Working Through Conflict in Relationships with Alyssa + Geoff

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Ahh! I’m so excited because Geoff, aka my boyfriend (why isn’t there a word between boyfriend and husband?) is joining me this week! In our first-ever joint episode we’re discussing how to work through conflict in relationships. We share many behind-closed-doors moments of conflict we’ve been through and how we came out on the other side feeling more connected. 

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

Welcome back to another episode of Make it Mentionable! Today is a special episode because that is here with me for the very first time. For those of you who don’t know, Geoff is my boyfriend. And he’s talked about all the time in the show. So I figured I should introduce him to you. So Geoff, thank you for coming on with me, it’s been super having. So we thought that we would talk about conflict too, because the show is called Make it mentionable which I’ll repeat myself for what feels like the 43rd time. Mr. Rogers has a quote that anything that is human can be mentioned. And anything that can be mentioned can be managed. And yet we live in this world where it can be really freaking hard to mention things. Sometimes either it feels vulnerable, or it might not feel safe. Or we just think we shouldn’t, because it’s a topic that stays behind closed doors. And oftentimes, conflict in relationships is one of those things where when people are struggling, they don’t really end up sharing what’s going on. And then and then you don’t have a support system for for how to get out of it. So without talking about conflict,

Geoff 2:10
Of which we have a little bit from time to time

Alyssa Patmos 2:12
Just a tad.

Geoff 2:14
Just a tad.

Alyssa Patmos 2:15
But conflict can be a good thing. Conflict, when treated with care can be an opportunity to bring two people closer. And you and I have talked about that before?

Geoff 2:27
Absolutely, it is an opportunity. And if handled? Well, it does. I think it brings us closer together afterward. It’s really painful, during and as we’ll talk about the reasons why it does bring us closer together, and why we feel better afterwards.

Alyssa Patmos 2:49
I mean, when we started dating, like the first conflict that we had come up, I wasn’t used to being allowed to be angry. Like, I shut off my ability to feel that. And so when you like are one of our very first conflicts, like when you brought up you’re like why aren’t you mad? Yeah,

Geoff 3:11
You were like smiling and laughing. I’m like, this is not right.

Alyssa Patmos 3:16
Very next day, like, I wouldn’t trade that because then the very next day was super connecting, and I felt much closer to you. So we have a definition of conflict in our relationship. I can’t remember where it comes from. Do you remember where it comes from?

Geoff 3:34
One of the books, I think it was actually Barry Weinhold book. And I’m not sure

Alyssa Patmos 3:42
Our definition of conflict is that conflict is an unmet need poorly expressed. And because I can take a minute to think and I’m going to say it one more time. So conflict is an unmet need poorly expressed. So whenever there’s conflict going on, from this definition, there, there’s an underlying need. That’s not being. And we have found this to be true time and time again, and time and time again, and our relationship. And so it becomes a process then of figuring out how to excavate what the need is and to bring that into awareness so that it’s no longer controlling you outside of your awareness.

Geoff 4:29
Yes. And being able to see that in your in yourself at a time that you’re very emotional and it’s difficult and generally you’re seeing something the other person is doing something to you. But it’s really about your internal need.

Alyssa Patmos 4:46
Right. Right. I think the reason we get into conflict is because we think like oh my god, Geoff, you’re doing this to me, like who are you? I can’t believe you’re saying this right now. When really he has no idea idea that it’s about something going on. For me internally, whether that’s like room, whatever he’s saying, like reminds me of something that someone has said in the past? Or if it’s just something that I’m sensitive to, but he has no idea about, yeah.

Geoff 5:17
And therein lies the opportunity for feeling better afterwards and connecting more, because if we can get to the root of what that unmet need is, and find a way for it to be met. And, and do that for our partner, it creates goodwill and feelings of love and connection.

Alyssa Patmos 5:38
Yes. Now getting there

Geoff 5:42
Can be extremely difficult, especially if, if both parties have an unmet need, like a person in the other person’s calm and cool and collected like that can, that can be easier, but when, when it’s both parties having some unmet need or my unmet needs triggers something in you.

Alyssa Patmos 6:01
Yeah, like our hardest. Like, if I have a conflict, if I’m triggered by something, or I’m upset about something, and it doesn’t send him into his shit, then it’s much easier to get through because I can help them get in touch with my need. And then we can work through what that is. The hardest thing is when something that I’m going through triggers something in gym, and then all of a sudden, who, who dips out first? Because yeah, it is usually. Yes, ah, so. So but And so creating an environment in a relationship where if both of you get in your shit, then it becomes important for one person. And it doesn’t always have to be the same person. Hopefully, it’s not. It’s not always with us, you do it sometimes, but it is mostly. But if one person can recognize, okay, wait, like we have conflicting needs here. If one person can pop out of that, and sort of start to observe the situation, it can be easier to unwind the conflict. And this, this shows up a lot for us. Like do we have an example? Were you gonna share an example?

Geoff 7:20

Alyssa Patmos 7:20
Okay. What have we got?

There’s something with like criticism.

Geoff 7:31
Well, yeah, that’s a common theme. So if, if you have a need around, we can maybe think of a specific example, if you have a need. This is more general. But if you have a need,

Alyssa Patmos 7:43
We could talk about when we went out to dinner – with your mom.

