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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Relationships

Updated: Apr 15

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Relationships

How violence in close relationships can begin. What kind of warning signs are there?

Contempt - Making fun of someone with sarcasm is an example of how contempt can manifest in relationships. Other ways include repeating what the person said in a mocking tone, saying someone is crazy, or using body language like rolling eyes. Saying, "It's like I'm talking to a child" is a way to express contempt.

Criticism - A behavior where the critic repeats perceived flaws repeatedly. For example, you don't keep time, are sloppy, clumsy, or simply not good enough. "Why can't you be more considerate?"

Defensiveness - This is a strategy where the defensive party never takes responsibility for anything. The defensive person always has excuses for their behavior. It often goes so far that instead of taking responsibility, they blame the other person. "It's not my fault that this happened, it was you nagging even though you know I'm stressed."

Stonewalling - Often used to avoid addressing problems or having difficult conversations. Those who stonewall withdraw, become unavailable, or fall silent. The person may start talking about something else or physically move away.


Contempt - Identify strengths in your partner or, for that matter, your colleagues. Otherwise, the result may be the end of the relationship, and colleagues starting to avoid you.

Criticism - Avoid acting on the person and instead address the problem. Save the conversation for the right moment. Use "I" messages instead of "you are, you do." "I would like you to be more considerate in this situation."

Defensiveness - Do not take feedback personally and use the feedback to improve yourself.

Stonewalling - Take a short break. Take 3 deep breaths, which has been shown to calm the body system by taking a deep breath and filling the stomach, short pause, filling the chest with the remaining breath. Exhale slowly. Do this 3 times, and the entire system will calm down.

Living with someone who mistreats you is not good for mental health, and it is known that physical health is affected, for example; you become more susceptible to infections.

Identifying destructive forces in a relationship is one of several tools to avoid ending up in a bad relationship or living with domestic abuse. If you are experiencing any of the above, our recommendation is to be attentive and take action, especially if you are subjected to contempt. Sit down and if you can speak with your partner.

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