Avoidance of engaging another around differences is typically fear based and a learned or automatic response. Are you avoiding a negative reaction occurring in the other person or yourself? For example, you don’t want to be angry nor have the other person be angry with you.
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 to be close or to avoid alienation. Differences of opinions, feelings, wants or desires were discouraged. So now, to be close, you continue to be agreeable despite your internal signals to the contrary. Your need to be close is valid. How you go about meeting your need causes trouble.
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.
Individual therapy can help you know where your automatic response comes from. It can also help you work through the feelings and thoughts that are connected to this learned behavior that has kept you stuck in an earlier time.
To avoid being avoidant involves experimentation. Growth involves taking aware risks to be vulnerable. Sharing your difficulty in opening up with your partner when you have differences let’s them in on your struggle. The good thing about this is that you deepen your connection with your partner and you aren’t continuing to re-create an avoidant response as previously learned.