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  • Jason Wilkinson

Six Common Conflict Behaviors that are Damaging to a Relationship

When couples fight, they often use negative words and phrases that hurt each other's feelings. They also tend to blame each other for problems that stem from outside influences.

These types of fights often feel like they spin out or intensify before a couple even realizes what has happened. And there are common behaviors that will often lead to an unsatisfying end to a conflict. Find out more about them below.

Common Conflict Behaviors #1 — The Blame Game

If you're having trouble with your relationship, try not to blame your partner for things that aren't his or her fault. Instead, focus on yourself and your own behavior. You might find that blaming others makes you feel better temporarily, but it won't help your relationship. Try doing this instead.

Common Conflict Behaviors #2 — Keeping a Tally:

Person keeping tally on a piece of paper. Couples counseling in Tigard, Oregon. 97005 | 97062 | 97034 | 97035 | 97219 | 97140
Person keeping tally on piece of paper

Have you ever looked at your partner and said, “Well, I only did ______ because you first did ______ last month!”? Building a ledger or keeping a tally of wrongs is an easy way to see conflict increase. There are no winners when this type of argument takes place. Constantly bringing up past hurts to justify current behavior will inevitably lead to more hurt. Instead, try to keep the conflict or fight to the present behavior or action. And use communication tools that will benefit the conversation.

Common Conflict Behaviors #3 — Gaslighting:

One common tactic used in relational conflict is called "gaslighting." This occurs when one partner tries to convince the other that he or she is crazy by saying things like, "You're imagining things," or "It wasn't really that bad." Another form of gaslighting is called emotional abuse. This happens when one partner uses words or actions to control the other, such as telling him or her that he or she is being selfish or unreasonable.

Common Conflict Behaviors #4 — Name Calling:

I’m not talking about the “cute” nicknames couples will sometimes give to one another. While there is often emotional pain involved in a conflict, negative name calling is often a barrier to healthy interaction. These types of negative communication tactics make it incredibly difficult for accurate messages to be received. And those names get remembered.

Common Conflict Behaviors #5 — Threatening To Leave the Relationship:

There are times when it may become clear that one or both people need to leave the relationship. But it is ill-timed to make such a statement during a conflict. Making a statement to leave a relationship can be a common form of emotional manipulation. This tactic might be used when one partner wants to control another by making threats. It’s also used as a means of controlling behavior.

Common Conflict Behaviors #6 — Walking Away in the Middle of a Fight:

I often hear people say, “I was trying to avoid a bigger fight!” or, “I didn’t know what else to do!” when sharing that that they walked away in the middle of a fight. And while it may seem like wisdom to walk away in an argument, your partner may be left there feeling abandoned. Learning how to remain present in a conflict is often one of the best ways to manage healthy conflict in a relationship.

Build Healthy Conflict Resolution Skills Through Couples Therapy at Wellspace Counseling

Having conflict in your marriage or relationship can be a lonely and stressful experience. But you and your partner can learn the skills to have a healthy interactions around the topic of conflict. Jason Wilkinson at Wellspace Counseling is ready to help you get that healthy relationship you desire.

Wellspace Counseling in Tigard, Oregon can provide therapy to individuals and couples in Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and Portland. Online therapy can also be used for those who live in other areas throughout the state of Oregon.

Schedule your free phone consultation with Jason Wilkinson to start your journey to mental and emotional wellness.


Learning to improve self-confidence is not the only benefit to receiving therapy at Wellspace Counseling in Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego and throughout Portland, Oregon. Some other services you might be interested in include:

Individual Counseling

College and Young Adult Counseling

Anxiety Counseling

Couples and Marriage Counseling

All Services are available via online therapy in Oregon

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