Toxic Name Calling In Relationships

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Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Lori Pace

Your partner should make you feel secure and protected. If they become someone who hurts you, it becomes a burden rather than a comfort. Name-calling in relationships, or verbal abuse and other forms of abuse, can cause you to feel dreadful and want to leave your partner.

When emotions are high, it’s possible for a couple to name-call each other during an argument. It’s common for either partner to lose control during turbulent times and start yelling at the other, calling them degrading names and exchanging insults.

Name calling can also be done in the form of insidious, snide remarks. This will inevitably lead to a decline in self-esteem. Unhealthy relationships are those where fights turn into shouting and name-calling, or when one partner feels like they must walk on eggshells in order to not make the other person mad.

How To Respond To Name Calling In Relationships

Arguments are not a way to solve problems, but they can be used as a tool for communication in a healthy relationship. Communication breaks down in an abusive relationship where one or both of the partners doesn’t know how they feel or what to do about it.

When a partner is name calling, the victim will shut down and cease responding. Instead of seeking solutions, the argument becomes a fight between the abusive partner and the victim. They shout at each other until they get what their hearts desire.

How To Deal With Insulting And Name Calling In Relationships?

Recognize What’s Going On

aware of your situation

First, you need to be aware of your situation. You might get used to your partner calling you names and begin to think that it is okay. It’s not OK and it’s unacceptable. Name calling is a form of bullying that can lead to other negative behaviors in the relationship. Name calling can lead to a destructive relationship and constant fighting.

It can be considered abusive behavior. However, it is not the only recourse of an abusive partner. 

This behavior often occurs in conjunction with verbal abuses such as:

  • Criticizing – “Didn’t your family eat?”
  • Manipulation – “You’re overreacting!”
  • Gaslighting –  “What are you talking about?” “I never said that.”
  • Accusations – “You did it intentionally.”
  • Blame
  • Silent treatment

You might be surprised to see some of these abusive behaviors on the list. You might be guilty of some of these behaviors and have done them with no intention of harming another person. Name calling and other abusive behavior are common in toxic relationships. Although most people won’t intentionally abuse their loved ones verbally or emotionally, it is possible.

Do not look for excuses from the person calling you names. However, if you are interested in saving your relationship, you should approach them with compassion. Emotional abuse is often ignored and not taken seriously. You’ll see the reason why yelling and name calling are unacceptable in your relationship once you realize that it is not normal.

Establish Communication When Facing Name-Calling In Relationships

Establish Communication When Facing Name-Calling In Relationships

Your partner may love you but they could still be abusive. You can help your partner deal with this by creating a communication channel that works between you. When your partner experiences negative emotions such as anger, sadness, or hurt, you may be called names. This is a common response to name calling in relationships.

The goal of communication is to restore trust and respect through it. To do this, you must keep your head down and not react negatively to their calls. Keep calm and keep your eyes on the goal. Don’t react to their abuse and don’t look out.

First, tell your partner calmly how you feel and how they are affecting you. This is the best template: “When I …”, or “I feel … because.”

Ask Your Partner For A Constructive Way To Phrase Their Insult Using The Same Template

This will help you get to the bottom of the problem and allow your partner to communicate their feelings freely without hurting you.

If they call you stupid because of your inability to remember something they said yesterday, they might say, “When you can’t recall what I said yesterday, I felt neglected because it was because I believed you didn’t pay attention when I told it to you.”

Do Not Get Too Focused On The Topic Of The Argument

Name calling in relationships was a trigger, not the cause. So, instead of arguing about whether you did or not do what your partner accuses you of, think about how their name calling affects you and how it makes you feel. Then ask them to stop.

Set Boundaries

A healthy relationship requires clear boundaries. It is important to know what is acceptable and make sure your partner knows it. If they forget, or it happens accidentally, enforce those boundaries. However, if they disregard your boundaries or break them intentionally, that’s a red flag . This means your partner does not regret their abusive behavior.

It can be difficult to deal with verbal abuse and name calling in relationships on your own. A relationship expert might be a good option. Counselors can help you find a solution that works best for you both.

Get Relationship Counseling When There Is Toxic Name-calling In Relationships

Professional help is available if you are determined to keep your relationship together, but don’t know how to make it work. A therapist can help you identify the root cause and find ways to work with your partner. They might be able guide you to a solution by using methods and tools not available to you.

Decide If You Should End The Relationship

Decide If You Should End The Relationship
Continue or not?

If not addressed, verbal abuse and name-calling can often lead to a split. Counseling might not be possible if your partner refuses to acknowledge their verbal abuse and works towards change. It’s impossible to fix a relationship on your own. You might need to leave these relationships if you are unable to handle the name-calling and you don’t like the idea of living with someone who makes your self-esteem suffer.

You can still save your relationship by trying to reach out to your partner through counseling. Verbal abusers who seek to harm and hurt their victims may turn to physical abuse if they face resistance from their partner. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline if you feel unsafe, or if you suspect that your partner is becoming more violent.

How To Stop Name-Calling In Relationships

Your problems will not be solved by calling your partner a bad name and being rude to them. You’ll only make your partner feel worse and cause them to suffer from emotional and psychological distress. There are steps you can take to end an abusive relationship

Most people don’t want to cause harm to their partners. Sometimes name-calling in relationships starts as something harmless. It can be a funny nickname that pokes fun at one small flaw. But once it becomes a routine, it can escalate into problematic behavior.

