This Behavioural Pattern Is Incredibly Toxic To Any Relationship

An important sign that a relationship is in trouble.

An important sign that a relationship is in trouble.

One of the most toxic relationship patterns involves ‘the silent treatment’.

Shutting down communication is part of a pattern psychologists call the ‘demand-withdraw’ pattern.

The demand-withdraw pattern frequently happens in relationships when they are distressed.

It involves one partner — often the woman — making demands, while the man withdraws.

Sometimes it happens in the reverse direction but, either way, it is very damaging for a relationship and can be difficult to escape from.

Professor Paul Schrodt, the study’s first author, said:

“It’s the most common pattern of conflict in marriage or any committed, established romantic relationship.

And it does tremendous damage.”

The conclusions come from an analysis of 74 different studies carried out with over 14,000 participants.

The results revealed that couples displaying the demand-withdraw pattern had the lowest relationship satisfaction.

They also reported poorer communication, lower intimacy, higher aggression and anxiety.

Professor Schrodt said:

“Partners get locked in this pattern, largely because they each see the other as the cause.

Both partners see the other as the problem.”

Husbands tend to do the withdrawing, Professor Schrodt explained:

“One of the most important things we found is that even though wife-demand/husband-withdraw occurs more frequently, it’s not more or less damaging.

It’s a real, serious sign of distress in the relationship.”

Escaping demand-withdraw

The best way of dealing with this pattern is by accepting and validating the other person’s identity.

This is done through improving communication.

Men should listen and understand their partner, while women should reduce their negativity and hostility (or, the reverse if the woman is withdrawing).

It is better to bring up issues as neutrally as possible so they can be heard.

When both partners can communicate problems and feel they understand each other, their marital satisfaction is higher.

The study was published in the journal Communication Monographs (Schrodt et al., 2014).

Why Some People Won’t Commit To A Relationship

Why some people dislike committing to a relationship and avoid a partner who is “clingy”.

Why some people dislike committing to a relationship and avoid a partner who is “clingy”.

People who avoid committing to a romantic relationship are often the product of over-intrusive or unresponsive parenting, research finds.

In other words, people who get too much attention from their parents, or too little, find relationship commitment harder.

Almost one-quarter of people in the study were found to have an ‘avoidant’ attachment style.

This means they dislike committing to a relationship and do not not like a partner who is “clingy”.

Being avoidant springs from having caregivers who were over-intrusive, i.e. who are always managing the child’s life and trying to do everything for them.

Avoidance is also the result of unresponsive parenting, which is the opposite of over-intrusive parenting.

Unresponsive parents show little warmth, are emotionally distance, may intentionally avoid their children and have few expectations of their child’s behaviour.

Both types of parenting — too much and too little — are linked to an avoidant attachment style as an adult.

Dr Sharon Dekel, the study’s first author, explained:

“Avoidant individuals are looking for somebody to validate them, accept them as they are, can consistently meet their needs and remain calm — including not making a fuss about anything or getting caught up in their own personal issues.”

People who are avoidant tend to adopt an “infant-mother” intimacy model.

In other words, they are not looking for another emotionally mature adult, but rather a ‘mother’ or ‘father’ figure to look after them.

The study’s authors write:

“Avoidant individuals seem to need psychological nourishment from their partners as much as infants do, resembling an early developmental stage of relatedness.

Like the mother, the partner serves to validate the avoidant individual’s self.

However, similar to the avoidant infant, adults with an avoidant attachment style fear rejection and attempt to deactivate the attachment system by limiting closeness.

Avoidant individuals, then, present with an ongoing struggle between deep attachment needs and deep attachment

The study was published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (Dekel & Farber, 2012).

These Personality Traits Are Linked To Marital Infidelity

People’s own personality also affects whether or not they are cheated on by their partner.

People’s own personality also affects whether or not they are cheated on by their partner.

Women who are highly extraverted are more likely to cheat on their partner, research finds.

Extraverts are outgoing, social and full of energy.

Introverted women, meanwhile, are less likely to cheat on their partner.

Introverts tend to enjoy more solitary activities, prefer to think before they talk and enjoy focusing their mental energy inwards.

For men, no personality traits were strongly linked to infidelity, the results of two 3-year studies has found.

