Often conflicts in a relationship reach a stage where neither person can see a way forward. Each may feel at the end of his or her ropes One or the other may want to give up, or end the relationship. Thinking about ending a relationship is sometimes unconsciously used, as a way to manage the difficult feelings that have arisen.
Feelings of helplessness and deficiency may occur, when we cannot understand what is happening in our relationship. These feelings often get covered up by anger and a self-defensive posture. An impasse is arrived at when we have become locked into a position where all we can do is defend ourselves.
One type of impasse arises when one or the other or both people in a relationship have emotional needs that are not being met. In most cases this happens because their emotional needs are not being expressed. Sometimes we are afraid to express the needs that make us uncomfortable. Sometimes we do not express our needs because we are unaware of them.
When we are not conscious of our needs and our needs are unmet, we automatically get angry, sad, hopeless, confused - often not knowing why we are having these difficult emotions. It is easier to understand our feelings if we are able to connect them to our unmet needs.
When we are unaware of our needs, or we are not expressing them, we cannot contain or regulate our emotional reactions. The process of thinking through what we are feeling and expressing ourselves helps us to contain and regulate our emotions.
When we do not regulate, we become anxious. We may feel out of control. Then the only way we may know to regulate ourselves is to act out. We may express our anger in ways that the other person cannot take in. We may blame the other person or threaten to leave them. This escalation can push the relationship into an impasse.
When unmet needs accumulate they put pressure on relationships. Unmet needs often turn into resentments. Unexpressed resentments can push a relationship to a breaking point. When the relationship is at the breaking point, feelings that have not been expressed may come pouring out, releasing such a cascade of feelings that the relationship is pushed beyond what it can handle. The relationship has arrived at an impasse.
Another outcome of being unaware of our needs and (or) not expressing them is that we do not try to get our needs met. We begin to lose touch with ourselves. We disregard our own emotional life. When we do not take emotional care of ourselves. We may begin to push ourselves beyond our own emotional limits.
We cannot feel emotionally alive when we are disconnected from our own needs. We are trying to run on an empty tank. This puts us in an empty and vulnerable state and we may place too much demand on our relationship to make us feel alive. It is often at this point that we look outside of the relationship to another person in an effort to supply our need for aliveness. Bringing in a third person easily develops into an impasse.
Instead of feeling good about our needs, expressing our needs to our partners and exploring which needs can be met in the relationship and which ones must be met in a different way, we start believing that unless we get what we need from the other person, we will not be all right. We put ourselves and the relationship under tremendous pressure which can easily push a relationship conflict into a lasting impasse.
Please visit Truceworks.com, a free online conflict resolution website, to learn more about identifying and expressing your feelings and needs and to help you resolve everyday conflicts.
Copyright 2011 TruceWorks