Conflict avoidance is where one intentionally avoids conflict when issues arise. Taking this approach is not healthy. It can manifest in our work relationships, family relationships, romantic relationships, and friendships.
For instance, you and your best friend decide to get together to enjoy a quiet evening by having take-out delivered and watching a movie. Your friend decides to invite other people over as well.
When you arrive, instead of the quiet evening you had envisioned, there is a small group of people. To add to that frustration, your friend changes their mind about where you were going to order take-out from and chooses a different restaurant.
Instead of speaking up and calling your friend out, you simply go along with their decisions to avoid conflict because you do not want to upset them and the other guests.
Engaging in this type of behaviour often stems from a fear that expressing your opinion will result in others becoming upset or even angry at you. Through counselling, the underlying cause for conflict avoidance is often traced back to growing up in an environment where there were issues when conflict arose.
These issues could range from negative outcomes, such as physical or emotional abuse, or having one’s opinion dismissed as not being relevant. Over time, you have learned to avoid conflict and endure situations where you are not comfortable.
Why Conflict Avoidance Is Not Beneficial
By avoiding conflict, you are not able to express your true feelings. You store up your frustrations and keep them to yourself. This can cause you to feel stressed and anxious. It can also have negative impacts on your overall health and well-being.
Not addressing conflict in a productive manner has impacts on our relationships. We are not being honest with ourselves and the other people in our lives.
For couples, the relationship ends up with one person essentially being a silent partner. They never want to give their opinion and can be reluctant to make decisions. They end up going along with whatever their partner wants, even when they do not agree.
Eventually, resentment can develop because you are not expressing your true feelings. Your partner can also become resentful towards you because they can start to feel disconnected from you. Unless you can learn how to overcome your conflict avoidance, it can ruin affect intimacy and ultimately ruin your relationship.
If you have problems with conflict avoidance, individual and couples conflict counselling can help. When you can learn how to address conflict constructively, instead of avoiding it, you will notice you can start to feel closer to your partner and your other relationships can become stronger.
Conflict is a normal part of life. Learning how to express it and being comfortable doing so is part of developing healthy relationships. For help overcoming your conflict avoidance, speak to a counsellor in Toronto, like Ellen Starr. Call 416-488-3102 to schedule an appointment today!