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Simply and honest to god the worst phrase you ever want to hear come from your significant other's lips. This phrase can never mean anything good, and usually signals the demise of the current relationship. If you hear this, bells and whistles should be going off in your head. Also expect to hear "let's just be friends" and quite possible "its not you, its me".

I'm fairly certain that the sounds of these words, in any language, are hard-wired into the human brain in a similar way to the pain response. I theorize that even before the advent of language these words had their intrinsic meaning.

Why do I say this? Personal Experience. Not long ago I was in my first real relationship. Not having had previous relationships and the fact that I don't watch much tv had the effect that I wasn't really farmiliar with the significance of these words.

However,

when I heard these words coming from my girlfriend's mouth, it was like a physical sensation, for a moment, I think, my fight or flight reaction was invoked. I instantly understood that Very Bad Things were happening. The sound of the words went past the speech center in my brain and hit that one spot reserved just for such a case.

It's funny, I suppose, that these sounds ended up being mapped to the words "we need to talk", it seems so innocent...

The words are invariably a signal that you are about to be dumped. I remember every single time this has happened to me, it's indelibly etched into my memory.

It's all about rejection, I think. The only other time that I've experienced the queasy, sinking feeling that goes with these words is on the single occasion when I was fired.

Even when you're expecting it, such a situation is always deeply shocking and viscerally disturbing. The fight or flight reaction that inciteful mentions is immediately invoked, and you get that "butterflies in your stomach" feeling. You want to do something, anything to stop what's coming next, but you can't. You're frozen, like an animal caught in the headlight of a car.

Rejection like that leaves a wound, no matter how expected it was. Sometimes, it takes years to get over it - but you never lose the terror you feel at those words.

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