Relationship expert shares 4 clues that your relationship is coming to an end and how to fix it

through Editorial online


How do you know when your relationship is slowly bleeding to death? And is there anything you can do about it? American relationship expert and psychologist Kathy Nickerson found that out. According to her, there are four major signs that a relationship is coming to an end: Criticism, contempt, stonewalling and a constant defensive attitude. When you notice one of these four behaviors occurring in your relationship, the chance of the relationship dying is over 90 percent. But don’t worry: According to Nickerson, fortunately there are also solutions.

1. Criticism

A well-intentioned criticism, it should be possible, right? But it’s more dangerous than you think. Relationship expert Kathy Nickerson explains that criticism hurts relationships because it makes it seem like you don’t accept the other person, rather than coming across as well-intentioned advice. “If you feel like your partner doesn’t accept or even like you, you won’t feel comfortable and your emotional bond will quickly deteriorate,” she says.

To solve this problem, you can, for example, encourage your critical partner to give constructive feedback in a friendly and respectful way and possibly help you come up with a solution.

2. Contempt

“Contempt is pure poison to a relationship,” Nickerson says firmly. For example, we seem to find our partner worthless, disgusting, ugly, or somewhat less valuable than ourselves. Contempt is one of the biggest predictors of divorce in the first six years of a relationship. And it makes sense, the psychologist believes: “It’s hard to like someone or feel safe with someone who constantly tells you how flawed and damaged you are.” So anything but a sign of a successful relationship.

‘Awareness’ is perhaps the key word here. If you and your partner realize that contempt has crept into your relationship, you are already halfway to the solution. From then on, it’s just a matter of focusing on compassion and respectful communication.

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3. Stonewalling

‘Stonewalling’ – an English term – can be taken quite literally. It’s a phenomenon where you almost literally build a wall between you and your partner while he’s talking. In the most extreme cases, it even happens that one of the partners gets up and randomly leaves the room, in the middle of a sensitive or difficult conversation. “In a relationship, you must feel that your partner cares for you, listens to you. That’s hugely important,” said Dr. Nickerson. When a partner just walks away, that feeling goes away, too.

Many people seek refuge in ‘stonewalling’ when it all becomes too much for them in a conversation. Then it often helps to take a short break. So don’t leave without a boo or bah, but communicate clearly with your partner and find a quiet place. It is very important to remember that this is not the end of your conversation.

4. A defensive attitude

Taking responsibility for your actions isn’t always easy, but a constant defensive attitude can also be a serious sign of a declining relationship. Being very defensive or always having an excuse ready often results in a feeling of powerlessness in the other person, who is therefore less connected to the relationship. The best way to deal with a defensive attitude is to address it with your partner.

Many relationship solutions can also be reduced to a simple mantra: Be positive, kind, helpful and show the necessary amount of goodwill. Psychologist Nickerson concludes with the prophetic words: “No one is perfect, and therefore there is no perfect relationship.”


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