there are no jobs available. Age, gender, and lack of things, like
money, ability, and motivation, are common barriers causing
frustration. Adolescence has been called a time of storm and stress. In
the early teen years, we are considered too young to drive, drink, go
steady, work, stay out late, have sex, etc. As a young woman, it is not
considered appropriate by many others if you want to work as a
carpenter or truck driver, to be a senator or governor or president,
play on the boy's football team, or be as loud and dirty-talking and
heavy-drinking as males your age. The time when we would most like
to have a new, expensive sports car is when we are 16 and have no
money. Many of us would love to be a great singer but can't carry a
tune. There are endless frustrations to be handled.
(2) Approach-approach conflict --we have two or more good
choices but can't have them both. Examples: you have two good job
offers, two or three kinds of cars you'd like to buy, two interesting
majors to choose between, two possible dates and so on. This kind of
conflict is usually easily resolved; we just make a choice. A few people
become afraid they have made a mistake as soon as they decide.
Many may briefly think later: "Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the
saddest are these, 'it might have been'."
Making the choice among two or several good, exciting alternatives
may be done carefully and cautiously by an unusually conscientious
person; yet, the decision usually poses no big threat, unless one is
hoping for a guaranteed perfect outcome. Others might make the
same decisions casually or even impulsively. Of course, carrying out
our preferred choices among good alternatives may involve
considerable stress. When we go off to our favorite college, stress
goes with us. When we decide to marry the person we love most in the
world, we are anxious. When we try to excel in our favorite sport,
there is tension. Each of us may have our own optimal level of tension
as we achieve the goals we set for ourselves in life.
(3) Avoidance-avoidance conflict --we have two or more
alternatives but none of them seems desirable. It's a "no win"
situation, like approach-avoidance conflicts, except no choice looks
appealing. Examples: we have a choice of studying a hard, boring
chapter or doing poorly on an exam tomorrow. Suppose a woman
becomes pregnant but doesn't want to have the baby and doesn't
believe in abortion. We may be in an unhappy relationship but be
afraid to leave. Suppose a parent or a spouse constantly disapproves
of everything we do, but we can't or don't want to leave. These are
very uncomfortable situations to be in. Often we try to escape:
students drop courses, children run away from home, the young
woman puts off deciding what to do about the pregnancy until she has
to have the baby. Procrastinating or running away from the problem
may only make things worse. At other times, escape is a reasonable
choice, e.g. Erica Jong (1977) writes in How to Save Your Own Life
about a woman in an unhappy marriage who became so afraid of
failure that she couldn't get out of bed. Divorce saved her.