The difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict
If your partner turns everything into a fight, it’s a definite sign of emotional immaturity.
Ask any math teacher if they’ve ever announced a test and had a student immediately get into a fight or throw a complete shit-fit and have to be removed from class. It’s a tale as old as time, my friend.
Fighting is a wonderfully effective way to avoid the embarrassment of not knowing things — of feeling less than. Feeling stupid, confused, or not good enough. Afraid.
There are many ways to run from, suppress, or self-medicate feelings of insecurity and shame, but stirring up a hazy smokescreen of aggressive, emotional reactivity is a timeless classic.
The Same Old Fight
Do you feel like you have the same fight with your partner over and over again? Like groundhog day? You can predict exactly how the scene will unfold? And each time, not a single thing is resolved?
For emotionally mature people, conflict is an opportunity to be vulnerable with each other, to share feelings and perspectives, to state their needs and wants, to set boundaries, to problem-solve and make compromises, to move closer together.
For these folks, conflict is a means to stop abuse, not to inflict it.
But the immature person is ill-equipped to carry out any of these emotional tasks. Perhaps they do not have access to their true feelings, buried beneath the armor they needed to wear to survive an unsafe childhood. Maybe their parents never expressed emotions, except for when they raged at each other (see Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents).
You see, it’s not that emotionally immature people are intentionally mean or malicious. It’s more likely that they were abused, shamed, or neglected — that they were never taught how to emotion. And this means they need loving-kindness, compassion, and support — not someone to finally prove them wrong or convince them to be different.
Perhaps you are the emotionally immature one. Maybe you both have room to grow.
The truth is that most human beings were hurt at one time or another and carry the wounds of maladaptive coping strategies (see Healthy Starts With “Heal”). We are all still learning to be emotionally mature — hopefully.
Many people have this idea that once you hit a certain age, you’re all done growing up. You’ve got the career, the mortgage, the children, or whatever. Surely that should make you wise, mature, and healthy.
But no. That’s super not true. We are surrounded at every turn by petulant man-babies, attention-seeking women, and people who are little more than successful-ass children who own stuff.
Anything that’s not growing is dead. A relationship is not a place where two done-growing people go to live happily ever after. It’s a place to learn, grow, and heal together.
Or it’s a place to escape from your feelings, run from problems, avoid growth, and numb the pain.
You and your partner have to decide what kind of relationship you want to be in.
Then act accordingly.
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