Picking up where we left off in our blog from last week (which you can find in the resources section below), we all know that despite the best of intentions to resolve conflict through healthy confrontation lovingly, the other person doesn’t always respond the way we hope. Why is this? Sometimes, the knowledge that they have hurt someone they love compels them to respond defensively or in a way that allows them to avoid feeling the weight of their own blame. This might be a normal part of the process and can come from a healthy place of love. With a little time and patience, that person is likely to apologize and make an effort to resolve the issue to restore intimacy between you. Other times, the person might disagree with your characterization of events causing the discussion to be a stalemate. But when two people are truly committed to keeping a healthy connection in the relationship, even when these things happen, eventually they will come up with a mutually respectful plan that can meet both of their needs and restore the relationship. It might take time, patience, and a few attempts at communication, but it doesn’t usually need to remain in a stalemate.
And yet there are those people who will never respond well to confrontation, no matter how hard you try to communicate clearly and lovingly nor the amount of patience you are willing to extend. Instead, they will use tactics that hurt you or shut you down. They will do anything to avoid meaningful connection and personal responsibility. When you are on the receiving end of their assault, it hurts significantly. Most often, because confrontation (especially with this type of person) significantly increases our anxiety levels, you’re already vulnerable when they respond aggressively or passive-aggressively which increases the effect it has upon you. This makes it exceedingly difficult to respond well or to set healthy boundaries. If your partner is a true avoider and possibly someone abusive, they will resist connection and accountability. They are more apt to find ways to punish and retaliate against you.