Geoff 7:49
Oh, the table, the wind and –

Alyssa Patmos 7:51
Or just the food like when we got back. I got it. So okay, so we went out to dinner recently, with Geoff’s mom. And we, we recently went more Carnivore. So we’re not eating as many plants, we’re eating a crap ton of meat. And we went to a restaurant that back before we had made this decision, it was delicious. And we loved it. And we thought the menu was great. And so and we always like to share food, because it’s more fun, like the shared experience we enjoy. So we went to this restaurant and we waited forever to get a table, we’re sitting outside. So I was semi uncomfortable, because I don’t really like eating it wind and it was windy that night. So that was going on under the surface. And then when we looked at the menu, from the lens of how we eat now the menu wasn’t really as fitting, which was kind of a surprise. And so whatever, we ended up having a delicious meal, it was good. But when we get home, I made a comment around. I don’t remember exactly what I said. But I made a comment around. If we’re going to go out to eat, I think we should look at the menu beforehand. Like that wasn’t really super Carnivore-friendly for us anymore. And I was still kind of hungry because I didn’t want to order anything else. It was at an expensive restaurant. I didn’t want to pay more to get more food. I was like, I’ll eat something at home. No big deal. But, but then we had a little bit of conflict ensue because what happened for you, when I said that?

Geoff 9:28
I felt criticized. I felt like a messed up didn’t do something right. And you were complaining about that. And doing it in a way that just sort of lobbed it over there for me and didn’t come with a specific ask for like, in my mind. Like can we do this next time?

Alyssa Patmos 9:49
Yeah, so so what we’ve learned through this type of situation is is you from your past. If you feel like something is just being tossed over you feel this incorrect me wherever I’m wrong here, I’m speaking for you because we dealt with this for a year and it’s not now. So. So if I say something and and I’m just expressing like, Hey, here’s what I think you feel if you feel like it comes with this, like in this scenario, I feel like you felt like it came with this intense pressure where I needed you to fix something, or like you had done something wrong. Is that correct?

Geoff 10:32
Yes, it’s, it’s, it’s rooted in my fear and my shit around feeling like I can’t get things wrong. And if I do, and you’re upset, and I, and I don’t fix it, or have a plan for how I’m going to avoid that in the future, like, maybe there’s disaster on the horizon.

Alyssa Patmos 10:51
Yeah. And so it’s, it’s all of a sudden, he then gets kicked into feeling like, there’s disaster, then it’s no longer each of us over here looking at said problem. It’s like, all of a sudden, we’re against each other. Right? And then that’s where conflict can shift a lot of times, right.

Geoff 11:14
And I have some need there that I’m not expressing that well, so and then I’m feeling like you’re doing something to me, and I accuse you, I’m like, do you know I might get upset? Do you have an ask? Like, what are you throwing over like, and even feeling like, I have to defend myself against something I did wrong. Which is my fear and something I’m working on. But it comes up and and so then I might act in a way that starts a conflict, when it might not need to be one like you’re just sharing a feeling, sharing something that you experienced in something you want to see change. But I turned that into something else based on my, my past.

Alyssa Patmos 11:55
Yeah. So that he he felt pressure to fix it and felt like I was criticizing something. And that’s not where I was coming from it off. And so it ended up triggering his defense mechanisms around wanting to wanting to fix it wanting to defend yourself, if I’m remembering correctly. And then and then that got me around myself. I’m like, Wait, why are you pushing me away? Why isn’t it safe for me to express this right now? Like I’m, I, I thought everything was fine. And so then all of a sudden, I’m not feeling safe. And then and then we’re at the impasse in this place. Go ahead –

Geoff 12:36
I just want to add, there was more even leading up to that, as I remember that, like part of my reaction was experiencing you being upset at dinner, about sitting outside. And then like I could tell you were upset throughout dinner. And, and you were not very comfortable and relaxed and all that because we had to sit outside there was the only table we could get. And it was a little chilly. And it was and then they took forever.

Alyssa Patmos 13:04
Oh my god, they took forever.

Geoff 13:05
So it was like this combination of things, such that throughout dinner. I’m very attuned to you. And I’m also hyper vigilant in a way that’s not super healthy about, are you happy with me?

Alyssa Patmos 13:17
A coping mechanism is to be hyper vigilant about how our partner is feeling. And sometimes we choose that because we feel like it’s safer. If we can be super attuned to how they’re feeling, we can predict what’s going to happen. And we can adjust before any hurt or any harm ever goes down. And so we develop that as a coping mechanism. But it doesn’t mean that it always serves us,

Geoff 13:42
Right. And so through dinner like I’m noting, okay, she’s upset, what did I do wrong?

Alyssa Patmos 13:47
In those scenarios, when we’re triggered, we end up taking it personally, when really you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m just annoyed with the wind. But I’m not putting that on you. I’m not like, oh my god, I can’t believe you made me sit outside. But that’s how you’re feeling.

Geoff 14:01
So maybe we can talk about like, what my unmet need was that I was expressing poorly, like, I needed reassurance that I didn’t like screw up and you’re not upset at me and you’re not planning to like, leave me because I’m not meeting your needs and like, and you are just complaining or expressing dissatisfaction with the scenario, but it’s okay. And it’s not that I screwed up and didn’t do the right thing it didn’t mind read, which is what I bring into it like, Oh, I didn’t mind read properly. I didn’t foresee everything that go wrong and get it all just right. And then I start beating myself up and turning into this having this feeling come up that I can’t control at the moment that I’ve I’ve done something wrong and this is going to lead to things happening in the future that I want desperately want to avoid. And if I can express that and share that and make that mentionable and then ask for some reason. surance and get it and feel comfortable that like, okay, it’s cool. It’s like some things went wrong, and that’s okay. Right. And it’s cool. And and I don’t need to be freaking out in this panic way. Right?

