Trashtalking by partners and potential partners: What are your rules and tolerances?

Nudibranch

New member
What kinds of things have you said to partners or would-be partners who treated your partner with a lack of respect, insulted them, or engaged in trashtalk? Do you automatically break it off with such people, or do they get a warning?

I have a zero tolerance rule on this, and so does my H. Many years ago he tolerated someone trashing me, being conflict avoidant just as you say. He hated it, but didn't set firm boundaries about what kinds of communication were and weren't acceptable. He realized much too late what he'd done/enabled.

By the time it was necessary for him to break that off, the other party thought she had established a standing with him (i.e., discarding/trashing me as a communications pattern indicating intimacy/relationship privilege/status) that was not the case. He was shocked to learn this, and shocked to realize that his failure to set firm boundaries had contributed so strongly. I was even more shocked. It was a painful, devastating lesson for both of us, and especially him. I went through a period of fury that I had to be the one to set those boundaries and hold his feet to the fire. I found just how strong my sense of justice was: that above all we must be loyal to those we love. That was the real hurt for me, that he didn't stand up for me, that he wimped out.

The example I used with him, in the fury of our working this through and out, was based on his military experience with top secret security clearance. (He often processes things like an engineer...being an engineer.) I pointed out that if he had blabbed in his military service the way he blabbed in his relationship, or gave away privileged information, he would have been court martialed. Or terminated.

That woke him up. He was shocked to see what a violation of loyalty he'd allowed and contributed to. He could see that, although he was not trash-talking me with her, she had strategically and tactically deployed certain facts (such as that he and I were working through a dense period of conflict over decision making) and built a gradual and escalating pattern of disrespect on that. When he confronted her on that, she showed her hand, and he ended it 100%.

My point there is that the "trash talking" isn't always clear at first. The disrespect can start in more subtle ways. For instance the criticism of the non-present party might not be calling her a bitch or him an asshole, but putting them down more subtly.

These are ploys for relationship power and leverage, and if they are not nipped in the bud, eventually they will get ugly. So zero tolerance is, IMO, the way to go, and by the time the real trash talking has begun, there is probably a long established tradition of other disrespect, shaming, jockeying for power, bullying, etc.

There can be absolutely no tolerance in intimate relationships for vicious speech; it is a form of violence. Anyone who does that against a third party is asking others to conspire in it. They must be brought up firmly and quickly, and if they cannot control their feelings and speech, I want nothing to do with them.
 
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turtleHeart

New member
I can't imagine dating anyone that dislikes my wife. It simply wouldn't work. Even if they were respectful but simply didn't want to be around her, it wouldn't work. Luckily I've yet to have to deal with this as people I like also like Ginko, at least as a good friend.
 

CielDuMatin

New member
"Trashtalking" can mean different things to different people.

General bad-mouthing (along the "selfish bitch" line) is not tolerated at all - warnings will go out, and actions taken if they are not heeded.

Criticisms of someone's behaviour will often make me insist that it is said to their face, in my presence if required. Don't say something to me that you wouldn't and haven't said to the person who you are talking about. Stuff like that doesn't go on behind other's backs. I was in that place at one point, and the relationship ended. Won't go there again.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
I am wondering what people find acceptable and unacceptable in these situations.

Zero-tolerance isn't "One warning and then goodbye." Zero-tolerance is simply "Goodbye."

For me, it doesn't even have anything to do with my partner or protecting their honour. It's the simple fact that I would not choose to be in a relationship with anyone who trash talks other people, period. That's juvenile and intolerable. It's Mean Girls.

It's also a sign of low self-esteem. People who put others down are usually trying to bolster opinions of themselves. For me, it has the opposite effect.

I've reached a point in my life where I can afford to be extremely picky, and I am. I'm happy with most aspects of my situation, and I don't need to settle for anything less than healthy, well-adjusted, mature adults.

Plus, my partners are all really awesome. Anyone who trash talks them obviously has bad taste. Why would I want to date someone with bad taste? What does that say about me??
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
The woman in question is in her 40s, and has a Ph.D from Stanford. I guess some people never do really mature past high school though.

At the risk of stereotyping Ivy League graduates... that actually makes it far less surprising. From what I've gleaned in the cheap seats, Ivy League educations give people a sense of superiority rivalled only by the Roman empire.
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
At the risk of stereotyping Ivy League graduates... that actually makes it far less surprising. From what I've gleaned in the cheap seats, Ivy League educations give people a sense of superiority rivalled only by the Roman empire.


