If appreciation is the number one relationship booster, what is the biggest thing that can undermine a relationship? The answer: contempt - that pattern of feelings and behaviors that expresses disgust and scorn towards a person or a group of people, ultimately dehumanizing them. The severity of contempt’s impact on people can make it seem like it’s easy to recognize; yet, contempt enters relationships as subtle as poison administered in careful, incremental drops.
In this episode, I discuss how contempt can usher a relationship to its failure. I share John Gottman’s definition of contempt and describe what causes it to sneak into intimate relationships. I highlight some behaviors that cultivate the seeds of contempt and explain why it’s so difficult to resolve. I also reveal how we can heal and reverse contempt in relationships and discuss how kindness and compassion can be antithetical to contempt.
“Contempt is a deep, slow poison in relationships. It goes for the kill by attacking a person’s sense of self.” - Pripo Teplitsky
This week on Relationships! Let’s Talk About It:
- The contagious nature of contempt and how it sneaks into intimate relationships
- Contempt in inter-personal relationships and how it bred the Holocaust
- How contempt makes partners seem more like opponents than a couple
- Examples of contemptuous remarks and body languages
- Contemptuous communication in social media and how it hinders productive dialog
- John Gottman’s “bid for connection” and how ignoring your partner’s efforts can undermine a relationship
- Withdrawing as a response to contempt and how neediness can lead to stonewalling
- The power dynamics of contempt in a relationship
- What makes patterns of contempt challenging to detect and reverse
- The importance of building an environment of admiration, kindness, respect, and empathy
- Recognizing the mask of contempt and what it conceals
- Why apathy, not hate, is the opposite of love
- The relationship between contempt and substance abuse
- Contempt as a means to avoid vulnerability
- The contagious nature of compassion and how it can heal our relationships
- How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny
- Love and Contempt: It’s so easy to go from one to the other - Psychology Today
Let’s Talk About It!
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Theme music “These Streets” provided by Adi the Monk
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