Alyssa Patmos 15:13
Yeah. Because when we can ask for our unmet needs, then the information is out there. And we can each respond more compassionately to that. So in that scenario, when we got home. So in that scenario, if you could have asked that at the restaurant that would have eased your nervous system throughout the rest of dinner, which would have been great. And so I could have said something like, I mean, because you needed you’d have wanted reassurance that you hadn’t done anything wrong, right?

Geoff 15:48
Yes. And I wanted you to be in a better mood, but like, I don’t get to ask for that. But like, and not like, I think I was blaming myself, like, you’re just you’re not happy. And, you know,

Alyssa Patmos 16:03
Co I could have said something more calming, like, and we can workshop this, ’cause I’m making this up off the top of my head, but something like, you know, “I, I don’t I don’t need this to change right now. I appreciate you getting us a table. I’m, I want you to know, I’m super uncomfortable. But it’s okay. Like next time, I would prefer we don’t sit in the wind.”

Geoff 16:26
Yes. And, “I know you did your best. And I’m not blaming you.” Just because that, like, that’s the critic- where I take the criticism is, and you never said this, but like in my mind, it’s like, “You didn’t do good enough, you didn’t think enough ahead, you didn’t care enough for my needs. You’re not meeting my needs.”

Alyssa Patmos 16:44
I was thinking none of those things.

Geoff 16:47
But in my mind, but this is what happens.

Alyssa Patmos 16:49
We, we we go into relationships with all of this past stuff, that now our current partner has to sort through with us. And the root of conflict is usually not the direct thing that’s in front of us. This is a recurrent chattering, because this is where a lot of his pain comes from. And I have my own things too. So in that sense, if I had reassured you this, and then when we got home, and I made the comment about like, hey, let’s look at the menu, the next time to make sure it’s mine carnivore, it wouldn’t have felt like an additional oh my god, I did something wrong. But, but I had no idea that he was feeling like I was blaming him or like he had done something. And so that’s the moment where vulnerability comes in. Because if we just keep talking in circles around, what do you mean, I’m not saying I’m not saying you did anything wrong, it’s really easy to take that tone, where he’s like, I feel like you’re criticizing and I’m like, I’m not criticizing you.

Geoff 17:56
But you know, that’s the word I can take it. It’s just like, This isn’t fair. You’re criticizing me, and you’re telling me, You’re complaining. And I did my best. Like, I was trying to have a nice dinner, and I did my fucking best, like, Stop criticizing me.

Alyssa Patmos 18:11
And then if I and then if I’m like, I have no, I truly, then I was not feeling critical. I don’t think so. So I then am experiencing that and and go into the mode of, I’m not criticizing you. Or, you know, a thing that people could naturally do here is be like, calm down, you know, there’s nothing worse than telling someone how to feel when they’re upset, like no. And but these are the patterns we find ourselves. And we find ourselves when when we don’t try to focus on getting to the root and prioritize identifying the unmet need. We ended up circling with just this dilemma that’s in front of us when really that’s the surface. But what we’re arguing about and being influenced by is operating all under, under the surface.

Geoff 19:03
Yeah, the point that you made that I want to hit home, like the conflict is usually not about whatever is happening, what’s happening there. Like it’s almost never that. It’s it’s us feeling like we did at another time when we had a lot of pain. And it’s so it’s something that feels similar to that. But the conflict isn’t usually about what we think the conflict is about and that we’re trying to convince our partner, right, if they’re seeing wrong or they’re doing something wrong, it’s not about that and we can step back and take a deep breath. And listen, we can get to like, what’s really going on here for you.

Alyssa Patmos 19:44
Right? That gets in the way of that or comes up and interrupts that is fear. And it’s, you know, fear of being rejected. It’s fear of being abandoned. It’s fear of being seen. It’s fear of not being accepted, it’s fear of change. It’s fear of disrupting the applecart or fear of conflict, these core underlying human fears that come up from things when we were children, get in the way of us being able to be as compassionate as we would like to be in conversations. And so when fear takes over, like a fear of rejection, like if that if the train of thought that you were on like, Oh, she’s criticizing me, she’s not happy, her needs aren’t being met, which means she’s gonna leave fear of rejection, like truly for Ben, from fear of intimacy, right? Yes, I’m trying to say. So fear of abandonment. If that starts creeping in, then then everything you’re doing in the conversation is then about protecting yourself from that fear.

Geoff 20:55
Right? Which, which also explains like why it’s so such a big deal to me. Like, if we can get to the point where we say like, it’s, it’s this subconscious fear of abandonment, losing my primary attachment figure losing someone that I’m attached to. There’s almost nothing worse. And as adults, I think, we’re like, trapped, like, oh, it’s cool, it’s fine. And I can convince myself like, Oh, if we broke up, like, I’d be fine, I’ll find someone else like, if I can think that. But this is the primal fear of like a little kid, losing a parent. And that is catastrophic. That is literally like, there’s nothing worse and there’s nothing we won’t do to protect against that. So if that’s coming up for me, I’m going to fight tooth and nail I’m going to ask toxic, I’m going to demand things of you, I’m going to force major conflict, because it’s literally feels like Well, life and death, which, which it was when we were a kid, it’s not now. But it sort of explains like, why is this such a big deal, like get over it? Well, our body doesn’t recognize it’s not a big deal, it feels like it’s a big deal.

