« The Dating Equation: ½(your age) + 7 | Main | Does That Count? Differing Definitions of Sex »

What are We Fighting About?: The Top 15 Sources of Conflict in Relationships

Relationship conflict is inevitable. To identify the most common sources of conflict, over 100 participants listed the ways that men and women could upset, irritate, hurt, or anger each other. Researchers then analyzed subjects’ responses to identify the most central themes, or common topics, in the list. Based on this analysis, here are the top 15 behaviors that can upset a romantic partner, ranked in order by the frequency each behavior was listed (from the most to least mentioned):  

Your Partner is…:

1) ...Condescending  (i.e., treats you as stupid or inferior, acts like he/she is better than you)

2) ...Possessive, Jealous, and/or Dependent (i.e., demands too much attention or time; generally acts jealous/possessive/dependent)

3) ...Neglecting, Rejecting, and/or Unreliable (i.e., ignores your feelings, doesn’t call, doesn’t say they love you, etc.)

4) ...Abusive (i.e., slaps, spits, hits, calls names or is verbally abusive)

5) ...Unfaithful (i.e., had sex with another person, saw someone intimately, or went out with another partner)

6) ...Inconsiderate (i.e., doesn’t help clean up, burps in your face, leaves toilet seat up or down!, etc.)

7) ...Physically Self-Absorbed (i.e., worries too much about appearance, focuses too much on hair or face, spends too much on clothes, etc.)

8) ...Moody (i.e., moody, emotionally unstable, or bitchy.)

9) ...Sexually Withholding or Rejecting (i.e., refuses to have sex, doesn’t act interested, or is a sexual tease…but not in the playful way!)

10) …Quick to Sexualize Others (i.e., talks about attractiveness of others, talks about others as sex objects, idolizes someone on TV, etc.)

11) … Abusive with Alcohol and/or is Emotionally Constricted (i.e., drinks too much, smokes too much, or hides emotions in order to appear tough)

12) ... Disheveled (i.e., doesn’t dress well, doesn’t groom well, and doesn’t take care of his/her appearance)

13) …Insulting Toward Your Appearance (i.e., says you’re ugly or insults your appearance)

14) ...Sexually Aggressive (i.e., uses you for sex or forces sex on you)

15) ...Self-centered (i.e., too self-centered, selfish, or always thinks of him/herself first)

As you review this list, hopefully your relationship manages to avoid the vast majority of these. At a minimum, being aware of these potential trouble spots can help you and your partner avoid them and increase relationship satisfaction.

Interested in learning more about relationships? Click here for other topics on Science of Relationships. Like us on Facebook to get our articles delivered directly to your NewsFeed.

Buss, D. M. (1989). Conflict between the sexes: Strategic interference and the evocation of anger and upset. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(5), 735-747. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.56.5.735

Dr. Gary Lewandowski - Science of Relationships articles | Website
Dr. Lewandowski's research explores the self’s role in romantic relationships focusing on attraction, relationship initiation, love, infidelity, relationship maintenance, and break-up. Recognized as one of the Princeton Review’s Top 300 Professors, he has also authored dozens of publications for both academic and non-academic audiences. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

My nerdy husband says your banner doesn't even contain real scientific elements (Sci and Rel), I'll have to hit him later then withold sex.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSis

We appreciate your support!! Your "nerdy husband" is correct though. Given the lack of association between Rhenium and Scandium with relationships, we took a little creative license. For the record we think our depiction of an atom may not be 100% accurate either.

Editor Permission Required
Sorry, due to the amount of spam we receive, commenting has been disabled for visitors of this site. Please see our Facebook page for comments on recent articles posted.