What Is Relationship Conflict?

discussion dans un restaurant image by Francis Lempérière from Fotolia.com

Anyone who has interactions with other people is going to experience conflict. It is an inevitable aspect of human relations. However, the type of conflict experienced in a relationship and how it is handled are among the determining factors in a relationship's strength and promise. Relationship conflicts can occur in all types of relationships, including parent/child, friendships and romantic relationships.


A relationship conflict is a struggle, disagreement, argument or debate that takes place between two people within a relationship. For example, a conflict with your fiancé over wedding planning details is a relationship conflict.

How you address, assess and solve relationship conflicts determines whether the relationship is healthy or unhealthy.


Relationship conflicts may help to make relationships strong or they might destroy them. Essentially, conflicts make people aware of the problems in their relationships, whether it's with a family member or a romantic interest.

Healthy or Unhealthy?

Conflict in a relationship is healthy. However, the amount or type of conflict and how you deal with it can be unhealthy. According to Larry Alan Nadig, a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist, "There is no such thing as a relationship without conflict... Conflict is a part of life. It exists as a reality of any relationship, and is not necessarily bad."

Dealing with conflict inappropriately can damage an otherwise healthy relationship. Even a relationship that appears to have no conflict can be unhealthy.

Benefits of Conflict

There are many benefits to experiencing a relationship conflict. Though it might sound odd, conflicts should be viewed as opportunities to improve your relationship. If there is a repeated topic that arises during a conflict, such as lack of spending time together, this can be addressed and the results could make the relationship stronger, according to the book, "Mastering Human Relations."

Another benefit of relationship conflict is self-awareness. Through disagreements, one can learn to see his own communication, relationship or behavioral problems, giving him the ability to make necessary changes, which would benefit himself, as well as his relationships.

Conflict Mistakes

When experiencing a relationship conflict, it is easy to become shortsighted. According to Nadig, there are several issues to keep in mind when facing a relationship conflict. Nadig suggests that one should be careful of "being too invested in getting your way or making extreme demands and therefore not being able to be flexible enough to be fair with your partner."