Alyssa Patmos 22:06
Right? And for, and it’s a very practical application of inner child work. And, you know, when I say that phrase, there are a lot of people who use it in a real context, or, you know, just associate it with therapy. But the reality is that we all have an inner child who was trying to continue to grow up. And when we were young, it was our parent’s job to help foster us growing up into productive adults. And now it’s our job, it’s our job to become the parent to ourselves and to and to work on healing, healing our own things, and their relationships, I think right gateway, like, they’re a fast track to doing that, because they showing you your shit, like you can not be in a relationship and avoid a you’re not gonna have as much conflict, it’s not gonna, I’m not living with someone, you’re not like, having competing needs, you can do it. Why? So it’s not gonna come up as much.

Geoff 23:09
It’s not a meaningful relationship, the conflict doesn’t happen. That’s why with acquaintances, or fun people, like we just don’t have conflict. It comes up with the important people in our lives, because that’s when it triggers something around our, our childhood fear. So a significant other or a family member?

Alyssa Patmos 23:26
Yeah. And I think that’s really important to recognize, because if we’re looking for a relationship, that’s conflict free, that’s not healthy, like that-

Geoff 23:35
That doesn’t exist. Or if you have that you don’t really have a meaningful, deep relationship,

Alyssa Patmos 23:41
What are you hiding from yourself would be the question. And that doesn’t mean that you have to be fighting. It’s not even fighting, like conflict, conflict with care, when you look at conflict with this definition of conflict is an unmet need poorly expressed, it becomes a vehicle to I think, more care and compassion in conflict, like I don’t I don’t identify with us fighting, like very rarely, because we’re navigating through conflict with compassion. The fighting is what happens when you forget, there’s an unmet need,

Geoff 24:16
Or you’re so focused on your own needs. You can’t you you can’t even get in touch with your partner’s need.

Alyssa Patmos 24:22
Right? So there are some there are some people who aren’t going to meet you halfway, and how conflict like this can go down. And you know, that might not be a situation that you want to stay in. But searching for a relationship that is completely conflict free is not the ideal. And in fact, I would argue that the best relationships are the ones where you learn that you can go through conflict, but you can come out on the other side more connected. Would you agree?

Geoff 24:55
I agree. 100% and like one of my phrases which I use all the time is like what if it’s a gift Yeah, and this is another way to reframe conflict. And when I’m not in it, I can feel it this way, which is like, the conflict is a gift, it is pointing me to something that I need to heal. And it’s presenting an opportunity to do some of that healing. And so like our conflict at the dinner, and where we finally got to, like, you were able to understand me better, we’re able to repair and, and come closer together. And that’s a benefit. But I I’m having a separate benefit just for me, which is I got in touch with like that inner child and this, this part of me that fears abandonment, and is scared of that. And I was able to get in touch and do some re parenting and have more awareness around it and release some of that fear. So that next time it doesn’t come up so strong. And I believe that’s the case. And like since then, I don’t know if we’ve had the similar conflict or themes, but I am healing that. And if we didn’t have that conflict, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do that healing and get better. So that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, I don’t want to be having that same reaction, even a year from now, like I want to be slowly healing that and conflict is an opportunity for us to face that and see what we need to work on. In and of ourselves. In that sense. It’s a gift.

Alyssa Patmos 26:23
Yeah, I agree. And I think the hardest part is, is if we end up having the same fight over and over and over again, that’s where people got really frustrated. I think that’s where relationships fall apart. Because there’s, there’s no growth, like, it’s because you’re operating at the surface, like it’s not going underneath and finding the root. And so it does keep pressing keeps coming up in the same way. And that’s when it’s exhausting,

Geoff 26:53
Unresolved conflict. Right. Right. And I know, earlier in my life, like, I was trying to avoid it. And then if you got it, like get it out of it as quick as you can and move on and like, okay, but it doesn’t resolve then. And then it just is is going to be occur. And these are the reoccurring patterns that we see with people that mean something to us, the same thing keeps coming up over and over. Something is pressing, for some healing, some completion, and we can ignore it, or we can face it and and I we do this and it’s, it’s a lot of fucking work like self weight, but we like when we have conflict, we don’t avoid it, we prioritize it, and we’ll just get in on and we and we spend as much time as we need to do that. And sometimes it’s in front of other people that we care about. And it but it’s like, we kind of do this, like, we this is one of our values is we’re gonna face it, and we’re gonna resolve it and we’re gonna repair it, we’re not gonna avoid it because we’re playing the long game.

Alyssa Patmos 27:52
Right? And so in that moment, we prioritize our relationship. And yeah, it might be uncomfortable for other people at times. Now, granted, we’re not, you know, they’re the people who like to scream at each other in front of other people. Like we’ve never we’re not doing that we

Geoff 28:09
Sometimes you scream,

Alyssa Patmos 28:11
Oh, that’s because when

Geoff 28:16
I say – I’m not I’m not judging.

Alyssa Patmos 28:18
This is like a civil discussion though, is that if I get scared, and I go, if I get scared, and I feel like I’m not being heard, I will raise my voice. It’s dramatic. I love you. So if I feel like, if I feel like I am not heard, then I resort to okay, like, I feel like my voice has raised and that’s that comes from many unhealthy arguments in the past with other people. Um, but then my, my nervous system, you know, we can either fight being flee, we can fight or we can freeze or we can find and so, and in my nervous system, then like, if I’m not feeling understood, but I know I’m committed to not running the other direction, then sometimes my tendency when I get stirred is okay, my voice goes up some. And he’s like, Cool as a cucumber all the time. And like, doesn’t ever raise his voice about anything. And I’m just animated in general, but we do have to learn about him. Yeah. And so just even recognizing that like for him to recognize that like, oh, wait, she’s not actually screaming at me, like, she’s not feeling heard right now, and so she’s raising the volume.

