New relationships start off with a lot of open communication and long nights talking or having lots of sex like jack-rabbits. In the beginning, the relationship feels like it will last the test of time. That’s a joke!
We never expect a new relationship to end soon after it began. The reality, the more comfortable we are with a person we reveal more and more of ourselves. It’s the part of ourselves we hold back for as long as we can so that we make a good impression.
The 3-month mark is when a new relationship experiences the most stress. Similar to a ticking time bomb, the relationship goes to the left. And often, there are warning signs that the relationship is about to self-destruct. Relationship researcher John Gottman offers four such indicators, which he calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
The four warning signs that Gottman points out are things we all do without knowing it. I believe they’re the reasons why many relationships fail and end so quickly after they’ve started.
The transition from single to coupled can be a tricky process. We are used to everything being done a particular way when we’re single. We end up confusing criticism with complaining. Complaining is when you focus on a particular problem or behavior. “You’re such a slob” or “I’m tired of you never calling when you’re going to be late” are complaints.
It is hard to have a constructive response when someone is complaining. Who likes to feel attacked? A relationship can not survive with criticism as the basis for communication. If not addressed, criticism can turn into something more, contempt.
Contempt is another degree of criticism; it’s when you start attacking a person’s entire character. The dialogue is insulting, demeaning, and is intended to put the criticizer on a higher level than their partner. “It might include name-calling, mockery, sarcastic humor, or body languages such as eye-rolling or sneering.”
If you reach this point, the relationship is hard to repair. Everyone in the relationship becomes defensive. Defensiveness happens when you feel attacked, frustrated and feel the need to defend your character. It’s important to know the different forms of defensiveness. Being defensive might involve making excuses, disagreeing, ignoring the attack, or taking on a victim role.
The 3-month point in the relationship is the hardest. Learning how to communicate and express ourselves to someone we bearly know is challenging. It’s easy to withdraw from a conversation or a relationship if you don’t identify the pitfalls in communication early on.
Relationships are not easy. A new relationship is particularly difficult when you don’t pay attention to how you’re communicating with one another.