Human beings have contradictory needs and wants. It’s our task to reconcile these, so we can lessen conflicts within ourselves and with others. A long time ago, it occurred to me that I could not eat everything I wanted and look the way I wanted. What to do? The child wants it all and does not want denials or boundaries. Hopefully, by adulthood, we start to accept that we have to make choices.

This issue is so crucial in our relationships. Think of when you first met your beloved. The stars in the eyes, the strong chemistry, the connection that overrides everything… The joy of emotionally bonding does not want to acknowledge any dissonance. I would now be sitting in the Caribbean if I had a dollar for each time someone said: I knew that (insert problem here) but I thought he/she would change, or we would work it out or it did not seem important.

At the same time, how do we distinguish between what is a red flag and what could turn into one? Some red flags do not repeat appearing, as in: If one cheated on a previous partner, does it mean it would be repeated with you? Our ability to predict future behavior is very very limited. Has the person made a certain behavior a habit? Then, it is good to ponder.

What you can depend on to develop confidence that you or your partner will be able to get through conflicts and resolve issues is the willingness to look at yourself, and to the other, and to put the issue on the table. Here is a classic: You met in a highly emotional event; you clicked with your focus on the thrill and the experience. You rode high for the first several months, and then you started to think: I want things to be calmer, not to run on adrenaline all the time, to have time to myself and enjoy my solitude. Well … The other person may or may not be thinking the same. The only way you can prevent sliding into resentment because your mind is not being read is because it can’t be. You have to put it out there, take the risk that there may be a disagreement, but develop the faith and trust that you will resolve the conflict together by compromising. It is possible s/he is also on the same wavelength, but not necessarily so. We don’t want a clone of ourselves, do we? Life could get dull really fast if we did.

So, take the chance. Confront the issue. Talk about it without judging.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. – Rollo May

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Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577
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