• Are You Making These Two Relationship Mistakes?

    Unfortunately, disagreements are a hallmark of any relationship. They come and go throughout a relationship’s duration for various reasons. Disagreements seem to be unavoidable; while some resolve themselves naturally, others tend to reoccur. However, it’s not necessarily the conflicts themselves that may have lasting impacts, but the ways in which partners respond to those conflicts.

    We all deal with conflict differently whether we are aware of it or not. Maybe we opt for the cold shoulder but our partner prefers to talk issues out at length. Maybe seeking support from friends and family is our go-to while our partner prefers guidance from trained professionals. Each strategy is unique to the individual and formed from our experiences, but what are the consequences of these strategies?

    A recent study conducted by Sarah Coyne and colleagues of Brigham Young University dove into the issue of relational aggression among couples to answer that question. They defined relational aggression as “a behavior intended to damage a relationship or hurt someone through manipulation or social exclusion.” Specifically, they studied the effects of “love withdrawal”—ignoring a partner during conflict—and “social sabotage”—discussing relationship problems with someone outside of the couple—on a relationship over time.

    Coyne and the other researchers found that the more partners used these strategies, the less happy they felt in their relationships long-term. Relational aggression behaviors are commonly used by partners seeking to change something about the relationship or their significant other. However, the study found that using relational aggression to encourage change often backfires and affects the relationship long after the conflict has been resolved.

    Explore your own tendencies towards relational aggression with the questions below. Rate each question from 1 (not at all true) to 7 (very true):

    Love Withdrawal:

    1. My partner gives me the silent treatment when I hurt his/her feelings in some way.

    2. My partner has intentionally ignored me until I give in to his/her way about something.

    3. My partner ignores me when s/he is angry with me.

    4. My partner withholds affection or sex from me when he/she is angry with me.

    Social Sabotage

    1. My partner has gone “behind my back” and shared private information about me with other people (extended family, friends, and neighbors).

    2. My partner gets other people to “take sides” with him/her and gets them upset with me, too.

    3. My partner tries to embarrass me or make me look stupid in front of others.

    4. My partner has spread negative information about me to be mean.


    If you notice these negative patterns in your relationship contact Dr. John Gallagher, Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist, at 407-579-2070 or go to www.holdmetightorlando.com to find out about Dr. Gallagher’s next Hold Me Tight two-day couples program.

    Therapy services available via Telehealth.