Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you agree that saying one regretful thing can ruin a relationship forever?

Asked by JLeslie (59570points) May 29th, 2012

Do we have to be very very careful with what we say, because people can change on a dime with their feelings towards us, even if there has been a long standing relationship between the people?

Have you ever had something said to you that you will never forget, and changed how you felt about someone? Maybe it made you feel like the mean thing said is the truth about how they feel about you, and everything said previously that was cordial and nice was false.

Or, something you regret saying, and lost a relationship because of it. Do you regret saying what you said? Are you confused why it was so terrible?

Do you think people who change their opinions so fast about someone are too rigid? Too extreme? Too sensitive?

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23 Answers

Akua's avatar

I think that saying one regretful thing can change forever how someone feels. Sometimes the things said are unforgivable and other times you know they just said it in a fit of anger. It really depends on the relationship you have with that person and how close they are to you. I have serious trust issues because I have told people something very private in the past only to have them throw it in my face later or breach the confidentiality by telling someone my business. I’m not being overly sensitive, the person who has mistreated me is being insensitive. I try not to say anything that may hurt anothers feelings and I expect the same courtesy. As it is most of the people I have lost relationships with forever are people that have said some very unforgivable things to me. Even if I think about giving them another chance, I will always doubt how they realyy fell about me or what their motives are.

elbanditoroso's avatar

This is going to sound terrible, but I don’t care.

I am not going to censor myself – choose my words every time i open my mouth – out of fear of potentially offending someone. Especially if it is a close friend or a loved one. I am who I am, and that means I say what I think. If I am worried about offending someone every minute of every day, I am simply not being myself.

And with a close friend or a loved one, I would hope that our level of trust was such that they understand who I am and what I say without getting their back up. If they can’t or won’t then they are not such a good friend after all.

So the quick answer to your question is: Be yourself. Say what you want. And don’t change your personality out of fear.

wallabies's avatar

I always regret what I’ve said – I’ve said too much, I’ve said too little, I’ve switched things around and said the opposite of what I really mean, why did/didn’t I say this when so and so brought that up…the list goes on. I’m just kind of socially challenged in this regard, because I am the kind of person that needs to slowly think things through and verbal communication doesn’t allow this. I’m not that emotional or easily shocked or offended, I don’t really care for games of power or manipulation, and just prefer to be honest and upfront with everyone and everything. Unfortunately, people have feelings and egos that need to be considered. For all of these reasons, I don’t think something someone says would completely shut me off to them. I try to be tolerant and understanding, and I hope others will afford me the same.

Sunny2's avatar

Yes, it can change the way someone thinks of you or how you think of them permanently. If you are someone who blurts out things, you should think about that. If you are losing friends because of it, think before you speak. I don’t think most people say hurtful things to each other.
Joking is another matter. You shouldn’t tease people you don’t know very well, but if you know that they will recognize that you’re teasing and can take it, go ahead.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I do think one wrong thing can ruin a relationship.

Yes, I have had hurtful things said to me that I will never forget.

digitalimpression's avatar

I don’t think so. I’ve been married for quite some time and we have both said hurtful things to each other. Forgiveness should be a readily accessible tool in your tool bag of matrimony.

Some relationships aren’t strong enough to withstand such things.. thankfully mine is.

Blackberry's avatar

No. If it takes a few sentences to ruin a relationship, it wasn’t going to last anyway.

Mariah's avatar

A really awful statement can be like a revelation. You look at the person differently after that. You feel less at ease because you never knew the person was capable of being so hateful.

I’d say it helps to have a long history. I can’t imagine any single thing my best friend could say to ruin our relationship beyond repair, but we’ve been friends since we were three. I guess the benefit of history is that any given statement is only a tiny percentage of this person’s track record. I can’t imagine faulting my best friend based on .00001% of our total interactions, you know?

Paradox25's avatar

There are two things in which I just find it difficult to get over: One is cheating, especially if she didn’t bring up something to me that could have prevented it to begin with. The other one is comparing me to past boyfriends/husbands. The last relationship that I had ended because of the latter thing I’ve mentioned, and I think that I’d shocked her by ending it just like that.

harple's avatar

My ex-husband told me, on two separate occasions, both several years into the marriage, that he did not think I would make a good mother. As someone who wants to be a mother, which he knew from the start, this was one of the most hurtful things he could have said. Twice. (He based it on my ability to tidy up after him. For ability, in truth read “willingness”. Two very different things.) Obviously many things caused the breakdown of that relationship, but this is still the one thing he said that I can pinpoint as having a significant detrimental effect.

cookieman's avatar

Depends on the one thing.

