Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
April 14, 2024 ·  6 min read

Research Shows These 6 Habits Predict The End of a Relationship 

Relationships come and go, so what does it take to cultivate one that lasts? According to experts, there are many things we can do to make our relationships work as well as signs that our relationships may be coming to an end. Here is a list of 6 things that may be happening in relationships that are sure signs it will ultimately fail and 5 things you can start doing now to help cultivate healthy and happy relationships.

The Four Horsemen” and Their Friends

1. Criticism

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Although no one likes to feel that their efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated, it is normal to express oneself freely within healthy relationships. After all, there are multiple people who have needs that should be met. Sometimes getting needs met is achieved through complaining, which differs from direct criticism. When we criticize our significant other it can leave them feeling dejected and frustrated. You can catch yourself using criticism when you say the words “always” or “never” when describing something your partner does or doesn’t do.[1]

2. Defensiveness

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Thinking back to our childhoods, many people grew up in homes where criticism was an everyday thing. Typically parents had the best of intentions and just wanted to encourage us to be the most successful versions of ourselves. Unfortunately, because delivery was harsh or hurtful, many people respond to complaints as though they are criticisms. This cycle leads to partners then becoming defensive which can cause the other party to feel as though their needs are invalid, unimportant, or unheard. 

3. Stonewalling 

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We’ve, most likely, heard the term stonewalling in a relationship. However many people don’t know what this means, which makes it an even bigger threat to relationships than most people realize. Licensed marriage/family therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw explains “Stonewalling is exactly as it sounds: when someone in the conversation starts to act like a stone wall.”[1] She then goes on to explain “it’s likely they are in a state of physiological flooding. Physiological flooding happens when the body detects a threat.The parts of our brain responsible for relational behaviors goes offline. This means we dip into our survival instincts “.[1] It is because of this defense mechanism that many conversations revolving around conflict are left unresolved.

4. Contempt

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It is important to learn how to effectively communicate our needs to our significant others. When we lovingly express ourselves it becomes easier for our partners to respond in a manner that is also loving.
“When people have contempt, they are expressing their discontent by utilizing shame and mean-spirited sarcasm to put someone down.” [1] Often, contempt can cause emotional pain that may eventually be seen as emotional abuse. 

5. Harsh Startup 

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According to experts, this is a sign that’s both straightforward and easy to predict. When every conversation starts out in a way that is harsh or hurtful it is a likely indicator that the conversation will stay that way and ultimately be reflected in the rest of the relationship. ”My research shows that if your discussion begins with a harsh startup, it will inevitably end on a negative note. Statistics tell the story: 96% of the time, you can predict the outcome of a conversation based on the first three minutes of the interaction.”[2] 

6. You Never Argue

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Although arguing too much is an obvious sign that things aren’t working, never arguing also isn’t ideal. Never having an argument subconsciously implies that you are in a relationship where one or both parties feel unsafe communicating their needs. By choosing to avoid conflict, there’s bound to be a blow-up down the road about every negative feeling that has been bottled up for far too long. 

Bring about Bliss!

1. Communicate

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Communication is one of, if not the most, important elements for nurturing successful relationships. Through communication, we learn more about one another as well as ourselves. We get our needs and fears out in the open so that together we can find a way to ensure everyone’s needs are being met. Communication is hard for many people but feeling like a team with our significant others, rather than against each other is the only sure way to keep our partners and ourselves happy. 

2. Prioritize One Another

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We all want to feel important, seen, and heard. When you make time for one another and put each other first, you are showing the other person how much they mean to you. Make time to go out on a date night or a weekend getaway. Maybe you’ve been tied up and working long hours on a grueling project. Now that it’s finally over, make a plan to do something special. Doing this from time to time( as often as possible)  will help you reconnect with each other while also nurturing your own overworked soul. 

3. Honor One Another

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When we are treated with love and respect it’s easy to feel happy. By honoring one another’s wants, needs, and goals you signify the other person’s desires and needs are just as important to you as your own. Relationships will be strengthened by taking the time to encourage and support one another in their dreams and endeavors. 

4. Show Gratitude

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We’ve all been in a position where we felt our efforts went unnoticed. It’s never a good feeling and can make people want to stop trying. By showing our significant other how much they and their efforts mean to us, each member of the relationship will feel valued and appreciated. If you’re unsure how to do this, an example may be telling our partners what qualities we appreciate about them. Perhaps, your significant other handled a work situation in a way that impressed you. Maybe they handled bedtime more patiently than you or maybe you admire the way they work under pressure. All of these are noteworthy and by expressing these moments we are both growing as individuals and nurturing the bond we feel with one another.  

5. Exercise Empathy

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Simply put, empathy is being able to connect to others on an emotional level. When we are able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understand the hardships they face we can better understand how to meet their needs. In showing empathy we learn to be more emotionally intelligent, meaning we can better identify what feelings are and how to handle them in a way that is gentle and kind.

The Bottom Line

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Much like everything in life, relationships require a great deal of work. There are many elements that make up successful relationships. Unfortunately, those elements can’t come together unless both parties(or all parties if you’re in a poly relationship) are willing to work together. In communicating with our partners from a place of understanding and compassion we ultimately prevent any party from feeling as though they are “under fire”. Cultivating happy and healthy relationships brings about a feeling of deep love and fulfillment. 


  1. The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse: 4 Relationship Habits That Predict Divorce.” Mind Body Green. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  2. The 6 Things That Predict Divorce.” Gottman. John Gottman, Ph.D. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  3. 10 Habits To Keep Your Relationships Strong.” Forbes. John Hall. September 8, 2022.
  4. 10 Habits That Predict The End Of A Relationship.” Bolde. Nolan,R. Retrieved September 8, 2022