Neurotic partners

Instead, the research revealed that your own personality has an important effect on whether your partner cheats on you.

The data from newlywed couples found that partner neuroticism is critical.

People with neurotic partners were more likely to cheat, whether it was the man or the woman.

Neuroticism is a personality trait that is strongly linked to anxiety, sadness, irritability and self-consciousness.

In addition, men with wives who were highly narcissistic were also more likely to cheat.

8% cheated within 3 years

For the two studies, 227 couples were surveyed and followed over around 3 years.

Along with personality tests, they were asked if they had been unfaithful.

Around 8 percent of couples admitted infidelity within the first three years of marriage.

The study’s authors write:

“…infidelity may be better explained by partner (versus own) personality.

Given that people’s own enduring characteristics and their partners’ enduring characteristics influence their shared environment, it is possible that people’s partners’ personality traits, specifically, influence the negativity of their shared environment to a greater extent than do people’s own personality traits.”

The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (Altgelt et al., 2018).

One Word That Could Save Your Relationship

Couples who use this word rate their marriages as higher quality.

Couples who use this word rate their marriages as higher quality.

“Thanks” is the one word that will save your your relationship.

Couples who express gratitude to each other rate their marriages as higher quality, a study has found.

Expressing gratitude also reduces the likelihood of divorce, the researchers found.

Gratitude is particularly powerful at overcoming repetitive arguments.

The key is feeling appreciated by your spouse and acknowledging when they have done something nice for you.

Dr Ted Futris, study co-author, said:

“We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last.”

For the study, 468 couples were asked about the quality of their marriages and how they expressed their gratitude to each other.

The results consistently showed the power of gratitude, said Dr Allen Barton, the study’s first author:

“It goes to show the power of ‘thank you’.

Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.”

One particularly dangerous negative pattern is called ‘demand/withdraw’, Dr Barton explains:

“Demand/withdraw communication occurs when one partner tends to demand, nag or criticize, while the other responds by withdrawing or avoiding the confrontation.

Although wife demand/husband withdraw interactions appear more commonly in couples, in the current study we found financial distress was associated with lower marital outcomes through its effects on increasing the total amount of both partners’ demand/withdraw interactions.”

Gratitude was effective at breaking through this negative pattern, said Dr Futris:

“Importantly, we found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability.”

Dr Futris continued:

“All couples have disagreements and argue.

And, when couples are stressed, they are likely to have more arguments.

What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don’t is not how often they argue, but how they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis.”

The study was published in the journal Personal Relationships (Barton et al., 2015).

The Personality Type Most Likely To Cheat On Their Partner

Men and women cheat on their partners for different reasons, research finds.

Men and women cheat on their partners for different reasons, research finds.

Men who are risk-takers, easily excited sexually, or those that have performance anxiety are most likely to cheat, research finds.

For women, the pattern is different.

Women are motivated more by their levels of happiness and satisfaction with the relationship.

In other words: women who are unhappy are more likely to cheat.

Professor Robin Milhausen, who led the study, explained that most studies on infidelity have looked at demographic factors:

“Few studies on infidelity have gone beyond exploring demographics.

This research shows that demographic variables may not influence decision-making as much as previously thought — that personality matters more, especially for men.”

One-in-five unfaithful

The research involved almost one thousand men and women in monogamous relationships.

The results showed that 23 percent of men and 19 percent of women admitted being unfaithful at some point.

Men’s infidelity was predicted by personality factors like risk-taking.

Professor Milhausen said:

“People might seek out high-risk situations to help them become aroused, or they might choose to have sex with a partner outside of their regular relationship because they feel they have an ‘out’ if the encounter doesn’t go well — they don’t have to see them again.”

For women it was more about their satisfaction with the relationship.

Dissatisfaction made them twice as likely to cheat.

Professor Milhausen said:

“All kinds of things predict infidelity.

What this study says is that when you put all of those things together, for men, personality characteristics are so strong they bounce everything else out of the model.

For women, in the face of all other variables, it’s still the relationship that is the most important predictor.”

Professor Milhausen continued:

“Taken at face value, this research might seem to just support sexual stereotypes: Women are just concerned about the relationship, and, for men, once a cheater, always a cheater, regardless of their relationship.

