Even if you’re made for each other, arguments are bound to happen. Take this advice on how to not lose your cool to breeze through the first fight.
Your new relationship is going perfectly. Your new partner seems considerate, patient, thoughtful, funny, cute and a whole long list of other must-haves—until life throws a wrench in the situation.
It’s your first fight.
When I look back on all my first fights in relationships, they’re not usually over things that were life altering. It’s usually things like they stayed over and didn’t realize that my morning routine means I shower at the same time every day or they slept too close to me or too far away or were simply in too much of my space.
I don’t mean to sound too petty—except the first fight is usually over something that doesn’t matter much. If it did, you probably wouldn’t continue dating them.
Which is where we’ll start.
Your first disagreement with a new partner begins (whatever the issue may be). The first fork in the road comes here: deciding whether or not it’s a problem worth fighting over. I mean that in two ways. Is the problem really an issue? and is the relationship something you want to continue?
Take a minute to think about why you’re arguing. Is it the surface issue you think it is? Are you making a problem out of something that isn’t actually a problem? Are you doing it for a reason? Obviously, you can only analyze your part of the equation, but it’s important to take a minute and think about why there’s an issue, whether it’s something you can deal with and if it’s going to show back up later on in the relationship.
If you’re not making excuses to start a fight out of insecurity or uncertainty, and you think the problem is one worth looking into, move along to the next step. If you’re making excuses to argue, you should probably just break up now. You’re just not that into it.
But if you are that into it, keep going. Take a right at the fork in the road, and give yourself a minute to figure out why you’re upset. As I alluded to earlier, most first fights are the product of letting someone into our personal space—physical, emotional, and sometimes a little of both.
If something is bothering you, address it. Be honest. Because this is the first fight. It’s not the only one. Be honest because whatever you say now can potentially change the trajectory of the rest of your relationship.
Start a simple conversation:
“Hey, I really enjoy when you stay the night, but we need to probably figure out a schedule from now on. I can’t be late to work and I’m used to normally showering at 7:15. “
Explaining why you’re upset is the key. Be clear.
“I love that you’re here, I’ve just grown used to doing things in a certain way. It’s going to take me a minute to adjust.”
Remember to say that second step in a nice way; don’t put your partner on edge. There’s a way to be honest and still kind.
Depending on how your partner reacts after the first two pieces of the equation determines the next fork in the road. There are obviously two options: they understand or they get upset.
In an ideal world, they would understand completely; however, I’ve never lived in one of those and I sometimes step on toes. So my partner gets upset.
Usually the response to part two is something along the lines of:
“Um, we’re dating. You invited me over. I didn’t have to spend the night.”
Determining how to deal with defensiveness really depends on your partner; but, reiterating that you’re glad they’re there and explaining why you’re upset in a calm manner tends to work wonders.
Try to do that. Again, in an ideal world, you’ll both try hard to understand the other person’s perspective and listen intently. You’ll both apologize, grab brunch and cuddle on the couch for the rest of the weekend. But let’s say you don’t do that. You also get defensive. You invited them over, after all. You say a few hurtful things to one another and go your separate ways for the rest of the day.
This is the worst possible situation.
But there’s good news: your relationship can definitely handle this; after all, every single other relationship that’s led to marriage and families and happiness has also withstood the first fight.
If you’re in the right relationship, everything will work out, because you’re with someone who also wants to be in your relationship.
The best way to handle this last scenario—which you will inevitably experience at some point in time during the length of your relationship because fighting happens—is to give each other a little space.
Process why you’re upset. Process why you think your partner is upset. Analyze the situation and try to get to the heart of each side of the story.
Then have a conversation about it. Reiterate to your partner that you didn’t mean to hurt their feelings; explain why yours were hurt. Ask them what hurt their feelings and what they wish you might have done differently. Have them explain how they communicate best, and explain what works for you.
Learning how to talk to each other effectively will do amazing things for the rest of your time together.
Remember: be honest, because this is setting up how you deal with problems for the rest of your relationship. Listen to your own thoughts and listen to your partner’s, as well. Navigating your first argument as a couple isn’t that difficult – but it’s not going to be easy, either. That’s part of the beauty, though. Boring things are never worth fighting for—only the good things.
Remember that while you’re upset.
[image: via gratisography.com]