“That outfit makes you look a little portly” should not be a deal breaker.

“Jane, you ignorant slut” just might be.

My wife had a law school friend stop talking to her forever. They were scheduled, as usual, to study together when my wife called her and said, “My niece is unexpectedly in town. I’d rather spend some time with her than study.” Her friend was offended, took it personally, and never spoke to her again. To me, that’s insanity.

marinelife's avatar

@harple From knowing you on here, you would make an excellent mother.

noraasnave's avatar

Relationships are fragile, one word can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but one word can also relieve all the pressure of overwhelming emotion.

In my experience, one word didn’t ever do anything but obfuscate communications. On the other hand, as my soul mate is teaching me, TONE and body language can almost kill someone…even when attached to one word.

For example: Look at the word “whatever”...I have been on the receiving of some ugly tone attached to this word and it was an unbearable misery that I would do anything short of a capital crime to stop.

For some reason people use short or ‘one word’ phrases to tell on themselves, when of course attached to an appropriate (to the situation) tone. These are usually regrettable, because of course they will get caught in whatever they are doing eventually, and will wonder why they were subconsciously sabotaging themselves.

Berserker's avatar

A strong and true relationship should be able to last, and perhaps even grow stronger from such things. It’s a relationship; bad things are going to be said and done. I’m not even sure a relationship could be considered as such without its bad moments. You gotta learn to work it out.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes. You’ve heard the saying about one more straw to break a camel’s back? Like that.

Bellatrix's avatar

I can’t remember ending a relationship because of something a person said, but I can recall hurtful statements that have been made and that stay with me. They weren’t enough for me to drop the person, but they have changed my opinion of them and so our relationship.

And I have been dropped for losing my temper with two of my family members who I felt (and still do) were being unreasonable. I didn’t go crazy and start screaming at them by the way and I didn’t regularly go off at them either (in fact it was very rare), however that day they pushed me too far and I was irked and told them so and why. This was now over 10 years ago and things still aren’t right. So, yes… I believe saying one thing, whether you regret it or not, can ruin a friendship or relationship.

Akua's avatar

@Bellatrix your story sounds like something I went through with my aunt. She is about 7 years older than me and we were very close. We shopped and hung out together, in fact she threw me my first baby shower. Then one day over the phone she yelled at me and told me that I was just like my mother. I cried like a baby that day. That hurt and if you had known my mother you’d understand why. Since then she has tried to reach out and have the relationship we had before but it’ll never happen. I felt like she took a piece of my heart that day and I’ll never be the same. I know she feels bad that I don’t want to be her friend but I can’t help the way I feel now.

Brian1946's avatar


“My ex-husband told me, on two separate occasions, both several years into the marriage, that he did not think I would make a good mother. (He based it on my ability to tidy up after him. For ability, in truth read ‘willingness’. Two very different things.)”

Your ex seems like a major arse. Given his inability to tidy up after himself, I’d say that you’d make a better mother than his did.

Bellatrix's avatar

Honestly @Akua, while I respect your right to feel that way about your situation, in mine I think the relatives concerned are narrow minded hypocrites. Life is way too short to maintain grudges for years on end or to ostracise family members (close family members) for superficial crap. Just because you are relatives doesn’t mean you are always going to agree. In saying that, after years of holding out the olive branch and being hit over the head with it, I have taken it back and advised them they are no longer welcome in my life.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks everyone.

@Bellatrix I know how you feel. The couple relatives who have given me “silent treatments” and who I have tried to reach out to to clear the air, apologize, or just mend things have waited too long. Honestly, even a few years after having a falling out I still would have been happy to make everything all better. In both cases we both said things we regretted, or they should regret, but they are very sure they are perfect it seems, would never say anything hurtful to anyone else. But, it has been so many years that they held the grudge that I am too the point of fuck them! I had not understood how someone could feel this way, hold onto anger so long with family and people who overall only ever have good intentions, but they have taught me how. Now I am like them regarding them. You get what you give. Seems their breaking point is someone saying something that hurts their feelings, and my breaking point is witholding love/interaction/communication so long I emotionally cut off too. They probably could never make it better, they waited too long. I will never trust them to be committed in our relationship with each other, because now I know they will turn on me on a dime. I feel like they want to hate me, and hate others. Their pattern is to avoid people, be passive aggressive, have rules everyone should know, high expectations. I speak to those two relatives still, but it isn’t the same and probably never will be.

