Criticism isn’t complaining or critiquing, it’s verbally insulting your partner instead of trying to talk through your problems. If this is the only problem in your relationship, you can fix it by calmly discussing your issues instead of making them into screaming matches. But if you’ve been criticizing each other for too long, you might find it’s a hard circle to break.
Every relationship has its fair share of sass, but if you’re openly disrespecting or dismissing your partner that’s something different. Contempt happens when we think we’re better than someone and our opinion is more important, and you should never be dating someone whose perspective you don’t respect… or worse, who doesn’t respect you.
Defensiveness looks like making excuses and refusing to take responsibility for your actions, but it feels like being blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship. If you or your partner are being defensive towards each other instead of having conversations about what’s wrong, that means you’re no longer willing to put time into working through your problems and you’re better off ending the relationship.
We’ve all been guilty of stonewalling at one point or another. Maybe it’s been a really rough day at work and we can’t handle talking it through, or we’re just tired of arguing and would rather shut up and go to sleep. But unfortunately, this is the worst possible thing for a relationship. If partners don’t talk to each other, problems accumulate, and it’s easy to lose track of where the problems start or how to fix them. It’s never a bad time to start openly communicating in your relationship, but if your partner isn’t speaking or letting you be heard, it’s time to cut ties and move on to someone who is willing to acknowledge and validate your feelings.