of invalidating someone’s feelings or concerns.

What may seem trivial to one person might be a major issue for another. By saying “it’s not a big deal,” you’re essentially telling the other person they’re wrong to feel the way they do.

In relationships, this can be particularly harmful, as it can make the other person feel unheard or unimportant. It’s a form of emotional neglect that can lead to resentment and further conflict.

People with low emotional intelligence often use this phrase without realizing its damaging effects. They might think they’re offering reassurance or perspective, but in reality, they’re minimising the other person’s feelings.

Remember, acknowledging and validating someone’s feelings doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It simply means respecting their right to feel the way they do.

5) “You’re too sensitive”

Let’s be honest, no one likes to be told they’re too sensitive.

It’s a form of gaslighting, where the speaker shifts the blame onto the recipient for feeling upset or hurt.

Consider these common scenarios:

  • Your partner brings up something that bothered them, and you respond with “You’re too sensitive.”
  • You make a joke at your partner’s expense, they get upset, and you say, “You’re too sensitive.”
  • Your partner is hurt by a comment you made, and instead of apologizing, you say, “You’re too sensitive.”

In all these cases, “You’re too sensitive” is used to deflect responsibility and belittle the other person’s feelings.

People with low emotional intelligence often use this phrase without understanding its impact. They might think it’s a harmless comment, but it can actually cause significant emotional harm.

In short, it’s a phrase that needs to be erased from our relationship vocabulary.

6) “I don’t have time for this”

Let’s face it: life is busy. We all have commitments, responsibilities, and pressures that eat up our time. But here’s a phrase that can really sting in relationships: “I don’t have time for this.”

Now, I get it. We’ve all had moments when we’re overwhelmed, and the last thing we want is another issue to deal with.

But when we say “I don’t have time for this” in response to a partner’s concerns or feelings, what we’re really saying is, “Your feelings aren’t important enough for me to deal with right now.”

Ouch, right?

This phrase dismisses the other person’s emotions and makes them feel like a burden. It sends a message that their concerns aren’t worth your time.

People with low emotional intelligence might use this phrase without considering its hurtful implications. They might believe they’re simply expressing their stress or exhaustion, but the impact on the relationship can be damaging.

If we wish to nurture our relationships, we need to make time for tough conversations and emotional exchanges. It may not always be easy or convenient, but it’s essential for maintaining strong and healthy relationships.

7) “Why can’t you be more like…?”

Imagine this: you’re sharing a struggle or a failure with someone, and they respond with, “Why can’t you be more like…?”

How would you feel? Probably not great, right?

This phrase is a form of comparison that can be incredibly damaging in relationships. By comparing someone to another person, you’re essentially telling them they’re not good enough as they are.

What’s worse, it can create feelings of inadequacy and resentment. It may lead to questions like, “Why don’t they accept me for who I am?” or “Am I not good enough?”

People with low emotional intelligence may use this phrase without realizing its harmful effects. They might think they’re providing a helpful example or setting a standard.

However, in reality, it often just makes the other person feel inferior and unappreciated.

In relationships, it’s important to appreciate and accept each other for who we are – flaws and all. After all, isn’t that what love is about?

8) “You always…” or “You never…”

In my younger years, I had a habit of starting arguments with phrases like “You always…” or “You never…”. It felt like a powerful way to make my point. But, over time, I realized how destructive these words can be.

These phrases are examples of absolute language. They generalize one’s behavior in a negative light and can make the other person feel attacked or defensive.

Absolute language is rarely accurate. Nobody “always” or “never” does something.

When we use these phrases, we’re not addressing the specific issue at hand. Instead, we’re making sweeping statements about the other person’s character or behavior.

People with low emotional intelligence often resort to absolute language without recognizing its damaging effects. They may think they’re expressing their frustration, but they’re actually escalating the conflict.

Healthy communication in relationships is about addressing specific issues and behaviors, not attacking the person as a whole. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way, but it’s made all my relationships healthier and more respectful.

9) “Whatever, I don’t care”

Finally, we arrive at a phrase that cuts to the core: “Whatever, I don’t care.”

This statement is a clear dismissal of the other person’s thoughts, feelings, or opinions. It’s one of the most hurtful phrases someone can use in a relationship.

Saying “I don’t care” sends a strong message of indifference and disregard. It can make the other person feel unimportant and undervalued.

People with low emotional intelligence may resort to this phrase when they’re frustrated or overwhelmed. They might think they’re ending an argument, but in reality, they’re damaging the connection with their partner.

The truth is, caring is fundamental in any healthy relationship. If we find ourselves saying “I don’t care,” it’s a sign that we need to pause, reflect, and reconsider our approach to communication.

And with that, we wrap up our exploration into the phrases often used by people with low emotional intelligence.

Are we aware of our words?

It’s crucial to remember that our words carry power. They can uplift, validate, and strengthen the bond with our loved ones. But as we’ve explored, they can also hurt, invalidate, and damage our relationships.

Before we wrap up, let’s quickly highlight ways to improve our emotional intelligence:

  • Practice active listening: Show genuine interest in what the other person is saying.
  • Empathize: Try to understand and share the feelings of others.
  • Reflect on your emotions: Understand why you feel a certain way before reacting.
  • Ask for feedback: Encourage your loved ones to share how your words impact them.

The journey towards greater emotional intelligence is not an overnight process. It requires patience, self-awareness, and a willingness to learn and grow. But it’s a journey worth taking.

As we move forward, let’s remember to choose our words wisely and treat our relationships with the care they deserve. After all, isn’t it better to build bridges with our words than walls?

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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