Managing Conflict

AngryCouple

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional”

The Nature of Relationship Conflict

Real conflicts in relationships are more than just elements associated with let downs, frustrations, incivility or broached boundaries. They’re deeper and more powerful than arguments and disagreements would at first appear. Relationship conflicts are situations where you or your partner perceive an emotional menace, whether that menace is real or imagined. What’s worse is that they tend to repeat and don’t go away from one relationship to another—that is, these menaces will travel with you into your next relationship and with a new partner. These are highly visceral reactions to situations that rationality will not clear away unless the phantoms that are driving this behavior are identified and addressed. It is important to realize that conflicts more central to issues of attachment and commitment will evoke not only a greater threat response from you or your partner, but are more likely to be the structural fault within your relationship and will be a leading candidate for that relationship failure. That is, unresolved emotional issues have a markedly disproportional negative effect on the health and viability of your relationships and as leaders and managers of our relationships we have a responsibility to lead and manage these.

The Nature of Conflict Avoidance

Much like the real issues driving emotional conflicts, conflict avoidance hides several significant motivators to avoid conflict interactions and serves as a good analogy to the hidden emotional issues behind conflicts. Most people can relate to a very basic element of conflict avoidance just because of the very nature of conflict itself; that it is absorbing, energy-consuming and honestly we want to believe that we have better things to do… but is that truly why we avoid conflict, or are there other issues that are really motivating us from venturing there? Would it be more true to recognize that we may be lacking conflict skills and have had a history of poor utilization of those skills and almost no recognizable ability to manage conflict in a healthy and productive way? Are we too afraid, feel too vulnerable or unsure how to bring to the light of day deeply guarded emotional issues with our partner? Are we honestly too insecure about the nature and true character of our relationship to test it in the crucible of conflict and are afraid to find out the reality of where it stands? Understanding these and any other motivator you may have to avoid conflict will be the first step you take to managing conflict within any relationship.

A Lack of Social Fluency

As children we go through the process of learning and developing a large number of social skills facilitating our interactions with others. One of the most important, but seldom taught or developed is conflict skills. And like all skills, unless as adults we continue to develop, nurture and hone our abilities, we’re slaves to the maturity skill level of our abilities of when we initially learned them, regardless of our actual age. It’s why you’ll see fully grown adults resorting to acting like children, because they honestly have no real ability to do otherwise. Their skill set is limited to that of a child’s. On a fundamental level the ability to hold constructive and healthy conflict sessions is a mark of maturity and one relegated to a fully developed adult. Children need to be taught the critical skills of collaborating with others, restraining anger escalation, rejecting shutting down and emotional withdrawal as a viable conflict management strategy and avoiding or changing destructive behavioral patterns of aggression, to resolve or manage conflict. If as an adult you have not developed those, have positive experience utilizing them and have confidence in your ability to enact these abilities, it’s time you sat down with your inner-child and have a heart-to-heart about developing them.

Emotional Gateway

In an emotional conflict people rarely convey the needs at the heart of the problem; the words being said isn’t what your partner is trying to communicate, the issue being addressed, isn’t really the true issue, as there is often a bigger issue behind a closed emotional door, that contains a very large emotional elephant. If we really listen to our partners, not only in what they are saying to us, but in the patterns of behaviors that bring us back to this same very place, time after time, we may come to realize that they are in fact bringing us to an emotional gateway. We ourselves may not even be aware of how deeply a particular issue from our past affected us, until a situation involving conflict has occurred to uncover it. Partners that don’t trust themselves, have the ability or established an operating pattern and history to discuss pertinent, at-risk issues appropriately will often utilize inappropriate methods to advance an issue into the forefront. They will start a minor conflict to segway the discussion into a larger and more important issue, that they feel inadequate discussing, often called a lead-in. A partner who fears holding a particular discussion due to fears of evoking abandonment issues, relationship flight (you leaving her) or heightened emotional insecurities, may in fact deny the presence of hidden issues, even when directly asked (she may not actually be even aware of it herself). We should be cognizant of this possibility and book mark emotional conflicts, so that if we keep returning to them, we can realize that there truly is something else there, even if our partner is unwilling to openly address it, or the fact we can’t see it. In such a case, finding and knocking on these emotional doors may not be enough. Our partners may continue to deny their existence. In such cases, it is not our responsibility to open those doors, it is our partner’s. If they choose to keep them shut and us out, we can only identify that we were aware, willing and offering a safe environment for them to share with us, but they are ultimately accountable for not doing so. Regrettably these issues tend to be the leading cause for relationship failures, known or otherwise and that is of their making, not ours.

