The five types of couple (which one are you?)
Dorian Minors • March 25, 2014
An influential couples psychologist, John Gottman figured out we need to balance each bad thing we do to our partner with five good ones (on average). This delightful little gem comes from Gottman's 'couple typology', in which he describes the five major types of romantic couple (men and women, no data from him on those that bat for the other team). He primarily focused his research on married couples, but it easily translates to any romantic relationship. First off, he tells us that couples are either 'regulated' or 'unregulated' (or 'non-regulated'). Regulated couples are those that have got the whole five to one ratio down pat. Unregulated couples don't and as such, are more dysfunctional than their counterpart. There are three couple types that are regulated, the other two are unregulated. Regulated:
- Volatiles - these couples are highly emotional. A rollercoaster if you will. A lot of ups and downs, but somehow they manage to balance out (five to one). Super passionate with lots of sex, arguing, love and happiness. In one word? Well, you can't go past the namesake. Volatile says it all.
- Validators - not so much emotion here. A much more relaxed type of relationship, with a lot of talking through problems (really good at accommodation). One word to describe these guys? Calm.
- Conflict Minimizers - these guys don't believe the fights are worth it. Problems pop up? No worries, let it go, the relationship is too valuable to argue about it, we're going to spend our time focusing on the positives instead. One word? Optimistic.
And now the unregulated:
- Hostiles - open warfare baby. These guys are sick of it and sick of each other. There's no holding back. Lots of exit behaviours - actively attacking each other, blaming each other and just generally hating each others' guts. These guys rarely slide in those positives to balance out the all the negatives. One word? Angry.
- Hostile/Detached - more like guerrilla warfare. They'll get up close, have a stab at each other and then zone out, completely detached before the next skirmish. This is the most common 'pre-divorce' pattern of behaviour. Vicious attacks followed by days or even weeks of neglect. This one is easily the worst, because ignoring your partner when they need support is particularly distressing. In one word? Cold.
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