Four Horsemen of an Apocalyptic Breakup: Part I of the Relationship Trilogy

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are mythical riders described in the New Testament as harbingers to the end of times. The Horsemen each ride on a colored horse – white, red, black, and pale – and represent dramatic qualities of conquest, war, famine, and death, respectively. The very metaphor can be applied to relationships to describe four major warning patterns that predict its very destruction.

White (conquest): Problems arising early in the relationship

The so-called “honeymoon” period lasts about 1 year into the relationship. During this period, you are biologically wired to see your romantic partners in rose-colored glasses: every quality about him/her is glorified while faults are minimized. You may think your boyfriend as just “being a guy” when he burps rudely after a chug of beer, or you think your girlfriend as “cute” if she clumsily steps on your toes. At this time, you don’t mind if he passes gas or she spits when she talks. However, a prominent indicator that the relationship is doomed to fail is if major problems arose during this period. For example, you find that your partner has substance issues, shows signs of infidelity, or have lifestyle patterns that you are not accustomed to. This is supposed to be the easiest of times during the entire relationship, but if you start having problems this early on, then it is a clear sign of your incompatibility.

Red (war): Continued Conflicts throughout the relationship

The same issues that arose early on in the relationship (within one year) continue to plague your relationship. You may have already sought ways to counter the problem, such as communicating your concerns with your partner, trying to accommodate him/her, or even seeking professional help, but you continue to experience the same problems. Although there may be minor changes after implementation of a remedy (for example, your partner promises to be more open about their whereabouts if they stay out late and for a period of time they do report to you regularly), they are most likely transient and you ultimately find that there is no lasting change. Relationships cannot be maintained if it is rife with problems, and if there are no changes to issues that brought about conflicts, then the relationship is destined to fail.

Black (famine): Blackouts of love and affections

The continued patterns of problems trouble you to the point that you call it quits. However, compelled by feelings of loneliness, you may soon come back together, only to break apart again. You experience periods of “blackouts” during which you “take a break” with your partner, only to return to it because you cannot stand the deprivation of being in a relationship, even if it is not working out. People are compelled to maintain complacency and status quo (i.e., stay together) despite evidence supporting the opposite (i.e., breaking up) because to avoid a starvation of affections is often a powerful motivator. The end result would be two people continuing to stay together for the sake of maintaining the façade of a relationship not because it would produce any meaningful outcome. This negative cycle is highly indicative of eventual (and potentially more tumultuous) separation.

Pale (death): Trigger of death

The threshold of tolerance is reached, and you can no longer stand the problems that trouble the relationship. Something would happen to push the relationship over the edge and to the point of no return. This is the most immediate predictor to the end of the relationship. When people finally reach an exhaustion point, this would prompt one or both parties to inititate breakup, thereby ending the relationship.

Knowledge can be helpful in identifying early signs of trouble in relationships. If you recognize any of Four Horsemen, then it is a high likelihood that you suffer from a poor relationship that stems from incompatibility. In this case, it is suggested that you reconsideration the relationship. However, ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide which step to take in a relationship. Regardless of the decision, it should only be made after careful consideration of the parties involved and the consequences that may follow.

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