How To Reduce Relationship Conflict Series

By Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD

Emotional maturity is crucial when we attempt to address interpersonal conflicts constructively. One’s ability to achieve emotional maturity is important in any relationship, but if you have not yet achieved your full potential in this area, there is still time. We all have a baseline, or starting point of where we feel most comfortable communicating with others, be it playful and engaging, or defensive, judgmental and hostile, we all have a dominate preference “style“ when we communicate with others.

Over time our “style” matures given certain situations, and it can also unknowingly help align us to others with similar styles or complimentary styles of communicating. For example, individuals tend to gravitate toward others with similar hobbies, interests, and world experiences, as well as similar maturity level and communication styles they can understand.

A long held belief in Couples Therapy, is intimate partners usually couple up at similar levels of maturity most similar to them, or unconsciously select partners who remind them of complimentary relationship dynamics they are most familiar with. This [preference] can be both positive and negative. We can select partners who are supportive and cheer us on to be the best we can be, and we can also as strongly unknowingly select partners who degrade and make daily living arduous.

Concepts of choice and necessity are always at play in adult relationships when conflict surfaces. We can accept the fact that conflict is apart of all relationships, regardless of age, maturity, and context, or we can continue to address conflicts in a unproductive manner due to a lack of insight or failed opportunities to learn new skills. In this article an opportunity is presented to review a select few dynamics at play in adult relationships to facilitate insight.

One of many theorists who describe human interpersonal relationship dynamics is Dr. Eric Berne, MD., Psychiatrist, in a popular book Games People Play. According to Dr. Berne, games are ritualistic transactions or behavior patterns between individuals that can indicate hidden feelings or emotions. This level of interpersonal communication is often unconscious; Read More

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