But the caveat is that there are a lot of variants and factors that are not explained here that might impact whether someone cheats.”

The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (Mark et al., 2011).

One-Third Of Couples Display The Most Harmful Relationship Pattern

This type of couple were twice as likely to break up.

This type of couple were twice as likely to break up.

The worst relationship pattern between a couple is a dramatic style involving many ups and downs and wildly swinging commitment, research finds.

Dramatic couples like to do things separately and tend to focus on the negative aspects of each other.

This type of couple is twice as likely to break up as those that fall into other categories.

Their relationships were the most likely to go backwards over time.

One-third of couples in the study fell into the ‘dramatic’ category.

Dr Brian Ogolsky, the study’s first author, said:

“These couples have a lot of ups and downs, and their commitment swings wildly.

They tend to make decisions based on negative events that are occurring in the relationship or on discouraging things that they’re thinking about the relationship, and those things are likely to chip away at their commitment.”

The conclusion comes from research on 376 dating couples.

After tracking their relationship commitment for 9 months, the psychologists put them into one of four categories.

Dr Ogolsky explained:

“The four types of dating couples that we found included the dramatic couple, the conflict-ridden couple, the socially involved couple, and the partner-focused couple.”

Partner-focused couples

In contrast to the dramatic type, the partner-focused couples — who made up around one-third of the sample — were the most likely to stay together.

Dr Ogolsky said:

“These partners are very involved with each other and dependent on each other, and they use what’s happening in their relationship to advance their commitment to deeper levels.

People in these couples had the highest levels of conscientiousness, which suggests that they are very careful and thoughtful about the way they approach their relationship choices.”

Conflicting couples

Couples that were full of conflict — 12 percent in this study — were still not as rocky as dramatic couples, the researchers found.

Dr Ogolsky said:

“These couples operate in a tension between conflict that pushes them apart and passionate attraction that pulls them back together.

This kind of love may not be sustainable in the long term–you’d go crazy if you had 30 to 50 years of mind-bending passion.

Partners may change from one group to another over time,”

Socially-involved couples

Like partner-focused couples, socially-involved couples (the remaining 19 percent) had very good relationships.

They shared their social network and used it to make decisions about their commitment.

Dr Ogolsky said:

“Ideally long-term relationships should be predicated on friendship-based love.

And having mutual friends makes people in these couples feel closer and more committed.”

Naturally, couples can move between the categories over time as their relationship matures.

The study was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (Ogolsky et al., 2015).

Managing Expectations Is Key To A Long Happy Marriage

The study involved 82 couples who were followed from the first few months of their marriage.

The study involved 82 couples who were followed from the first few months of their marriage.

The key to marital satisfaction for many people is having a more realistic view of marriage, research finds.

People who expect difficult times often do better in the long-term than those who expect nothing but wedded bliss.

The only exception is for people who have very good relationship skills — for them high expectations can translate into higher marital satisfaction.

Professor James McNulty, who co-authored the study, said:

“Over the long term, it is important for marriage partners to have accurate knowledge of their relationship’s strengths and weaknesses.

Satisfaction goes down when a spouse’s expectations don’t fit with reality.”

The findings come as a surprise to some, as therapists sometimes recommend that couples keep their expectations high.

Professor McNulty said:

“There’s been a lot of emphasis on the idea of positive illusions in marriage.

Sure, it may make you happy in the short-run to think your spouse is better than he or she actually is, but if the reality doesn’t match the image, eventually your satisfaction is going to decline.”

The study involved 82 couples who were followed from the first few months of marriage.

All had their marital problem-solving skills assessed, along with their expectations and how much they tended to blame their partner for anything that went wrong.

After the four years of the study, those that had the highest expectations, along with the worst problem-solving skills, were the least satisfied with their marriages.

However, those with good relationship skills were better off to maintain higher expectations.

Professor McNulty explained:

“Many people would think couples with good relationship skills but low expectations would be pleasantly surprised by the positive outcomes that would come about because of their good relationship skills.

But if they have low expectations, they may not put forth the effort to work on their relationship.

So their low expectations really prevent them from taking advantage of their skills and achieving their potential satisfaction.”

In other words, if you’ve got good relationship and problem-solving skills, aim high.