Off topic - but this really made me smile - I remember when I was looking at colleges (oh, so many years ago) my mother's only requests were that I a.) didn't go to a college in our nearby city because she thought living further from home and being independent was an important part of the college experience and b.) that I not go to Princeton because everyone she had ever met that had gone to Princeton was a "PRETENTIOUS SNOB"!:D

JaneQ
 

nycindie

Active member
For me, it doesn't even have anything to do with my partner or protecting their honour. It's the simple fact that I would not choose to be in a relationship with anyone who trash talks other people, period. That's juvenile and intolerable. It's Mean Girls.

It's also a sign of low self-esteem. People who put others down are usually trying to bolster opinions of themselves. For me, it has the opposite effect.

I've reached a point in my life where I can afford to be extremely picky, and I am. I'm happy with most aspects of my situation, and I don't need to settle for anything less than healthy, well-adjusted, mature adults.

Plus, my partners are all really awesome. Anyone who trash talks them obviously has bad taste. Why would I want to date someone with bad taste? What does that say about me??

This is the most sensible, rational viewpoint I've read here. Of course!

I was also thinking of the question in the title of the thread - "what are your rules and tolerances?" If there has to be a rule set down about something like this, I would say that the people involved just aren't mature or well-adjusted enough to be in relationships. Not worth my time and energy to police anyone who should have the sense to know better than to talk that way or tolerate someone talking that way.
 

MeeraReed

Active member
Great comments on this thread. I like SchrodingersCat's view especially.

However, there seems to be an assumption about protecting the primary couple here. The trashtalker is the one who is outside the primary couple...if he/she is trashtalking, he/she must be crazy/immature/not worth anyone's time, etc.

The flipside of that is this: if you are dating someone, and you think their spouse is selfish and manipulative (and maybe you have rational, reality-based evidence for that view), you need to get out of that relationship. It might be tempting to badmouth the spouse...it might be tempting to use misogynistic and hateful words like "bitch"...but really, you need to dump the person you're dating.

Why would you want to be with someone whose spouse is so awful? Someone who is devoted to a selfish and manipulative spouse must have their own mountain of issues.
 

nycindie

Active member
However, there seems to be an assumption about protecting the primary couple here.

Not for me. I don't care who does the trash talking - it could be one of the spouses in the primary couple trash talking a metamour, or any combo of whoever (depending on how many people are involved). Talking shit about your lover's other lover(s) is simply unacceptable.
 

Becca

Member
I absolutely avoid trashtalking, and go further-- if a partner tells me something about a conflict they have with an OSO, I am very careful to communicate (1) that I can provide a sympathetic ear, to a point (I have careful boundaries around not getting too involved with their conflicts), but (2) I am not going to voice my complete opinion about the subject, because if I do think anything negative about their OSO, I'm not going to say it.

I am generally all about complete and open honesty, but this is one exception. If my boyfriend's girlfriend is in any way in the wrong, I will go out of my way to avoid voicing my opinion about that, if at all possible. If that becomes a problem, then there is a deeper relationship problem that I need to address.

I have never had a problem with a metamour saying something negative about me, but I would set some serious boundaries if it did happen (which might limit or end my relationship with that partner).
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
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SisterLauren

New member
I am realizing that, while I have never had a partner who said an unkind word against my primary partner, my primary partner has been in several situations where partners or would-be partners of his were not nearly that respectful towards me, to put it mildly. I am also realizing that I have a huge problem with how he deals with those situations. Primary partner tends to be conciliatory and conflict-avoidant by nature, and tends to try to make peace between me and assorted volatile others. I told him today, I feel we need a zero-tolerance rule of trash-talking me, of any kind, by other partners or would-be partners.

I am wondering what people find acceptable and unacceptable in these situations.

What kinds of things have you said to partners or would-be partners who treated your partner with a lack of respect, insulted them, or engaged in trashtalk? Do you automatically break it off with such people, or do they get a warning?

Good question! I would think this happens to the best of us, sometimes I even find myself doing it. I think unless the trash talk is a legitimate concern, its coming from a place of jealousy or insecurity. We have to look within ourselves, or have a discussion with the disgruntled partner to see what is the root cause of the lashing out and work on it at the source.
 
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