What you say to your partner: Naughty or Nice?

What’s your secretly favorite insult that gives you goosebumps and a surge of adrenaline? Mine is from a favorite film, can you guess it?

“You two-toned zebra-headed, slime-coated, pimple-farmin’ paramecium brain, munchin’ on your own mucus, suffering from Peter Pan envy!”

If I had my own list to check twice, I would put Robin Williams on the Nice list, wouldn’t you?

Probably because it’s seems so satisfying to see his character release pent-up anger in a boyish, creative way and finally participating at the level of the lost boys. Forgetting about being an intolerable adult.

And we all get that craving of just wanting to behave like a wild lost child because adulthood is a bit of a truckload of responsibilities.

So guess what?

It’s not totally detrimental to be a bit naughty with what you say to your partner. 

Let’s be honest, we’re not always nice to each other. We get defensive. We get annoyed. And we get restless.

We won’t always be nice but we can be at crucial times and topics.

There are things that will be said and done, but there are things that you say that can’t be undone.

Now don’t fret over a curse word—it can be quite cathartic, when it’s not aimed at the person. There are actually comments that are more damaging than the B word, F word, and any expletive, put together.

And there are comments that are harmless, but might be thought of as “declaring war.”

So let’s play a game where you guess if the comment is naughty or nice. 

Try not to peak at the answers at the end. And don’t skip the explanation as to why the comments are either innocent or injurious.


1. Leave me alone.


2. Didn’t you think?


3. I don’t want to do what you want to do. 


4. You don’t know how to [skill or behavior].


5. I had a line at the door of people who would do anything to be with me. You should feel lucky to have me.


6. What’s in it for me?


7. I feel left out.


8. What you see is what you get.


9. This sucks.



Here’s your answer key: Nice: 1, 3, 7, 9; Naughty: 2, 4, 5, 6, 8

The point of the game is to guess from an ambiguous or otherwise misinterpreted comment, so the nice ones aren’t meant to be the most polite, just fair game and harmless. 

The Nice comments aren’t attacking your partner, and are mainly about standing up for yourself—there’s nothing wrong in that. The naughty ones might start with an incriminating “you.” Can you hear the difference between these two questions?

“What did you do?” vs “What happened?”

Number 5 is going into dangerous waters when you start comparing your partner to others and not in a good way. Number 6 shows a focus on your own needs only, and that stifles the relationship. But if you’ve been quite passive for a long time and you suddenly ask it, this may be a breakthrough. Number 8 is basically an excuse and is a way of not meeting your partner half way.

Now it also depends how you say them. You could be giving one of the nice comments but your tone of voice can be contemptuous. Tone of voice IS also body language.

Sometimes being playful can de-escelate an already tense situation. You know your partner best, and you’ll know if they’ll respond well to a little joke or a playful comment.


Bottom Line:

If the comment personally bothers you, then it doesn’t matter how much research claims it’s benign, because it doesn’t take into account your personal struggles and your specific relationship. Don’t feel ashamed, or crazy, or wrong, if a comment above is said to be Nice and you don’t feel that way at all. In return, don’t pressure your partner into accepting comments they’re not happy with just because this article said it’s relatively Nice. Your partner has reasons for the way they feel. These are just in general, what people tend to feel, but this doesn’t mean it fits for every relationship.


BTW, if you didn’t guess the film I’m quoting, it’s Hook. I try to keep in mind that maybe not everyone is a film addict like I am.