We’ve all heard the phrase love is fleeting, but sometimes it really does seem like there’s no rhyme or reason to why people fall out of love. While there’s no formula to romantic happiness, there are some things considered to be universal relationship no-no’s, and they oftentimes make people fall out of love faster than others. As it turns out, there are actually some scientifically proven ways to ruin a relationship. Longitudinal research conducted by Robert Levenson and John Gottman of the Gottman Institute found that there were four key predictors of whether or not couples would divorce within the first five years of marriage. The longterm study followed over 3,000 couples over varying lengths of time (the longest ones over 20 years), giving the researchers insight into what exactly leads a relationship to fall apart. The study allowed Gottman to become so familiar with unhealthy patterns in relationships that eventually, he was accurately predicting whether or not a couple would stay together 90 percent of the time. The four factors the pair identified — which they call the “Four Horsemen” — are among some of the key behaviors that lead people to fall out of the love.
Again, everyone has different reasons for falling out of love with their partner, but here are some proven to be deal-breakers. One of Gottman’s “Four Horsemen” is defensiveness, because this quality leads you to blame your partner for problems instead of taking on any responsibility. When you deflect an issue your partner brings up, “the problem is not resolved and the conflict escalates further,” leading to resentment and larger scale issues, as the Institute explained. The solution to defensiveness is to listen to your partner and take responsibility for mistakes you make, as you will be able to better connect with your significant other when everyone feels seen and heard. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging a partner isn’t perfect, but criticism in a relationship can be quite damaging. Although it might feel good to point out a partner’s shortcoming in the moment, it’s not the more effective approach if you actually want some type of behavior to change. Steven Stosny, Ph.D. and the founder of CompassionPower, explained to Psychology Today.
Critiquing a partner will just lead them to have anger towards you and feel that they cannot trust you, quickly dismantling the foundation of a relationship. However, honesty is important, and offering a partner constructive feedback can be productive. But before you make a comment about something your partner does, try asking yourself why you feel the need to highlight this issue and what good will come of it. If it’s something you feel strongly about bringing up, be careful about your approach and trigger words that may automatically make them shut down. As relationship and etiquette expert April Masini explained to Elite Daily, couples who live financially incompatible lives may find themselves feeling disconnected soon after the relationship turns serious. A partnership where people don’t approach personal finances the same way is doomed from the start, as the choices you make with money define almost every aspect of your life.