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5.4: Ending and Coping with Failed Relationships

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    When and Why Relationships End

    Relationships end for many reasons including personality conflicts, geographical separation, financial concerns, career problems, and differences in expectations. Failure to communicate what you want/need and ensuring that your partner is in agreement may contribute to the demise of a relationship. Under stress, communication and cooperation between partners can breakdown. Conflict, lack of respect, and negative interactions can erode even good relationships.

    On the basis of 35 years of research and couples therapy, John Gottman identified four behavior patterns that predict divorce with 90% accuracy:

    • Criticism. Phrasing complaints in terms of a partner's defect (e.g., You always talk about yourself. You are so self-obsessed.")
    • Defensiveness. Indignation as a form of self-protection (e.g., "It's not my fault we are out of milk. You used the last of it.")
    • Stonewalling. Withdrawing emotionally from an interaction (e.g., ignoring the other person)
    • Contempt. Talking down to the other person (e.g., "Why are you so stupid?")

    Of these four, contempt is the biggest predictor of divorce.

    Coping with Failed Relationships

    Uncoupling can be very painful. If you find yourself part of a failed relationship, consider:

    • Acknowledge that you have gone through a rough experience. Seek trusted friends, and if needed, a professional help.
    • Let go of negative thought patterns and habits. Engage in habits that make you happy.
    • Make a promise to yourself: no new relationships until you have moved past the last one. Take time for yourself.

    5.4: Ending and Coping with Failed Relationships is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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