Whether you’re living with friends, strangers or your (usually) sweet and good-tempered lover, disagreements are part of life. Most of us hate confrontation, but it’s pretty unavoidable – much like taxes, reality tv, and your cousin’s boring wedding.
Here are 11 tips that will help you fight fair
Avoid words like “never,” “always” and “hate”
Use “I” and “me” statements
Do your best to keep your cool
I was raised with the belief that the first person to raise their voice loses. Yelling makes everyone feel bad and makes you look like a jerk. When you raise your voice, things are more likely to deteriorate into “Stop yelling at me!” “I’M NOT YELLING AT YOU!”
If you feel yourself or your partner heading towards a shouting match, say “I can see that we’re both getting a bit wound up. Why don’t we take a break and come back to this when we’ve pulled ourselves together a bit.”
Don’t resort to name-calling or expletives
Everyone has their own style of fighting, and if your everyday speech is peppered with cussing, it’s probably not the end of the world if you say “I don’t f*cking want to talk about this right now.”
But when emotions are running high, it’s easy to lose our footing and slide into statements that are more cuss-filled than productive.
A good rule of thumb? Cussing about a situation or an inanimate object = not the end of the world (“I feel like I’m doing more than my share of the f*cking dishes. And I’m really frustrated by that shitty washing machine.”)
Swearing at someone or about someone = yuck (“You’re a f*cking bitch and I want to bite out your throat.”)
Take a break if the argument isn’t going anywhere
If you’ve been bickering back and forth about the bachelor party for two hours, stop. Hackles are up, nerves have been got on and you’ve both probably exhausted all of your arguments. Go for a walk by yourself. Read in bed. Check out Cuteoverload. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes you can go to bed angry.
My personal rule is that if I’m still mad about it in the morning, it’s something that needs to be revisited. But more often than not, I was actually mad about the five pounds I gained and my flatmate just happened to be in the kitchen at the wrong time.
Talk about how their behavior makes you feel
Tell them what you’d like them to do instead
“I feel disrespected when you borrow my clothes without asking. I’d like you to ask.” Now that you’ve told your mate how you feel, tell them what you’d like to happen in the future – otherwise they’ll probably just stand there feeling terribly awkward and not quite sure how to proceed.
So tell them what you want. And then make a joke or do a little dance to break the tension.
Be prepared to compromise
Even if you are totally, totally sure that you’re right, you should be prepared to occasionally compromise, particularly with your partner. Compromise is part of every relationship – nobody gets to have their way all.the.time. Just make for sure that your partner is equally willing to compromise for you.
If you’re the one who’s spending your weekends watching him play soccer but he never wants to hang with your friends, maybe you need to have a big think about what Capt. Inflexible is bringing to the table.
Be prepared for sulking
If your roomie is always, always on your ass about that one unwashed tea cup, it’s probably because her mom used to hassle her about her tea cups. If your boyfriend is suspicious or possessive, it’s probably because someone cheated on him in the past. Do you best to realize this and don’t allow someone to make their issues your issues.
And if you’re with someone who is jealous and possessive has a really, really big think about if you want to stay in a relationship with someone who doesn’t trust you.