The Crucible- a Test of Character

Emotional conflicts within relationships test the character of the relationship itself and can tell us as much about the relationship, as it does the individuals within the conflict. Just as we can deduce an individual’s social fluency by observing their social skill mastery, we can evaluate a relationship’s strength, health and vibrancy by observing how conflict is handled, regarded and managed within the relationship. Is the conflict not only addressed in a manner which seeks resolution by both partners, but do the partners separate the individual from the issue with tact and respect and do the partners utilize the source of conflict for greater understanding and comprehension of their partner? When done so, conflict can be a tremendous opportunity to lead to deeper respect, trust and intimacy. Conflict tests relationships and individuals more rigorously than other forms of interactions and can be very frightening because of it, but by developing our and our partner’s ability to handle, manage and constructively resolve conflict can we gain honest confidence in our relationship’s true strength and character, by having navigated through it.

Conflict Cost

We must learn to manage conflict because the risks involved in not doing so are very real and very, very costly. Appropriate conflict management prevents physical and psychological aggression within intimate relationships. We are vastly less likely to lash out with physical violence, in releasing engulfed rage and anger that has built up rapidly within a spiraling and unrestrained conflict setting. We are less likely to be physically domineering and physically aggressive, in an attempt to control or manage a situation where our skill sets have failed us. We are less likely to commit emotional and psychological harm in delivering vicious and insidious personal verbal attacks in moments of lost self-regulation. We are less likely to lose relationships that we have invested heavily in emotionally, physically, sexually, socially and financially. Beyond the total sum cost of any failed relationship, the cost of not developing conflict management skills is that this lack of ability will likely be handed down from Father to child. Parents that manage conflict appropriately are less likely to neglect or abuse their children and are more than likely to pass those positive behavior skill sets down to their children. The same hand that guides the Mother will be the same hand that guides his children.

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Filtering and Screening for healthy productive relationships

Image of Sirens in a lake

Don’t alter your course for the Sirens…

 

Take responsibility…

Much as in like golf, people play through with their unresolved personal issues, social constructs and dating strategies based solely upon attraction… In other words, their show must go on…inevitably to horribly predictable conclusions. Without the very real sense that ultimately your life and where it takes you is vastly more important than getting laid, you will never foster and develop healthy productive relationships for yourself and the consequences of those decisions will affect the quality and nature of your future.

Profits are made at the buy…

In business the profits are made at the ‘buy’ not the ‘sell’… People with poor ‘fundamentals’ are not going to be assets in your life or their own… The clearest indication of this is when you look into the nature of both their physical and emotional make up of their lives… Train wrecks show themselves for what they are. Often they will even proudly tell you…  You should develop the revulsion towards an emotional diseased soul, as much as a physically diseased one… Do you truly not value yourself to the degree that you would emotionally partner yourself with a leper?  Habitually men don’t…

Avoidance over repair…

Learn to accept people for who and what they are, rather than addressing their potential. People seldom change on their own accord until it completely doesn’t work anymore… They’ve crafted their lives and what they are doing works for them… where it doesn’t, the loss isn’t enough to motivate or spark a desire for behavior or choice modification. Unfortunately not only does that mean you’re going to be in store for a really shitty ride up until that point, but more likely than not, loosing you and the relationship with you, will have less value than instigating change and being accountable for their lives. Don’t bother trying to fix a situation you should have avoided in the first place…

Addiction avoidance…

Making life altering decisions while inebriated is a dangerous thing to do, but much like drinking and driving, men tend to mix and indulge in the deadly cocktail of attraction, sexual gratification and validation, when choosing to let a woman into their lives… or justify the actions afterwards by focusing upon these criteria post colitis. Learning to remove a woman’s ‘sexual appeal’ and ‘sex availability’ from the emotional equation will help put into perspective what other traits she brings to the table… In simpler practice stop fucking emotionally undesirable women! We get more of what we place value in… and sexually desiring and fucking has considerable value… Want less narcissistic, self-indulgent, entitled bitch behavior? Stop feeding into it! Starve it out of women… make them go home alone, masturbate and cry themselves to sleep wondering why they can’t find a ‘good’ man (New American Spinsterhood Syndrome). Put value ( your time, energy and commitment) into where it is earned… and you’ll notice a remarkable change not only in your own life, but also the SMP (Sexual Market Place).

Developing a road map…

Your ultimate goals are the driving force behind most of your actions… having a clear vision of what type of life you want to live and the type of relationship that you will find fulfilling, invigorating and desirable will help you with knowing which direction to swim in the SMP… It will highlight passing comments or phrases that are parsed out during routine conversations that you can pick up on and follow-up with, as you investigate the personality of the individual you’re engaging.  In panning for healthy relationships prospects, we need to focus upon the finding of healthy desirable women and cherishing those, the gems, and not jading ourselves upon the silt of humanity that invariably make up so much of the current SMP.  Ultimately one doesn’t find gold while playing with shit…