Relationship Rescue PDF

Knowing Your Relationship Conflict Styles.



Complicated dynamics in our love life can sometimes feel like a tangled knot of issues. My People Patterns is the relationship education hub providing tools and education to help detangle the knots of connection and help you grow great relationships.  

Take The Conflict Quiz

Arguments in Relationships


As a therapist, sometimes, the first step in helping couples understand why and how their partnership is having too much tension is to understand how they react to confrontation and anger. Our free conflict quiz will help you determine what your pattern is, and we'll help you better understand what can be done about it. 


Relationship Conflict Styles Quiz









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Relationship Conflict Styles - The Downloads

Please take a look at some of our free conflict worksheets and conflict pdfs - sign up to our email list and they're all yours. 


The Anger Iceberg

The Feelings Wheel

The Relationship Repair Wheel

Which of These Are Your Top Relationship Conflict Styles?

The key to understanding relationship tensions can start with understanding how your way of reacting to conflict impacts your relationship.

The Stonewall

The act of refusing communication, stalling, or evading, especially to avoid a fight.

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The Avoider

The Avoider dodges confrontation but often increases frustration in their partner. Watch more here.

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The Volcano

When we're feeling mad we can let that our and wound the people who are closest. Watch more here

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The Criticizer

Disdain is a form of contempt-  the most damaging of forces to a connection

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The Defender

The Retaliator plays a defensive game when under attack, most often by countering. 

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The Diplomat

Criticism differs from complaints, although the two are often confused. Learn more here:

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The Fighter

Is always looking for a fight, but not necessarily looking to hurt your feelings. 

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The Analyst

Leads with logic and reason, often at the expense of feelings and connection.  

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The Deflector

The Deflector has an awesome way of turning the fight back onto you.

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Our Free Conflict Quiz

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The Stonewaller


So, you've been labeled a "The Stonewaller" as one of your top relationship in conflict styles.

It might sound a bit intense, but let's be real: we all have our ways of coping with conflict, but...

...Coping is not the same as thriving.

Stonewalling is way of dealing with conflict that is ultimately destructive to partnerships, so understanding why you Stonewall is an important first step.

  • Do you become overwhelmed with¬†intense waves of emotions
  • Does the idea of conflict feel terrifying to you?
  • Do you want to run away or shut down because¬†your partner is acting in a¬†certain way?

You deserve a connection that's alive with passion and understanding, and My People Patterns can help you find the tools to have a more fun and loving connection. 

Stonewalling is more than just a refusal to communicate; it's a defensive strategy, and it's a wall built to keep out the storm of confrontation, but in doing so, it also isolates the Stonewaller from meaningful connection and resolution. That often makes your partner more frustrated and increases the distance between you. 

The Stonewaller from The relationship conflict style quiz

Hey Stonewaller:

Imagine being in a partnership in which you

  • have the tools to stay balanced, even in the stormiest of¬†fights.
  • you can face challenges head-on, not with fear, but with confidence.
  • are in sync with your partner, understanding each other, building something unbreakable.

These are the skills and tools you need to work on if you're a Stonewaller and want a healthier, happier partnership.

If you didn't sign up for our email list when you got your results, I really hope you will reconsider. I share some of the therapy tools and activities that I use with couples and families in my private practice in those emails, and I've seen them work and change connections in a profound way. 

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I want a healthier relationship!

The Defender


One of your top relationship conflict styles is The Defender. This type of person perceives conflict as a personal attack and reacts by adopting self-protective strategies which tend to manifest as self righteous or a sense of innocent victimhood. This reaction serves as a shield against perceived aggression or threats. While it's common for people to become defensive when criticized, the Defender takes it a step further by launching a counterattack.

This related to, is somewhat different, from The Deflector who shifts the conversation, but not necessarily as an attack on to the other.