Geoff 29:43
That’s a learning that I’ve had recently and I’ve registered that coming out of conflict and coming out of us talking about that and, like really coming to understand like, okay, when you raise your voice like, don’t take it personally and recognize what is this what is this unmet need? Yeah, it’s an unmet need to feel validated and hurt. And so what I’ve said to myself, like, I gotta remember, if you’re raising a voice, I gotta, I gotta say, like, listen to me and repeat. And Watson, those multiple VP, like I say, at once, that’s like it, of course, you heard that, but you’re not necessarily hearing. So, like, reinforce, I hear you, here’s what you’re telling me.

Alyssa Patmos 30:23
It’s not enough to just say, I hear you like the feedback of going back and actually saying what I’ve said, so that I can hear and know that you understand is so important. Yes. And then, so these are the dynamics that unfold for every relationship, like, I wouldn’t believe you if you told me otherwise. And, but I don’t feel like people often talk about them, or, or air it out. And, and the next piece of it, for me, like, the next piece of conflict that I think is really, really important, is repair. So you know, conflict can lead to rupture, or it can lead to us repairing. And if we’re in a situation where conflict is happening routinely, and we’re not repairing, that’s going to feel like shit. And that might not be it’s probably not indicative of a relationship that is, is as good for you as it could be. It doesn’t mean you can’t work on it, but it means there’s a choice point there. And so this other piece of, of repair, and, and coming back together after a conflict is, so I can’t like overstate the importance of this. So we’re like, how do we do that? Hugs!

Geoff 31:51
Touching, hugs, validation, hearing it, like a genuine understanding. And like, a, like, I feel I know how you feel. And that must be hard. So like, really understanding of the person stating that investing time, like part of my repairs? Like we both know, we’re not running from it. And we’re willing to stay up late and hash it out. But in the end, yes. Like conflict can feel very much like this. And it No, like you versus me in the middle of it. But we, we value at the end, we want to get back to this point where we’re together, we’re on the same team. And even we were looking at, there’s that thing that happened like, ooh, and we’re viewing it in a collaborative way.

Alyssa Patmos 32:41
Yes. Yeah. And it’s something that we learn from and we usually have a plan for, like addressing it together, then or, or how we would do it differently than

Geoff 32:51
that. So that’s an important part for me. Yes. Like, this is part of my how my brain works like, what are we doing different? Because if we’re not, we’re gonna end up in the same place. So on so Okay, next time, I need to try to see this in myself and not do X. Yeah, like, I need to start like I need to, I need to be able to see that. You’re not criticizing, you’re just stating a need and not take it so personally. And maybe I need to ask you for reassurance and say, Hey, can I have reassurance that you’re not mad at me? Are you not criticizing me? Like, I hear that you’re just feeling this way? But did I do something really wrong and ask for that

Alyssa Patmos 33:27
Repair for you, you like need that summary piece of like, How can I trust that this isn’t gonna happen in the same way again? What What can I do differently? What do you commit to doing differently? That eases your nerves? And I feel like I what do I do? I feel like I end up asking for a hug a lot. I feel like I have to have you come close. Because if I feel like we’ve been a part and I’ve been like, pushed away during some sort of conflict, which happens sometimes

Geoff 34:02
With you doing the pushing. But, but no, you do that in the end.

Alyssa Patmos 34:08
So like, come back together and, and you know, at some ways, it feels very vulnerable to ask for a hug, like even in the middle of conflict sometimes if I so I have this thing, where it’s like a push pull where sometimes it’s like I I want him to be exposed. But I I’m not feeling safe in the moment and so I push away some like even if he’s trying to touch me, which can feel admittedly like total crap to him. He’s like, No, I’m trying to come close to you and I’m like semi pushing him away. And so then I have to like eat it afterwards like and the next moment and come back and be like, Wait, whoa, wait, like I actually wanting to close. And if you will, viewing that just as like, not understanding where I’m coming from. That would feel like total crap, and it’d probably be exhausting. Fortunately, we’ve been able to tap into and understand that that’s something that happens to me because I’m not feeling safe and I desperately want you close. But it doesn’t feel safe for me to have you there right now. So I like push for a second, but then I come back and ask for it. And like that’s, that’s just like, fortunately, you’ve accepted it. That’s a piece of where I’m at. At the moment. I’m working on it, too. But it’s, it’s where we’re at. And, and I think that’s such an important piece about conflict too, is we have to be compassionate for where our partner is in the moment. Because the the, the point where they’re going to change is not in the middle of a heavy conflict, like that’s not where you’re gonna see them suddenly change their behavior. No freakin way. Um, and so for me, asking, asking for hugs can feel really super vulnerable? Because in the middle of that, I’ve accidentally just pushed you away. But now I’m asking for a hug. And I kind of feel like I’m like, hmm. Yeah, so it can feel it can feel vulnerable in that moment. And at times, we don’t even want to have to ask for it. And I think that’s where we can get into trouble too. In general, as humans, Is there things that we no need? Or at least peripherally? We send I know, that we need, but it can feel so vulnerable to ask for it in the moment. And, or, or we can feel like why do I have to ask for this?

Geoff 36:26

Alyssa Patmos 36:27
And that can get us in trouble.

