The Four Horsemen of Conflict Styles and How They Hurt your Relationship 1

The Four Horsemen of Conflict Styles and How They Hurt your Relationship

Being in a relationship will not always be a smooth sail. Couples are bound to fight even over petty things. What many couples do not know is how to have a healthy relationship fight.

How you handle conflicts in relationships can end up hurting your partner and destroying your trust over time. If you wish your relationship to last longer, you have to learn specific ways to communicate with your partner.

Four Horsemen – The Four Signs

Four signs indicate the way you fight is harmful and can ruin your chances of ever having a healthy relationship are found below.

These conflict signs are known as the Four Horsemen, and entertaining their presence in conflict can lead to the end of your relationship if not resolved sooner.

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Being Critical

Using criticism will strike your partner’s character, making them feel like they are being attacked personally. If the criticism was intentional or not, remember you are taking your anger of the issue and aiming it at your partner.

Now your partner becomes your target. Some examples of criticism you may say are: “Why are you not thoughtful?” or “you never seem to help the situation.”

Being Mean-spirited

Being mean-spirited towards your partner is when you are purposely disrespectful and hurtful. When emotions are running high, and you get caught up in the moment, you may start to name call, mock, or ridicule your partner.

Such hurtful communication forms are meant to bully your partner and convince them about your way of thinking. Some examples of contempt are saying things like: “You are stupid.” Or “why do I have to deal with a child like you?”

Silent Treatment

Rather than hurling abuses or trying to hurt your partner’s feelings, you can decide to look the other way and go silent. This type of approach can be due to feeling physiologically flooded and refusing to communicate with your partner. It is also an indication that you are not open to any repairs.

four horsemen conflict styles

Using the silent treatment is an example of a lack of communication. You can go silent in the middle of a conflict and can continue even for days. Thus, by not speaking to your partner and explaining how you feel, you shut them out and damage the connection between both of you.

Always on the defence

By always being defensive, you indicate to your partner that you do not care whatever their concerns. It is natural to respond to criticism by being defensive. However, if you are always defensive in any response, it comes out to your partner as being self-centred.

An example can be when your partner inquires about something they had requested you to do earlier. Your quick response might be, “Why are you always on my case? Leave me alone.” Or “I said I will do it when I am free. Stop nagging me.”

It would help if you considered that you have to resolve any conflict when it arises and help not to spell doom for your relationship in the future.

Josh Dudick

Josh is an entrepreneur and financial expert with over a decade on Wall Street as an economic strategist. His career started in finance, progressed to owning multiple business, and now shares his insights and life hacks with readers of

Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh currently shares his financial expertise in investing, wealth management, capital markets, taxes, real estate, and personal finance on his personal finance site, Top Dollar Investor.

Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business.

Josh is the owner of Top Dollar and Daily Wisely, the former focusing on personal finance and wealth building strategies, while this site focuses on living well and enriching content that Josh curates with his team.

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