- Can you talk things through without one of you storming out?
- Can you communicate without shouting?
- Do you feel safe in the conflict? If not, do you feel unsafe physically? Why? Are you being threatened? Do they go to hit you? – if so, this IS unsafe and a HUGE red flag. Please get help straight away. Or are you safe, but you feel physically unsafe because of childhood memories?
- Do you feel emotionally safe?
- Do they start name-calling or putting you down? Again, HUGE red flags. Note that many people feel emotionally unsafe during conflict because the risk is that the relationship will not survive the disagreement.
Something that can help to increase safety during conflict is to have rules around conflict. For example, you might agree that you will not threaten to leave the relationship during a fight or that you will not slam doors when you feel angry.
Learning to navigate conflict can be loaded in any relationship because we all have different experiences from our family of origin. Thinking about how conflict was handled at home can give us a lot of insight into how we handle it as adults.
For me, conflict was incredibly anxiety-provoking at home, and I find I still have to manage my nervous system when in conflict with people I love. That’s okay because I have tools to manage it that work for me.
It is normal in the ‘differences’ and ‘conflict’ phases to be considering if this is the right relationship for you. If you feel uncertain, maybe find someone you trust to talk to?
In what ways do you find conflict challenging in intimate relationships?