@Akua What your aunt did was very hurtful, I understand why it would be upsetting to you, but do you think she intentionally wanted to be mean to you, or was she trying to point something out to you? Maybe she was feeling badly and retaliated? Not that it is ok, but maybe she felt on the defensive? Was there any truth to what she said? Were you acting like your mom in that moment? Even if you were, I understand your aunt should have known better than to fling that at you. But, sometimes someone throws out what they think is going to be a pebble to wake someone up, and instead it winds up being a boulder that crushes the person. If she is your mother’s sister, it may not have been that you were acting like your mom, but whatever you did might have made your aunt feel emotionally how she feels when her sister treats her a certain way. You might have done something that triggered a hurt from chidhood without realizing that is what you had done. I know I am guessing a lot and could be totally wrong.

I just wonder if you said something in anger to someone you loved, would you want them to hate you forever for your one mistake? If you put yourself in her shoes, instead of focusing on your shoes and focusing your emotions you might feel better about it. I am not even telling you you should forgive her or make up with her, I am only saying you might feel better, because having some empathy for her might relieve you of some pain.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’ve never severed a relationship of any kind, based merely on something someone said. I have said hurtful thing to people I love and care about, either in anger or because I was in some kind of pain; and other people have done that too me. I don’t have a lot of friends but the ones I do have are keepers. My close friends I have known for at least 25 or 30 or more years. I don’t simply throw people out; and they have never simply thrown me out because of anything we’ve said or really, done. Unless something someone says or does is motivated by malice, I try to come to terms with it. Not that it can’t be hurtful; not that I wouldn’t bring it up and say that what you said hurt me or that some behavior is unacceptable, it just wouldn’t be cause to end the relationship.

On the one, maybe two occasions, I’m not sure, where something someone said to me or about me helped bring on the end of the relationship it really was so much about what they said, that it was mean or hurtful, it is that what they said revealed a truth about how they really felt about me and the relationship we had. Once a person’s true thoughts and feelings have been expressed it can be difficult to get back to that previous place, where you thought the relationship was one thing and it turned out to be another, if that makes any sense.

chewhorse's avatar

It really depends on what’s said and how much the other person believes in it. That’s why Politics and Religion shouldn’t be discussed among friends.. They may not express their true feelings on these subjects but if you (inadvertently) go against their beliefs or desires then not only might you loose a friend (without really knowing why) but you could just as easily make a hidden enemy.. (been there, experienced that).

Akua's avatar

@Bellatrix and @JLeslie thank you so much for your thoughts and input. I never said I didn’t or couldn’t forgive her but maybe it was implied and I should have given more details. I have since forgiven her and we did talk about it but although I have forgiven her, I don’t feel the same about her as I used to. I really wanted that feeling of trust and closeness back but it’s been broken permanently. She did not say those things to me because I was acting like my mother, she said it because she was angry at me and knew it would hurt me. She was angry at me because I wasn’t in the delivery room with her when she had her first child at the age of 40. She was scared and was having a c-section and she wanted me there. I had been there for her all through the pregnancy, giving her advice on herbs to take and foods to eat and she depended on me. A few weeks prior, my ex-boyfriend illegally evicted me from my own house in another state. He locked me out and took everything including my car, money and clothes. I had no way of getting to her on her very important day and I told her what was going on. She didn’t care that my children and I were homeless in the middle of December, 3 states away from her. All she cared about was why I wasn’t there to help HER. If this situation had been the first time she had done this I would have been able to brush it off easier but it wasn’t. My relatives have consistently rejected and ignored me when I was in need of help but as soon as they wanted something I was expected to run to help them regardless of whatever personal problems I was having at the time. I was homeless twice and had small children and both times these people wouldn’t even let us sleep on their floor. She lived in a 3 bedroom apt. by her self and told me I couldn’t stay with her until I got back on my feet. In over 30 years they have not ever come to visit me in any place I have ever lived. They have pics of family members in their houses but not one picture of me and my children. When I speak to them they don’t even ask how my kids are doing. My aunt once confided in me and told me that the family is so surprised at how well I turned out considering what a bad childhood I had and how abusive my parents were. So they know I was abused and did nothing to help me. After my mother died I found out from my Aunt about the rumors and lies that were circulated around the family (started by my mother) about me and that’s why everyone avoided me and ignored me. I have been accused of everything under the sun from being an alcoholic to being a prostitute. Now they realized everything they made up about me were lies created by an unstable evil vindictive drunk woman and want to be family now. They are getting older and lonely and they want me around now. I can’t even begin to describe to you all the things these people have done to me and the things I have seen in this “family”. These are not emotionally healthy people. No. I can forgive them but I can’t bring myself to trust those people again. I care for them from a distance. I hope this clears up why I feel the way that I feel.

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