Arguing in a relationship is normal and healthy, as long as you’re doing it the right way. If it feels like the fights with your girlfriend are always escalating, and you’re never actually solving problems, you could be making some classic communication mistakes. During your next fight, here are six statements (and starts of statements) that’ll really piss her off. So you should probably avoid them…
1. “You always…” or “You never…” Generalizations are unfair and are only going to make things worse. According to licensed mental health counselor Stephanie Sarkis, “Rarely do people always or never do a behavior; saying those words automatically puts your partner on the defensive.”
2. “You need to chill out.” Has telling your girlfriend to calm down ever actually made her calm down? When you tell her to relax, all she’s hearing is, “Just chill out, because who cares!?! It’s no big deal!” Except she does care, and it is a big deal. Take a second to realize that whatever she’s freaking out about must be really important to her. So you should probably hear her out.
3. “Stop acting like my mom.” You might have blurted this out in the past when your girlfriend asked you to help with a household chore. If you didn’t already know, we’re sure you do now—that was a mistake.
4. “This is just like that other time…” When you bring up the past during an argument, it can start an attack and defense cycle on both sides, causing the fight to spiral out of control. Cognitive behavior therapist Anna Albright says, “If past misdemeanors keep being raised during an argument, they will be a road block to resolving the actual and current problems at hand.”
5. “Maybe we should just break up.” Making threats about breaking up as a tactic to put an end to an escalating fight is not cool. “In the heat of an argument, threatening to leave the relationship is manipulative and hurtful,” says marriage psychologist Nathan Cobb. “It creates anxiety about being abandoned and undermines your ability to resolve your issues.”
6. “That’s ridiculous.” A statement like this completely invalidates her feelings. Instead, try to see things from her perspective by truly listening. In turn, she’ll be more likely to try to understand your point of view, as well.