Contempt is an extremely destructive force in relationships. Caused by a slow buildup of resentment, contempt causes one partner to characterize another personally—to believe that he or she is selfish, stupid, or immoral, for example. Contempt starves a relationship of kindness, compassion, and ultimately, love. It’s also counterproductive—by the mechanism of projective identification, contempt reinforces the behavior that caused the negative emotion. Moreover, contempt is self-reinforcing; once it becomes a habit, even a positive change in behavior by the contemptuous person’s partner can be perceived negatively.
- Try to stay compassionate about a significant other in good time. It is often hard because couples break up and go through mood swings.
- The significant other might actually feel contempt during a breakup too. It is equally hard to be compassionate towards someone like that as well.
- Try to manage the breakup well and evaluate the results along the way. A divorce can be a trying time for people who are now separated.
“It’s hard to be compassionate, kind, and loving to someone you hold in contempt, and it’s equally hard to be compassionate, kind, and loving to someone who holds you in contempt.”