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Kiss Cam Fail Illustrates Relationship Doom
The other day a friend alerted me to a video that was going viral – at a Chicago Bulls game, a couple is caught on a kiss cam arguing and a mascot comes rushing in to whisk the woman off. The video went viral as so many people thought the gaffe was hilarious. (See the end of this post for the video.)
I thought the video was pretty unfortunate for several reasons:
First: their behavior contains clear clues that this relationship is going to eventually fail. But not before they tear each other apart in the process.
Second: I can’t help but feel that most people’s reactions indicated a certain level of acceptance of their behavior. Thinking that romantic relationships naturally contain a certain amount of venom will set you up for failure.
If you’re interested in a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of a relationship, allow me to show you exactly what’s going on so that you do not fall into this same trap.
Relationship Doom Clues
The Gottman Institute analyzed 130 newlywed couples to identify top predictors of divorce. They came up with six key indicators of relationship doom: harsh start up, negativity (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling), flooding, body language, failed repair attempts, and bad memories.
When I look at the video through the lens of these indicators, I can see this interaction exemplifies four of the six key indicators of relationship failure. More than likely the other two are displayed behind their closed doors.
Harsh Start Up:
Within the first three second of the video, we see the woman realize she’s on camera and then harshly try to get his attention physically. His response is rather attacking. This is a classic harsh startup.
According to Gottman, when a discussion leads off with criticism and/or sarcasm (a form of contempt), it has begun with a “harsh startup.” Research shows that if your discussion begins with a harsh startup, it will inevitably end on a negative note.
After she punches him in the arm, he turns on her rather angrily. She responds with admonishment. Their entire interaction is negative.
Certain types of negativity if allowed to run rampant, are so lethal to a relationship, according to Gottman, that they are called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These include: Criticism (attacking a person’s character); Defensiveness (self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or victimhood, in attempt to ward off a perceived attack); Contempt (statements that come from a relative position of superiority displayed through sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eyerolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor); and finally Stonewalling (when the listener withdraws from the interaction).
While we can’t hear what she is saying, you can read her body language – if I were to guess, I’d say she’s engaging in Criticism and Contempt. His body language, on the other hand, is one of defensiveness.
When he reacts to her prodding so angrily, it obviously was “threatening” and thus stimulated an emotional reaction in the mascot who felt compelled to not only thwack the man on the head but rescue the woman. This is an example of Flooding.
Flooding means that your partner’s negativity – whether in the guise of criticism or contempt or even defensiveness – is so overwhelming, and so sudden, that it stimulates fight or flight. Eventually, this kind of pattern over time leaves a person shell-shocked or stunned.
A marriage’s meltdown can be predicted, then, by habitual harsh startup and frequent flooding brought on by the relentless presence of the four horsemen during disagreements.
I don’t think we really need to dissect the obvious, do we?
It takes time for the four horsemen and flooding that comes in their wake to overrun a marriage. And yet, says the Gottman Institute, relationship doom can so often be predicted by listening to a single conversation.
How can this be?
The answer is that by analyzing any disagreement a couple has, you get a good sense of the pattern they tend to follow. Over time, these kinds of interactions elicit bad feelings that continue to pile up until they drown the relationship.
The ironic thing is that these interactions are entirely avoidable.
So do yourself a favor. Don’t become this couple.
Once you find a partner who you love, do your very best to nurture the relationship in a healthy way. The behavior displayed by this couple is too often regarded at the “norm” – the nagging wife, the stonewalling husband… or worse, the angry or abusive husband.
This is why I stress so heartily to my community to do proper preparation while they are single before getting into a relationship. By enrolling in my VIP coaching program, Become Successfully Single & Relationship Ready, you’ll better understand how to get your needs met in a relationship and learn how to communicate your needs calmly, positively and constructively.
You’ll also learn how to avoid entirely a potential partner with whom your needs will never be met. It takes a lot of learning, unraveling, persistence, dedication and consistency to recognize your behavioral patterns and your attitudes – especially if you didn’t have good role models throughout your life. With the right kind of support, you can do this. This is why the rewards of coaching with me return a thousand-fold.
If you’re serious about co-creating a superlative romantic partnership, you need to enroll now. Click HERE to book an appointment today so we can discuss how my programs will support you in your goals.