Ask anyone “What is the opposite of love?” and the answer you will most likely receive is “hate.” Sounds like a simple enough question. But “hate” is not the answer; the opposite of love is indifference – having no strong feeling, apathy, or lack of interest in the other person or in the relationship.

3 Conflict Patterns

When couples come to counseling, they are usually in conflict. We see three patterns:

1) The Evaders – where both avoid conflict
2) The Avengers – where both pursue conflict
3) The Divergents – where you have one of each

The Evaders

The Evader keeps peace at all costs. If a conflict escalates they just stop talking and sweep it under the rug. The problem is that it’s impossible to truly live in a conflict-free relationship, so these folks are swallowing or denying their feelings of resentment and anger. When the last straw hits, the explosion may be intense. The Evader’s communication is superficial at best because they believe peace is more important than being authentic. Talking deeply for this couple is too risky.

The Avengers

The Avenger loves to argue. When conflict begins they keep talking – in Chronic Communication Loops – and allow hostility to escalate. Both partners are opinionated, and fiercely covet their own point of view. They use conflict to figure out who is right or wrong (and they both like to be right). Nothing is held back. Talking deeply for this couple is risky since they can’t hear one another and are stuck in their own points of view.

The Divergents

The Divergents have opposite styles where one is an Avenger and the other is an Evader – one pursues conflict and the other avoids. The Evader keeps the peace by not speaking up when there is potential disagreement or appeases the Avenger when he is angry. The Avenger thinks he’s getting his way but the Evader may circumvent her partner and do what she wants. Talking deeply for this couple is risky because the Evader believes she cannot be vulnerable in this relationship and the Avenger is unaware of this.

Healthy communication is direct, open and honest. Conflict is best managed by creating a safe atmosphere; being open and vulnerable; expressing authentic thoughts and feelings; being an empathic, caring listener; and, respectfully making room for all points of view so that facing differences is the norm. In that environment, problem solving becomes a joint process of going down deep to connect and coming back up as partners, together.

What style are you? Your partner? What happens when your two styles meet?

If you recognize one of these unhealthy patterns in your relationship, engage your partner in a discussion about what you see and your desire to improve your communication. You can call us for help.


Your relationship deserves the highest level of support. Relationship Experts, Bob and Lori Hollander are committed to helping individuals and couples build connection and deepen bonds in a world that often makes it difficult.

Call them at 410-363-2825 or email them today, info@relationshipswork.com.


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