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Conflict Avoidance: Why It’s Harmful, How to Overcome It & More

Fear of negative evaluation theory states that people often avoid conflict because they are afraid of being seen in a negative light. This theory is based on the idea that people fear being judged, criticized, or rejected if they engage in conflict. Caroline is very conflict avoidant and always tries to avoid conflict with her husband. She does this because she is afraid of being seen in a negative light.

However, fighting with your partner can be uncomfortable for some. In order to avoid an emotional response, you might instead avoid conflict altogether. If you’re used to sweeping conflict under the rug, interpersonal conflict resolution can feel deeply threatening. You might try to build your skills and confidence by opening up conversations about relatively small matters with those you trust the most. Positive experiences resolving minor issues, such as household chores that aren’t getting done, can equip you to take on bigger concerns.

Why it’s not helpful

If you worry that your boss will fire you for reinforcing this boundary, you might remind yourself that your boss is a reasonable person who values work-life balance. Instead of seeing conflict as something that’s inevitably hurtful, consider how it can be productive. However, as he cultivated greater self-awareness, confidence, and resilience to be more authentic–with himself and his partner–he experienced a sense of empowerment how to deal with someone who avoids conflict and a more fulfilling and deeper connection with Jean. Erin Leonard, Ph.D. is a practicing psychotherapist and the author of three books about relationships and parenting. Sean Grover, L.C.S.W., is an author and psychotherapist who leads one of the largest group therapy practices in the United States. Don’t get distracted by a tearful or highly emotional partner, and contain your own emotions when listening to your partner’s side.

Gaslighting is a dangerous form of manipulation where someone acts in such a way that you start doubting your perceptions, your memory or your own judgment. You often walk away from the conversation feeling like the crazy one. Avoidant personality disorder and relationships can be a challenging mix, but it’s possible to make it work.

What is conflict avoidance?

Three years later, they were in divorce court—but they could have avoided a complete marital breakdown by getting help early. Conflict avoidance, also known as complaint avoidance, is when a person avoids discussing issues with their partner to avoid confrontation or an argument. People may do this as a way to preserve harmony in the relationship. On the other hand, if it is challenging for you to resolve your fear of conflict, your avoidance of conflict style may result from childhood attachment issues or another unresolved issue.

You could keep things bottled up so it doesn’t lead to conflict. The fear of facing conflict and being vulnerable in your relationship can actually increase feelings of loneliness. Conflict avoidance refers to a way of addressing a disagreement or problem by intentionally not dealing with it. One of the most common ways of avoiding conflict is to ignore the problem. By ignoring the problem and not discussing it, you don’t have to deal with the outcome.

Listen to Understand

In other words, positive relationship experiences can be healing for avoidant personalities. Finding a therapist to work together on this may work well. Couples therapy can help you understand your own patterns and how your avoidant partner’s life experiences have shaped how they cope, says Frayn. Does this mean you prefer not to have a relationship if you have an avoidant personality?

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