One thing that causes more pain to people than anything else is relationship conflict.
I’m no stranger to it. Fighting has come with every woman I’ve loved.
Of course, the details of these fights might have varied. But the cause of each them was the same.
A lack of comfort or desire.
(Read: What Women Really Want From Men)
Every fight distilled to its essence *without fail* comes down to one of these areas. When a guy does not execute in one of them, conflict arises. If unaddressed this conflict will continue and intensify until the relationship dies.
Part of the reason these relationship conflicts aren’t stopped is because most people see only the surface reasons for the fight. They get caught up in the accuracy of the allegations and miss the psychology behind the fights. So the problems never get truly solved.
We’re going to go into that psychology today so you’ll look at the meaning behind these relationship conflicts more carefully.
Buckle up, because it’s about to get personal.
Source Of Relationship Conflict #1: Not Creating Enough Desire
The first reason relationships experience conflict is the most common one: a dearth of desire. Indeed, it is the trap most men, deceived by conventional “wisdom,” fall into.
To get an idea of what this looks like, my high-school relationship is instructive.
The romance began in a fairly standard way. I was in a higher grade, the older cousin of her friend (preselection). I teased her and threw some decent game at her unconsciously, not realizing it would get her to like me (persona). We had chemistry (personality).
In other words, I checked each of the boxes of all three pillars of attraction.
Yet I never had the frame in this relationship, and after the honeymoon phase ended her desire for me went with it. Once her self-induced delusion about who I was faded, she lost all sexual interest.
(Read: What Is Frame?)
This occurred for many reasons, but most of all because I never felt like I truly deserved her. She was always above me, and I acted accordingly desperate. I tried to “do what she liked” in order to get emotional and sexual validation from her, and became needy when that attention wasn’t forthcoming.
By the time I went to college the desire was shot. Things got so bad we had to look at porn to get her in the mood for sex, and fights occurred practically every time we saw each other, including most of the time we were texting.
[BTW: If you don’t want miscommunication in your text messages, get my book Tackling Texting. I’ve learned from my mistakes and then some, and I promise you won’t have any problem attracting women over the phone after you internalize the lessons within.]
Looking back, the experience was humiliating, but it showed me something poignant about male-female dynamics.
When a woman doesn’t feel enough desire from a man, she will treat his feelings with indifference. Most men will respond by either accommodating her bad behavior (exacerbating desire problems) or complaining and starting a fight (killing comfort). Both of these responses only make a bad situation worse.
This — as I learned first hand — is how a relationship with decent comfort and little desire gradually finds itself losing both.
She tolerated my tantrums at first, but eventually my emotional demands wore her out so much she stopped being sweet or wanting to see me.
We split soon thereafter.
It taught me a valuable lesson.
If you want to get out of a situation where you are not creating desire, you need to work on yourself and start making decisions for yourself (creating desire while maintaining comfort). Or, you need to leave.
As always, the blueprint for doing this stuff comes from looking at the desire half of the three pillars of attraction. In my case, it would have included stuff like:
- (Preselection) Getting in shape and building a cool group of friends.
- (Persona) Giving her space and opportunities to miss me.
- (Personality) Dropping expectations, embracing fear and building up my self-esteem.
This would have at least allowed me a chance to regain the frame (and consequently, her respect). Though it would have been a bumpy road for sure.
(we’ll talk more about this in a bit)
A very different scenario from what happens when you’re lacking comfort.
Source Of Relationship Conflict #2: Not Creating Enough Comfort
My first relationship ended almost a decade ago. I’ve changed a lot since then, and my problems of yore are now a distant memory. These days I have minimal issues creating desire: my wife and I have sex a lot, and its usually pretty damn passionate.
Some of the reasons for this are because I’ve come to terms with who I am, and love myself (for all my faults). I’m not worried about attracting other women, so I lack a scarcity mindset. I am self-assured and aligned with my ambition.
All of these reasons are part of why I have a firm hold on the relationship’s frame.
Yet from an objective standpoint I’m hardly a paragon of excellence. I’ve fallen short financially and neglected to take my wife’s emotional needs into consideration.
