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Why Conflict in a Lesbian Relationship is Good

04 May Posted by in • Kim Baker | 1 comment
Why Conflict in a Lesbian Relationship is Good

It was running that taught me the best metaphors for hard times. Just put one foot in front of the other. Healing isn’t a steady upward trajectory. Last week, I stood in my backyard, hands on my hips, watching the steady demolition of my 80-year old garage. As the whole thing came down and eventually became piles of splintered wood, it occurred to me that maybe tearing down a structure in order to build it back up is the best metaphor of all when it comes to relationships. At the beginning of a relationship, everyone is on polite mode. We show our best sides, and when things come up, we let them roll off our backs. Because we’re in love. Because we’re just learning about each other. Over time, as the relationship evolves, there comes a point when shit gets real – a genuine conflict emerges and in order to continue in intimacy, something needs a little tearing down so it can be built back up. Here are 4 ways conflict is actually a good thing.

It is an opportunity for closeness.

Unless you’re fortunate enough to grow up in the unicorn 100% highly functioning family, chances are there are some gaps in your communication skills. For me, it has taken most of my adult life to learn how to identify and communicate my needs and feelings in relationships. The best thing about the moment a relationship hits a bump is that it is the opportunity to get everything out on the table. Without open, honest, vulnerable communication, true intimacy isn’t possible. The good news is that working through conflict in an open way not only gets things out on the table, it actually brings you closer.

It is an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Being in a relationship is like customer service. What you really want to know is not how she is when everything is easy and going well. What you really want to know is what happens when something goes wrong or is hard. Conflict and how you talk about it allows us to get to know each other and ourselves better. Does she need a little space after conflict? Or does she fly off the handle and get mean? These are important details to know when deciding if she’s the one for you. Conflict also creates the opportunity to stay tuned into our own needs.

It is an opportunity to practice taking care of ourselves.

Conflict is going to happen no matter who we date. Everyone has triggers that get stepped on from time to time. What really matters is how we identify and communicate our needs and feelings, and how we take care of ourselves when we get triggered. For example, you have an argument and something she says keeps playing over and over in your mind as the day goes on. It reminds you of a toxic situation with an ex, or from a family dynamic. Your stomach hurts, your head spins, you feel shaky. These are the psychological effects of stress and the chemicals released in our bodies during fight or flight. We can’t control when our bodies get sent into stress mode, but we can refocus our attention away from the conflict and back towards self-love and self-acceptance. We can practice self-assertiveness by communicating our needs and feelings in an appropriate way.

It’s an opportunity to start over.

Perhaps the biggest upside to conflict is that it is an authentic opportunity to reconnect in the relationship. Some relationship experts ascribe to the idea that healthy relationships go through natural cycles of break/repair/break/repair. The breaks are conflicts, however minor. Repairs are the communication and reconnection patterns we use to come back together in intimacy. Without these repairs, relationships tend to grow apart, or become somewhat surface level, lacking depth and true connection that sustains love over time.

Navigating conflict in a healthy way means balancing the needs of the relationship with a healthy dose of self-love and self-assertiveness. While we may not always have this balance in check, reframing conflict from a bad thing to avoid to a natural, healthy opportunity to grow closer together is a good first step. How do you view conflict in relationships? Share your thoughts in the comment box below or to read more about dating and relationships, check out Girls’ Guide to Healthy Dating.

Kim Baker, author of Girls’ Guide to Healthy Dating: Between the Breakup and the Next U-Haul, is a dating columnist and writer whose writing examines healthier dating through the lens of mindfulness and self-care. Find her at www.girlsguidetohealthydating.com or join her email list by texting gg2dating to 22828, message and date rates may apply.

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