Fighting is essential in any relationship. In my opinion and experience (which I’m sure we can all agree, is neither right nor wrong), you can never really know someone until you fight with them. Sure, there are some people that may frequent your life who you will never need to fight with—but fighting creates a new level of intimacy akin to revealing conversations and sexual intercourse. You learn so much about a person from the way they engage with conflict, and partnerships without conflict are (again, in my opinion and experience) either skin deep and dispassionate or borne of a long term union of minds in which a history of conflict has created an understanding so innate that disagreements are diffused quickly, mutually and efficiently.
Unless your relationship has transcended to the latter category (and granted it’s not in the former), fighting, at some point, will be entirely necessary and unavoidable, so you should do it right. When you care about or love someone, the way you fight with them should always be a reflection of that—the first thing to always keep in mind is that your feelings for the other person are unconditional, they don’t just go away because you’re having a disagreement with them. With that in mind, this is how I’ve learned to fight through experiences with family, lovers and friends…
Only fight about the fight you’re having
This is the simplest and most logical thing in the world, and it was really driven home for me by a really wonderful man I used to live with. One day when we were arguing about something present, I said something along the lines of “… and then there was that time last month where you said/did so-and-so…” and I remember him looking at me very squarely, and calmly, carefully saying, “yes I did. And we fought about that too. Then we made up. You forgave me. So it’s over.”
He was right. It was over and his pointing this out rendered me speechless. Bringing up old fights in current fights is about as useful as a car without wheels—you can rev the engine as much as you like, but you’re not going to get anywhere. When you’ve resolved an argument, leave it that way, you obviously came to a mutually agreeable conclusion for a reason, and reneging is both immature and counter-productive. On the flip side, if you’re not resolving arguments and the same ones are ongoing or reoccurring, it might be time to reassess the whole relationship.
Don’t say anything personal
Leave your potty mouth at the door when you’re going into a fight. Derogatory words, insults and violent verbosity are completely unnecessary when arguing with a loved one. What’s more is that you can’t unsay what you’ve said, so think before you spit something out that you don’t really mean. I’ve been taught by my mother that we don’t say things like “I hate you,” in battle with people we love, and I’ve never called her a dirty word in any disagreement we’ve ever had, even when I was a petulant teenager whose curfew was 3 hours earlier than everyone else’s.
I did, however, once have a boyfriend who used to cast all sorts of vile slurs upon me when we were fighting. Not only did they not add anything constructive to the resolving the conflict, I carried them with me when the conflict was inevitably over. When we’d be laughing there would always be a nagging in the back of my mind, something saying, “but he really thinks you’re a fat crazy slut who should die in a hole.” It’s really difficult to let the personal stuff go, so it’s best to just leave it out completely. You never know what kind of irreparable damage you’re causing your relationship by giving such meanness voice in the first place, and besides, you’re not fighting so you can hurt the other person, you’re fighting in order to make your relationship better.
Never get physical
It’s a no brainer. I don’t have to tell you that you should never beat on someone you love. But it’s more than that. Do not throw things. Do not poke or prod or shove. Do not touch your loved one when you are fighting; and girls, this goes for you too. Your association to touch should always be positive, and you don’t want to let any negativity bleed into that. Although this, of course, does not apply to make-up sex—once you’ve cleared hostile territory, feel free to touch generously and sexily.