Which has created a lot of problems.
We are both very independent people, which is a feature not a bug. But I often take that independence too far, focusing only on my preferences and ignoring potential quality time and experiences together. I also don’t always follow through when I promise to, damaging trust.
The result is a volatile relationship with desire, but not so much stability.
No bueno. But predictable.
When a woman doesn’t feel enough comfort from a man, she will question his leadership. Most men will respond by either ignoring her concerns (exacerbating comfort issues) or conceding leadership (killing desire). Neither of these things help.
This is the unfortunately common way relationships with solid desire but inadequate comfort collapse.
My way of dealing with this at first was to just do more of what she wanted when she wanted it. Most of this action was was subconscious — I was exhausted from the fights and just wanted them to go away.
But I soon realized that my actions hadn’t made things better but worse. Sex was diminishing in quality and quantity, and she still wasn’t satisfied with how I was showing up in the relationship.
(By the way, this is psychological warfare, something women are incredibly adept at.)
I was undergoing a process of betaization — my will was weaker, and I could feel it. I was a shadow of the man who had entered the relationship.
So rather than continue down the path, I reversed. I started doing my own thing more, and focused on me — seeing more friends, lifting consistently, becoming spontaneous, and going on (mysterious) personal adventures.
Fortunately, because this was how I “used” to be, she was pleased by the reversal (more on this later). Within a few months the desire completely returned. But the lack of comfort has still left the relationship in fragile shape. It needs work or it will collapse.
To turn it around men in the situation like me only have two options.
To get out of a situation where you are not producing enough comfort, you need to become the family’s provider and keep your woman more in mind when making decisions (creating comfort while maintaining desire). Or, you need to leave.
Obviously, I don’t want to do the latter.
So, a plan of action for me to fix my relationship would would look something like this:
- (Preselection) Making more money and nurturing an active group of friends for us.
- (Persona) Being more attentive to her in social settings and showing her more empathy.
- (Personality) Focusing on the things that bind us together, not divide us, and following through on the things I say I’ll do.
Of course, while still doing everything I’m doing now 😉
The good news is that *generally* it’s easier to build comfort from a foundation of desire than vice-versa (more on this in a bit).
But it’s still no walk in the park.
And there’s a good reason why.
The Real Reason Relationship Conflict Occurs When There’s No Comfort
If you fail to create desire in a woman, she will show you indifference and contempt; if you fail to create comfort in her, she will show you drama and jealousy.
But at the core of it all, fights are about one thing: control of the frame.
In most small-scale fights, control of the frame is situational. A fight when one person says “You forgot to pick me up from the store” and the other claims “You didn’t tell me to pick you up from the store” isn’t necessarily a fight about the health of the relationship, but who is in possession of the truth in that particular situation. It is a “frame” fight (all fights are), but it is a tiny, on-its-own inconsequential one.
(Read: The Chicken Or The Egg)
It’s only when such fights become structural due to an lack of comfort and/or desire that these fights begin to be about control of the relationship’s overall frame. When the “little” fights start to represent something deeper.
This is particularly true when it comes to desire.
Take my situation above.
Because I have failed to provide adequate comfort in my relationship, my wife is executing a massive assault on my frame. When we fight about some comfort-creating thing I failed to do, the real message is “you don’t deserve control of the frame because you are not doing your job.”
(Read: The Women You Deserve)
This is the reason low-comfort / high-desire relationships are inherently active conflicts. The women in them are emotionally invested due to their desire, but skeptical of their emotional investment due to the lack of comfort. So they lash out.
It is basically cognitive dissonance, which the fighting is designed to resolve by:
- making the guy provide more comfort, or
- making him cede control of the frame, killing desire
Understand, a woman in a cognitive dissonant state is aggravated because she is questioning herself as much as her man.
Why is she dating a “bad boy” who treats her this way? What does that say about what kind of girl she is, or what she thinks about herself?
She wants him to either to treat her better or to fall into her frame so she can lose her attraction and get rid of him.
