Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Linking assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and partner dominance (Part 2 – Reducing Avoidance)

Avoidant couples tend to minimise conflict and often don’t resolve their differences, agreeing to disagree. 

Based on the research, we have discovered there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.


In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.

In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

    2. Avoidance: Avoidance is a person’s tendency to minimise issues and his/her reluctance to deal with issues directly. Avoidance tends to be highest in people who are passive or non-assertive. Conversely, people who are very assertive tend to be low on avoidance. There is increasing evidence that an avoidant style creates problems in close relationships.
    People who score high in avoidance tend to report they feel dominated by their partner, dislike the personalities of their partner, and dislike the way they communicate and resolve conflicts with their partner.

    John Gottman (1994), a prominent researcher on marriage, described three common styles of relating in couples. One of his three types of couples was the avoidant couple.

    Gottman has found an avoidant marriage is one style that can endure, but states, ‘…there is a low level of companionship and sharing in the marriage.” He goes on to report, “Another hazard of this type of marriage is that it can become lonely” (Gottman, 1994, p. 46). Individuals in such marriages may often feel disconnected, misunderstood, and ill-equipped to deal with conflict should it arise.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

Take the Couple Checkup

Simply click on the Get Started button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

Take the Couple Checkup

The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

Source: PREPARE/ENRICH Blog: https://blog.prepare-enrich.com/

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