I absolutely hate conflict, so the thought of addressing any relationship problems directly literally made my stomach do flips.
I learned how to handle conflict slowly through an eight month relationship. We had our first a disagreement only weeks after we began dating. [emaillocker id=”11739″] It wasn’t over anything earth shattering. We were simply two people with two very different personalities trying to navigate the waters of a new relationship. He was extremely extroverted while I was on the quieter side. While driving one day he made a negative comment about a complete stranger walking down the street—judging him only by the way he looked.
If I were in that situation now, I would just open my mouth and tell him exactly why what he said was making me uncomfortable. But instead, I froze up. I sat there and let his words simmer in my mind to the point of boiling. Instead of talking about my feelings, some very unpleasant looks appeared on my face and I gave my boyfriend the cold shoulder.
After a number of awkward hours of my angry-but-I’m-not-going-to-tell-you-why-I’m-angry mood, he insisted I tell him why I was upset. I apparently needed just a few more moments to throw my little pity party, so I didn’t want to tell him at first. When we finally talked it out, it hit me that that very minor conflict could have been resolved hours earlier. I had wasted the better part of an afternoon being bitter.
Unfortunately, it took more than just that one incident to get it through my head that resolving conflict is always more beneficial than letting it sit there unresolved. Thankfully, my boyfriend at the time handled disagreements in the complete opposite way than my natural tendency. He always wanted to resolve things immediately, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Time and time again, I was incredibly thankful that we did. When we decided to work through things the second there was tension, we always came out with a better understanding of one another and a deeper connection than we had before.
My ex taught me how to have a healthy argument in a very mature, civil manner. We didn’t fight- there was no physical, emotional or mental abuse. Anyone would avoid that type of conflict! We talked at a normal volume and worked on giving each other the necessary time to express how we felt.
I learned so much from that relationship, but that didn’t mean it lasted. My newfound willingness to address conflict and speak up when I was uncomfortable was actually what led me to break up with him. The less I bottled up my thoughts and shared them instead, the more his true colors came out. It allowed me to see concerning sides of him I knew I could never live with long term.
Even though that relationship ended on a sour note, I’m still grateful for the role my ex played in helping me develop a healthier way of dealing with conflict. Approaching arguments immediately hasn’t failed me yet. [/emaillocker]
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