Many guys romanticize this “bad boy” situation, thinking “well at least she wants you.” But the truth is, unless you’re aiming for a hit-it-and-quit-it, all this dynamic will do is create a lot of resentment and drama.
Your mindset alone keeps you in the game.
This is why if you’re doing a bad job of providing comfort in a relationship — unconventional as it might sound — the worst thing you can do is doubt yourself around her.
Understand, to her, your self-confidence is already inconceivable because she feels you are not meeting her needs (which in her mind, due to solipsism, is what determines your value). Vulnerability can be used but must be tactical in nature. You do not have the luxury of a shoulder to cry on.
(Read: Should You Be Vulnerable?)
You need to address the problems, but keep your self-directed attitude throughout it. Keep calm and carry on.
Or you’re sunk.
The Real Reason Relationship Conflict Occurs When There’s No Desire
The story is different if you’re in a relationship where you’ve got comfort but no desire. If this is you I don’t envy you brother, but sit tight — cause the situation isn’t hopeless. You’re just going to need a lot of determination and time.
The first thing is to accept is the truth: you are not in a particularly good situation. This is because you’ve already lost the frame, and it is much harder to recover a lost frame than to keep it.
Think about it like a man on the top of a mountain versus a man running up one. The former has the high ground: he may have to resist challenges, but he has the dominant position himself. The latter on the other hand has to fight from a weak position. Not fun.
But that doesn’t mean success isn’t possible given enough determination.
The key here is to understand your woman and to be prepared from the outset for the worst.
The truth is some women grew up watching their fathers get hen-pecked and are comfortable (albeit not turned on) putting men down. They think this is love.
If this is how your relationship started, understand and accept you’re going to have a rough time ahead. There’s a very good chance this is how she’s been wired romantically, and absent an epiphany she won’t be willing to change.
Indeed, I talked to a reader just the other day about this sort of situation. He had been a “nice guy” all his life, which is why his wife chose him. She liked to be in control.
Eventually he made a push to take back some of his autonomy. The result was total warfare. She refused to cede to the new dynamic, and they were forced to divorce.
(And that’s ok. My reader is very happy today, and his ex-wife found a new man who acts just like he used to be.)
Just know when you tinker with relationship dynamics that have become deeply imprinted, it can cause the entire edifice to collapse.
This is why low-desire / high-comfort relationships are generally passive conflicts, filled less with blow out fights than subtle dismissiveness and passive-aggression. You have been desexualized and disrespected, which on a deep level agitates both of you. But the tension is simmering, not boiling, because you are not addressing it.
Exercise patience if you want to change things with the least relationship conflict.
Understand, if you attack her control of the frame head on, you will make this frozen conflict a hot one. Which unless you had a Kevin Spacey Transformation is unlikely to succeed. And you should never pick battles you can’t win.
Your goal is simple: slow and steady wins the race. Start doing things on your own more. Go to the gym, get in shape. Make and spend time with new friends. Start flirting and teasing, with her and other women. Choose what you want to do and do it even if she won’t come along. Develop a more confident attitude in general.
Basically, increase your sexual market value — right under her nose.
Most women will struggle or feel weird about these dynamics shift at first. Some will hate it, others will love it.
But it’s a necessary step to the loving relationship you want — whether it’s with your current partner or someone else.
(Read: The Springs Of Your Life)
You’ll never know if you don’t try.
Relationship Conflict Conclusions
If you want a conflict-free relationship, you have only one option: control the frame and make sure it’s not contested.
Understand, if you have desire but not comfort, your frame will be under constant assault regardless of the sex you’re having. And if you have comfort but not desire, you may not have “fights,” but you certainly won’t have freedom or peace.
You can’t go half way.
And if you feel like you’ve been showing up, but your frame is still under assault?
You’ve got a difficult decision my friend. Because then it’s time to assess your woman objectively and decide what sort of life you want to live.
The reality is some women might not want the same polarized relationship as you. Others are emotionally volatile and may not want a tranquil one. They may be turned off when they control the frame, but also hate it when they don’t.
Sometimes, until then, the only option is to walk away.