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How Negativity Can Kill a Relationship

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/01/negativity-can-ruin-relationships/604597/

theatlantic.com

How Negativity Can Kill a Relationship
There's an elegant symmetry to traditional wedding vows: for better or for worse. But love is not symmetrical, and most of us don't realize how lopsided it can be. The worse matters far more than the better in marriage or any other relationship. That's how the brain works.

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The Negativity Bias

The Negativity Bias
... or the Negativity Effect is a tendency most of us have to respond more strongly to negative events and emotions than to positive ones.
Any further action that is provoked due to the negative judgement can lead to a downward spiral in our communication. Our irrational impulses can ruin any good relationship.

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Magnified Faults

The Negativity Effect magnifies and distorts your partner's faults, whether real or imaginary.

The partner starts to wonder why isn't there any appreciation for all the good that is being done, and why the focus is only on the one bad thing.

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Going Downhill

Relationships, especially long-term ones, don't get better with time but are kept intact by avoiding decline.

Married couples find contentment in other sources and remain satisfied with each other, and if not so, then the marriage breaks down.

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How We Respond

There are four ways a partner response to something he or she doesn't like in the other:

  1. Ignore.
  2. Talk and find some solution.
  3. Keep sulking while providing silent treatment.
  4. Try to break up or start looking for other partners.

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"It is not so much the good, constructive things that partners do or do not do for one another that determines whether a relationship 'works' as it is the destructive things that they do or do not do in reaction to the problems."

Caryl Rusbult

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Early Feelings

A new relationship that looks promising can make us think it will be happy forever, as we feel happy at that time.

A study shows that even after a couple of years the same people who were happy which each other show different kinds of behaviour, both positive and negative.

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Same-Sex Couples

Negativity seems to be less of a problem in same‑sex couples.

Both male and female couples tend to be more positive than heterosexual couples when dealing with conflict, both in the way that they introduced a disagreement and in the way that they responded to the criticism, and they remained more positive afterward.

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Conflict Patterns

The “female‑demand, male‑withdrawal” is the most known conflict pattern in heterosexual couples.

This happens when women start complaining or initiate criticism and men respond by withdrawing.

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People who seek out conflict in their relationship for the intense reconciliation are often addicted to the dopamine that they get after the fight is over – which isn’t healthy for either person.

Keeping the peace

Ignoring problems in a relationship in order to avoid conflict will only mean that the problems pile up until they can no longer be ignored – and by then, it might be too hard to fix.

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Relationship Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of The Relationship Apocalypse:

  • Criticism: is staging the problem in a relationship as a character flaw in a partner.
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Building "Love Maps"

It means getting to know your partner really well, including his/her internal psychological world.

Ask questions, deep and personal ones. Get past“When will you be there?” or “Don’t forget to pick up milk.”

Show Admiration

Admiration is about the story you tell yourself about your partner.

Masters see their partners as better than they really are. Disasters see their partners as worse than they really are.

A “power imbalance” in a relationship

Power in relationships is the ability of each person in the relationship to influence each other and direct the relationship.

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Negative relationship dynamics

  • The demand-withdrawal dynamic. One partner seeks change, discussion and a resolution to issues within the relationship, while the other partner is withdrawn, and tries to avoid the issues.
  • The distancer-pursuer dynamic. One person tries to achieve a certain degree of intimacy with their partner, while the other considers this affection to be "smothering."
  • The fear-shame dynamic. The fear and insecurity of one partner would bring out the shame and avoidance in the other. 

Positive power struggle

Not all power struggles are destructive. Some types of power struggles allow growth within the relationship and encourage a deeper understanding and respect for each other.

While it is still a struggle, by the end of it, you have reached an understanding about which lines can be crossed, which not, and how much each partner is able to compromise.