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Empowerment Blog

Conflicted Connections:

Navigating Relational Ambivalence

Relationships are at the core of our lives, whether they are familial, friendships, romantic, or professional. They shape our experiences, influence our decisions, and contribute to our personal growth. However, not all relationships are straightforward or consistently positive. At times, we find ourselves in a state of relational ambivalence—where we experience conflicting emotions and uncertainties about our connections with others. This phenomenon, while common, can be both confusing and challenging to navigate. In this blog, we will explore the nature of relational ambivalence, its causes, and practical steps to address it, drawing wisdom from Biblical wisdom.

Understanding Relational Ambivalence

Relational ambivalence refers to the simultaneous experience of opposing emotions or attitudes towards someone. This could mean feeling both love and resentment, trust and suspicion, or attachment and detachment. It’s a state where positive and negative feelings coexist, creating a sense of conflict within oneself.

The Apostle Paul captures the complexity of human relationships in his letter to the Romans: “For I do not understand my own actions. I am baffled and bewildered by them. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]” (Romans 7:15, AMP). This inner conflict often mirrors our relational struggles, where we find ourselves doing what we do not want to do, driven by conflicting emotions.

Causes of Relational Ambivalence

  1. Unresolved Past Conflicts: Unresolved issues from the past can resurface, causing mixed feelings. For instance, lingering resentment from a past disagreement can coexist with feelings of love and care for the same person.

  2. Differing Expectations: When expectations are unmet, it can lead to disappointment and frustration, even in otherwise loving relationships. These conflicting expectations create a sense of ambivalence.

  3. Fear of Vulnerability: The fear of being hurt or rejected can lead to ambivalence. On one hand, there is a desire for closeness; on the other hand, there is a need to protect oneself from potential pain.

  4. Personal Growth and Change: As individuals grow and change, their relationships also evolve. This growth can sometimes lead to conflicting feelings as old dynamics are challenged and new ones emerge.

  5. Values Misalignment: Differences in core values and beliefs can create tension and uncertainty in relationships, leading to ambivalent feelings.

Addressing Relational Ambivalence

Addressing relational ambivalence requires intentional reflection and action. Here are some actionable steps to navigate and resolve these conflicted connections:

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings

The first step is to acknowledge your feelings honestly. It’s essential to recognize that it’s normal to have mixed emotions. The Psalms often reflect this human reality. David, in Psalm 139:23-24 (AMP), prays, “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” Acknowledging and understanding your feelings is the foundation for addressing ambivalence.

  • Reflect on the Relationship

Take time to reflect on the relationship. What are the positive and negative aspects? Are there unresolved issues or unmet expectations? Reflection can provide clarity on the underlying causes of ambivalence. Philippians 4:8 (AMP) advises us to focus on positive aspects: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, and worthy of respect… think continually on these things.”

  • Communicate Openly and Honestly

Open communication is crucial in resolving ambivalence. Share your feelings with the other person in a non-confrontational manner. Ephesians 4:15 (AMP) encourages us to “speak the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth],” which fosters understanding and reconciliation.

  • Set Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries can help manage conflicting emotions and protect your well-being. Proverbs 4:23 (AMP) reminds us, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Boundaries help create a safe space for relationships to flourish without overextending yourself.

  • Seek Resolution or Acceptance

Work towards resolving underlying issues, either through direct communication or mediation. If resolution isn’t possible, aim for acceptance of the relationship’s limitations. Romans 12:18 (AMP) advises, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

  • Prioritize Self-Care

Taking care of your mental, emotional, and spiritual health is vital. Engage in activities that replenish your energy and bring you joy. Jesus emphasized the importance of self-care in Mark 6:31 (AMP): “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while.”

  • Seek Guidance and Support

Sometimes, professional help from a counselor or spiritual guidance from a trusted mentor can provide new perspectives and coping strategies. Proverbs 15:22 (AMP) states, “Without consultation and wise advice, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they are established and succeed.”


Relational ambivalence is a natural part of human experience, reflecting the complexity of our emotions and interactions. By acknowledging our feelings, reflecting on our relationships, communicating openly, setting boundaries, seeking resolution, prioritizing self-care, and seeking guidance, we can navigate these conflicted connections with grace and wisdom. As we lean on God’s word and guidance, we can find the clarity and strength to foster healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Remember, “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, AMP). May we seek and embrace the wisdom needed to navigate the complexities of our relationships.

By embracing these steps and grounding ourselves in biblical wisdom, we can turn conflicted connections into opportunities for growth and deeper understanding. Let’s strive for relationships that reflect the love and grace we receive from our Creator.

𝒞𝑜𝒶𝒸𝒽 𝒟𝑒𝑒

  1. Reflect on a recent relationship where you experienced mixed feelings. What were the conflicting emotions, and what do you think triggered them?

  2. Think about a time when you struggled to communicate your feelings openly. How did that impact your relationship, and what might you do differently in the future?

  3. Identify a relationship in your life where setting boundaries could improve your well-being. What specific boundaries would you consider, and how might they help?


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