No matter how perfectly aligned you are, you are nonetheless guaranteed to argue. Now, an argument doesn’t necessarily mean that you are throwing shit at each other, or that it involves a big fuck-up (cheating and the like).
Rather, this is about one of you doing something that upset the other—you stared at a girl’s butt, you said something that upset her, she talked to an old high school friend who once said, “I want to pork her while wearing a top hat,” you bought something stupid when you were hurting for money, she broke something of yours and she didn’t tell you. You know, the day-to-day stuff that happens in relationships.
Because even in the best possible situation, in which you’ve already fallen in love and gotten all your shit out in the open, you’re still going to go to war with each other at some point. So let’s start with the basics.
It’s not your buddy Scrote’s relationship. Don’t text him how pissed you are at your girlfriend because she called you her ex’s name in bed. That’s for you two to sort out.
Do not text.
You may not live together and thus it seems “fair” to do it over text. But guess what? You could copy and paste or use a hilarious GIF mid-conversation. You could have something horrible misconstrued. You could have an accidental autocorrect that may be innocent and not what you meant—and even if she gets it, she will still have that emotional burn from reading “I fucked under her” instead of “I fucked up here,” because she might have for a second thought you boned another lady. When you’re arguing about you being late to something. Not boning another lady. If you did that, buddy, you’re done here, walk away, bye bye.
Talk to her before anyone’s friends or family.
Your relationship is your relationship. It’s not your buddy Scrote’s relationship. Don’t text him how pissed you are at your girlfriend because she called you her ex’s name in bed. That’s for you two to sort out. Also, when it’s done, it’s done. Don’t go unloading to your friend about it. This is also so much worse when you start talking to either of your families. It makes evermore personal, brutal and nasty. And if you have a female friend, she is the worst person to inform of your arguments. Even if it’s truly platonic, that’s poison for your relationship.
Do not have the talk in public.
Don’t do it in the general public and don’t do it in front of her family. Ever. Nobody wins, you will embarrass yourselves, and this will exacerbate even the stupidest, smallest problem in the world into something catastrophic. The best venue I find is your mutual living space, or if you live separately, try and find a good location within one of your places that can be mutual territory, not the bedroom. Go in the living room, sit apart from each other on the couch, maybe the kitchen.
Don’t stare out the window, don’t twist your wedding ring, don’t play with your watch, don’t play with your nails—don’t play with anything. You want your full attention focused on this. It’ll end it quicker and make you both happier.
Put all your shit away and keep eye contact.
Take your phone, pens, laptop and anything you may fiddle with or get distracted by and put them in another room unless there is a very compelling reason to have them on hand. (No, “Seamless is delivering food” is not a good answer here. In fact don’t order food during an argument; that’s distracting!) Turn off the TV. Put the dog in the other room unless you absolutely have to have it in there. Also, maintain eye contact as best as you can. No, don’t have a staring contest, you can look away, or down at the table, but keep looking at her. Don’t stare out the window, don’t twist your wedding ring, don’t play with your watch, don’t play with your nails—don’t play with anything. You want your full attention focused on this. It’ll end it quicker and make you both happier.
Think before you speak.
Like Pandora’s Box, the moment you open your mouth and the disaster idiot words come out, they are out there. She’s heard them. Even if you “didn’t mean to say it like that,” you just did. It’s gonna happen no matter how much you try, but if you try to keep aware of the things you might say in the heat of moment, you will avoid potentially stupid things such as:
–Anything to do with love. Don’t say, “I don’t love you” if you don’t mean it. Don’t use it as a weapon, man. It’s brutal. “If you loved me you wouldn’t” or, “You don’t love me” are manipulative garbage and have no place in an adult argument.
–Family. Don’t bring up family. Do not bring up her mother, father, sister and so on unless they are literally the thing you are arguing about and goodness, tread carefully because they’ve been with her longer than you, and even if they don’t have a good relationship, they are one that she’s stuck with. You’re not. Side Note: Never ever say, “You’re just like your mother.” That is like shitting yourself during a presidential debate.
–Cursing. Now, I swear constantly, but I’m British, and it’s more bridging when I do it. (I felt like fucking shit—That’s okay! That’s an adjective.) But even then, it’s bad. It is a suggestion of anger. It is aggressive. It’s scary to a lot of people. It’ll also hype you up. You’re not fighting here sparky, calm down. In the same vein, don’t go name-calling either. It’s abusive and she will never forget it. She will care about exactly nothing you have to say if you call her a bitch, and if you use the C word, well, you’re pure scum. If it somehow slips out, you need to go to therapy.
