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Managing Interpersonal Relationship Conflicts

What is the difference between Solvable and Perpetual Problems?

Research has shown that 69% of relationship conflicts are about perpetual problems, meaning that there is little control over them.

All of us at some point in our lives have engaged in a conflict with our romantic partner, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a classmate, or even a co-worker. Moreover, while some of us may take the problem as something simple, for others it may be something quite complex and painful. It is important to know how to manage such conflicts and learn how to work together with the individual and yourself in order to find a solution. However, it is important to note that not all conflicts are solvable, but rather we must learn how to cope with them. We call such unsolvable problem, a perpetual problem.

Now, what is the difference between the two?

Solvable Problems:

A solvable problem is often situational and only about that topic. In most cases, the problem does not have a deeper meaning to neither of the individuals and can therefore, have a solution, be solved, and maintained. Solvable problems may include, but not limited to, housecleaning, discipling children sex, finding a balance between work, friends, and family and in-laws.

Perpetual Problems:

Perpetual problems are problems that are created due to a fundamental difference in either an individuals’ personality or life style needs. In some cases, the topic of such problems can be the exact topics that create a solvable problem. In this case however, the individuals in conflict continue to return to the problem over and over again. For example, a perpetual problem may be religion. You and your friend may always be coming back to a problem because she may want to celebrate something, but those are not your beliefs and therefore, that creates an issue in the friendship that you may be developing. Perpetual problems are often conflicts that cannot be solved, but rather it becomes a learning process as to how we manage them.

Important Note:

While some individuals may seek a problem as solvable, for other it may be perpetual. For example, an in-law may be seen both ways and can be taken as either or. If the problem with the in-law is that they are over too often, that can be solved and maintained by having the conversation of reducing the amount of times they come over. However, if the problem is their personality and the way they are treating you, that may be perceived as a perpetual problem because it’s a fundamental difference in personalities.

Now, what can I do for myself?

  • Learn how to understand yourself and your values
  • Seek a support group
  • Be an effective listener
  • Take some time for yourself

If you want to learn more on how to manage interpersonal relationships and conflict, the different techniques on how to cope with both solvable and perpetual problems, learn more about our upcoming support group and join at