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  • Writer's pictureYvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS

Finding Common Ground: Conflict Resolution Strategies for Couples Dealing with RSD

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, but when one or both partners experience Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD), resolving disagreements can feel like navigating a minefield. Conflict is bound to happen in any relationship, but when RSD is in the mix, things can get even trickier. So, how do you navigate those stormy waters without capsizing the boat? Here's the lowdown on resolving conflicts when you or your partner deal with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD).

Understanding Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD):

Before diving into conflict resolution strategies, it's essential to grasp what RSD entails. RSD is characterized by an intense emotional response to perceived rejection or criticism, often leading to feelings of shame, inadequacy, and unworthiness. Individuals with RSD may be hypersensitive to cues of rejection, making conflict resolution particularly challenging in romantic relationships.

Imagine feeling like every disagreement is a personal attack. That's RSD for you. It's like having a super-sensitive radar for rejection, making even the smallest argument feel like a full-blown crisis. And trust me, it's not easy for either of you.

Conflict Resolution Strategies:

Alright, let's get down to business. When RSD is a factor in conflict, traditional approaches to conflict resolution may not suffice. Here are some strategies to help you work through conflicts when RSD is in play:

Practice Active Listening - Listen Up

Start by actively listening to your partner's perspective without judgment or interruption. Validate their feelings and demonstrate empathy, showing that you understand their experience even if you don't agree with their viewpoint.

When your partner's upset, really listen. Like, put your phone down, look them in the eye, and hear them out. Let them know you're there for them, no matter what.

Communicate with Sensitivity - Watch Your Words

Words have power, especially when emotions are running high. So, choose them wisely. Steer clear of harsh criticism or dismissive remarks that could make your partner feel even worse. Be mindful of your language and tone during conflict discussions. Instead, strive for open, respectful communication that prioritizes mutual understanding.

Take a Timeout

When things start to heat up and emotions are running high, it's okay to hit pause. Agree to take a breather and cool off before diving back into the discussion. Sometimes, a little space is all you need to see things more clearly and regain perspective.

Know Your Triggers

Figure out what sets you both off and set some boundaries. Knowing each other's triggers can help you avoid unnecessary conflicts and keep the peace.

Together, identify specific situations, words, or behaviors that trigger intense emotional reactions for each of you. These triggers could be related to past experiences, insecurities, or core beliefs influenced by RSD. By pinpointing these triggers, you can work together to avoid or mitigate them in future interactions.

Once you've identified triggers and boundaries, brainstorm strategies for supporting each other during difficult moments. This could involve developing coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing exercises or taking short breaks during conflicts to regroup and refocus. By proactively implementing these strategies, you can navigate conflicts more effectively and prevent them from escalating into larger issues.

Remember that identifying triggers and boundaries is an ongoing process. As your relationship evolves and new challenges arise, revisit these discussions periodically to reassess your needs and boundaries. Be open to revising your approach and adapting to changing circumstances, ensuring that your communication remains supportive and constructive over time.

Compromise - Find Middle Ground

Instead of digging in your heels, try to find a compromise. It's not about winning or losing; it's about finding a solution that works for both of you. Get creative and think outside the box.

Take Care of Yourself

Prioritize self-care and emotional regulation techniques to manage RSD symptoms during conflict resolution. Engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief, such as exercise, mindfulness, or hobbies that bring you joy.

Conflict resolution isn't always easy, especially when RSD is part of the equation. It requires patience, empathy, and effective communication. But by listening, choosing your words carefully, and finding common ground, you can work through disagreements with empathy and understanding. Remember, it's not about avoiding conflict—it's about resolving it in a way that strengthens your bond as a couple. This is an opportunity for growth and deeper connection.

Start the conversation with your partner today. Take the time to listen, understand, and respect each other's triggers and boundaries. By working together to create a supportive environment for conflict resolution, you can strengthen your relationship and navigate the challenges of RSD with empathy and understanding. Remember, communication is key—so don't hesitate to reach out and support each other through the highs and lows of your journey together.


April is Autism Awareness Month which serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of understanding, acceptance, and support for individuals on the autism spectrum. It's a time to amplify voices, raise awareness, and promote inclusivity in our communities. Each of us has a role to play in fostering a more inclusive society by educating ourselves, challenging misconceptions, and advocating for the rights and dignity of autistic individuals. Whether it's sharing resources, participating in events, or simply listening to and validating the experiences of those on the spectrum, we can all contribute to creating a world where neurodiversity is celebrated and embraced.


As an individual with Autism and ADHD, as well as a counselor and writer, I navigate the intricacies of neurodiversity firsthand, championing diverse perspectives. In counseling, I foster a safe, inclusive environment that celebrates neurodiversity. Through my writing, I aim to enhance understanding and appreciation for the complexity of human cognition. By advocating for the rights and strengths of neurodivergent individuals, I am dedicated to fostering a world that embraces diverse experiences.


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