The #1 Reason Relationships Fail

Let’s face it. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to break up than to stay together. This isn’t news. All you need to do is scan your relationship history to find evidence of this.

The reasons relationships fail are as varied as humans are – or are they? The truth is, while every ending has its own unique story, relationship breakups fall into well-documented categories that look like this:

·      Trust issues.

·      Communication issues.

·      Differences in relationship expectations.

·      Differences in life priorities.

·      Inability of one or both partners to manage their emotions.

·      Differences in values.

That said, there is one indicator that can predict, with amazing accuracy, the ending of your relationship story.

It has to with how you fight. But let me back up. The prediction is based on the fact that all relationships have conflict. Are you surprised? I’m not. I’m usually surprised that people are surprised by this.

Yup. True story. Every relationship has conflict. Which makes knowing how to have a fight the most important relationship skill you’ll ever acquire – Or… the most expensive skill you’ll choose not to learn – because relationship expert Dr. John Gottman can predict whether your marriage ends in divorce with 94% accuracy based on how you fight. And engaging in this one behavior turns out to be the strongest indicator of divorce – which is a lot more expensive than learning relationship skills.  So, without further delay here you go:

The number one predictor of whether your relationship is headed for a cliff boils down to whether or not either you or your partner treats the other with contempt.

You know contempt. It’s when you feel as though you’re better than your partner (presuming it’s you who engages in it, and for the simplicity of writing this). It’s an energy of disgust that emanates from you during fights. Maybe that disgust causes you to scream so loudly that the neighbors can hear – or maybe it seeps from your pores as you glare silently at your partner during conflict. It can also look more benign like eye-rolling or an unwillingness to validate your partner’s feelings.

I know, I know. WE’VE ALL DONE IT. We’ve all felt it. Hell, I felt it this morning when Steph and I had a fight (away from the animals’ earshot, of course).  The difference is, I felt it. I didn’t express it. I know that contempt isn’t a functional emotion for relationships. It presupposes that the person experiencing it is better than the other.  And not only is that inaccurate (particularly when comparing me to Steph, lol), it’s toxic.

So what do you do if you (or your partner) experiences contempt? Your answer is just one click away, Love.

9 Signs You're About to Be Ghosted

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 Dear Dr. Darcy:

I recently began dating someone several years younger than I am. OK - he’s 15 years younger, and I’m sure you’re going to tell me that I had it coming, but he ultimately ghosted me. Why do people do this? And were there warning signs I missed?

ANSWER

Full disclosure: I hate the term ghosting. Someone rebranded an ancient dating ritual called “the blow off” and thinks he’s a genius. Nonetheless, for the purpose of this post, I will use ghosting.

People ghost each other off when they lack the ability to directly say that they are, for whatever reason, not interested in pursuing the relationship further. It’s an unwillingness to deliver negative news. Those who lack the balls or ovaries to tell–it-like-it-is generally spin stories that justify their avoidant behavior: We only just met - she’ll probably think I’m presumptuous to think she’ll care (the most innocuous of examples); I just think it’ll hurt him more to have a conversation about it (bullshit); I fucking hate disappointing people (you’re a douchebag but you get points for insight and honesty); I don’t want to make a big deal about it – better to just let it die off (please re-read the last for words of that and tell me if you still agree); she’s not dumb – she’ll get the hint (exactly. and because she’s not dumb she’s going to question whether or not she’s crazy for wondering why you’re not calling or for wondering why it hurts); isn’t it better if everyone escapes with their pride intact? (grownups understand that sometimes shit doesn’t work out and that it’s usually not personal but a poor fit between two people).

Bottom line: Each of those stories protects the messenger, not the receiver.

So how can you spot an impending ghost? Here are 9 warning signs:

1. Inconsistent Communication.

If text messages, phone or FaceTime calls are inconsistent (daily one week, sporadically the next), or if you find yourself initiating most or all of the conversations, it’s trouble.

2. Vagueness in Plans.

NYC is notorious for the ‘let’s confirm the night before,’ which is code for, ‘there’s a good chance I’m gonna blow you off.’

3. Flaking.

Things come up. They do for all of us. But if you can barely get her to commit to plans and when you finally do, she bails without a deep apology and without initiating the next date, you’ve got to be done with her.

4. You find yourself making excuses.

You just started dating – you shouldn’t have to explain away his behavior to your friends yet.

5. You’ve been here before.

She’s disappeared before – and you gave her another chance. You know the end of the story.

6. Everything moved really fast.

He was obsessed with you in the beginning. Hell, you didn’t even want a relationship. You’re still not sure you do – you just rolled with the pace that he set. And out of nowhere, he hits the breaks. This romance is about to end as quickly as it started, so fasten your seatbelt or jump ship.

7. Her responses are becoming increasingly short.

It’s coming - the end. The only choice you get is whether or not you’ll call it what it is.

8. He warned you that he isn’t ‘looking for anything serious.’

And you convinced yourself you didn’t want more either. But in the back of your head, you hoped that the right woman would change his mind. Wrong. Answer. Stop trying to change your partner. Believe what they tell you the first time.

9. You never meet her family, her friends, or her – in public.

C’mon. You know you deserve better than to be that guy. If she’s not showing you off, she’s keeping you hidden. And if she’s keeping you hidden, it’s not a good sign.

 

You Hate Trump. Your Partner Thinks He’s the Messiah. Is There Hope?

 

It’s not bad enough he’s ruining the country. It turns out he’s also straining a lot of relationships. The New York Times reported that some married couples that disagree in opinion on Trump are considering divorce. Slate, Psychology Today and New York Magazine also reported similar findings. As a shrink, I know this. Every week, my office is filled with distraught clients wondering what their partner’s support of Trump says about the partner’s character. A female client recently said, “It’s not a difference in political opinions. It underscores a difference in how we see the world – in our values. At best, he’s a soft misogynist. What am I doing with someone like that? No matter how great the sex is, it has to be a deal breaker.”

But does it?

I’m not sure a vote for Trump should become the litmus test for relationship compatibility.

The real test is how well you’re able to manage yourselves when emotions are high. People who try to hash things out when they’re escalated are asking for trouble. The key is knowing when you’re too pissed off to communicate productively. I like to use a scale of 0-10, zero being completely neutral (not pissed off at all) and ten being seeing-red-angry. Use the formula below to determine when it’s time to go to your separate corners:

0-3 = OK to talk.

4-6 = Take at least a 5 minute time out. Leave the room. Get some air. Come back only when you’re under a 4.

7, 8, 9, 10 = You’re done talking. For a long time. At least an hour. Maybe more. Step away from the partner. Change your focus. Watch TV, go online, read a book – clear your head. Only come back when you’re under a 4.

Bottom line: Trump’s just a trigger. He represents a topic that underscores an area of disagreement. So instead of letting this political upheaval cause a war in the bedroom, I challenge you to take it as an opportunity to practice one of the most important relationship skills there is: Managing your emotions. Learning how to step away from each other when you’re heated is all part of adulting. It’s all about relationship skills. We’re not born with them, but we certainly can learn them.  

Want to know what to do when you’ve calmed down? Click here for our FREE Cheat Sheet, “How to communicate when you disagree with your partner.”