There is No Away: Where Do People Go When They Avoid an Interpersonal Conflict?

  • Dale Hample (University of Maryland)
  • Jessica Marie Hample (State University of New York at Oswego)


When people avoid conflict, there is no “away.” Where do they go physically or mentally? Both engaging and avoiding have a push and a pull. If we knew where avoiders go, we could study the pull of avoidance. This is a descriptive study (N = 446) of interpersonal conflict. We found that physical and mental avoidance appeared with similar frequency, and that they could occur in combination. People often recognized their need for avoidance early, based on the topic being familiar or various signals of trouble. Avoidance during the conflict could be physical or mental, but notably involved false agreement or topic manipulation. The possibility of violence (physical, verbal, or emotional) was often relevant. Relationship worries frequently motivated the avoidance. After the avoidance rumination was common, often centering on what we called “festering anger.”

Keywords: relational communication, rumination, interpersonal conflict, avoidance

How to Cite:

Hample, D. & Hample, J., (2019) “There is No Away: Where Do People Go When They Avoid an Interpersonal Conflict?”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 13(4), 304-325. doi:

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Published on
12 Nov 2019
Peer Reviewed