Acknowledge Your Behavior

Recognize that your behavior is harmful and hurtful to your partner. Recognize the causes of your behavior and how it impacts your partner, and take responsibility.

Many people don’t realize they are being abusive and feel guilty. In the heat of a fight, calling someone names might not seem like a problem, but you may regret it later. You can sense that your partner is about to say mean things if you are in the middle of an argument. Take a moment to calm yourself down. Stop calling your partner names.


Apologize your partner

If you offend your partner, apologize immediately. While you cannot take back what was said, you can apologize to your partner and let them know that you are sorry. Your apology should be sincere and sincere. Tell your partner that your intention is to stop your behavior forever.

A good apology involves a willingness to accept responsibility, admit guilt, and promise to make amends. Do not make the apology a mere formality. It is worth it to be able to admit that your behavior is the problem. If your partner is wary of you, be kind to them.

Stop Shifting The Blame

Shifting blame is a common cause of verbally abusive behavior. Blaming others for your behavior seems to justify your actions and exonerate you from the responsibility. You must stop doing this.

Accepting that you are responsible for your actions and not your partner is a first step to lowering your expectations.

See things through the eyes of your partner and see how your words can hurt them. Stop expecting your partner’s behavior to be a certain way. Accept them as they are. It will be easier to stop calling them names.

Face Your Feelings

It will be easier to talk to your partner about your feelings if you practice it. You might need to be a little more firm at first to allow yourself to talk to your partner. But, as you continue to practice, you will become better at recognizing your emotions and contextualizing them.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Find out what is causing your behavior. Do you hold back negative emotions toward your partner or yourself? Are you feeling resentment, anger, jealousy, disappointment, etc. ?

Understanding why you are attacking your partner and the pain it causes is key. Emotionally abusive people may not realize they are doing this, or may be used to it and not realize how it affects their partner.

Learn To Communicate

Instead of blaming your partner for your feelings, learn to own them and let them know. Name-calling in relationships can feel justified and rational during an argument, but it could be a mistake.

Both people can be toxic by emotional abuse. Name calling in relationships fuels anger and escalates the argument, leaving you feeling guilty and exhausted. Pride and anger can cause damage to your partner and your relationship.

Listen to your partner. Do not wait for your partner to finish. Instead, talk with them and make your points. Talk to your partner regularly. Instead of allowing your emotions to cloud your judgment, let your partner know what you think.

Be mindful of the consequences of what you do and speak with kindness. You should communicate with your partner with respect and understanding. You can make it easier to communicate with your partner by being open and kind. This will help you to build intimacy and closer relationships.

What Does Name-Calling In Relationships Do To A Person?

It’s damaging to hear someone say hurtful things, but it’s even more devastating when they are coming from someone you love. It causes more emotional harm than hurt feelings. Those words are not just lost if an emotional abuser continues to throw insults, criticisms, and downs at their victim.

Verbal abuse, name calling, can become a common form of communication in relationships. Harmful language tells victims that they don’t matter and their feelings don’t count. This creates an unhealthy relationship that can lead to enemies at war and toxic relationships.

Fuels The Victim’s Insecurity


Verbal abuse feeds the victim’s insecurities. It attacks victims where they feel most vulnerable. This makes them feel even more insecure. It is also isolationist and makes it difficult to reach out for help. This leaves the victim feeling abandoned and hopeless.

Damages The Victim’s Self-Worth

It can make you feel terrible if your partner calls you degrading words.

Makes Victims Feel Inferior And Degraded

The victim feels that their abilities and potential are diminished by name-calling. The insult makes them see themselves through a different lens, which can make them feel less than they really are. It causes the victim to withdraw and shut down. The victim will want to stop the constant attacks. Instead of fighting back they become resigned and cease caring about the outcome.

Causes Self-Doubt

Causes Self-Doubt

The victim may begin to question whether they are overreacting or if the abuse isn’t as severe as they think. The victim might start to feel guilty and believe they are entitled to it.

Destroys Trust

Abusive behavior can lead to victims losing faith in not only themselves, but also in their partner. They can’t trust the person they are supposed to be able to depend on, which causes damage to their relationship.

What Is The Psychology Behind Name Calling In Relationships?

Positive effects on a relationship are achieved when you communicate your feelings clearly to your partner. If you react negatively to your partner’s feelings and make them feel bad, it will hurt your relationship.


Frustration is when one partner feels that the other is not listening to them. They are frustrated by their inability to communicate with their partner and believe that they don’t listen or care.


Insecurity is a condition that makes it difficult to name people. They are afraid of their feelings because they feel that something isn’t working in their lives. These people make the other person their scapegoat and then take it out upon themselves. They must address the root cause of their insecurity and learn to manage their emotions in a constructive way.


Verbal abuse can be a power play. This way to control your partner. It can make the victim feel inferior, ashamed, and embarrassed. They feel ashamed and insecure. Your partner can become even more dependent upon the person telling them these things. They begin to look up to their partner’s kindness and make them feel better. They begin to feel worthless, and believe their partner is the only one who will accept them.

Final Remarks

Name calling is a learned behavior that can be used to communicate with someone in a relationship. It’s the only way they know how to respond to their emotions. Maybe their parents were the same with them or learned it from their children. They are unable to express or cope with their negative emotions and will lash out at others.

It is possible to have a better relationship with your partner if they can express their emotions in a constructive way. It increases intimacy, trust, and closeness by being able to communicate how you feel with your partner.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!