Do you have a question about relationships and flirting?

You can email me about any of your relationship and flirtation questions, and I'll be happy to address them in my blog. Won't that be fun! Its very Dear Abby, but hey...I'm just as good as she is! Just put "Dear Ottis" in the subject. Make sure your letters are annoymous though, to protect you and me. Send all questions to

Monday, November 1, 2010

4 Horsemen of the Apcocalypse

No, I'm not talking about the end of the world...rather, the end of a relationship.  There are 4 sure ways of knowing when a relationship is going to end.  And these are them.  They are brought to us by relationship/marriage guru John Gottman.  Enjoy!


1. Criticism:
Attacking your partner’s personality or character, usually with the intent of making
someone right and someone wrong:
Generalizations: “you always…” “you never…”“you’re the type of person who …” “why
are you so …”

2. Contempt:
Attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically
abuse him/her:
- Insults and name-calling: “bitch, bastard, wimp, fat, stupid, ugly, slob, lazy…”
- Hostile humor, sarcasm or mockery
- Body language & tone of voice: sneering, rolling your eyes, curling your upper lip

3. Defensiveness:
Seeing self as the victim, warding off a perceived attack:
- Making excuses (e.g., external circumstances beyond your control forced you to act in
a certain way) “It’s not my fault…”, “I didn’t…”
- Cross-complaining: meeting your partner’s complaint, or criticism with a complaint of
your own, ignoring what your partner said
- Disagreeing and then cross-complaining “That’s not true, you’re the one who …” “I did
this because you did that…”
- Yes-butting: start off agreeing but end up disagreeing
- Repeating yourself without paying attention to what the other person is saying
- Whining “It’s not fair.”

4. Stonewalling:
Withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict. Partners may think they
are trying to be “neutral” but stonewalling conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation,
disconnection, and/or smugness:
- Stony silence
- Monosyllabic mutterings
- Changing the subject
- Removing yourself physically
- Silent Treatment

- Learn to make specific complaints & requests (when X happened, I felt Y, I want Z)
- Conscious communication: Speaking the unarguable truth & listening generously
- Validate your partner (let your partner know what makes sense to you about what they
are saying; let them know you understand what they are feeling, see through their eyes)
- Shift to appreciation (5 times as much positive feeling & interaction as negative)
- Claim responsibility: “What can I learn from this?” & “What can I do about it?”
- Re-write your inner script (replace thoughts of righteous indignation or innocent
victimization with thoughts of appreciation, responsibility that are soothing & validating)
- Practice getting undefended (allowing your partner’s utterances to be what they really
are: just thoughts and puffs of air) and let go of the stories that you are making up

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