Do you find yourself caretaking the feelings of others? Are you deferring your preferences for what others want from you? Are you people pleasing and ignoring your own self in the process? Are you avoiding a negative reaction by someone else by withholding important information? Do you find yourself feeling resentful, lonely, depressed and or acting in a passive aggressive manner towards your relationship?
Avoidance of engaging another around differences is typically fear based and a learned or automatic response.
Your response may be a learned behavior. It was essential at one time and now your operating software applies the same solution to your intimate relationship even when it doesn’t fit. For example, to be part of your family, you had to be agreeable, go along with another’s wishes to be close, caretake other’s feeling to avoid criticism and alienation. While differences of opinions, feelings, wants or desires are a normal human response you may have learned other wise. While the desire to be close and feel loved is important, sacrificing your self in order to gain love may be based on fear and tends to build resentment and anger.
People who avoid being transparent may have leaned in order to be close I can’t share what I really think, want or desire, it’s dangerous. So now they continue the pattern of being agreeable despite internal signals to the contrary. The need to be close and loved is valid and adds to the joy of life. How you go about meeting this need causes trouble in the long run.
If you are conflict avoidant, the first step is to be in touch with what you are afraid will happen if you don’t like, want, think, feel the same as your partner or others. Is your present situation similar to your previous experiences? Will the consequences be the same?
Individual therapy is useful in processing and working through where your automatic response comes from and how you’ve been impacted to the point of being stuck.
To avoid being avoidant involves experimentation. Growth involves taking aware risks to be vulnerable. Starting out by sharing your difficulty with some one safe, like a therapist, lets another person in on your struggle, allows you access to other ideas and ways to deal with the situation.
The good news is that when you seek out someone to talk with you’re not facing the difficulty alone, nor isolating, nor relying on your already established way of thinking. Instead, by putting a light on the situation you have the opportunity to understand your position and how best to communicate what you need, what you want, what makes you uncomfortable and so on.
Having an intimate and close relationship is worth the effort you put into understanding yourself and your relationship dynamics.