No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, arguments, disagreements, and other conflicts are always going to arise. The question is, how do you deal with them?
If you’re someone who identifies as polyamorous, swinger, kinky or LGBT+, your relationships may face more people and therefore more conflict and / or different types of conflict, and within the context of healthy relationship psychology, managing those conflicts shouldn’t be any different than it would be for couples who engage in more “traditional” relationships.
What Causes Relationship Conflicts
Disagreements can arise between any two people for a variety of reasons, but the most common causes of conflict is related to differing values, sometimes expressed as attachment styles or personality types. If conflict is a constant in your relationships, it’s important to identify the root cause of your disagreements. If it’s been worth arguing about, there’s probably a meaning or value in there.
Common expressions of conflict include poor communication, selfishness (from one member of the relationship, or all members), high expectations, and criticism. But there are other things that could be impacting the quality of your relationship too. Things related to your personal identity and/or sexual expression.
When it comes to relationship counseling, I often work with couples who are dealing with conflicts related to personal discoveries (read: finally accepting themselves for who they are), and the exploration of those discoveries.
For instance, let’s say you’ve always known deep down that you were different, but you’ve spent much of your life trying to fight or ignore that part of yourself. You forced yourself to “fit in” for far too long and now you’re ready to accept the things that make you, you.
As a result, your relationship may be suffering. Or perhaps you’re worried that if you start being honest with yourself, your relationship will suffer. How do you deal with these conflicts?
About 70% of problems between couples can’t be solved. When you choose your partner(s), you also choose which unsolvable problems you’ll be discussing kinda forever. “Cody”, some of you are saying, “me and my sweetie boo bae(s) don’t have arguments.” Isn’t NRE great!? What separates the masters from disasters in relationships is how you talk about those problems.
Enter the Gottman Method
The Gottman Method, developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, is an approach to couples therapy that incorporates research-based interventions from the Sound Relationship House Theory. Although this method was likely developed with traditional relationships in mind, it can and has been used to support couples across all economic, racial, sexual orientation, and cultural sectors.
That’s because it aims to defuse conflicting verbal communication, enhance intimacy, instill mutual respect and affection, eliminate barriers that cater to feelings of stagnancy, and increase empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Gottman’s is you must understand each other before anything else.
All of these things are important, but for individuals who are LGBT+, polyamorous, swingers, or into kink, that last bit is most important. “Within the context of the relationship.”
Using the Gottman Method with a trained mental health professional means your relationship conflicts will be addressed within the context of your relationships. So, if you’re already openly polyamorous, and you’re having conflicts in any of your relationships, the Gottman Method can help. And if you’re someone who is only beginning to accept what makes you different and awesome, whether through the Gottman Method or not, there’s hope for you too.
So, is the Gottman Method right for you? Or do you need some other form of therapeutic intervention? A quick way to find out is to schedule a brief consultation with a relationship counselor like myself. Use the form below. It’s easy, and it’s free.