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Passive
January 20, 2000
1:22 am
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conflict
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Does avoiding or a strong dislike for conflict,debates, criticism have something to do with someone being passive?

Please see the Avoiding Conflict thread a couple below this one...i need some more feedback...

January 20, 2000
1:59 am
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gst
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I hate conflict - I think it's part of being Aquarius. I read somewhere that the best defense for Aquarius is the "Hat" defense. ie. Take your hat and just go.

Mind you I am not afraid of anything with a capital "A" (except possibly when thinking more intimately) but who needs it? What good does it do? If someone feels so intense, I tell them to go chop down a tree!

What's in a label? It's all in how you feel about the label. Everyone in life is only hanging on to the other like a chain of monkeys. So who's more valuable? Most people just argue about who's going to get to be on top tonight. Odd, but I actually think their all competing for the bottom.

In any event, I'm tired. Good luck!

January 20, 2000
4:07 am
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Hi conflict,

Oops, leaped before I looked, I didn't realize you were the one who liked the conflict!

So now to come to your defense . . .
I know that sometimes people don't mean to push each other but they are just simply mismatched. Try as you will, it sounds as though your values are more important to you than the person you are dating. Or possibly you care and so you can't hide what you feel are your own good and well meaning intentions. Virgo maybe?

I say that because what I don't hear is a comming togther on a level of intimacy - It seems like social values ie: conversing about current events etc., are a higher value than shared intimacy. Some people are just that way and you may be beating a dead hoarse.

But it does intrigue me that you would be concerned about passivity? Is that something that bothers you in a man? And what's up with starting a relationship with someone, younger, less capable, less established, etc. Is there any possibility you might be harboring some latent hostilities on some subconscious level?

I don't disagree wuth Eve, but I wonder, that's all.

Good luck in any event:)

January 20, 2000
12:36 pm
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conflict
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Actually I am the younger one...and he is the older one who I was helping support for a while until he got on his feet. He is on his feet now but he still makes less than me and it is a touchy subject for him. I never asked how much he makes at his new job and he never decided to tell me. Another example of how he chooses what to tell me and what not too, and I tell him everything so that he can feel closer to me....

Passivity bothers me sometimes because I don't like seeing him getting stepped on and he does not say or do anything about it because it would involve a conflict. I am a stand up type of person and especially when it involves things I feel strongly about. If I am in a group adn a racist comment is made, I speak up....He doesnt....

He gets extremely nervous public speaking adn I am fine with it...We are different people but I want to be able to hear my boyfriends opinions if he has any and he is so not used to sharing his opinions especially if they differ.

January 20, 2000
1:18 pm
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gst
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Hi conflict,

Well, I must admit to feeling a little stumped on this one. What is it you would like to see happen? Is his passivity the only thing you think is holding him back?

January 20, 2000
2:08 pm
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conflict
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Well, that is the thing, i dont know? I think in a sense we are both putting our own ideas of how the other person should be. He thinks i should be carefree and happy all the time...and i think he should want to discuss serious things sometimes and address problems...

He is not used to this. He believes in forgive and forget and it is almost as soon as something happens that is not ideal with his friends, brother, family, me, etc...he would rather just say forgive and forget and go on being happy. I like to discuss and work through things so i can feel better knowing they have been resolved and then move forward....but he views the discussing piece as a conflict and doesnt like it...