If not, best to have more modest expectations of marriage.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (McNulty & Karney, 2004).

2 Signs That Your Relationship Will Last

Psychologists can predict which relationships will go the distance.

Psychologists can predict which relationships will go the distance.

Two signs a relationship will last are that both partners have similar needs and similar levels of satisfaction at the start of the relationship.

For example, the relationships of people who have similar needs for closeness tend to last longer.

Those who have similar needs for maintaining a separate life tend to stay together longer.

People who start off having dissimilar needs, though, face a higher risk of splitting up later on.

The same is true where one partner is less satisfied than the other at the start.

In contrast, people who are equally satisfied with their relationship at the start tend to stay together.

The conclusions come from a study that examined how relationship development affected whether people would stay together in the long-term.

Dr Christine Finn, the study’s first author, said:

“Predictions as to the longevity of a relationship are definitely possible.

Right at the outset of a relationship, one can find typical features – that is to say certain prediction variables – that provide information on whether or not the relationship will be long-lasting.”

The study included 1,965 couples whose relationships were tracked for seven years.

Sixteen percent of couples broke up during the study period.

The researchers applied two models of relationship development in their work.

The first is based on the idea that people’s relationship problems develop during the relationship rather than being unchangeable from the very start.

The second model is based on the idea that people start at different levels of relationship satisfaction.

Dr Finn explained:

“We have now discovered that there is actually a combination of the two models.

We too can confirm that there are differing levels to begin with.

In addition, happiness declines in both groups.

However, in those who later separate, this happens significantly faster, meaning that a person who starts off unhappy becomes increasingly unhappy.”

Despite this, no relationship is doomed to fail right from the start, said Dr Finn:

“It is not our intention to further reinforce the general trend for optimisation and only to have a relationship that is result-oriented, with the prospect of it being long-lasting.

Even if couples split up after a time, it can still be a valuable and important phase in their lives, which might have a positive influence on the next relationship.

Furthermore, couples can also consciously influence and work on their mutual interests and on cultivating closeness as well as independence.”

The study was published in the journal Developmental Psychology (Finn et al., 2020).

A 7-Minute Writing Exercise That Improves Relationships For Years

The best marital investment you can make takes just 21 minutes a year.

The best marital investment you can make takes just 21 minutes a year.

A short writing exercise helps couples feel more satisfied with their marriages, research finds.

For the exercise, couples are asked to write about their last disagreement from a neutral perspective.

They try to imagine that this neutral person wants the best for both people in the relationship.

Psychologists call this ‘reappraisal’ and it encourages people to think about a situation in a different way.

The study’s results showed that doing this brief exercise three times a year prevented couples from losing their love for each other.

Professor Eli Finkel, the study’s first author, said:

“I don’t want it to sound like magic, but you can get pretty impressive results with minimal intervention.”

The study included 120 couples who were tracked over two years.

For the first year, the psychologists did nothing but track marital satisfaction.

As expected, everyone’s satisfaction with their marriage dropped in the first year.

Then, in the second year, half of the couples were given the 7-minute writing exercise to do on three occasions.

The results from the second year showed that all the couples still fought just as much as before.

However, the couples who had done the writing intervention did not let these fights affect them as badly.

As a result, they sustained their marital satisfaction through the second year, while the other group experienced another drop.

Professor Finkel said:

“Not only did this effect emerge for marital satisfaction, it also emerged for other relationship processes — like passion and sexual desire — that are especially vulnerable to the ravages of time.

And this isn’t a dating sample.

These effects emerged whether people were married for one month, 50 years, or anywhere in between.”

Marital satisfaction is not just critical to mental well-being, but also to physical health.

Professor Finkel said:

“Marriage tends to be healthy for people, but the quality of the marriage is much more important than its mere existence.

Having a high-quality marriage is one of the strongest predictors of happiness and health.

From that perspective, participating in a seven-minute writing exercise three times a year has to be one of the best investments married people can make.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Finkel et al., 2013).

The Reason Married People Cheat And How They Feel About It (M)

Somewhere between 40 percent and 76 percent of people cheat on their partners over the course of their relationship.

Somewhere between 40 percent and 76 percent of people cheat on their partners over the course of their relationship.

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