John Gottman, a psychologist, has listed the four horsemen of apocalypse of relationships. The worst horseman is contempt, according to him.
Contempt communicates disgust to the person it is directly toward. It happens when one of the partner in the relationship feels superior to the other. It involves a lot of negative criticisms to the other half of the couple. And Gottman says it’s the kiss of death of a relationship. Because on the long run, the “weak” partner will just have enough of being treated with disregard.
Relationships that work require couples who treat each other as equal. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced a lot of bad relationships where my ex’s used to feel superior to me.
One of my ex’s constantly criticized my studies, saying I wouldn’t go far with journalism. I don’t know how far I will go with my profession, but so far, it’s been good to me.
Another one mocked my humble beginnings, like François Hollande, the French President, did with Valerie Trierwieler, as she wrote in her book “Thank you for this moment”. Yet, she didn’t dump his a… She got defensive (another horseman according to Gottman), bitter, and he eventually dumped her.
In a perfect world, we would all fall in love with our equal, and live ever after together.
But we don’t live in a perfect world.
Recently, one of my coworkers almost cried in front of me. I asked her why she was so sad, and she replied she had some problems with her significant other. We were in the queue for our lunch, and the waiter heard our conversation. He said he was often treated bad by his lovers. He asked my coworker if she wanted to have a chat with him over a coffee sometimes (he’s gay, BTW) . My coworker smiled.
Later, she told me her significant other doesn’t like her friends, and gets mean every time she sees them. It always ends with a fight. Her significant other also tells her how to dress. She’s also bipolar. I asked my coworker if her friends like her significant other. She replied negatively. I also asked her if she was happy. She took a moment to reply. “I love her” she said.
Yet, I can’t help thinking her relationship is ill fated.
Why is it so difficult to find someone who treats us like an equal?