January 20, 2000
2:51 pm
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JV
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Conflict - I've read your threads with a lot of interest. I too avoid conflict to the point where I don't talk about things that bother me, instead I just pretend like everything is ok, then feel resentful and angry when I don't get my way. This comes from my upbringing - no one in my family ever talks about anything. My wife sounds a lot like you - she was raised in a family that talked to each other and expressed opinions and when she feels challenged or threatened by someone else, she deals with it directly. I think your boyfriend saying that you are the one with the problem is his way of not dealing with it at all. I understand his passivity and fear of conflict - it's a codependant characteristic and it's something that is destructive. In myself, I would not tell my wife things that I thought would upset her, such as bouncing a check for example. I would feel bad for making a mistake like that, and I would feel guilty and angry about not being able to share it with her 'She'll just blame me and I'll feel worse.' etc. In the end, she would find out these things anyway and be upset at the situation, and hurt that I didn't let her know. When she first talked to me about how much this hurt her and bothered her, I didn't want to hear it either. Like your boyfriend, I have trouble standing up for myself in situations where I need to and I know that it comes from having no self esteem, and feeling like every conflict is the end of the world. I had to learn the difference between my partner having a different opinion and expressing it, and not being loved. I can be loved and not agreed with at the same time - unlike what my childhood taught me. To you, this may be obvious, but to your partner it may be a hard thing to see. I got a lot of help through Codependant's Anonymous and in counseling. Your boyfriend's unwillingness to go to counseling is a problem, and his telling you that you have the problem is passive aggressive. He is half of your partnership and half of the problem. If the only way you can get him to go to counseling is to go to 'help you', then I say try it a few times. Hearing the same thing that you have said from a counselor may be what needs. I'm guessing that since he can't handle conflict, you're telling him so and telling him how angry and unhappy it makes you also makes him feel threatened and unwilling to deal. He needs to at least be willing to own some of the problem and be willing to work on it.

January 20, 2000
2:59 pm
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conflict
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THANK YOU!!! Reading your message was such a relief...because i felt like you understood me and the situation completely. I feel like sharing your message with him. Do you think this would be hurtful or would make the situation worse? Or do you think it would help him see that this situation is not just about me having problems. He does not know that I am talking about this on an open forum like this.

Your insight is priceless.

January 20, 2000
5:44 pm
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JV
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Conflict - It might be hurtful to share this with him, but we don't grow and change without pain. You aren't alone in having a problem - you and he are a couple and if one of you has a problem, then both of you have a problem. It's up to you whether you share this with him; he may very well feel threatened by it. If you do share this with him, let him know that I have been in the same place - unable to share, unable to open up, and feeling scared and threatened by conflict to the point that I avoid it completely - and it hasn't made me very happy. Facing the pain within me that brought me to that point has been the hardest thing that I have ever done, but it's also the best thing. Opening up is scary, but it is much better than being closed down. He should see a counselor, whether it's with you or on his own. There is probably a lot more behind his silence and passivity than you (or he) realize.

January 20, 2000
5:54 pm
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conflict
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I can see him saying that being passive and avoiding conflict are good traits and that he doesnt want to change those. How do I let him see that discussing problems and working through them is not conflict but growing? It is completely out of his nature to do so and out of his cultural norm. In his culture, you should be happy and take it easy and not worry. He thinks Americans worry to much or debate about everything...

January 21, 2000
12:20 pm
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conflict
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anybody there???

January 21, 2000
4:30 pm
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JV
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You may have to teach him how to discuss and resolve conflicts, talk about his feelings, etc. If you have never done it before or been expected to, it is something you have to learn. As to cultural norms etc., he needs to meet you halfway on this. Maybe he didn't grow up discussing things, but you did and he needs to compromise on it if you are going to stay together. You can show him by example that it isn't conflict to talk about things; you may have to start small - begin with some problem or issue that isn't too emotional for you or him. Be aware of saying things in a way that is harsh or judgemental - you may not mean it to be, but he could take it that way. Try to solve the problem in a way that is beneficial to both of you (i.e. don't try to 'win' the argument, and don't let it become an argument). You may have to approach it like a teacher or parent with a child, and it might seem really frustrating to you, but he could learn a lot. When you've reached a conclusion to what you were talking about, review the process with him - what he did right, what he did wrong, is there anything else he wanted to say but didn't, etc.

