The 5 Different Types of Conflict in Relationships and How to Resolve Them

Conflict is never fun. It’s one of the most challenging aspects of being in a relationship, but also one of the most important. A little bit of conflict once in a while is good for any relationship. However, too much unresolved conflict can be toxic and even threaten the future of your union. If you find yourself in a constant state of disagreement with your significant other, it could be a sign that something deeper is going on beneath the surface. Couples who understand what type of conflict they’re dealing with, what triggers it, and how to resolve it are better equipped to tackle their issues head-on and come out stronger on the other side. The sooner you recognize what kind of conflict is happening in your relationship, the easier it will be to fix it before things get out of hand. Here are 5 different types of conflict in relationships and how to resolve them.

Confrontational Conflict

Confrontational conflict happens when two people have very different opinions or points of view and refuse to budge. Confrontational conflict can escalate quickly and if you don’t know how to diffuse it, you could end up in an all-out fight. Conflict happens. That’s a given. But how you handle it and what you do afterward is what matters. Your approach to confrontational conflict is just as important as the conflict itself. Before you try to tackle a big disagreement head-on, ask yourself if it’s really even worth arguing about. You and your partner might have different approaches to life and that’s completely normal. Some issues will be worth discussing, but others might just be a waste of time and energy. If you’re not sure, try to step back from the argument and look at it from a third-party perspective. Are both of you being fair? Are you both keeping your egos out of it?

Disagreement Conflict

Disagreement conflict happens when two people have opposing viewpoints but aren’t willing to fight about it. You and your partner might disagree on certain issues, but you’re either ignoring them or you’re being too passive to address them. Disagreement conflict is often based on a fear of confrontation. Many couples who experience this type of conflict have a “don’t go there” rule in their relationship. They have certain topics that they never discuss because they don’t want to upset each other. However, unresolved issues are often the biggest threats to a healthy relationship. If you’re ignoring problems or sidestepping issues you disagree on, they’re only going to get bigger and more destructive. When you experience disagreement or conflict, you need to find a healthy way to bring these issues to the surface and discuss them. You and your partner might have very different viewpoints on certain topics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground with them. Disagreements are what make relationships interesting and help you both grow as individuals. Don’t be afraid to “go there” whenever you need to.

Dependant-game Conflict

Dependent-game conflict happens when one partner feels like they need to “win” the relationship or constantly prove their worth to the other person. This type of conflict often comes from childhood wounds and insecurities. It’s important to note that this type of conflict isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s completely normal for one person to try to “win” the relationship in certain areas. If one person always takes care of paying the bills and managing the finances, for example, their partner might feel like they need to step up and “win” the relationship in other areas. Dependent game conflict can quickly turn into a toxic game of one-upmanship if both partners don’t start addressing the issue and finding healthy ways to resolve it. If you find yourself constantly trying to prove that you’re worthy of your partner or they feel the need to win in certain areas, you might be experiencing dependent-game conflict. Instead of letting it escalate, talk to your partner about what’s going on. Focus on the underlying issues instead of the issue itself.

Game-playing Conflict

Game-playing conflict happens when two people are so desperate for attention that they constantly put each other down or make each other feel bad. This type of conflict often happens in relationships where one partner is insecure or has low self-esteem. They might be so desperate for attention that they constantly put their significant other down or make them feel bad so they’ll notice and give them praise. Game-playing conflict often goes hand-in-hand with dependent-game conflict. Again, this type of conflict isn’t always bad. If both partners are aware of what’s going on and they’re able to address it, it can be extremely helpful. If you or your partner are constantly putting each other down or trying to one-up each other with insults, you’re probably experiencing game-playing conflict. Try to identify what’s causing the behavior and find a healthy way to address it.

Emotional Incorporation Conflict

Emotional incorporation conflict happens when two people have very different approaches to emotions. You might be extremely open and willing to talk about your feelings, while your partner may be more guarded and reluctant to share. Emotional incorporation conflict can be a sign of a deeper issue. If one partner refuses to acknowledge their feelings, it could be due to past trauma. If you or your partner has a past full of trauma, you’re more likely to experience this type of conflict. Emotional incorporation conflict can be a good thing if you’re able to identify the root of the problem. Once you know what’s causing the issues, you can find ways to help your partner deal with their emotions in a healthy way. Be patient with your partner and don’t try to force them out of their shell.


Conflict is a natural part of being in a relationship, but it doesn’t have to end in disaster. If you know what type of conflict you’re experiencing and how to deal with it, you can turn even the worst arguments into opportunities for growth. If you’re experiencing one of these 5 types of conflict, don’t panic. Instead, take some time to reflect on what’s going on and how you can resolve it. With a little bit of communication and patience, you and your partner can work through any problems and grow closer on the other side.

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