Dealing with Confrontation

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    Aug 25, 2012 3:25 AM GMT
    Hey guys.

    Over the past year I've come to realize that I'm absolutely terrible at dealing with confrontation in relationships, particularly when it comes to me confronting and communicating to my partner issues that I see arise, and even worse, during a break up. I tend to run away from it instead of facing it head on.

    In the work place, while I don't love doing it, I have confronted others, but only when they're junior to myself, never peers.

    I know that this is my big relationship issue; it's my toughest challenge when it comes to having a healthy, happy relationship. I feel like it's already messed up at least one relationship, and poisoned a handful of guys against me when things didn't work out during the early dating game.

    I honestly feel like an ass for all of the men I've hurt along the way and wish I didn't have such a hard time just being honest even if I know it may hurt others.

    All that said, does anyone know of any great books to read that might help put me on the right track? Has anyone else dealt with and overcome this issue?

    Big thanks guys,

    - M
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    Aug 25, 2012 4:03 AM GMT
    These are some of the "best selling" books on the market..
    I have Not read any of these..
    But the ratings are good..so do some research and check these out

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Positive-Confrontation-Conflicts/dp/1569246084
    http://www.amazon.com/How-Handle-Conflict-Confrontation-Pickering/dp/155852259X

    ..Handling conflict sucessfully is a skill...
    There is a reason you handle conflict the way you do...
    ..Let me give you an example..As a child i would see my mom and dad have their tiffs always ending in my dad getting in the car and driving off..

    ...As a young adult .. i would run into conflicts..and I would get in my car and drive off..see where i'm going?..

    keep posting here and i'll fill you in..!
    Anocxu

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    Aug 25, 2012 5:42 AM GMT
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    Aug 25, 2012 7:48 AM GMT
    Can you give us a more specific example of how being non-confrontational has hurt your relationships?
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    Aug 25, 2012 11:37 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidI'm not clear either. Are you saying that if things get heated in an argument you shut down and do not express yourself? You hold things in?

    I'm not clear how this would hurt other men.

    I have the opposite problem. But I make no apologies for my imperfections. icon_twisted.gif


    I think he's saying that he's the type who most likely would just stop speaking to a guy he's seeing instead of telling him "this isn't working or im not interested"

    Which i'm guessing burn bridges with other people you come in contact with because now you have a reputation?

    I'm just taking a leap here.
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    Aug 25, 2012 12:24 PM GMT
    In my experience, in my relationship of ten years with a man who couldn't/cant handle confrontation, they become users, liars, deceivers and manipulators because the truth is too difficult to face directly. He has some serious moral software missing from his programming. That bitch fucked up my life, my plans for the future, my finances, my mood and my joy of life.

    I have almost no respect for a man who doesn't have the balls/assertiveness to take charge and manage their life with integrity.

    I bought my ex a copy of "Complete Idiot's Guide to Assertiveness."

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    Aug 25, 2012 4:17 PM GMT
    Thanks for your input guys. I totally agree on the learned behavior thing. I know my father is very much the same, although I'm not sure to what extent it's affected him.

    During break ups communication can be mixed depending on the type of relationship (a couple of dates vs serious BF), and depending on how volatile I think the guy is emotionally. If he's emotionally sensitive with a violent/aggressive streak I tend to back away slowly, figuring that a full on confrontation might not be the best thing for my physical well being.

    In all cases I try my best to tell them how I feel, even if it ends up being over an email, although during all serious relationships the breakups happen in person. I'm the sort of guy who often chooses his words poorly, and I struggle to express myself in a way that others can understand. Social skills have never been my forte. So it's a real struggle between giving the guys the face to face reality they deserve, and needing to make sure I express myself clearly.

    I think my real issue here isn't as much about break ups, but more about what happens during the relationship when things start to go wrong, or big issues arise. I tend to pull back a little, mostly for mental and emotional space to figure things out. It's really easy to get caught up in the emotions when I'm close to someone and then I get space and realize that some of their behavior was a real red flag.

    The pulling back phase tends to set guys off, and then they start acting erratically which makes me even less likely to confront them. Part of me thinks that it might just be something I give a guy a heads up on, or that maybe I need someone who will actually ask "hey, you seem distant lately, whats up?", and won't just assume that I hate them, or don't like them.

