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Arguments in relationships are practically unavoidable, but there are rules you should following when you’re fighting with your girlfriend. She might be nagging you because you left your wet towel on the bathroom floor for the hundredth time, but blowing up at her is not going to resolve the argument. In fact, it’s probably going to make things worse, damning you to the terrible dimension known as the “No Sex Zone.” No guy wants to be there, so you need to understand the differences in the way men and women deal with disagreements and learn the four rules you should follow when fighting with your girlfriend.

What you say is NOT what she hears. It can be frustrating when your girlfriend accuses of you saying something you didn’t say. (This will happen. Believe it.) It’s important to make your feelings very clear to her, so that she doesn’t twist what you actually said into something else entirely. If she starts an argument because you left the sink full of dirty dishes, and you respond with, “I’ll do them when I get around to it. Why do you always bother me about the dishes?”, she’s going to key in on the word “always.” It won’t be long before she comes out with, “Well, apparently you think I’m always bothering you!” Make sure you tell her that it’s not that she is always bothering you; it’s that she always bothers you about that one specific thing. You can’t make her feel like she’s a constant nuisance, because then you’re going to have a whole different kind of fight.

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Think before you speak. Sometimes, we men can let anger rule what we say and do. It’s exciting when that happens in the middle of a game of baseball or something, but it’s not cool when it happens in the middle of an argument. Getting too angry and resorting to name-calling and stuff like that isn’t going to do you any favors. “Oh yeah, well, you’re ugly!” may have worked in the fifth grade, but in an adult relationship, it’s going to lead to big trouble. Take a breath and remember the rules you should follow when fighting with your girlfriend, and think before you open your trap.

Leave the past behind you. When your girlfriend starts picking on your bad behavior, it can be tempting for you to bring up stuff that she did in the past in order to bolster your argument. Don’t do it. You wouldn’t like it if every bad thing you did back in the day kept getting thrown in your face, so unless your girlfriend did something ridiculous like killing your dog, you should leave all the past bad stuff out of the argument and stick with the present facts. You want to improve your relationship, not turn the argument into a game of, “What about the time you did (insert bad thing here)?”

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Try not to yell. Even if you have good reasons to be really mad, yelling at the top of your lungs is not going to help you present your case. The guy who yells the loudest does not always win the argument, unless maybe it’s an argument about who can yell the loudest. Be cool, man, even if she starts shrieking like a banshee at you. In the end, she’ll only look more foolish, and even if you were in the wrong, she’ll at least have to apologize for acting so crazy.

Keep in mind that most arguments are pretty much a waste of everyone’s time and that winning an argument gets you precisely nothing. There’s no fabulous cash and prizes, so you might be better served saying a quick “I’m sorry” and moving on with your life. You’ll have less stress, and you’ll probably live longer. At any rate, you’ll definitely stay out of the “No Sex Zone.”