Conflict is something all couples fear. That’s because people don’t know how to handle arguments, which usually blow up in their faces. But conflict avoidance is unhealthy for the relationship. Two people won’t be able to see eye to eye on all topics. Disagreements are just a normal part of life. If you want to have relationships, even spiritual ones, you need to accept that you’ll disagree from time to time.
Conflicts can even be healthy for a couple. They can help you understand each other better, thus strengthening your relationship. Even though you might not agree after solving the conflict, at least you know where the other is coming from. For example, pizza doesn’t need to be both of your favorite food. But you must understand that your partner might even if you don’t like it. So, having a pizza night might make their week.
This give-and-take shows that relationships are about compromise, not finding the person you’ll never have arguments with. But some people don’t see things that way. They think eliminating conflicts is the only way to have a good relationship. But that’s not possible, nor is it desirable. What this leads to is conflict avoidance. This is an issue in more relationships than it might seem.
You might have even experienced it or are doing it in your current relationship. In that case, don’t be surprised if the problems keep resurfacing. If arguments remain unresolved, they’ll keep getting worse. Fortunately, there’s never too late to start learning how to resolve differences between you and who you love.
4 Reasons Conflict Avoidance Harms Relationships
1 – Conflict Avoidance Hinders Communication
Maybe you think avoiding conflict is the best way to solve issues, but it creates more. For one, it makes it that much harder to communicate with your partner. And that can seem like a small price to pay at first. But that will keep building up until there’s a wall between you.
Communication is an essential factor in all relationships. And it’s even more important to be able to communicate about the bad stuff. The good thing is always easy to talk about. Having fun together, bantering, and cracking jokes, comes naturally. But it’s harder to talk about deep stuff, especially about differences.
If you want a healthy relationship, you should be able to talk about everything. If you avoid conflicts, the issues will keep building up. You won’t have the energy to comb through all of them at some point. You won’t be used to communicating efficiently. Your conflicts will become full-blown fights that will probably destroy your relationship.
2 – Conflict Avoidance Makes You Afraid
Conflict avoidance is a form of people-pleasing usually born out of fear. It can appear in all areas of your life, not just in romantic relationships. For example, if someone takes credit for your work and you shrug it off, that’s a sign of fear. You are afraid to stand up for yourself and what’s yours, so you sacrifice everything for perceived peace.
That’s also how it can work when you avoid conflict in relationships. At first, you might think you are just avoiding a fight. That the moment of tension will dissipate, and everything will be fine. But after a while, that can change. Have you ever noticed that the more you put off doing something, the more anxious you become? The thought of finally doing that thing is an enormous weight pushing down on you.
That’s what happens when you constantly put off resolving arguments. You will start to become scared of having arguments. You’ll avoid doing anything that seems like even remotely annoys your partner. But you won’t avoid it out of respect. You’ll do it out of fear. You’ll slowly become scared of being yourself around your partner, so you’ll start changing how you act.
Not to mention that whenever your partner seems even a little mad, you’ll start becoming apologetic. In other words, the more you avoid conflicts, the more afraid you’ll become. And all you’ll do is change yourself up for the other’s approval.
3 – Conflict Avoidance Harms Trust
For a couple, trust is an essential factor. But, as you probably know, it’s also a delicate topic. Trust can break in just a few seconds. But it can take months, even years, to build it up again. And most of the time, it’s never the same as it was at first. So one of the hardest things for a couple to return is the loss of trust.
And having unresolved conflicts can damage the trust two people have in each other. When all you know how to do is avoid disputes, you’ll always have arguments with no resolution. There’s no way to prevent feeling irritated by something the other does, but you’ll never solve anything. This will make any couple feel like the other isn’t putting any effort in.
When your partner avoids conflict, you feel you’re not worth sacrificing. Slowly, you’ll stop trusting that they have your interest at heart. And the same will go for them if they are the ones avoiding conflicts.