Geoff 36:30
Yes. And there’s something about taking ownership for our needs and our wants, and our own well being that we prioritize. I think we’ve both been with people in probably exhibiting these characteristics ourselves in which we, we unfairly put that on our partner next, say, it’s your job to take care of me and my feelings, it’s your job to mind read and know what I want. And I think one of the healthy things we do is we generally take ownership like, if I mean, something, I gotta stay, I can’t assume that you’re gonna not. And if I need a hug, I gotta, I gotta ask for and I can, I can’t just passively aggressively wait for it or say, expect you to know that, like, Maybe, and maybe sometimes I want you to know it. And that’s fair. And but if you don’t like, Okay, I gotta ask, I gotta I gotta be clear, because communication, what’s clear in our mind isn’t necessarily even on your mind.

Alyssa Patmos 37:28
Right? Exactly. So so for me asking for a hug becomes really important and repair, like, I need us to come together, like, right, recalibrate, and, and that helps re establish connection for me. And, but going back to owning your needs, like there are different ways of doing that too. Like I can, I can very directly say, I need a hug right now. Like, when you come give me a which, which I’m a fan of, because it really liked the piece in there, when we can own our need. I think that’s calming to other people, when we’re able to say, hey, I need this and then ask a question afterwards, they have a choice. And if they want to meet that need or not, and if they don’t, then it’s up to us to figure out how we’re going to get that need met or to negotiate. But other times, I find myself not saying that piece. And I’m just like, Wait, somebody. Yeah. And I think both of those helps in repair. And I do want to say like the going back to the piece around, sometimes that can feel vulnerable to ask for we feel like we shouldn’t have to ask for it. But that doesn’t get us anywhere, that doesn’t get us any closer. And so in the moment, it becomes important to own the need and ask for it. But then I do feel like it’s fair game. And you can see if you agree with this, but I do feel like it’s fair game. Then afterwards, if I were to come to you, if I noticed that I was always having to ask for a hug. I could come to you. And I could say like, Hey, I have more need for touch like after this. Are Can you try to remember to touch me? Where can you try to remember that I need that connection. And I think you can have a conversation about what’s needed outside of the conflict heavy piece,

Geoff 39:19
And that’s off – that’s the best time to do it. In conflict. It’s not it’s when when things are calmed, and we’re not and we’re feeling safe is when we can have those conversations. But to me that’s consistent. It’s that’s another form of you asking for what you need. And it’s not it’s not a very specific Can I have a hug right now? It’s saying can you be more mindful of this? Can you know that this is important to me and prioritize it and and basically, can you? You’re not asking me to mine right? Because you’re being specific, but you’re saying can you think about this here, build it in and then and when you’re asking for that then I get a choice. I like I get to take that in and say this is important to you? And I get to say, I’m not sure I can do that, for these reasons, or would this work instead? Or I could say flat out? No, we tend to tend not to do that. But yeah, but I am I am an individual I get, I get to choose that you’re giving me that choice. And when you give me that choice, and if I care about you untended, I’m going to tend to say, yeah, like, okay, that’s important. I’m going to try to do that. More, and I might have an S in return, I might say, Yes, I’m going to try to do that. And if I forget, will you not hold it against me? And we you, specifically, when asked me for a I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that I need to be able to not be perfect? And not mind read perfect. And this is all mindset,

Alyssa Patmos 40:45
These are the things that we’re working with, like, heavens, difficult to be human, and have all this my mind these mind games going on? Because the reality is, is that this is what ends up influencing the dynamics of your connection with someone else. And it sounds I mean, I’m not minimizing what you’re saying, like, objectively, it’s semi sounds silly, all the things that we’re talking about, like the nuances of what we navigate as humans, but it’s the most real thing on the planet, because his model of the world, and his version of reality is completely different than my model of the world and my version of reality. And no matter how long you have been with a partner, that doesn’t mean you know, the ins and outs of their soul. And so expecting them to be the same as you’ve always known them is, is damaging.

Geoff 41:45
Yeah. And back to what you said earlier on about, we can sometimes think that it’s we shouldn’t have this conflict, it shouldn’t be this hard. It should be easy. If it’s not, then something’s wrong. We’re not made for each other. And what I think we’re ended up, you know, is like, yeah, that’s just not true. This, there’s so much nuance and complexity, and I have all my issues, you’re having issues. We’re trying to communicate, there will be conflict. So this this myth of like this conflict for your relationship, it should just be smooth and easy sailing. That’s bullshit. Yeah, there will be conflict. What what I think we can say, though, like, it shouldn’t be repeated conflict, right? Like, it should be something new or something a little adjusted,

Alyssa Patmos 42:29
Something’s different about it, yes, feels we both have been in relationships where the conflict feels the same over and over and over and over again. And that’s not, that’s not healthy, it’s not going anywhere, it’s adding stress. It’s not, it’s not helping, there’s no repair, there’s no completion of that conflictual event. So then you just end up in this cycle. It’s very disconnecting, and crappy. Um, so

Geoff 43:00
I was just gonna, the thing that came to mind for me, like we were talking about some pretty deep conflict and like old wounds and stuff. But sometimes it’s, it’s the, it’s the lighter stuff, it’s like, leaving the toothpaste cap, or having a dirty sink or leaving clothes somewhere. And that can be just as damaging. Right? And that’s the kind of thing that can go on and on and on. But sometimes I tell you to pick up your clothes or what have to

Alyssa Patmos 43:29
There’s a signal of like, some deeper need to, because it’s like, why picking everything like what is bubbling under the surface that like, this is driving these doughnuts, especially like if if it’s something like, you know, I’ve heard couples where the toothpaste has not been an issue for four years, and then all of a sudden, the toothpaste is the issue. Right?

Geoff 43:53
Because the other one’s too hard to get

Alyssa Patmos 43:54
Right. The toothpaste is not the issue.