–Shouting. Shouting is no longer communication. It’s violence. It’s abuse. It’s mostly not warranted anywhere. Even if she cheated on you, shouting at her isn’t going to make that not have happened. It’ll actually somehow make you both the bad guy. If she’s yelling at you, it’s 100 percent okay to say, “Hey, please, don’t shout at me.” If she won’t stop yelling, keep asking as calmly as possible with no condescending language or tone, and if she won’t stop, say, “We need to calm down for a bit and come back to this.” She may get even angrier at this, but you’re a human being and don’t deserve to be yelled at either. PS: Don’t say, “We need to take a break,” because that’ll sound like you’re breaking up. Even say, “Let’s take five minutes to breathe,” or something like that. Say that you care what she has to say and want to talk, not yell.
–Threatening. Dude, I know you’re probably not threatening girls in arguments, but if you’re a guy who has the tendency to say I’ll do THIS—even if THIS is “leave” or “call your mother” and not a physical thing, it’s not an argument; it’s an ultimatum. If you’re threatening her with physical violence, I hope you lose a hand in a really embarrassing way, so everyone can say, “Haha, look at the single guy who lost his hand from jacking off after he cut it and then got gangrene,” or somesuch business.
–Anything period-related. Oh my God, don’t bring up her period. Why would you say that? Yes, sometimes girls get moody on their periods. Don’t bring it up! It’s condescending, it’s unavoidable for her, so don’t assume you know how periods work or understand them on anything close to a woman’s level. And if you know she’s on her period, avoid arguing with her. I’d advise possibly being a little bit more willing to just let it go.
Never ever say, ‘You’re just like your mother.’ That is like shitting yourself during a presidential debate.
Make sure this is an argument about what you’re arguing about.
Are you having an argument that you broke her favorite plates? Or perhaps that you farted and she’s screaming at you? Are you furious at her because she got home at 9 pm instead of 8:30 pm? Then this sounds like an argument that’s about a larger issue. Perhaps the issue is timeliness. Perhaps the issue is that you’re generally gross and she really hates it. Perhaps it’s totally un-related and she’s bottling up a shit ton of feelings about your relationship in general. If this seems to be happening, basically defined by a disproportionately pissy argument happening, it’s worth saying, “Is this what’s really bothering you?” This may instigate a further fight.
If you already said you were okay with them, be done with it.
If you’ve known about things you don’t morally agree with, and have come to terms with them, then they’re not permissible in the argument. If she looked at another guy and flirted, don’t bring up how she’s slept with a lot of guys. If she gets too drunk and vomits on your couch, don’t talk about her drug problem. Worse still, if you’re in the wrong, don’t use things that make her look bad to “win the argument.” If you looked at another girl’s boobs, saying, “Well, you fucked fifty guys!” is just… irrelevant. If you’re somehow boyfriend and girlfriend and she’s made it clear that she doesn’t see you two being long-term, then when she says she doesn’t see you two being long-term, don’t get mad.
Then there’s the big one: kids. A lot of people walk into relationships without realizing that the kid thing never really changes. If she wanted kids when you got together, she’s likely still going to want them a few years down the line. Conversely, if she can’t have kids, or doesn’t want kids, you can’t get mad at her for being that way if it’s what you knew.
A relationship is neither a war nor a sports game. If you messed up on something, or if you both had your part in a situation, an apology is worth it.
Focus on facts, but don’t forget feelings.
Even if it’s a heated, angered conversation, you want to try your best to keep yourself grounded in the fact that you love this person, and there’s a surmountable dispute here. Remember that both of you have feelings and even if you’re in the wrong, you can still be hurt here. That doesn’t mean turn it into a thing about you when you mess up, but if she’s being hurtful, make it clear in a way that’s not destructive. For example, you can say, “Hey, look, I know I did X but please don’t say that, it hurts.” If she doesn’t care, then she’s either really pissed, and you need to reiterate it, or she doesn’t care and you may want to rethink your relationship.
Take responsibility and give a heartfelt apology if you mess up.
I have ADHD, an organizational learning disability and anxiety. If I forgot to do something, or lost something, I will at times say, “I’m really sorry. I’m really disorganized,” but try my best to not say, “It’s my dyspraxia” or, “It’s my ADHD.” I do it sometimes; I’m human. But the point is that it’s still my fault. Yes, I was anxious, but I owned up that I still did something wrong.
For example, “I was drunk” is not a good excuse. Conversely, if you say, “I’m so sorry, I got way too drunk and I acted stupidly. I shouldn’t have gotten that drunk and I shouldn’t have done the thing I did,” that takes responsibility. Good.
A lot of guys seem to have this weird macho thing they do where apologizing somehow makes them a “beta” and they are “losing.” A relationship is neither a war nor a sports game. If you messed up on something, or if you both had your part in a situation, an apology is worth it. It automatically disarms a conflict, though it won’t necessarily end the argument. It just means that you’re already in a position of solving the problem versus having an argument, which is really the goal here.
Though, it’s worth remembering that if you’re delivering a heartfelt apology, ending it with a “but” almost always takes the weight away from it. And you should also acknowledge that she may mess up too, and when she does, yes, she may owe you an apology, but it’s up to you if you care.
Still trying to figure out how two people this good-looking could ever fight…