Johannes' blog

Perspective on relationships and conflicts

Conflicts are essential to calibrate your relationship model with the people you value the most they create trust and are vital for a progressive relationship. Through conflicts, you create a shared understanding of what you can expect from your relationship.

A shared understanding of what you can expect is an operating model of your relationship. For example, your relationship with a cashier is that you expect them to process your payment. For a romantic partner, this model depends on how you define it. Conflicts will raise when you and your partner have a different definition of the relationship's model (i.e., what to expect from the relationship). You typically come up with a shared model when you start dating. First, you evaluate each other's thoughts on values most important to you: religion, culture, politics, social norms, etc. If those thoughts line up, you generally experience great harmony and thus fall in love. A model that predicts your partner's behavior gives you a lot of trust, and lets you lead a mutually beneficial relationship.

Now every person changes their views or priorities, and you will run into situations that you previously did not evaluate where values do not align. You cannot predict the other's behavior, which raises conflicts where your partner's behavior is not in line with your expectation. There is a spectrum to these conflicts. For example, on the one hand, you can disagree on fundamental issues:

Hence conflicts exist in all forms and flavors, and they depend on what each partner expects from the relationship.

You should be happy with yourself before trying to find a partner. Relationships are not going to make your life easier but more complex!

A partner can expect you to care for aspects of their lives not agreed upon by the other partner, which leads to significant disappointment and frustration.

Avoid frequent second-order conflicts (i.e., emotional conflicts), but try to get to the bottom of your conflict and spend time identifying the problem.

Identifying a fundamental problem is more important than solving many emotional issues.

Timing is key. Conflicts grow and become disastrous over time.

This post leans on anecdotes and reflects my own philosophy on conflicts that is inspired by different books etc.