This is the No. 1 sentence I’ve seen ‘destroy’ relationships, says 20-year-old Harvard psychologist

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Many unhealthy relationship dynamics are fueled by poor communication skills.

As a Harvard-trained psychologist who has spent 20 years working with couples, I’ve found that the most damaging way to communicate with your partner is contempt.

Contempt is the belief that a person is beneath you, worthless, or deserving of contempt and ridicule. When a person feels contempt for their partner, they feel justified in humiliating, embarrassing, or harming them.

The one phrase that reflects contempt, and the one I’ve seen destroy relationships the most, is: “I wish we’d never met.”

Here are some other phrases that can show contempt:

  • “You have ruined my life.”
  • “You are a nuisance.”
  • “I don’t care what you think or how you feel.”
  • “You’re pathetic.”
  • “You are not worth my time.”
  • “You owe me. I’ve put up with you for years.”
  • “If we didn’t have kids, I would have left you by now.”
  • “You hate me.”
  • “No one else will want you.”

Contempt can also be communicated through non-verbal gestures, such as dismissive body language or dramatic eye-rolls.

All of this serves to humiliate the other person and create a power imbalance. He can do it Ultimately destruction is the foundation of healthy romantic connections and leads to lower relationship satisfaction.

How to create healthy relationship dynamics

If you feel that you are feeling a little contempt for your partner, there are ways to fight it so that it does not damage your relationship:

  1. a break When you feel triggered or emotionally upset, take a moment before you say anything. Choose your words carefully and aim to communicate respect and kindness, not hurt.
  2. Take responsibility. This includes your choices, your patterns, and your engagement in inactivity.
  3. Apologize. Sincerely say you’re sorry when you do something hurtful or mean.
  4. Learn to argue productively. You and your partner are a team. The goal is to communicate in a way that acknowledges your commitment, desire for connection, and mutual respect for each other.
  5. Tap into your love for your partner. When you want to criticize or change them, remember why you got together in the first place before giving constructive feedback.

The biggest piece of advice I give people is to try to find gratitude. There is always something to learn from conflicts in our relationships. Find something positive that you can take away from every interaction, even if the process is uncomfortable.

Dr. Courtney S. WarrenPhD, is a board-certified psychologist and author “Let your ex go.” She specializes in romance and breakups, and she received clinical training at Harvard Medical School. She has authored nearly 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and given more than 75 presentations on the psychology of relationships. Follow him on Instagram @DrCortneyWarren.

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