You Can Tell If Your Relationship Is Happy Based on These 5 Couple Types

Each couple has their own understanding of what good and bad relationships are. While some would think arguing about everything is harmful, others find great pleasure in a difference of opinion. However, there are some behaviors that fall into the 2 categories of unhealthy relationships, according to psychological research.

1. Conflict avoiders

If you and your partner do your best to keep things perfectly stable, then you’re a conflict-avoider couple. You both have your own personal interests, so each one of you believes that the relationship is “good enough.” That’s why you refrain from expressing what you need from one another.

People in this type of relationship don’t look for things of personal advantage, but rather, they focus on areas of agreement. However, try not to avoid conflict too much because there’s a chance suppressing your emotions may lead to sudden outbursts, and then the conflict-avoider may not be able to handle conflict, being taken off guard and confused as to why it happened.

2. Volatile couples

You might find your relationship extremely passionate and emotional, and in this case, you fall into the category of volatile couples. Sharing your point of view with your partner is easy because you do it both with respect, humor, integrity, and goodwill. Your relationship is based on communication, empathy, teasing, laughter, and honesty.

And It’s no surprise that the Gottman Institute believes this kind of couple can be quite happy.

3. Validating couples

If you always work hard to understand each other’s perspectives of things, then you’re a validating couple. You confront your issues in a soft, calm way and, most importantly, your relationship is characterized by support and compassion. You usually apologize to your partner by saying things like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” because you understand what compromising is.

You fall into the 3 happy couples categories as an intermediate between conflict avoiders and volatile couples — neither too emotional nor too cool.

4. Hostile couples

Do you generally notice high levels of defensiveness with a lot of criticism in your relationship? Do you feel like all that your partner cares about is their own felt sense of being right? If that’s the case, you fall into the category of the first dysfunctional couple style known as hostile couples. Unfortunately, conflicts here are not a way to solve problems, but instead, are a real mess since there’s no support or understanding between partners for one’s point of view.

You may also notice that you are using the terms “you always” and “you never” a lot, and one might start withdrawing themselves slowly. According to research, this type of couple tends to remain together in an unhappy union.

5. Hostile-detached couples

When it comes to your relationship, the hostile feelings and behaviors are there: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, but with the additional willingness to detach from each other. You just feel like there’s nothing to fight for because the trust has already been eroded.

As mentioned above, people in this type of relationship are quite hostile with each other, just like the hostile couple type, but the difference is that this one is divorce-prone. Emotional abuse is a constant in this group because the 2 of you keep fighting until you become exhausted and burned out.

Please note: This article was updated in March 2023 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.


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