I once knew a girl who never argued with any of her past boyfriends. There was maybe an occasional disagreement over what to eat for dinner or whose house to spend the night at, but never a full-blown argument with dramatically raised voices and mascara smudged on her cheeks.
Never a moment when she felt like packing her bags and walking out the door, blood boiling from a heated dispute that made her question her entire relationship.
Never did she put up a fight, igniting an intense rage-filled exchange that later led to a passionate make-up session between the sheets.
Never did she explode her pent-up anger on him, pouring out the pot of her unsaid emotions. Laying everything out on the table that she had been harboring until that moment.
Full disclosure: That girl was me.
It’s true. I have been in three serious relationships and none of them had ever sent me running for the hills after clashing with a significant other. I wasn’t the type of girlfriend who argued with her boyfriend regularly. In fact, I hated those types of girls. The ones I would see at the mall, openly hashing out a verbal altercation with their boyfriend in the middle of the food court. Or the couples I’d see at a bar, having a drunken argument about the most insignificant things that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as I walked past them, thankful that my relationship was spared from the constant bickering.
I soon realized how wrong I was.
I judged those kinds of relationships, secretly thinking how crazy it was to spend time arguing instead of just being happy. But now, I understand that the arguments were essential to the growth of the relationship.
I didn’t argue with my boyfriends not because I was blissfully in a perfect love story where disagreements were never a factor. I didn’t argue because I was terrified to speak up.
I feared the worst whenever I would think the opposite of my partner. I was terrified that a simple disagreement would turn into him disliking me, realizing that I wasn’t the girl he thought I was, or that a serious discussion would escalate to a massive blowout that we would never come back from. I thought the result would be him walking out the door and me standing there with teary eyes and mascara-stained cheeks.
I anticipated the outcome before my mouth even formed the words to speak up. It was easier to let the decisions rest on his shoulders than to disrupt the relationship with my opinions.
Today, I admire those couples in the mall who expressed their concerns. Those who scream and shout, testing how far the other is willing to fight. They’re not arguing because they dislike each other, they’re allowing their emotions to run free because they care about one another.
They care about the other person so much that they are willing to raise their voice. They are willing to fight because they know that is the only way the relationship can prosper. They realize that the easy thing to do would be to walk away at the hint of difficulty, but they are willing to do anything they can to make it work.
Arguing can be a sign of a healthy relationship. Out of fear of getting my heart broken, I was never able to fully express my emotions. But not anymore.
Today, if I argue with you, it means I love you. It means that I care about you so much that I’m putting in the effort to make the relationship the best it can be. I’m putting on my figurative boxing gloves and stepping in the ring.
Because this time, I’m not walking away without a fight.