4 – Conflict Avoidance Destroys Intimacy
Intimacy is something that defines a romantic relationship. It’s the main difference between a friendship and a partnership. Without it, you can’t ever be more than friends. More often than not, the loss of intimacy creates an unfixable divide. That’s why, once you lose it, you might never be able to reconcile with your partner. The most common outcome is a breakup.
Conflict avoidance is one of the reasons why people lose that intimacy. The more you avoid arguments, the less you’ll be able to talk about an issue that might arise. As a result, you won’t feel safe discussing problems with your partner. That will make you drift apart, thus making you less comfortable with being close to them. Sometimes, arguing is the best way to feel heard and listened to. Otherwise, you’ll feel neglected, and you’ll avoid any intimacy.
4 Ways to Resolve Differences
1 – Accept that Conflict is Unavoidable
The best way to resolve conflicts is to let them unfold. That doesn’t mean having full-blown screaming matches. You need to talk through them calmly. Fighting is inevitable, so you don’t need to avoid arguments. You need to make sure that you’re fighting fair.
Speak up when you feel like an issue with your partner is bubbling to the surface. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll find that you have unsolvable problems. Of course, it’s better that you figure that out sooner than later. But, more often than not, engaging in conversation will help solve issues.
2 – Talk About the Things That Bother You
Usually, conflicts get bad because people don’t talk about things at the right time. Something bothers them, and they don’t address it because they think it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t seem wise to make a big deal out of a minor issue. But all that does is allow the subject to grow into a big problem that will be harder to solve.
The best thing you can do is always talk about the things that bother you. And that you allow your partner to do the same. Make sure your relationship is a safe space for communication. Even the smallest of issues can become something much worse.
But the smaller an issue is, the easier it can be to solve. For example, if it bothers you that your partner chews loudly, let them know. That way, they have the chance to solve the issue. Otherwise, you’ll get annoyed daily until you won’t stand your partner anymore.
3 – Set Concrete Boundaries
As mentioned before, conflict avoidance comes from fear. And that fear can be perpetuated by several unhealthy behaviors or past trauma. If trauma is the cause, you need to talk to a specialist and sort things out. But the reason might also be a lack of proper boundaries. So if you struggle with the latter, that’s easier to solve.
Most couples don’t realize it, but boundaries are one of the essential components of a healthy relationship. Without them, your relationship will not be the safe space that either of you needs. Boundaries are a set of rules that you agree to respect. For example, one of your boundaries might never to argue without cooling off before making a decision.
Having such rules will make you trust your partner more. And when that trust is there, you’ll feel safe discussing all your issues.
4 – Learn to Compromise
Differences are what make relationships unique. If you found someone exactly like you, everything would feel dull. Sure, it’s essential to find someone with similar core values, but your partner doesn’t need to have the same favorite foods as you. People sometimes need to learn to compromise.
People can talk through everything in a healthy relationship, from tiny to massive issues. And they can make sacrifices to see each other happy. Sometimes, you need to compromise when deciding where you’ll have lunch. Those are the types of decisions you’ll have to make daily. But sometimes, you’ll need to make more sacrifices than letting go of pizza for a day.
You’ll need to learn to talk through issues like moving town for the sake of your partner’s job. Keep in mind that communication is vital. You’ll get over these issues as long as you care about each other.
Final Thoughts on How Conflict Avoidance Harms Relationships and Ways to Resolve Differences
You’ll have to deal with conflict at some point in your life. And while conflict avoidance might seem easier than talking about what’s wrong, it doesn’t work. It might be a solution when the waiter messes up your order. But when the relationship is serious, like a romantic partnership or a strong friendship, that’s no solution anymore.
Conflict avoidance will only hamper communication and create more arguments between people. The more you put off talking about issues, the more pressing they’ll become. So, you need to acknowledge and address them as soon as possible. You also need to set concrete boundaries and learn to compromise. As long as you trust each other, you’ll be able to overcome even the most difficult periods.