A negative outlook or something Kaufman refers to as a Negative Sentiment Override (NSO) is what dooms most relationships. "Research has shown that an NSO dooms a relationship 80 to 90 percent of the time," she says, citing four negative behaviors in particular that really rock the boat: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. If you feel like you're walking a fine line between love and hate lately and don't know where things went wrong, take stock of your attitude.
On the flipside, a positive outlook, or Positive Sentiment Override (PSO) will go a long way to keep your relationship healthy, Kaufman says. The PSO is built on the little nonverbal sentiments that show your partner you care, like fondness and admiration, genuine interest in your partner, tactful approaches to problems (versus simply yelling at each other), a good sense of humor when things go wrong and little displays of affection--sharing a joke, a smile or a kiss.
If you want your relationship to work, Kaufman says it's time to kick these bad love habits.
Criticism: Attacking your partner rather than addressing the problem. If the problem is that he's always late, discuss how it makes you feel rather than hurling insults at him.
Defensiveness: Placing all the blame on the other person without taking any responsibility yourself. Yes, sometimes it is all his fault, but most of the time it takes two to start an argument.
Stonewalling: Shutting your partner out rather than being open to discussing the problems you're having. The silent treatment won't get you anywhere – you need to talk things through.
Contempt: Saying things that make you sound better than the other person. This includes patronizing, mocking or treating the other person like they're stupid or like you're the parent and they're the child.
What makes a relationship that succeeds different from a relationship that fails? It all comes down to how much effort you're willing to put in to patch things up after an argument and your willingness to curb the behavior listed above. This may sound daunting but it really comes down to the following:
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