Sometimes the are mad, they can be the vengeful type, particularly if the Defender has been harboring resentment or grudge. This means their attack will have been fueled by revenge or getting back at someone who has wronged the individual and can be particularly hurtful to be on the receiving end.



The Avoider


Ok, so one of your top relationship conflict styles is 'The Avoider'. I want to tell you how this is more than just a label, it's an opportunity. If you think in terms of your connection being the ultimate investment in your future happiness, but just like any investment, sometimes they needs a little fine-tuning to yield the best returns.

The Avoider is a conflict pattern characterized by a tendency to evade or sidestep arguments or confrontations, they like their privacy when it comes to some feelings. This pattern often stems from anxiety triggered by angry exchanges, leading to behaviors such as apologizing too much, agreeing without genuine consent, or accommodating others to avoid tension. When faced with the slightest disagreement, Avoiders may blank out, feel panic, or perceive themselves as victims, and move to avoid further interactions.

As a general policy, Avoiders often resort to childhood defenses such as denial, repression, or depersonalization to protect themselves. They may remain emotionally distant from others, end relationships abruptly, or abandon friendships without warning. In extreme cases, they may victimize or demonize others to justify their fears.


The Fighter


The Fighter is the toughest relationship conflict styles there are to deal with, usually the one who starts the fight, and if not, then they’re unafraid to express their anger and opinions during a conflict.

They seem to thrive on debating hot-topics without realizing that they are quickly able to turn conversations into conflict. These disputes typically start out as simple arguments but this partner rapidly escalates the battle into one that is won by the person who can yell the loudest and the longest (ie them). They tend to use the sheer power of noisy and contemptuous attacks to win the argument.

The fight might have a tendency to use Explosive Anger - a type of anger characterized by sudden, disproportionate outbursts. Because The Fighter lacks the skills needed to down-regulate their anger, these episodes often lead to heated arguments, physical fights, property damage, or threats and insults toward others



The Criticizer


When it comes to relationship conflict styles, The Criticizer is a type of person who uses criticism as a defense mechanism in relationships. This individual tends to find faults in their partner, often as a way to protect themselves from feeling vulnerable. The Criticizer's constant criticism can create a toxic atmosphere in the household, leading to a cycle of mutual attacks and defenses. This behavior can be driven by hardened anger, where the Criticizer holds onto grudges and harbors feelings of bitterness.

The Criticizer's behavior can be harmful to your connection, as it often escalates situations rather than resolving them. At the same time, it's important to note that the Criticizer's actions are often a result of their own feelings of vulnerability and fear of being hurt. By criticizing their partner, they are trying to protect themselves from potential emotional pain.


To deal with this type of anger, the Criticizer needs to work on their communication skills and learn to express their feelings in a more constructive way. This might involve expressing their needs and concerns directly, rather than resorting to criticism. It's also important for the Criticizer to work on their ability to forgive and let go of past grievances, as holding onto hardened anger can perpetuate a cycle of criticism and conflict.

The Diplomat


Having The Diplomat as one of your top relationship conflict styles is not necessarily a bad situation. This is a person who is often seen as agreeable and accommodating. They are the ones who are always ready to lend a hand, often putting the needs of others before their own. They are the peace makers, the ones who avoid conflict and strive for harmony. They are often seen as non-assertive, always seeking approval, and never disagreeing. They are the ones who go with the flow, even if it's not what they truly want.

This accommodating nature can sometimes lead to them being overlooked or taken advantage of. They may struggle to express their own needs and wants, often feeling intimidated or apologetic. They may even feel like they don't want to bother people or that what they have to say isn't important. This can lead to them being disregarded and missing out on opportunities.



Despite these challenges, the Diplomat's style is not without its advantages. They are often praised for being selfless and are rarely blamed if things go wrong due to their avoidance of responsibility. They are also often liked and appreciated for their easy-going and agreeable nature.

