Relationships fail when there is criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and avoidance

“Relationships fail when there is criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and avoidance.”

This study was done where researchers watched couples interact. They would make a prediction about whether a relationship would survive.

The four factors they noticed that predicted relationship failure are:

  1. Criticism-when critical words freely flowed. Criticism without restraint. Criticism not thoughtfully offered. Criticism which damns and condemns rather than targets improvement.
  2. Defensive-when candid communication would evoke defense versus openness to understand
  3. Contempt-when one person had strong adverse feelings about behavior or character traits of another and demonstrated it.
  4. Avoidance-when communication shut down, and there was indifference to addressing concerns. Likely those concerns come from contempt, defensiveness, and criticism.

You’ve all been there. You observed a couple interact. As you drove home, you speculated to yourself or your partner, “well, that won’t last long.”

It was just a feeling you had. But, when you think about it, you probably saw criticism, contempt, defensiveness or indifference. They doom relationships.