    I tend to default to a behavior where I just keep trying to be the "nice guy" and ultimately do more damage then just being honest. It's something I need to work on, because it's affecting my ability to maintain a close relationship with someone. It's hard when your gut instinct is to try to be easy going when something happens where I should really step up and confront the person in the moment, instead of letting things snowball.
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    Aug 25, 2012 4:31 PM GMT
    Matt_TO said
    The pulling back phase tends to set guys off, and then they start acting erratically which makes me even less likely to confront them.

    I tend to default to a behavior where I just keep trying to be the "nice guy" and ultimately do more damage then just being honest. It's something I need to work on, because it's affecting my ability to maintain a close relationship with someone. It's hard when your gut instinct is to try to be easy going when something happens where I should really step up and confront the person in the moment, instead of letting things snowball.


    My ex was exactly the same way, and it was infuriating. I would calmly ask him what the matter was. He would say nothing. Seriously he was literally silent. It was impossible for him to articulate what was in his head. He really feared causing more trouble, and it was a childhood-learned behavior. He grew up the youngest of 7 kids, all of them crazy, loud and extroverted, competing for Mom & Dad's attention - he learned that to get attention (or to avoid the blast radius of his Mom's volatile Scottish temper) was to be like his Dad - silent and invisible.

    It definitely had impact on our break-up. He couldn't talk about difficulties that he perceived (if any) in our relationship, and whenever I brought anything up, it felt very destructive to him. Ultimately, he was very passive-aggressive in the breakup, choosing instead to cheat repeatedly instead of tell me what was wrong, seek solutions, even break up with me. His way of breaking up was to make things so unbearable so that I would break up with him.

    This is a definite problem and I think the thing to remember is that being assertive or being up-front with someone is not destructive. In fact, it brings you closer together.
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    Aug 25, 2012 4:35 PM GMT
    kingmo said.

    It definitely had impact on our break-up. He couldn't talk about difficulties that he perceived (if any) in our relationship, and whenever I brought anything up, it felt very destructive to him. Ultimately, he was very passive-aggressive in the breakup, choosing instead to cheat repeatedly instead of tell me what was wrong, seek solutions, even break up with me. His way of breaking up was to make things so unbearable so that I would break up with him.

    This is a definite problem and I think the thing to remember is that being assertive or being up-front with someone is not destructive. In fact, it brings you closer together.


    icon_eek.gif

    Sounds eerily familiar.
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    Aug 25, 2012 4:41 PM GMT
    Well I think it's important to note that I do always find a way to say what I'm thinking and feeling. I know a lot of men have dealt with poor communicators, but I don't think it's fair for people to lump me into the same pile as all their ex's and say "you're one of those people".

    I don't cheat, or lie. If a man feels manipulated afterwards, it's never been my intention. To be honest I very rarely have a guy confront me and ask me what's wrong. I don't fully shut down and just not to talk to someone when we're in person, although I think I remember one instance where I became quiet for a few minutes trying to think how to handle the situation.

    I often end up dating men who show me that they're insecure during the first few dates, so I sort of go into "fix it" mode with them, reassuring them that I think they're hot/attractive, and I'm just glad to be with them. I think this puts me on a bad footing. I'm thinking I should just tell them that if they don't think we're an even match that they should look elsewhere. Otherwise I end up feeling like I have to coddle their self-esteem, and that puts me in a place where I won't be as upfront if something bothers me.
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    Aug 25, 2012 4:43 PM GMT
    I hear ya'..
    unresolved day to day issues that turn into a HILL by the end of the week that turns into MOUNTAINS by the end of the month!

    ..As much as these wonderful RJers will point you in the right direction and open your mind to change...
    ..This issue .."if you wan't to truly reslove it quickly" requires a professional.

