How to Predict an Apocalypse in Relationships?


In every relationship, certain behavior patterns can forecast its future. Relationship researchers could provide a wealth of predictive information, and counseling experts a myriad of stories. Therefore, we might ask, why not utilize these facts to recognize them in our own relationships, which could be crucial for their health and longevity. These 'apocalyptic factors' - criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling - signal deep problems that, if unresolved, can seriously damage your relationship. This article will explore what each of them means and how we can recognize and confront them in our everyday life.

Criticism Never Ends... 

Criticism is more than just complaining about specific behavior. It's like saying 'You never do anything right,' instead of 'You forgot to wash the dishes today.' Criticism in a relationship often crosses the boundaries of constructive feedback and turns into an attack on your partner's character or personality. It's like telling your partner 'You're irresponsible!' instead of 'You forgot to pay the bill.' This creates tension in the relationship atmosphere and can lead to feelings of rejection and misunderstanding. Criticism tends to provoke defense and conflict, instead of open and constructive communication. It's important to learn to talk about problems and feelings without accusing and generalizing, opening the way to understanding and solutions.

You Have Nothing More to Offer Me

Contempt is the most harmful factor in a relationship. It manifests as sarcastic remarks, mockery, cynicism. Imagine a partner who constantly ridicules your opinions or feels superior. Imagine deep rejection of a partner on a verbal and non-verbal level. This phenomenon can be like poison to a relationship, as it erodes respect and feels emotional distance and superiority. Contempt often stems from a deep sense of dissatisfaction and unresolved problems. The key to overcoming contempt is to create an environment of open communication, mutual respect, and empathy.

Defend Yourself! 

Defense is usually a response to criticism, leading to mutual blame. It's like responding to the complaint 'You're always on the phone' with 'Only because you never give me attention!' This pattern of behavior occurs when one partner feels attacked and responds by defending or blaming back. Defense leads to a cycle of mutual blame and prevents constructive problem-solving. Instead, it's necessary to learn to listen and respond empathically.

Run Away in the Worst Case! 

What about building walls? It's an escape strategy. The goal is to escape conflict and ignore the partner. Imagine a partner who prefers to leave the room rather than solve the problem. This defensive mechanism manifests when one partner closes off and stops responding. It's like stopping communication, ignoring problems, or leaving the relationship, not just the room during an argument. This pattern of behavior creates emotional distance and isolation, and it's important to work on openness and the ability to face conflicts.

What to Do When the First Signs of Apocalypse Appear in a Relationship? 

The first step is to make a decision. And so you have to decide whether you are going to work on the relationship. And then? Start actively working to overcome them:

  • Recognize the problem and learn to recognize it when it happens. Start being aware of these negative behavior patterns. Awareness is the first step to their changes.
  • Focus on open communication. Learn together with your partner to communicate openly and respectfully, expressing your feelings and needs without blaming.
  • Step by step, work on changing your own behavior. Replace destructive patterns with positive ones, such as empathy, understanding, and constructive feedback.
  • Seek professional help. Therapy or relationship counseling can be useful in improving relationship skills and communication.

Don't panic when signs of apocalypse appear in your relationship. Realize that it's a signal that it's time to pay attention and work on your partnership. 

Every relationship requires attention and time. Partnership is built on that. It's not a 'one-wo/man-show.'

Recognizing and changing these negative behavior patterns is a challenging but necessary task on the road to a healthy and harmonious relationship. Remember that help and support are available, and that investing in the health of your relationship is one of the most valuable investments you can make.

PhDr. Ivana Čergeťová, PhD., LL.M., MBA, PCIC

I am a psychologist, NLP coach, attachment-based therapist, career counselor, and academic staff. I have been dedicated to the attachment theory in personal and work settings for over 20 years. I work on this topic not only as a counselor but also as a researcher. Meeting with me can help you if you are seeking an expert in mental health specializing in relationships, communication, and personal development. For more information, follow my social networks @radipsychologicka #attachment #relationships #love #attachment #JoinMeForAdvice #relationshiptherapist #development