3 Betrayals That Destroy Relationships
2. Conditional love
Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship. They don’t feel like their partner has their best interests at heart, that they have their back. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the betrayed partner to blame a trigger as the real problem, when it’s actually the lack of commitment.
As Kristina reflects on her first marriage, she knows she began to feel betrayed when her husband stalled on starting a family. At first, she thought he was anxious about becoming a father, but in couples therapy, it became clear that he was hesitant to deepen his commitment to her. Like an anxious lover, she clung onto him with desperation, terrified of losing her marriage until she realized she never really had one to begin with.
Sometimes a partner may pressure the other to marry or move in, believing the “next level” will deepen their connection, but it’s difficult for a marriage to succeed if it is built on a vow to create a strong bond rather than the result of one. The shallowness of the bond will eventually bleed through the connection.
When couples ignore or dismiss talking about difficult issues, they are left with a shallow commitment. By using conflict as a catalyst for closeness, couples can intentionally use problems as an opportunity to discuss their goals, fears, and dreams. Couples that unconditionally love each other live by the motto, “baby, when you hurt, the world stops and I listen.”
3. Emotional withdrawal
Emotional withdrawal can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support. A committed relationship requires both partners to be there for each other through the life-altering traumas and everyday nuisances. That means celebrating joys and successes with your partner, too.
Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves. In a committed relationship, it is the responsibility of both partners to uncover and disclose these preferences to understand what the other requires to feel loved, protected, and supported. Think of The Five Love Languages.
In his research lab, Dr. Gottman discovered that happy couples turned toward each other 86 percent of the time, while unhappy couples turned towards each other only 33 percent of the time. That means unhappy couples withdraw 67 percent of the time! Emotional withdrawal sets in when bids are ignored.
To improve your emotional connection, focus on rebuilding and updating your Love Maps, cultivating a culture of admiration and fondness, and turning towards bids more often.
Do any of the items listed above feel familiar or make you feel uneasy? If so, you may be facing a betrayal.
Maybe it’s as serious as finding discomforting text messages between your partner and someone else. This list is not about who is right or wrong. Like sexual affairs, these betrayals can be overcome if you recognize the problem and repair the relationship together.
This article was originally published at The Gottman Institute. Reprinted with permission from the author.