Consistently rolling your eyes during fights may be a sign that your relationship is doomed, according to Happify, a digital gaming platform that allows you to "train your brain" into becoming happy.
The company's new infographic The Science of a Happy Relationship, which is based on research complied by their in-house team of neuroscientists and psychologists, shows that certain behaviors can determine whether or not couples have what it takes to achieve long-term happiness. Personally, I was shocked when I saw such a tiny action was listed as an indicator of an unhappy union— but I did some digging and it all started to make sense.
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According to Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of the Relationship Research Institute and the lead researcher behind a landmark study about divorce predictors, rolling your eyes when your partner speaks is a sign of contempt. His research shows contempt is the number one predictor of divorce— beating out criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. What a fun bunch! Gottman also found that couples who are contemptuous of each other are also more likely to suffer from infectious illnesses like the flu (talk about a relationship buzzkill).
Simone Kornfeld and Ariel Kiley, co-authors of Smitten: The Way of the Brilliant Flirt, are in total agreement about the dangers of looking skyward when your significant other is driving you crazy.
"Eye-rolling is so destructive to communication. It's immensely belittling and dismissive of the other person," Kornfeld said.
"It's better to yell and scream your real feelings than to dismiss the other person with a roll of the eye!" Kiley said.
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When it comes down to it, rolling your eyes sends the message that in the moment, you don't respect the other person.
And that's a bad sign, because "in surveying more than 10,000 happily married women, and interviewing couples happily married for 25 years or more in 12 countries on 6 continents, the most important ingredient in the recipe for a happy marriage was mutual respect," said Fawn Weaver, author of the Happy Wives Club.
"Rolling your eyes conveys unwillingness to even hear your partner," Kiley agrees. "It instantaneously cancels them out."
So, how do you kill this destructive impulse?
First, Weaver suggests going cold turkey.
"That's the only way to do it," she said. "When you feel frustration mounting, simply look down. Don't roll your eyes down in disgust, but focus them down in humility."
And when you slip up— which you might if it's an ingrained reaction— say so.
"Verbally acknowledge, in the moment, when it happens and then apologize," Kornfeld recommends. "Habits die more quickly when you practice bringing your conscious awareness to them."
This article originally appeared on Self.com.