There are many behaviors that can negatively affect a romantic relationship. John Gottman, a researcher with years of experience within the field of romance, suggests that there are four specific behaviors that can irreparably destroy relationships.
The first is titled stonewalling, where the person does not engage in communication. Stonewalling means that the person leaves or is emotionally absent whenever the other partner tries to talk to them. Stonewalling involves a lot of frustration for the other partner, as they feel ignored, and conflicts that continue without resolution or even dialogue.
Criticism is self-explanatory. It involves attacking the person for perceived mistakes, criticizing them rather than their work or specific behavior. While constructive criticism and conversations on problems are an important part of the relationship, criticism is an attack on the person and not the situation.
Contempt is the biggest predictor of the end of a relationship. It refers to a disparaging, sarcastic, mean attitude towards the partner that shows a lack of respect. Contempt refers to a very negative, dismissive attitude that tends to be hurtful, involving behaviors like mocking the partner.
The fourth behavior is defensiveness. Defensiveness means shutting down the dialogue by shifting the blame onto the partner or someone else or refusing to accept one’s errors, even if it means the conflict does not get solved.
These four behaviors occur in communication and don’t bode well for the relationship. While, occasionally, we all might fall into one or other, it is important that this does not become a pattern.