    ..There are so many intricate details tied into anger/ resentment driven confrontation you would never imagine ..till you sit with a pro.. or do a work shop..(trust me)

    Good luck Matt
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    Aug 25, 2012 4:48 PM GMT
    The book "Hold Me Tight" by Sue Johnson, who is a renowned psychologist who specializes in couples... she came up with one of the only empirically supported treatments for couples... EFT, Emotion Focused Therapy. It may provide some important insight into your relationship difficulties. It's not a book ONLY about dealing with confrontation - though it does get into it as part of what happens to couples when conflict arises - but it DOES explain relational patterns and gives good info in how to go about changing some of those patterns. Its an excellent book. And I'm sure you will learn a lot about yourself and your patterns in relationships if you read it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Me-Tight-Conversations-Lifetime/dp/031611300X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345913159&sr=8-1&keywords=sue+johnson+hold+me+tight
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    Aug 25, 2012 5:05 PM GMT
    Matt_TO saidI tend to pull back a little, mostly for mental and emotional space to figure things out.

    The pulling back phase tends to set guys off, and then they start acting erratically which makes me even less likely to confront them.


    Pulling back can be very tough for the partner. I struggle with this as my BF shuts down completely. He needs his space but I'm wanting to work it out, talk, communicate. I'm learning to give him his space but it's been the source of a few arguments before I actually listened!

    Nothing wrong with seeing a therapist to talk about ways to better communicate either. The two key components in a relationship, in my opinion, are communications and listening. Often we don't learn to do either or at least both.

    Communicating means being able to say openly what you feel. Good, bad, likes, dislikes, etc. We have no problem saying we don't like anchovies but we find it hard to say we don't like the smell of your breath or the way you leave your jacket on the chair. If you open up and have open and honest communications (both directions) you learn so much more about someone and confrontation becomes less because things don't build up until the kettle boils over.

    The half of this is listening. When you (or your partner) expresses openly, you have to accept it. You don't have to embrace it but you have to be willing to let them say what they feel and work through it. If you knew throwing your jacket on the chair is irritating, then you could easily resolve it, but if you don't know, you can't fix it.

    We all have our likes and dislikes and relationship require a lot of work and patience. Knowing how to express yourself in a safe manor and so that the other person understands is almost an art. If you need your space and time to process, then come up with a signal that allows the other person to know that is where you are. It's all about communicating.

    Good luck.
  • HndsmKansan

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    Aug 25, 2012 5:14 PM GMT
    Hey Matt,
    I can appreciate where you are coming from, when I was younger I wasn't into confrontation. I snapped out of it.. part of it was growing up (and I was a geek, so things changed considerably), really maturing as a man and it does help when you are confident physically and mentally.
    Also, I went through law school, which changed my perceptions in many ways. I learned the concerpt of an "oral argument" and dealing with political issues (and personal ones) wihout taking offense.

    Of course here, we are talking about your relationship. I think that part of being a good partner is communicating effectively. If you communicate well, you might be able to avoid "confrontations" per se. Of course that means effective talking.....and listening!

    If you do have to confront your partner, think of it as keeping up your end of a "healthy relatiionship" bargain. He needs to know how you feel.. but success depends on how you express it. Don't mix it with a bunch of other stuff that you may disagree on... talk about the issue head on and include how it makes you feel. Avoid anger. I can tell you that if you do it successfully, you will get better.

    Also.. think carefully in advance about what you are going to discuss, how and what to say and what kind of outcome you want. I'm an analyist... I think about everything. Good luck!
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    Aug 25, 2012 10:11 PM GMT
    Thanks for all your input guys and your well wishes. I've got a few of those books on order now from Amazon.

    I think the greatest challenge is figuring out what the exact issue is that this behavior stems from. Why do I have an irrational fear of confronting people who I'm close to, and why do I care so much about being perceived as a "nice guy" even when my behavior won't lead to them thinking of me that way. I think once I figure that out, tackling the issue will be a lot easier.

    First though, I need to start reading about the issue and see what professionals who study this sort of behavior say. Hopefully I'll come to a balanced place where I just default to always being open to how I feel, even in the moment.

    Thanks guys for listening and caring ;)
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    Aug 26, 2012 7:52 AM GMT
    Matt_TO said

    I often end up dating men who show me that they're insecure during the first few dates, so I sort of go into "fix it" mode with them, reassuring them that I think they're hot/attractive, and I'm just glad to be with them. I think this puts me on a bad footing. I'm thinking I should just tell them that if they don't think we're an even match that they should look elsewhere. Otherwise I end up feeling like I have to coddle their self-esteem, and that puts me in a place where I won't be as upfront if something bothers me.


    Is it like this during a relationship as well? Are you always playing the role of "Mr. Fix-It"?