Geoff 43:56
Yes, yeah. But sometimes it is. Sometimes it is literally like, and then it’s really pretty easy once you figure it out. Like, if you already like, I haven’t been, I have a need for the toothpaste back. Are you willing to do that for me? And it’s really that ask and it’s not like, you’re this terrible person? Why do you keep doing that? Don’t you respect me? Don’t you care about hygiene? Like, none of that? It’s like, I have a need for this. Would you mind doing it? And then the other person gets say, okay, just say no, or they get to say no,

Alyssa Patmos 44:28
Some more negotiation, probably goes down, right?

Geoff 44:32
And the word negotiation like, I think a lot of people feel like that. Like, that’s not – it’s a dirty word for partners, like, like, it’s not, that’s a business term or something like that. But no, like, we have to negotiate all the time.

Alyssa Patmos 44:47
Because we’re two people have individual needs, who needs to get them met! And so I don’t negotiate. And that is good thing. Sometimes. You know, sometimes it’s really easy for me to to bend some things cuz it’s not that important to me, versus if it’s really important to him like, okay, cool, no big deal. And then if it’s if it’s really important to both of us, that’s where we have to negotiate Otherwise, otherwise, we just end up at an impasse, I guess, I don’t know.

Geoff 45:17
Yeah, well, and there might be something. And if it’s really important to both people, and you can agree, and you can negotiate, those are sometimes they’re deal breakers and people say, like, this isn’t gonna work. And those, those are possibilities –

Alyssa Patmos 45:30
To have those. So I think that’s the other thing about conflict that can like really muddy up the situation, which is sometimes in this drives me freaking nuts. Sometimes one of the people isn’t actually in touch with what their heat is. And you like you grew up, or it was easy for you to get in touch with your needs. So I’m really good at that. I know it’s a good time, like,

Geoff 46:02
And I and I can advocate for it. Like, I know what they are. And I can advocate for it’s just like, easy? Yes. Yes,

Alyssa Patmos 46:09
There’s, there’s extreme version of that. And then for me, I historically haven’t always known what I needed. And so that can be really damaging. Because in that moment, the coping strategy can be not to bring up anything that’s going on, because you don’t really have a specific need. And like, you kind of know you’re upset and normally know why. And then you kind of are lying to yourself, but you know, you’re acting off, but you’re not really admitting what’s going on. So it’s like, I can get us into this hairy spot as humans when we don’t know what we need. And so I think a big piece of a big piece of conflict management in relationship is allowing yourself to get in touch with your needs and knowing that it’s okay to have. And I think sometimes even that switch starts to lessen conflict, because you’re, you’re communicating more powerfully before conflict even happens, like I say, the words I need, or I want so much more now than I did a year ago. And so we don’t have the debacle over you getting frustrated and asking you like big you haven’t moved. In fact, I say that to you a lot now, too. And so there’s one of the really powerful things about getting in touch with that is we can start to change relationship dynamics without ever even having to engage in the conversation. And that’s the power of being radically honest with ourselves.

Geoff 47:52
But back to where we started, like the definition of conflict and need an unmet need poorly expressed. We didn’t say this, because maybe it’s obvious, but maybe it’s not like, so if we’re going to resolve the conflict, we have to make this unmet need. mentionable we have to we have to get in touch with it, for ourselves and for the other person. And we have to own that need and talk about it. If we’re not in touch with that we can’t get in touch with that if we’re not sure what the need is like the conflict still there, we know we have a need that isn’t being met. And then we’re acting out in some way. And there’s conflict. But so So by definition, if we believe that definition, which we do for conflict, the way to resolve it is to get that need met. And you can’t get an amen, if you don’t know what it is. So getting in touch with your needs, being able to understand what they are on them and articulate them is required for conflict resolution.

Alyssa Patmos 48:51
Yeah, and the benefit of that is more intimacy. But in a way that feels safe. Because I think a lot of people that you know, they flee from intimacy, because it hasn’t felt safe to engage in conflict. But when you can start making it safe to have conflict, it also becomes safer to have that deeper level of connection and that deeper level of intimacy that we so often crave, but don’t always quite know how to access.

Geoff 49:23
Yeah, and it can get easier – you use the term “gather new evidence”. And again, you do like, the more conflict we have. And the more that it ends up being safe and resolved. And I and I do care about my needs. You do hear me, I can have that need met, the safer it is to have conflict in the future versus the model where we have some conflict, it’s not safe. We don’t get a resolve. That’s what’s gonna lead to more conflict avoidance because it’s like, oh, that was awful. I don’t want to do that again.

Alyssa Patmos 49:54
Right. Right.

Geoff 49:56
So the more we do it, the more we have success with it. The more we get a chance to be vulnerable and have the turnout Well, instead of, you know, not well, the more we feel safe to engage in it in the future.

