If your girlfriend has blocked your number, you may feel that she slammed a door and locked it. While figuring out immediate steps to resume communication is important, so is unearthing the reason why your problems escalated to this point and figuring out how the two of you can disagree more effectively in the future. Because conflict management is a critical element of any healthy relationship, getting a grasp on it will help you let go of aggravations and stress while embracing a better future with your girl.

Cool Down and Compose

Before you rush to contact her via social media or drive over to her house, consider what it means that your girlfriend blocked your number. She may have become overwhelmed – with anger, sadness or frustration – to the extent that she no longer found conversation worthwhile. Although you may feel desperate to connect with her, whether to explain and apologize or simply to smooth out the problem, if she is not receptive, your efforts will get you nowhere. Sending a letter or email will allow you to express your feelings while giving you both time and space to cool down.

Pick out the Problems

When you and your girlfriend have made it through the worst and feel more level headed, it’s time to figure out what led to the torrent of strong emotions. Romantic partners must handle their disagreements by focusing on solutions rather than on attacking each other, notes Preston Ni, who designs courses based on interpersonal effectiveness, in the Psychology Today article “How Successful Couples Resolve Conflict.” Think back over your conversation just before she blocked your number. Did one of you start hurling personal insults? Were irrelevant problems from the past dredged up? Identifying personal roadblocks to smooth communication will help you figure out more effective ways of talking to each other.

Resolve to Resolve Differences

Keeping calm and nondefensive in the face of strong emotions stirred up by conflict predicts healthy communication. To avoid getting to the point of explosive anger or frustration, you and your girlfriend should pledge to be sensitive to one another’s needs, to move on after a disagreement without holding mistakes over each other and to compromise when possible. By committing to face even taxing issues head on, you can reduce the chances that one of you will storm out, or block the other’s number, when you next disagree.

Make a Habit of Healthy Communication

Often what ends up looking like a dire problem starts with a small, solvable issue. Regardless of the nature of your feelings, they should be communicated so that you don’t grow distressed and start picking fights, suggests the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Make a regular practice of talking about “deeper” issues, not just your classes and what’s going on with your mutual friends, in order to stop the worst conflicts before they start.