A psychologist and professor has outlined the four ‘toxic’ traits that are guaranteed to end your relationship before it even has the chance to bloom.
John Gottman identified criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling as the major conversation patterns that can ‘ruin’ relationships.
Influencer Thuy Le has been with her boyfriend for more than 14 years and the couple recently started seeing a relationship therapist.
Their therapist explained how Gottman’s principles can affect all couples – and what main signs everyone should look out for.
‘We’ve been struggling a bit in our relationship, but we do so many of the things we definitely shouldn’t be,’ Thuy said.
Influencer Thuy Le has been with her boyfriend for more than 14 years and the couple recently started seeing a relationship therapist
Thuy explained that there was a difference between criticising and complaining.
‘Criticism is when you are attacking your partner’s personality traits or character traits. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything about your partner’s behaviour that upsets you.
Toxic traits that will ruin your relationship
‘You are entitled to your feelings and you should let them know if they’ve hurt you – but it’s how you say it that actually matters.’
It’s essential to pay attention to your tone and think before you speak.
Thuy provided an example: If your partner always leaves the toilet seat up, don’t call him lazy or stupid, just point out the pattern and ask him to ensure it’s down next time.
‘My therapist said contempt is the most destructive out of all four traits – it’s when you show blatant disrespect for your partner,’ Thuy revealed.
It could range from things like abuse and insults to name-calling and eye-rolling.
‘It tends to happen when you get into big arguments with your partner and you end up saying things you don’t mean,’ she explained.
‘Both of you end up feeling unappreciated.
‘Try not to argue when you’re really upset because you’re never going to come to a resolution.’
The therapist suggested taking some time to yourself and then coming back to each other when you’re calmer.
Another trait couples struggle with is being defensive.
‘When you try to deflect and start making excuses, when you don’t take responsibility, and put the blame on others – it’s a problem,’ the therapist said.
The therapist revealed that criticism and defensiveness often go hand in hand, which is when you tend to butt heads with your partner.
‘My therapist told us to listen to understand, instead of listening to speak,’ Thuy said. ‘It’s made a world of difference.’
4. Stonewalling (the silent treatment)
‘The silent treatment is slow death in a relationship,’ the therapist stated.
It occurs when a person avoids a big argument and confronts the issue head-on in favour of turning the other way.
‘The person giving the silent treatment thinks they are doing the right thing by calming down the situation because you’re not having an argument,’ she said.
‘But it ends up leading to something a lot worse where one person starts to feel super resentful and the other partner’s likely to assume that you don’t care enough to talk about the situation.’
She concluded: ‘A healthy relationship isn’t a couple that never argues – it’s a couple that knows how to resolve their arguments.’
‘We’ve been struggling a bit in our relationship, but we do so many of the things we definitely shouldn’t be,’ Thuy said
Many thanked Thuy for sharing her thoughts and opinions.
‘Thank you so much for the insight – this will help me in the future,’ one said.
‘My husband and I struggle with stonewalling, it always just hurts more when we eventually have to confront the issue,’ another wrote.
‘My problem is my complaints morph into criticism because there’s no acknowledgement or improvement,’ a woman shared.