Alyssa Patmos 50:12
Yes, I think there’s, there’s one more thing that I think we got. That comes up for us. Yeah. And I think it’s important with this and with gathering your evidence, because yeah, last thing I want to mention on this, is that conflict does not come up at convenient times. Most often, it’s a meeting. And so Geoff, and I have this thing, where it’s a running theme, where his shit comes up in the morning, and my crap comes up at night. And in the morning, like, we both get to work early, like his job requires him to get up and like be on a computer almost instantly. And so that can sometimes be inconvenient. And then at night, like, we love sleep, we prioritize sleep over many, many things. And so when my stuff comes up at night, for me, I can feel it can feel really safe for some of my things that I’m processing to come up like, in the dark when I’m in bed, because bed feels safe to me, it always has under the covers, and he wants to fall asleep. And so then he can’t be there for me in the way that I need him. And similarly, if we’re both distracted in the morning, and something has come up, then maybe we can be there for each other in, in the best of ways. And so there are two lessons here, I think, I think the first is like recognizing when your partner’s stuff has a tendency to come up and, and having compassion for that, to recognizing what your need is in that moment. And, and, and being able to share it so that some sort of negotiation can take place. Like sometimes at night, you say, hey, Alyssa, like, I hear that this is really important to you, I want to be there for you. I’m having a really hard time being here for you right now. Because I’m really freaking tired. And then I can hear that. And I can say, I can assess in myself, like how important is it? Is this right now? Can it wait? In which case it feels good to me to be like, Okay, but what when can we talk about this file? Like when can you commit to talk to me about it, then our, or if it truly is something that it’s like, no, I got to deal with this right now. Then I can say like, can you please stay up? This is really important. And then it’s like, what can we do? Like, can we turn on lights? Can we can we switch positions, can we get out of bed, but like this is this is really important to me so

Geoff 52:48
Many like, like the bigger conflict or need, yes. But now I have a need to go to sleep, you have to get this resolved. Can we agree? Can we negoti- can we negotiate? Sometimes we negotiate like, can you stay up an extra half hour or, you know, and then I can like, say at some point like, my mind is so cloudy right now like I’m so tired. I can’t be here for you in the way. And I want to –

Alyssa Patmos 53:10
Which is really frustrating sometimes.

Geoff 53:12
Yes, yes. Because you have a need to resolve it. I can like take a break and sleep on it and get to it tomorrow.

Alyssa Patmos 53:18
Even if yeah, you’re talking about like, if we have if we have a conflict and you want to finish it tomorrow. Yeah, but that doesn’t usually work.

Geoff 53:24
Yeah. We just know we have a disconnect, like we don’t like we’re talking about all this stuff we do for conflicts and how we think we do it well and all that. But there’s, we have some intractable stuff that’s like, hard, like and that’s one like, I’m ready to go to sleep, and you just need to get in this and talk for hours and I am

Alyssa Patmos 53:43
Hours is a little dramatic, babe.

Geoff 53:47
Sometimes. Or I want space and I need like I for me, space is good, like we’re having conflict, let’s take a little space, take a deep breath-

Alyssa Patmos 53:56
That’s not always possible. That is what feels inherently so unsafe to me.

Geoff 54:01
Right. No, that scares you where it brings me peace, right?

Alyssa Patmos 54:04
And so navigating those dynamics, I feel like we could do a whole other thing. But navigating those dynamics is is I think, I think there’s no, there’s never a perfect answer for that. It’s but what I do know and I think what we know for sure is that it goes much more smoothly if you can at least air it if you can at least get to the point where you recognize that that’s happening. Okay. I don’t feel safe going to sleep right now you need space. Where’s the program what we do, and then we can come together and solve that I was talking more about, like if I just have something that like is going on for me that I need to talk about, oh, right, which is simple. I mean, we navigate it in a similar way. And so in that regard, I conflict isn’t always going to be convenient when it comes to And I think accepting, accepting some of the different ways that that our partners have learned to engage in conflict or have or the needs that they have around how it gets resolved. I think having a conversation about that outside of conflictual times can be really helpful. And addressing conflict, do you agree?

Geoff 55:30
Yeah, yeah. When when things are calm, how do we want to handle it? What’s our Mo? What’s our process, because when you’re in the middle of it, it’s really friggin hard. And if you have something you’ve agreed to when you’re both calm, and in a good state of mind, then like, okay, when this happens, here’s what we’re gonna do. And, and, and remembering like the keeper, like, we have in conflict, what’s the unmet need? Yep, like, that’s, if you can just start with that.

Alyssa Patmos 56:00
So I think that’s a really great place for people start individually to like, even if you’re not in a relationship, like starting to get more in touch with the needs and what grab it on your needs, or what were unmet needs in the past, because I think that can allow a lot of forgiveness and compassion for previous relationships too.

Geoff 56:21
And you can sort of practice and go back and think of prior conflicts like, what was the unmet need that what was mine? What was that other person’s? Yeah, yeah.

Alyssa Patmos 56:29
And it’s tough. And I would just want to add, like you touched on it, and we and we joke about it like, this is by no means do we sort through our conflict perfectly, ever, because communication is messy. And that is the thing that I will continue to sing until pigs fly is, it’s messy. It’s not easy, because we’re trying to translate what’s in one person’s head to the other person. And yet they have this whole other different world that’s going on in their head that they’re trying to translate back to us. And so this middle ground is like this boy, that requires skills that were not often taught. And so it can be messy. And we have to allow ourselves to have it be messy. And so yeah, we have very messy times at times. That when we have to engage in conflict, but when you have the underlying value of conflict as an unmet need poorly met, I think it helps get you back to a place where it becomes easier and easier to repair.

Geoff 57:39
And where else can people learn how to communicate?

Alyssa Patmos 57:43
So if you want to learn how to communicate better come hang out with me, we have a community, for podcast listeners, it is called The Convey Collective. And I would love to have you come hang out in there. I share more tips and trainings all about how to communicate better. And whether you’re single or in a relationship. We don’t just cover relationship dynamics. I go across the board with how to make sense of our world through language, and how you get more healing vibes from that. So come hang out, it’s That’s I will see you there. Thank you.

Geoff 58:22
Thank you.

Alyssa Patmos 58:23
And thank you for listening in. I’ll catch you next time.

You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

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