Spotting Relationship Red Flags: John Gottman Insights

Maintaining a healthy and thriving relationship isn’t always a walk in the park. It requires effort, understanding, and sometimes a little professional guidance. Influencer Thuy Le recently shared insights from her relationship therapist about the four toxic traits that can sabotage any relationship. These traits were identified by renowned psychologist John Gottman and should serve as warning signs for couples.

1. Criticism: Tread Carefully with Your Words

Thuy highlighted the distinction between criticism and complaint. Criticism involves attacking your partner’s personality or character, whereas a complaint addresses their behavior or actions. While it’s perfectly okay to express how you feel when something upsets you, the key lies in how you communicate it. It’s essential to be mindful of your tone and think before you speak.

For example, if your partner consistently leaves the toilet seat up, avoid labeling them as “lazy” or “stupid.” Instead, point out the pattern and kindly request them to put it down next time. It’s about addressing the issue, not attacking your partner’s character.

2. Contempt: A Relationship’s Greatest Foe

Contempt, according to Thuy’s therapist, is the most destructive of the four traits. It involves displaying outright disrespect for your partner. Contemptuous behavior can range from insults and abuse to name-calling and eye-rolling. It often arises during heated arguments when hurtful words are exchanged, leaving both partners feeling unappreciated.

The therapist’s advice? Avoid engaging in arguments when emotions are running high. Taking some time to cool off before revisiting the issue can lead to more productive and respectful discussions.

3. Defensiveness: The Blame Game

Defensiveness, the therapist explained, occurs when you deflect responsibility, make excuses, or shift the blame to others. It often goes hand in hand with criticism and can escalate conflicts within a relationship. To combat defensiveness, the therapist encouraged Thuy and her boyfriend to practice active listening and understanding rather than immediately formulating a defensive response.

4. Stonewalling: The Silent Treatment

Giving your partner the silent treatment can be detrimental to a relationship. Stonewalling happens when you avoid addressing an issue directly and choose to ignore it. Although it may seem like an attempt to de-escalate a situation, it can lead to resentment and miscommunication.

The therapist stressed that a healthy relationship isn’t one where couples never argue but one where they know how to resolve their conflicts constructively.

Seeking a Better Relationship

Thuy’s candid sharing of her therapist’s insights struck a chord with many readers. Some expressed gratitude for the valuable advice, while others acknowledged their struggles with these toxic traits in their own relationships.

Recognizing these warning signs and actively working to overcome them is a crucial step toward fostering a healthier and more harmonious relationship. It’s a reminder that building a strong partnership requires self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication, even in the face of disagreements.