People experience challenges and conflicts in their romantic relationships. Such difficulties yield different outcomes: these events can make us into better partners and strengthen our romantic relationships, or they can weaken us and threaten those relationships. Thus, some conflicts might be positive for couples in the long-term despite short-term stress. The current study sought to address this possibility. Across two studies (total N = 600), I found three main components that were related to perceptions of strength outcomes across couple conflict types. First, conflict between romantic partners involving commitment, sex, trust, infidelity, and controlling behavior were generally associated with perceptions of less positive outcomes than other conflicts. On the other hand, conflict between romantic partners involving addiction, finance, grief, family stress, illness, or jobs and education were associated with perceptions of relatively more positive outcomes. Additionally, I find communication is associated with conflicts that were related to long-distance, household chores, and sex. The nature of this work is exploratory, and other research is needed to confirm these results. Nonetheless, our study demonstrates differences in how people characterize the difficulties and conflicts that occur in romantic relationships.
- Exploring How Relationship Difficulties and Conflicts Might Build Character