Psychology of Relationships-Does Conflict Affect Men More Than Women?

Published: 13th March 2009
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Men and women react differently to many situations in life. Getting over and dealing with conflict in a relationship is no different. The psychological differences between men and women may help us understand why we react differently. If you are married or in a relationship there will be arguments at various times. Conflict does not have to be life changing but what does make it harder to deal with is if the two partner's ways of dealing with conflict don't mesh well. Marriage counseling is one way to deal with conflict resolution solutions, and even those not married will sometimes go to relationship counselors for help. What you hopefully will get out of relationship counseling is the ability to understand how your partner thinks when dealing with arguments.



The National Institute of Mental Health at one point funded a huge social study that displayed how most couples who had been together for only a few months and were between the ages of 18 and 21 would avoid being dependant on their partner and also avoided too much intimacy (which might result in dependence). This group also showed signs of anxiety when faced with rejection or abandonment, although there were different degrees of anxiety levels. Those who were more personally secure within themselves had lower levels of stress, which is to be expected. The more secure and independent you are with yourself the less abandonment will affect you. Others reacted differently to the tests as well, depending on how they naturally handled anxiety and thoughts on abandonment.



The fascinating results of the test were what it showed the differences to be in men and women. Researches in relationship psychology, through the testing of the subjects found that the psychological reaction to relationship conflict was different in men than women. The reaction is men was much more noticeable. For men the major reaction was increased visible anxiety. The only women that showed real changes were the ones who were the type to avoid bad situations that might cause emotional pain.



For the majority of women in the test it was shown that they wanted a resolution to the conflict as quickly as possible. They showed an increased level of cortisol (our stress hormone) when the argument began and during the argument but the level dropped off more quickly than it did in men. The women were more than likely to be the guiders of the relationship conflict toward a resolution. Psychology shows them, in this case, to be the more active person working to resolve conflict. This over all reduced their stress quicker.



Of course this meant that the men in the test showed up to be more passive when it came to relationship conflict. The evidence proved that they also want the relationship conflict to end quickly but they hesitated in confronting it head on, seeking to avoid it as long as possible. The men who had more secure female partners showed less anxiety, but for some reason the females who had male partners that were secure showed no change in their anxiety levels during relationship conflict.



If you are going to seek relationship advice from a marriage counselor or psychologist they are going to help you understand how and why men and women react differently to situations. The above example shows that psychological research can help you deal with conflict better and understand why relationship conflicts are sometimes hard to figure out.



Mark D. Jordan is a writer from Pennsylvania. You can learn more about solving relationship conflict at Relationship Problems Solved or by using the resources at Dealing With Breakup

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