It's important to note that while the Diplomat is often seen as a peace maker, they may also struggle with feelings of powerlessness, stress, and anger over their inability to refuse what may be unreasonable demands made of them by others. This can lead to self-criticism, a lack of self-confidence, and an inability to accept themselves as they are.

The Analyst


The Analyst is a type of individual who tends to approach conflict and anger through a lens of intellectualization. As a the most intellectual of relationship conflict styles, they often use their smarts as a shield, distancing themselves from the emotional aspects of a situation by focusing on logic, facts, and analysis. This can be seen as a form of disowned anger, where the emotional response is suppressed or ignored in favor of a more detached, cerebral approach.


While this approach can sometimes be useful in preventing impulsive, emotional reactions, it can also hinder emotional connection and empathy. It's important for the Analyst to recognize when intellectualization is serving as a barrier to emotional engagement and to work on integrating emotional awareness into their responses.


The Deflector


The Deflector is an expert at subtly shifting the focus of a conversation, often using a tactic known as "switch-tracking." This is one of the more complicated relationship conflict styles as it leads to problems not getting addressed. Switch-Tracking is when a response to feedback or criticism changes the subject, leading the conversation down a different track.

The Deflector's use of switch-tracking can be a form of passive-aggressive anger, where dissatisfaction or resentment is expressed indirectly. By changing the subject, they avoid addressing the initial criticism and instead focus on a different issue, often one where they feel they have the upper hand. This can lead to a cycle of deflection and counter-deflection, making it challenging to resolve disagreements effectively.


But, it's important to note that the Deflector's approach is not always intentional or malicious. It can be a learned response to conflict, a way to protect themselves from perceived criticism or attack. Understanding this pattern can help in addressing it and finding more constructive ways to communicate and resolve issues.

The Volcano


The Volcano has a type of anger that can be likened to a sleeping volcano that suddenly erupts, causing havoc and destruction. This is characterized by sudden, explosive outbursts that are often out of proportion to the situation at hand. The individual may seem calm and composed on the surface, but beneath that calm exterior, there's a buildup of anger and frustration that can explode without warning.


The Volcano's anger may or may not be about the immediate situation or trigger, but it usually always includes underlying issues that have been swept under the rug. These issues could range from unresolved emotional hurts and unmet needs to feelings of being misunderstood or unappreciated. The explosive outbursts are merely symptoms of these deeper, unresolved issues. Their anger can be categorized as explosive or vengeful that was previously hidden or disowned.


Living with or dealing with a Volcano can be a problem as their anger can be unpredictable and intense and will take a toll on any family.

The Placater

The Placator is an individual who seeks to mollify and soothe during conflicts, often prioritizing the feelings and needs of others above their own. This conflict style is characterized by a strong desire to maintain peace and avoid any form of confrontation. The Placator often uses reassuring language, gestures of goodwill, and sometimes even self-deprecation to defuse tense situations.


While this approach can be effective in preventing immediate incidents, it can sometimes lead to the Placator feeling overlooked or undervalued. Their constant need to appease might stem from past experiences where confrontation led to bad outcomes, or from an inherent desire to be liked and accepted by everyone.


The Placator's communication style is gentle, empathetic, and often apologetic. They tend to avoid direct criticism and are adept at steering conversations away from potential flashpoints. However, this constant need to placate can sometimes lead to suppressed feelings and resentment, which might bubble up later.

In the realm of romantic relationships, resolving conflict is essential for maintaining a healthy bond. Effective conflict resolution often involves open communication, where both sides can clearly express their perspectives and expectations. By choosing words that show respect and acknowledge each other's mindsets, couples can solve disagreements and improve their connection. Online resources and professional advice offer a wealth of information on specific strategies, such as positive statements and active listening, to meet these challenges. Whether it's through national studies or personal experiences, exploring and understanding these methods can present numerous benefits, including better relationship health and management. Remember, in matters of love and conflict, the true solution lies in a respectful approach and a willingness to explore all possible solutions