There are a dozen different ways to determine whether or not you will be compatible with someone based on your individual personality traits. Whether you’re looking to science or the stars, there are many ways we categorize patterns and habits, and predict how well they will interact. Though we know the basics of compatibility – value the same things, communicate well, be equally committed – there’s one thing that usually flies under the radar, but is the most imperative of all: your fight style.
The way you fight, or really, argue, is what’s going to determine whether or not your relationship will work. Anybody can get along when you’re both in a good mood and life is going swimmingly and there are no pressing decisions to be made. Challenges either make or break relationships, and that’s not a coincidence, because it’s then that you see what you really need to know about a person. Here, in order of least healthiest to most, are the “languages” that people use when confronted in an argument. Striving toward the end of the list is usually the goal for most couples, but either way, being aligned on the same style tends to be more important than that. It’s when you fight differently that you have a harder time resolving things.
The problem is never really addressed because it is immediately deflected from when brought up. When someone’s fight language is deflection, they are completely closed to hearing any feeling or opinion that doesn’t align with their best interest, and so they either bring up a counter-argument, name-call, and tend to become very aggressive. All of this is usually the result of their egos feeling very fragile – they can’t bear to hear how they’re “wrong,” or even consider changing themselves for someone else’s sake.
Suppression then over-expression.
People who suppress their emotions and then have a meltdown one day believe their feelings are not going to be heard or valued. They hide them for the same reason that they eventually blow up: they get tired of feeling as though their ideas don’t matter, and try to prove how valid they are by displaying how angry and emotional they become. Another trait that tends to be true of people who suppress and then over-express is that after they explode, the issue is quickly swept under the rug and they are back to acting as though everything is normal.
People who dominate will hear the other person’s feelings, but they won’t actually listen to them. Instead, they find roundabout ways to convince them that their emotions are misinformed or incorrect. A trait that tends to be common in people who dominate is that they lack empathy. Interestingly, these also tend to be the most emotional and fragile people, and what they are trying to avoid is the sense that they have done something wrong, or hurt somebody. Underneath what appears to be a narcissistic façade is a very sensitive person trying to shield themselves from the world.
Mediators have one objective in mind, and that’s to reach a compromise. They don’t have easily bruised egos, and are able to truly listen an argument, and then respond with their own. They are masters at maintaining an even tone and temper, and will use strategies such as taking a break and then coming back to the conversation, or writing points and then communicating them, to ensure that things stay balanced and healthy. Mediating is the most common fight language of couples who did not begin with the same fight language, but have, over time, learned to communicate with one another better. For people who are naturally mediators, it’s sometimes a struggle to convince someone who is not to get on board with your tactics, which can be frustrating.
Free communication is the ultimate goal, meaning that both people feel comfortable enough to express how they are feeling the moment they are feeling it. They are in tune with themselves but also have enough command of their language that they can communicate with precision, and feel understood. For “free communication” to work in a relationship, even tone and temperament is absolutely imperative (as people often learn to do when “mediating”). People who are free communicators don’t necessarily avoid every problem, but they have the least trouble overcoming it and reaching a compromise or conclusion in which everyone feels their perspectives are heard and valued.