Four Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse


A lot of relationships die this way, but they don’t have to.

Have you ever been going about your day, snug as a bug in a rug and all of a sudden someone totally sideswipes you?

They say or do something and it hits you like a door in the face!

After you recover from the initial shock, what is your next impulse?

To make like the Empire and strike back?

Or maybe you’re more like a Klingon and like your revenge served cold so you file it away for later?

Or do you turn inward and rack your brain over what you could have done to warrant this treatment?

I hate to tell you, but in all 3 instances you are most likely making a big mistake.

What mistake is that, Joe?

In most cases, what happened has little to nothing to do with you. You’ve been duped by one of the 4 Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse. And by duped I mean the behavior has less to do with you and more to do with the other person being controlled by one of the 4 Horsemen. Or rather, not being in control of themselves.

The 4 Horsemen can be remembered by a handy acronym HALT:

  • Hungry

  • Angry

  • Lonely

  • Tired

When a person is in one of these states they lack the self-control they normally have and become the worst version of themselves. The people around them didn’t do anything to deserve their wrath, they just happened to be in the vicinity when the person exploded like a grenade.

One other important thing to note about the 4 Horsemen is they are all temporary states of being.

Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and Tiredness all come and go.

Now you may be thinking, surely you are not proposing that nothing ever has to do with us or is our fault, Joe?

That’s right, sometimes we do things to get people upset. I’m not denying that or that we have responsibility for our actions. What I’m saying is when you are minding your own business and somebody inexplicably tries to take you out, more often than not it has more to do with their mental and emotional state than their relationship with you.

The mistake we tend to make, and I make it a lot being a first-born son, is that we tend to think the world revolves around us, including other people’s worlds.

In reality, that person is mostly thinking about themselves, just like you are mostly thinking about yourself. That’s normal.

When someone behaves badly towards you out of the blue, don’t react. Hit the Pause button before you respond.

Allow yourself to realize that this may have nothing to do with you. Give the moment some time to pass. See if the person’s state of being shifts back to a more normal one.

Usually, one of two things happens:

  1. The person feels embarrassed and apologizes.

  2. The person goes back to feeling fine and treating you fine and doesn’t even realize what they did earlier.

Now there is one explanation for this behavior that actually does signal the death of your relationship with this person.

It’s not a temporary state like the 4 Horsemen, but is more of a toxic attitude that once established, is hard to reverse.

The one thing that signals the death of your relationship with a person is Contempt.

The reason for this is when a person has contempt for you, they have decided that the connection is no longer worth keeping. You are not worthy of them. Once that happens, it is only a matter of time before the ties that bind you get weaker and weaker until they give out.

So the next time someone takes a swipe at you, don't assume it is about you. Consider the 4 Horsemen and pause before you respond. If it is about you and you feel contempt from the other person, know that without a lot of repair that relationship is unlikely to survive.

If you do this, let me know how it goes in the comments below.