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Faith Wood knows how to resolve conflict. Her years in front-line law enforcement taught her how to effectively de-escalate any situation to a successful conclusion. Faith will use her knowledge of conflict management to guide you through the often stressful experiences you may encounter in your personal or professional life. Her Conflict Coach column appears regularly.

Faith WoodThe Fifty Shades of Grey movies became a catalyst for some pretty interesting conversations on respect, fidelity and experimentation.

If your relationship is strong and boundaries are communicated well, experimentation can work.

However, I tend to work with the fallout when the anything-goes philosophy falls apart.

I believe the two strongest contributing factors to anyone’s behavioural choices come from these motivational drivers:

  • a desire to belong (to be loved);
  • a need for significance (power and position).

They’re not mutually exclusive – they work in tandem.

In a healthy, committed relationship, each partner needs to feel some level of importance to the other, as well as feeling love and belonging. Which is a higher priority is somewhat moot.

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Our brains adapt and are moulded by our experiences. That alters our expectations.

Imagine if your partner grew up in a family full of miserable relationships and/or had a long history of argumentative and conflictual relationships. The absence of conflict might cause them to believe that everything is all right on the home front. No chatter, no problems. They have no context for a partner experiencing loneliness or unhappiness that’s not discussed, so they don’t pick up the less obvious clues.

Contrast that with the partner who has had such toxic past relationships that they’re insanely possessive, jealous and insecure. Are your dating somebody who regularly looks through your phone without permission, demands to know where you are at all times, gets angry or sobs every time you go out with your friends or screams at you until blood vessels pop in their face when you go a single day without calling or texting? Would this cause you conflict? Would you consider infidelity? After all, this person is essentially acting as if you already cheated, so why not cheat? It can’t possibly get any worse, can it?

It’s not rocket science to say that the likelihood of infidelity in a relationship is directly proportional to how miserable the relationship feels to one or more of the individuals.

 “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity,” said Dale Carnegie.

A relationship is not an obligation; it’s a choice. And choices are involved in how partners conduct themselves within that relationship, regardless of what books and movies portray.

Bored people cause trouble at work and in your relationships. So if one or the other finds the intimate portions of the relationship to be a little too traditional, find a way to spice things up that remains both honourable and respectful to both parties.

Intimacy requires constant nurturing, and that happens with deep connection and attention to what’s acceptable and unacceptable behaviour between the partners.

When conflicts create added pressure, focus on opportunities that promote a sense of belonging and a sense of significance within your relationship. This can ease some of the strain and help keep you committed to what brought you two together in the first place.

Take a minute to tell your significant other that you love them and find a way to express it with genuine caring and sincerity – not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day!

Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. For interview requests, click here.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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