How do I know if my relationship is in a negative pattern?

Counselling in North Vancouver, Pinaud Psychological Services

Negative Pattern's in relationships

There are many negative patterns: many have to do with communication failures such as when one partner dominates the conversation, withdraws, or does not investigate time to do things with their partner.  

Sometimes, identifying negative patterns is very obvious and at other times these patterns may have become so habitual, subtle and automatic that they have become the norm and are not noticed.


Criticisms – frequently making generalized negative statements or assumptions about your partner would be an example of an obvious negative pattern. A more subtle criticism would be incorrectly assuming your partner’s intentions such as “if you really cared about me, you would not have said __”.

Another example, - you might not have said that “I dominate the conversation”. Instead, you might have said “I would like more opportunities to give you my opinion”.


Defensiveness – in the extreme can look like an attack. For example, “You think you are perfect.” Or, it can be subtle simply by being silent which can convey disapproval.


Contempt is an extreme form of hostility. If detected, there is a high probability of a failed relationship. For example, if the sentiment being expressed is, “I hate you!” - is the partner meaning this?


This can look like a deliberate message that, “I am not interested in communicating”. In fact, it may be an indicator of someone who is flooded emotionally and unable to gather their thoughts to respond. For example, someone who is hurt by a comment may be fearful that they would overreact with anger. Someone who is anxious about saying the wrong thing may decide it is better to say very little because it may result in conflict.

Dr. Pinaud is a registered Clinical Counsellor (BCACC#1992) based in North Vancouver, British Columbia, who specializes in relationship issues that include couples, families, and single individuals who may have had unsuccessful experiences in the past or are wanting to be involved in a long term committed relationship for the first time.

Over 20 years ago, Dr. Pinaud went through a painful divorce. At that time he enrolled in a course called “Rebuilding” by Dr. Bruce Fisher, which became the catalyst for significant growth and sparked his interest in Psychology. As a result he was trained and became a facilitator for this course. This led to the completion of a Masters in Psychology and a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology. The learning and passion for Dr. Pinaud's work continues to grow. or email him