Building relationships is an important part of life, especially for us college students, because meeting new people and learning how to manage relationships is a vital skill that can help lead to success.
As young students, we still have much to learn about the do’s and dont’s of relationships.
Whether problems arise with a girlfriend or boyfriend, friends, colleagues or even family, it is wise to learn to recognize the “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” written by Dr. John Gottman who has conducted over 40 years of breakthrough research about relationships.
The first horseman in a relationship is criticism. Even though it can be extremely hard not to criticize someone, especially when you want to rip their head off. Try to refrain from attacking their character by saying things like, “You’re so lazy!” or “You always bug the hell out of me!”
Instead of criticizing, learn how to complain instead. For example, if your significant other says he or she is going to do something and then forgets to do so remind them that they went back on their word.
Unfortunately, you were the one that was let down, so be sure to let them know, kindly, that you didn’t appreciate it.
The second horseman, the worst of them, is contempt. Contempt includes hostile language that targets a person’s character and often demeans that person. It is “sulfuric acid to love,” stated Gottman.
For example, “You’re an L7 wienie!” Although this might make your friend laugh, it will hurt later on when he realizes he really is one.
Another rule of thumb is if you get into an argument with a friend, don’t tell him that his mama bobs for apples in the toilet and she likes it. This will also demean his character by psychologically abusing his family.
As a final example, do not, I repeat, do not EVER tell your friend that he plays ball like a girl.
A study by Gottman revealed that people in relationships also have more infectious diseases throughout their lifetime if they treat each other with contempt and disgust. I guess we could say that being contemptuous toward another person makes people sick. Literally!
The third horseman is Defensiveness.
Defensiveness involves counter-complaining and making up excuses which can really escalate an already existing problem. Try to take a step back and inhale a deep breath when a situation like this arises, and then come back and handle the situation in a logically sound way.
Lastly, there is the “Stonewalling Horseman,” or better known as, “the silent treatment.”
Come on, I know we have all given someone a taste of this one before. This action never resolves a conflict. In fact it almost always ends up hurting someone and making the problem worse.
Have you ever had a fight with a friend and then avoided confrontation? If you answered yes, how long did you actually wait before the two of you talked the situation out to an understanding? Two weeks, maybe four?
What happened once the two of you pulled your heads out of your butt and sat down to talk? Was it a misunderstanding that never really was a problem to begin with? Bingo!
Stonewalling is unhealthy in a relationship. It is better to confront your problems face to face and talk out the situation with your friend to resolve it.
Chances are, if he or she is a true friend, they will be willing to dissipate the problem and revert to being buddies again just as much as you want to.
The best way to go about handling friends, family and significant others is to have an “attitude of gratitude,” as spoken by Heather Henry during the, “How to Build Successful Relationships Workshop.”
There was a lot of information given during the workshop and the crowd was very engaging.
If you don’t believe me, ask your fellow student Nayeli Hernandez who said, “I love coming to Heather’s workshops. I’ve been to her workshops before and I always enjoy them.”
Henry offers all students to go check out the Health and Wellness Center, and especially the workshops during this Spring 2013 quarter. It’s free for students to come seek counseling and there is no limit to the number of visits you can have.