“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:
- Criticism-when critical words freely flowed. Criticism without restraint. Criticism not thoughtfully offered. Criticism which damns and condemns rather than targets improvement.
- Defensive-when candid communication would evoke defense versus openness to understand
- Contempt-when one person had strong adverse feelings about behavior or character traits of another and demonstrated it.
- 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.