You can learn how to fight fair and still be in a healthy relationship.
By Rebecca Jane Stokes — Last updated on Jul 25, 2023
Photo: Vladimir Arndt/ Shutterstock
I am bad at fighting with my boyfriend.
Thankfully, I know I am bad at fighting with him, and I’m working on it.
Like many people, I still let it build until it overflows. I can also be immature and petty.
Luckily, I have a boyfriend who is patient and kind (though no saint himself). He doesn’t “put up” with me as much as he gives me the space I need (emotionally and otherwise) to make mistakes when it comes to how we communicate.
While our relationship is good, we have butted heads. That’s normal and healthy to do.
But there’s a right way to have a fight with your dude, and there’s a wrong way.
The right way brings you closer together, and the wrong way of fighting it just pushes him further and further away.
Men and women think differently when they’re having an argument, and it’s got nothing to do with gender. Think about it, when you fight with someone else it’s all about a difference in perspective. It goes to follow that they’re thinking one way and you’re thinking another.
You might feel like you’re pouring your heart out, but all he is hearing is someone intent on driving him away.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You can fight, fight, fight, and end up closer than ever, rather than sending him packing down to the bar where he gets the luxury of telling everyone how “crazy” you are.
If you want to fight the way couples in successful long-term relationships fight, there are 5 things you should never, ever do. These are common ways women push men away, usually without even realizing it.
Here are 5 things you should never do when having a relationship fight:
1. Assign blame
When you and your partner are fighting about something, it’s usually because you disagree.
Either that or like, you need a nap and he hasn’t had a midday snack. Ultimately, we’re all just toddlers.
It’s normal and healthy to have disagreements! You are different people! That’s why you love grabbing his penis and doing the make-outs, etc.
What’s NOT healthy is aggressively pointing out your boyfriend’s shortcomings to him without taking any responsibility for your own actions.
Let’s use an old standby as an example: He has never once put the toilet seat down at your apartment.
Wrong: “What the heck man, just put down the seat, you ALWAYS do this!”
Right: “Hey, when we’re at my apartment, could you please remember to put the toilet seat down? If there’s anything I’m doing like that at your place, let me know.”
The wrong way makes your dude feel small, the right way makes him feel like an adult and invites a conversation! Just like, be fully prepared for him to ask you to stop leaving hair in the drain.
Because dudes are wimps.
2. Flee the scene
I am guilty of this one.
When you’re having a fight with your partner, please resist the urge to dramatically flee the scene.
I am known door-slamming dramatic-stormer and it never makes anything better.
If you have the impulse during a fight to get away from your partner, that’s fine!
But don’t just leave. Say, “I’m finding it hard to communicate effectively right now, so I’m going for a walk around the block.”
I know it’s hard, especially when what you really want to say is, “Eff off and die.”
If you need to leave, leave, but don’t use leaving as a tactic to gain the upper hand. Even if you aren’t doing this intentionally, that’s how it can read, and your relationship deserves better than cheap immature mind games.
3. Cue the waterworks
I understand that we can’t always help when we cry.
When I get mad or frustrated, I cry. In fact, those are more often the reasons I cry than any sort of sadness.
When you cry during a fight, it’s time to call a time-out until you get yourself back together.
Crying can make some men back down immediately. It can also make some men (primarily jerks) feel played.
Regardless, while the catharsis of crying feels great, it’s a distraction from the argument at hand and it can make some men feel like pulling away.
4. Harbor hurts
There is a critical step in fighting that is sometimes overlooked.
I’m talking about true forgiveness. If you ever want to truly get over a fight and move on to be happier and more in love than ever you have GOT to let go in addition to forgetting.
You’re mad at him for interrupting you constantly? Fine, be mad at him for that.
But don’t suddenly say, “And remember when you looked at my best friend’s ass?”
That shit makes a dude (or, you know, any human) feel on edge, nervous, and insecure.
Do you want to push him away? Throw his past transgressions in his face.
Do you want shit to work out? Truly forgive and move on.
5. Shut down
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable and unhappy during a fight. It’s an uncomfortable and unhappy thing to be in conflict with someone you love.
It is NOT okay to simply shut down in the hopes of making it end sooner.
Don’t agree just to agree. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t mumble. Don’t tell him he’s right just because your bones are crawling out of your skin.
If you feel your walls coming up, tell him that.
It’s totally okay to say, “I’m not done with this, I’m still upset, but I need to take a break or I’m just going to shut down.”
Above all, remember that even when you’re fighting, you guys are still a team.
It might feel subconsciously satisfying to push him away during a fight, but if what you want is a strong relationship, you’re going to have to try something different.
More for You:
Zodiac Signs That Are Terrible At Relationships (And Why)20 Little Things Women Do That Guys *Secretly* LoveThe Perfect Age To Get Married, According To Science5 Little Ways Men Wish They Could Be Loved — Every Single Day
Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.