You’re going to fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or the person you’re hooking up with. Sometimes it’ll be bickering, maybe a full-blown screaming match another day, followed by a simple argument next month.
No matter how much you like someone or love someone, you’re going to fight. You aren’t going to agree with 100% of someone’s actions or opinions 100% of the time. The important thing is learning how to properly have an argument without it turning ugly.
Learn To Pick Your Battles
In the most obvious sense of the phrase, learn to choose your battles carefully. Not every argument you have needs to turn into a trial or the biggest fight you’ve ever had, and some things never need to turn into a fight at all. Know when to let something slide or when something is a large enough issue to bring up.
Don’t Let Your Issues Simmer
Holding onto grudges or stewing about an issue that annoyed you last month only hurts you. Your partner isn’t a mind-reader, they don’t know that the one off-hand comment they made last month is still bothering you. Talk about things that bother you when they bother you or soon after so your anger doesn’t grow or take a toll on your relationship or yourself.
Don’t Tell The Other Person About Their Feelings
You’re not a mind-reader, you don’t know why they’re upset, and that also means that you don’t know what they’re feeling all the time. Don’t explain their feelings to them in an argument or tell them why they’re behaving a certain way. If you give them the opportunity, they’ll explain it to you.
Focus On How You Feel, Not On Their Flaws
When approaching an issue or looking to address a topic, phrasing is really important. Instead of saying “you did this wrong” or “you shouldn’t have said that,” approach the issue by saying how it directly relates to you. “I didn’t like it when you did [X] because it made me feel [Y]” is a statement someone is much more likely to be receptive to.
Listen To Hear, Not To Respond
Most people are guilty of listening to respond rather than listening to hear. While someone is speaking, you’re already formulating your argument or what you want to say next without paying attention to what they’re still saying. Listen to what they’re saying, let them finish, and then think about how you want to respond.
Know Your Triggers
Knowing what subjects you’re sensitive about, what topics stress you out, or when you’re at your most irritable are all important things to know about yourself and your partner. Acknowledging these things can help you avoid starting a fight or continuing an argument at the wrong time.
It’s Okay To Call A Time-Out Or Hit The Pause Button
If your fights seem to go on forever or a particular argument has devolved into both of you going around in circles, it’s okay to hit pause. If the argument is no longer productive, it could be better to table it and come back to it when you’ve both had time to cool off or consider what the other person is feeling and saying.
Avoid Saying “Always” Or “Never”
A great way to immediately put your partner on the offensive is to make statements like “you never do [X, Y, & Z]” or “you always make me feel like this.” Those statements are exaggerated to get your point across, but it’s likely going to lead to your partner shutting down.
Focus On The Issue At Hand
If you’re looking to have a conversation with someone or you’re having an argument about a specific issue, stick to that problem. Don’t start breaking off into other topics or dumping every concern about them that you’ve ever had. Deal with one problem fully before moving on to others.
It Doesn’t Need To Be About Who Is Right And Who Is Wrong
There shouldn’t be winners or losers at the end of an argument. You’re two people in a relationship, a partnership, who are trying to learn about the other person’s feelings and address an issue. You both win when that issue is resolved properly and effectively.
You Can’t Just Walk Away
Hitting the pause button on an argument can be helpful, but only if it’s a mutual decision. Walking out an argument while the other person is still speaking or simply deciding the fight is over doesn’t help anything. You might need to take a break, but you have to communicate that to your partner, not just make the decision without consulting them.
It’s Not About Poking Holes In Their Argument
Focus on getting your point across rather than tearing theirs apart. You don’t need to spend your time nitpicking at what they said, or fact checking every deal. If there’s something important they’ve misinterpreted or recounted you can correct that (calmly), but work on being clear in your own statements.
Look At The Patterns Within Your Arguments
Take a moment to reflect on your big arguments and see if there’s any sort of pattern. Do you always start an argument after you’ve had one more glass of wine than usual with dinner, or is your boyfriend always grumpy after visiting his parents because it stresses him out? See if there are any clear patterns or connections.
Stop Throwing Unnecessary Jabs
Part of being able to fight fairly with your partner is maintaining a certain level of respect for them while arguing. There’s no need for you to make hurtful comments about your partner or call them names when it has nothing to do with what you’re talking about. It doesn’t help your case, and it won’t make them want to have a conversation with you.
Plan For Future Arguments
Rather than waiting for your first fight to happen or waiting until the next time one of you is looking to start an argument, have a conversation about handling arguments before they happen.
Keep Your Emotions On The Outskirts
Obviously, most fights are based around emotions, but that doesn’t mean you have to approach them emotionally. Look at the facts, look at what is concretely making you upset or irritated, then bring those things up.
Try Not To Downplay The Issue
You might not feel like it’s something worth discussing or something worth fighting about, but your partner does, so that means you have to respect that. Acknowledge their feelings, and show that you care that they’re upset. Chances are, you’ll be able to diffuse the situation much better than you saying “I don’t know why you’re angry about this” and walking away.
Develop A Better Poker Face
You might be the person who is incapable of hiding her expressions from the world, or you can’t help but make faces when your partner says something irritating. Here’s the thing, though: you can help it. Do your best to keep your expressions in check and not make faces or roll your eyes. That’s only going to fuel the fire.
Pick A Neutral Location
Whenever possible, try to have your argument in a neutral space. Don’t argue in someone’s office or workplace where they have to go every day, and don’t argue in the bedroom where you’re supposed to be able to relax. Choose a space like the kitchen or the living room instead.
Prepare To Be Flexible Or To Have To Compromise
Going into an argument with the mindset of “it’s my way or the highway” is how you leave a fight without solving anything. You have to be willing to be flexible, to see your partner’s side of the issue, and to compromise on some aspects of the solution. Your opinions and needs aren’t the only ones that matter.