Contempt In a Relationship


Contempt In a Relationship - What It Is, The Impact, and Tips to Challenge

Some relationships go from bad to worse. There may have been harsh words, inappropriate behavior, tremendous conflict. Yet, there may still be a desire to make things right. There is wiggle room within the relationship where if things can be improved, you just may come out on the other side well.

Anger can be let go as responsibility is taken and the matters resolved. Sure, if there are issues of trust, they too can be rebuilt on the practice of reasonable and transparent behavior. From bad to worse though is when contempt enters the picture.

Contempt for another implies feelings that the other is now worthless, not at all deserving of respect. Along with contempt, follows scorn. That implies pure and utter disregard, coming from a place of perceived deserved anger and/or disgust.

Forms of contempt can look like the following:

  1. Rolling of eyes
  2. Name calling
  3. Mimicking
  4. Hostile humor
  5. Sarcasm
  6. Acting superior to partner
  7. Conveying disgust

Relationships wherein one feels contempt for the other, can be the most difficult to repair. The intense feelings of disregard can be insurmountable. It may be that if people remain in such a relationship, it is to extract vengeance or there are little to no other options.

Still, if truly looking to rekindle or find the common thread to bring each other back, there are strategies, but they will take time and effort. They include:

  1. A deep dive with a therapist, exploring not only the nature of the troubled relationship but one’s own actions and personal history that may be contributory. Such a deep dive when one considers the other to be at total fault may be a challenge.
  2. Taking responsibility, unequivocally, yet without pursuing forgiveness. The apology must be sincere and not at all a ploy to maintain the relationship. Respect must be given for the one hurt to determine their own mind about the relationship.
  3. Space. While not necessarily a separation, people often need time to cool down and reflect. However, that reflection is best accompanied by the support of a therapist, lest the time alone isn’t just time to fester, but more fully unpack the situation and discern how one feels about it and remaining in the relationship.

Contempt is predictive of a break-up. That’s the bad news. However, if one is truly interested in seeing a path forward, do consider the tips and have supports in place for a challenging ride. Learning to contain oneself will also aid the journey.  

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