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Relationship Killers and How to Bring Yours Back to Life

Updated: May 11, 2021

February. Love is in the air, spring just on the horizon. You may be starting new relationships or maintaining old ones. Not just romantic relationships but business, familial, friendships, and the like.

This month for CLCI LIVE our theme is Relationships and Rapport

Relationships are what ideally connect human beings together where all parties involved have a mutual benefit. Ideally...

What can often happen is that a once-great relationship, for many reasons, can suffer damage that causes it to whither up, starve, and often die. To be more specific your once loving relationship gets killed! And whether you want to admit it or not, often it is you who is left with the blood on your hands. Wow, that got dark fast. Let's lighten it up, shall we.

This week Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), and Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.) are joined by one of our very own Lead Facilitators Daniel Olexa (P.C.C., C.C.H.T.) Brought together in the hopes of ending the senseless murder of relationships by bringing their killers to justice, putting them on trial, and hopefully rehabilitating some of our nastier habits so that we can all enjoy happy and healthy relationships and stop being serial relationship killers.

The Relationship Killers

Often times we are only able to put together what or who killed a relationship after it already ended. Like a crime scene investigator, we collect evidence, think retrospectively, and compile a story of what happened. We realize the red flags are warning signs that were there all along. If only we could have recognized them and dealt with the relationship killers before it was too late.

Knowing the common causes of killed relationships is the first step of preventing disaster and healing afterward. The most common reasons are NOT mutually exclusive and often feed into one another; they are:

Lack of Trust

Trust is generally thought of as our ability to feel confident that the people we interact with have our best interest in mind and will abide by a certain set of (un)spoken rules. We trust that our partners won't cheat on us, we trust our parents as children, we trust our coaching clients to be willing to make an effort to achieve their goals.

When you trust someone, they become more than means to an end and they are not required to continuously prove themselves to you.

Mistrust can manifest itself in many ways in any type of relationship. Micromanaging, contempt, stonewalling, constant questioning, fear of conflict, doubt, suspicion, and anxiety are only a few of the symptoms of mistrust.

The Fix

Give trust freely while earning the trust of others.

Yes, you have to do the hard work. But by giving trust freely you are also setting the example of how the trust will work in the relationship. Of course, you can't expect to either give or receive full trust immediately, but by demonstrating vulnerability, honoring your commitments, speaking honestly about expectations, and working towards a common goal, you set the example of how you want others to act.

Poor Communication

This is admittedly a difficult killer to unravel. Often the way we as people communicate is formed from our childhood and environment. In the course of our conversation, Lisa brings up a simple way to conceptualize poor communication methods with The Four Horsemen from Gottman Institute, a site dedicated to researching relationship health. The Four Horsemen are:

  • Criticism: This could a form of fighting or a sign of comradery. How and why you criticize someone is very important and can easily slide from gentle ribbing to valid complaints, to outright verbal assaults on a person's character or intelligence.

  • Contempt: This is a pattern of behavior where you regard the other person as worthless or you treat them with disdain. In marriages or work relationships about to fail, contempt is oftentimes present. There is no room for improvement or good humor in contempt and it is always destructive to a relationship.

  • Defensiveness: When criticism or an attack is put against you, instead of taking responsibility you react emotionally or go on the counter-attack. They do say the best defense is a good offense and defensive/offensive behavior is a sign of a lack of perspective of the other's viewpoint.

  • Stonewalling: The lack of communication is still a form of communication. Stonewalling is avoiding or the negation of conflict and communication altogether. Stonewalling sets an indefinite amount of time of silence that leaves problems unresolved.

The Fix

Make an effort to understand the unhealthy communication methods you are prone to and adjust accordingly.

People who tend to criticize will often mask hurtful comments as jokes or will avoid vulnerability or "I" statements.

Those who are contemptuous should make an effort to show gratitude, patience, and empathy toward their partners.

Defensive communicators will avoid responsibility or push the blame onto others, by taking responsibility you show that you have an active role in building a relationship.

And finally, stonewallers should set a definite, rather than the indefinite amount of time communication will be held off for. This gives you enough time to cool down and gather your thoughts but still return to your partner for communication.

Low Individual Self-Esteem

What is more important? The relationships with others or the self?

In our conversation, Dan would argue that the relationship with the self takes precedence over everything else. We often take for granted that we are always with ourselves and communicate our inward struggles outwardly. This unhealthy communication with the self takes the form of baggage, guilt, self-loathing, and fatalism.

A common example of this can be found in past failed relationships is where we very much identify (truthfully or falsely) that we were the killer of that relationship.

This low-self esteem can hinder existing relationships or completely destroy the opportunity to build new ones.

The Fix

Whoever has a "fix" for low self-esteem would be a millionaire. Simply put there is no easy "fix" and it is a long process of healing, maturity, acceptance, and growth that will improve an individual's relationship with the self. Everyone's method of improving self-esteem will be different and it is the essence of Life Coaching. We help our clients identify what matters to them and promote their own self worth so they can achieve their goals through their own power.

What is important to know is that you can't let self-esteem hinder the growth of new relationships. It is tempting to always self-improve. You can always be a little smarter, kinder, fitter, skilled, educated, etc. but you may never know when you are truly "ready" to start new relationships.

By understanding and accepting all your flaws and virtues, you give yourself the opportunity to accept the flaws of others while showing gratitude for their virtues.


If you are interested in further improving relationships and building rapport, be sure to join us in the weeks to come. Our February theme will include:

  • Week 2: How to Identify, Listen To, & Speak the Same Language

  • Week 3: Fair Fighting Techniques

  • Week 4: Betrayal & Forgiveness. Rebuilding Trust

Thank you,

Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr., and Daniel Olexa

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