What Is Relationship Castration? One Wrong Word and It’s Over


One expert explains what can happen when you deliver a low blow. 

New York based Dr. Errol Gluck says he treated a couple in therapy who wanted to make it work after fighting for some time. When he asked the two separately what the main issue was, the woman said her husband didn’t communicate properly, and the husband said his wife didn’t communicate easily, either. 

“That’s how it started, then, angry, the wife says he has the ‘smallest penis she ever seen.’ That was it. It was over forever,” Dr. Gluck says. He explains that there is a level you can hit with your partner where there is no going back, and the relationship has to end because you’ve said something so horrendous, it will never be the same—it’s called “relationship castration.”

“It happens all the time,” says Dr. Gluck, C.Ht. C.I., D.Min., Co-Founder Platinum Poire and Gluck Solutions. “Many times with executives, who have amazing track records professionally, and the worst track record in their personal lives, because they are not able to translate business communication into personal communication.”

He says, “when we say something is castrated, you’re cutting something off,” and that one sentence can have words that cut off trust completely and the relationship cannot be repaired.

“It’s really in how people communicate to you is what causes you to feel close or not close to them,” he says. “Castration talk comes from anger—frustration, a sense of injustice that something is not fair, and feeling trapped or cornered.”

Dr. Gluck says it’s in the cornered area where things can get “brutal.”

“One example is someone caught in an affair, then they’ll attack the other person with ‘you made me do this,’” he says. 

Subtle castration happens when frustration builds up from lack of compliments, or not understanding a person’s area of weakness, or not giving a person credit when it’s due.

“Castration happens with an ax or a scalpel, builds up or in one blow,” he explains. “Everything we say is gong to create an emotional response from people we have an emotional investment in.”

How to prevent ruining a relationship with angry words?

“It’s like an Oreo,” Dr. Gluck says. “Two pieces with the stuff in the middle. It’s the same with compliment, deal with the issue, compliment. Say one of you have gained weight. Instead of saying ‘I married a sports car, now I’ve got a minivan,’ put it like this: ‘I love you from the day I met you, and I’ll love you until the day I die. If the both of us can get in better shape we’ll have more fun with each other. And I look forward to doing it with you.

“You just sandwiched the message between two affirmations. The brighter your partner shines the better it is for everyone.”

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