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Whether your relationship is a year strong or you only have two months in the bag, a first fight can be upsetting, confusing or even heartbreaking. Fighting with someone you love is never easy, but the first time is uncharted territory, and it sets the tone for what both of you can expect moving forward when it comes to conflict in your relationship.
If one person is angry and the other lies down and takes it, both parties might feel inclined to expect that layout during the next disagreement. That’s why it’s important to navigate your fights with compassion and strength on every front.
This may be your first fight, but as long as you keep dating there will likely be a few more. And although it’s not fun, conflict is healthy in relationships. You can’t expect to never fight with your partner, but you can make the effort to approach disagreements in a healthy, mature way so that you can evolve in your relationship together.
One of the best tools in approaching a fight or disagreement with intention is to understand your usual tendencies when it comes to fighting with others. Do you know what your behavior is like from fights with siblings, friends or past partners? If you’ve never taken the time to examine it, now is as good a time as any.
Do you tend to yell or make outlandish statements? Do you ice people out and avoid tough conversations? Do you make yourself small and bow to the other person no matter the consequence? These are all important things to keep in mind as you go about your argument so you can avoid toxic behavior and solve problems productively.
There is a difference between waiting for your turn to speak and actually listening. When you actually listen to your partner and their side of the conversation, it not only allows you to fully formulate a clearer response, but it gives you a true opportunity to understand them better.
Listening is part of communicating, and when you try to show up and understand rather than waiting for your turn to talk, you might reach a middle ground much quicker.
Name calling, belittling and emotional abuse have no place in mature, healthy relationships. Even though you might be hurting, cruelty will only leave your partner feeling upset and leave you feeling guilty and regretful.
It also has to work both ways. Just like you can’t allow yourself to be cruel, you need to stand firm in not accepting cruelty from your partner. If they call you names, insult you or engage in other harming behaviors, know that you don’t have to engage with or tolerate them in that state. Explain to them that they need to respect you, and that you can’t have a mature conversation if they continue to treat you that way.
Boundaries are important in so many places in your relationship. Examining your boundaries in the context of arguments can be the difference between getting what you need and seeing your needs ignored and rejected.
It’s important to communicate when you need alone time, when you need support or when your partner is asking something you can’t give. Understanding your needs for self care will help you communicate better as you try to meet in the middle.
One of the more painful parts of boundary setting, especially during an initial fight, is acknowledging when enough is enough. If your partner is treating you poorly or showing behaviors that aren’t safe, healthy and acceptable, you need to take care of yourself by knowing when to walk away. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to work it out if it feels right to you, but if your partner severely oversteps their bounds or makes you feel unsafe, you’re well within your rights to call it off.
Fights aren’t fun or easy, but if you and your partner tackle them with intention, communication and care, they can be healthy and productive. No couple is perfect, just like no human is perfect. Disagreements are a part of life, and when you do them right, they might just make you stronger together.