He probably shuts down because he feels threatened by your anger (or what he percieves as anger, frustration, etc.). His passivity probably makes you angrier or more vehement, and the whole process starts off - you getting more frustrated, and him becoming more shut down. I don't know if this approach would work, and I'm not saying it's going to be easy or painless (certainly wasn't for me), but it's an attempt. It's one thing for you to tell him that talking about a problem works, it's another for him to see it and feel it for himself.

January 21, 2000
4:50 pm
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conflict
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"He probably shuts down because he feels threatened by your anger (or what he percieves as anger, frustration, etc.). His passivity probably makes you angrier or more vehement, and the whole process starts off - you getting more frustrated, and him becoming more shut down."

This is 100% true and I don't like seeing it happen. I am going to start by showing him your comments tonight and see what his reaction is....he may just blow up because he feels like I am the one with the problem and if I show him your comments he will take that as me pointing the finger at him. But I am at the stage that I have to take that chance. If he can't see that he plays a part in our communication difficulties than they wont get better, unless I stop caring about communicating and just pretend everything is great all the time. I have been trying this week to be like that and he has noticed and asked me a couple of times "is there anything you want to talk about?" and I said no...it is like he realizes that it is not normal to have a light fluffy relationship all happy but that is what he tells me he wants.

I will give you the update after tonight....I have decided that I don't want a relationship where I can't share openly and receive that in return. If he can't meet me half way than we will never be able to be close.

Once again, thank you for your help.

January 21, 2000
5:53 pm
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JV
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Good luck with it. No one likes to be told that they are the one with the problem, but this isn't just about him, it's about both of you. You need him to talk to you, and he needs to feel like everything is happy and light all of the time. Real life isn't always happy, and pretending that it is isn't normal either.

He clearly senses that something is wrong, but you're probably the one who usually brings it up when there's a problem. It is a passive aggresive/codependent type of thing to do on his part. You didn't mention what was bothering you, then he can say, 'Well I ASKED you if anything was wrong and you said no.' Then it isn't his fault. (I'm guilty of doing this too). His venturing to guess that something is bothering you is a step in the right direction for him, and he should get credit for asking you if something's wrong - it probably took a lot of courage for him to do that. It's important to keep trying, no one is capable of changing in a day.

I know this sort of behavior is hard to deal with - I was on the receiving end of it from my mother, and I've treated my wife to it. There is probably a bigger reason why he has difficulty with conflict, but he may not know it himself. It's probably not just you that he can't talk to, you may be the first person to ever try it with him - the first to ever want that sort of connection with him. He can look at this as a good thing, or stay feeling scared and theatened by it. I hope for your sake and his that he gets it.

January 21, 2000
6:03 pm
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conflict
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Yes I think I am the first person to pose this "problem" to him because I ask a lot of questions and want to discuss us, life, our family, etc. In my past relationships, I have enjoyed those which I was able to feel like I knew the person inside and out and they knew me. That feeling is so special. He was hurt by a betrayal of his first serious girlfriend in college. Since then he just dated and never got too serious.

I am his first girlfriend or serious relationship since that time. I think that he doesnt see it in those terms though. He sees it as he was "free" and happy when he was single. Now he is faced with getting to know someone on a deep level and there are going to be differences. He is definitely one who does not like to rock the boat. His uncle told him that he acts different now or seems more tense. He immediately took that as a sign of his time with me has made him this way. He is really close to his brother and they do not have conflict either and he enjoys the "happiness"...so his brother also sees me as the culprit.

My friends enjoy me for me. They like talking to me about their relathionships, debating about life or politics and sharing. I feel like I am not being appreciated by him because he chooses to put up this wall.

January 22, 2000
2:11 pm
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conflict
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well, i decided not to show him these emails just yet....my friends who I talk to agree that he would take offense or blow his top if he read this. he agreed to talk to one of my friends about the situation and i will hear her feedback before i make my next move....i just feel very distant from him because we are having light and fluffy conversations...

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