The One Obvious Sign Your Relationship is Doomed!


Do you ever feel like rolling your eyes because you’re so annoyed when your partner talks? Or maybe a mean comment or two slips out?  These seemingly harmless actions might be the silent killer of your relationship!

You might feel these are harmless actions but the reality is you are showing your partner contempt!

This is a bad thing! Showing contempt is one the one obvious sign your relationship is doomed.

This isn’t just my opinion, it is backed by research! Renowned relationship researcher, Dr John Gottman, identified contempt as one of the biggest signs that your relationship is headed for a breakup or divorce. It is one of the four ways you can communicate that will lead to the end of your relationship. 

What is Contempt?

Contempt isn’t a word we use every day, so what does it mean?

According to the dictionary, contempt is the feeling that someone or something is worthless or beneath consideration.

Think of contempt as the opposite of respect!

You can see how that can kill any relationship, right? Especially coming from the person who is the most important to you, the person you want to be seen and heard by.

What Does Contempt Look Like?

Contempt can show up in so many subtle ways, including being passive-aggressive.

  • Rolling your Eyes: That subtle (or not-so-subtle) nonverbal cue that screams “Ugh, really?”
  • Sarcasm with a Sting: Behind the illusion of humour there is a jab that puts your partner down.
  • Name-Calling and Insults: Striking a low blow and lessening your partner’s worth.
  • Hostile Humour: Jokes that target your partner’s insecurities or create a tense atmosphere.
  • Acting Superior or Better Than: Constantly putting down your partner’s opinions or making them feel inadequate.

Why is Contempt So Destructive?

Imagine trying to solve a problem with someone who looks down on you. It’s impossible! Contempt wears down the trust, creates distance between you, and allows resentment to grow. Open communication, the foundation of a healthy relationship, crumbles under the weight of contempt.

How to Solve Contempt in Your Relationship

There’s good news! You can overcome contempt and build a stronger relationship. Here’s how:

1. Awareness 

You might have grown up in a home where everyone was sarcastic and might not realise how it affects your partner. Recognise that you are using contempt and be aware of the effect that can have on your relationship. When you are ‘aware’ of your actions and their impact, then you have the power to change them.

2. Decide

Have a discussion with your partner where you both decide not to use contempt when you are talking to each other.

3. Use Direct Communication

Don’t assume your partner automatically knows how you feel. Instead of using indirect communication which is often passive-aggressive, say how you feel.

4. Communicate Openly and Honestly

Respectfully express your feelings.

5. Focus on

“I” Statements: Instead of blaming (“You always…”), express how their actions make you feel (“I feel hurt when…”). When people are ‘blamed’ they can automatically become defensive. Talking about your feelings without blame helps the other person understand what you are feeling.

6. Practice Empathy

Try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Treat the other person, how they would like to be treated.

7. Embrace the 5:1 Ratio

Dr Gottman’s research found happy couples have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions, even during conflict. 

8. Make a conscious effort to be kind

Decide that you will give your partner small acts of kindness, appreciation and affection. Do little things often – it is one of the best ways to turn your relationship around! There are so many simple ways you can be kind! Have fun trying different things to bring a smile to your partner. Simple examples are:

  • Compliment them.
  • Say thanks for the little things they do that go unseen.
  • Help them without being asked.
  • A hug or kiss goodbye.
  • Listening without judging or wanting to fix their problems.

These small deposits in your partner’s “emotional bank account” create a foundation of love and respect, making it easier to deal with the inevitable arguments/disagreements.

9. Get Professional Help

If you’re struggling get the right type of professional help.


Remember, a healthy relationship comes from mutual respect, understanding, and a consistent effort to build communication so the other person can hear you. By recognizing and addressing contempt, and actively creating positive moments, you can build a stronger, more loving partnership.

Debbie x






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