Why Threats Can Destroy Your Relationship

When it comes to arguing with a partner, it's not always easy to take the high road. Depending on what started the disagreement and the mood of the people having it, things can go awry fast. Before you know it, pettiness comes into play, things are being said that will be regretted later, and either one or both of you has threatened to end the relationship right then and there. Oh, the joys of arguing with someone you love.

Threats are usually used as the last straw in a conflict that isn't going as planned. The intention of threatening, even if you're not cognizant of it in the moment, is to regain control over the situation in an extremely childish way, per PsychCentral

"While breakups do happen, if you have no intent to leave, you should never threaten your partner with a break up to get your way," counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Insider, confirming that endless threats can cause unrepairable damage to your relationship.

Why threats don't work

Threats ignite fear of loss in a partner, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, per Insider. Particularly if your significant other is prone to mental health issues, threats can easily result in emotional turmoil. 

If you make a threat every time you get into an argument with your partner, you're not communicating or actively trying to resolve the issue. Instead, you're just throwing out a threat. And after enough threats, you may end up in a "boy who cried wolf" scenario. You can only claim something so many times before those around you stop believing you.

Threats are also manipulative, meaning they're a form of emotional and verbal abuse that can leave lasting damage.

"It's important to remember that people in abusive relationships aren't always experiencing volatile abuse 100% of the time," licensed marriage and family therapist Amelia Peck tells Brides. "Often, after an abusive episode, couples make up and have a sort of 'honeymoon phase' for a bit. This is a piece that leads to emotional complexity and leads victims to justify their partner's abuse or take the blame for it."

If you truly love your partner, then the last thing you want to do — no matter how hurt or angry you might be in the moment — is abuse them.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

What to say instead of making threats

According to Medical News Today, it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to break a habit. That means if your habit is making threats in your relationship, then you have your work cut out for you — especially since there's a good chance you're not making threats every day but, instead, just during arguments. Either way, it's a habit that you've started and you need to break. The best way to do that is to handle conflict like — wait for it — an adult.

Dealing with relationship issues like an adult means, for example, walking away to calm yourself down before you completely fly off the handle. You can also address the issue with your partner by letting them know that you're aware that your go-to during arguments is to make threats and that you plan to work on it. Whether that means anger management or going to therapy, it's something you're going to actively try to fix about your disagreement methods.

Lots of things, either internal or external, can destroy a relationship, but don't let threats be one of them. Threats are on par with a five-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. If you're no longer five, then you shouldn't be throwing tantrums or making empty threats. Your relationship deserves more than such juvenile behavior.