So I saw this post on the dating advice subreddit and it got me thinking. First, here’s the question:
Since a short period of time, I’ve been seeing somebody. I expressed how much I liked her and everything was fine. She’s funny, kind, very independent and of course attractive. My heart melts when I am talking about her in this way. Yesterday, we got into our first argument. I have a date planned with her for upcoming weekend and I started talking about it with her. All of a sudden it wasn’t possible anymore because she had a party and the saturday was also full.
I was disappointed and angry. I mentioned that. I told her that I was counting on her and this did not sit me well. She told me that I was overreacting. I said I wasn’t and explained how I feel. She eventually said, “sorry”. It’s just things feel awkward right now and usually I’m the person giving advice but with her – I don’t know what to do. Help me?
The reason I wanted to use this question as a talking point is not only because it’s about arguments in relationships, but it’s also about dealing with the fallout of an argument where you were in the right. It’s one thing to ask “What do I do after an argument?” and it’s another to ask “What do I do after an argument when I was in the right?”. First things first, let’s talk about how to handle an argument in a relationship, regardless of “right” or “wrong”.
I would work to make sure that you’re both on the same page about what you were arguing about. Sometimes, the thing you’re actually arguing about isn’t what you thought you were arguing about. Maybe the argument isn’t really about having your plans cancelled, maybe it’s about this behavior being a pattern that your partner refuses to address. Maybe you’re not arguing about your partner flaking on you for a specific date, maybe you’re really arguing about your partner consistently flaking on dates. Sometimes an argument is about a specific event, but I’ve found that many times, an argument in a relationship is about the specific event in question, but a lot of smaller events tied to that event.
Another thing that I would recommend is making sure that the cause(s) of your argument are addressed. Not resolved, addressed. If you followed through with the first step, at the very least you’ll have an idea about the real reason you were arguing. Step two is all about figuring out how to address the issue. If the issue really was just that your partner flaked on a date, it’s not like you can travel back in time to resolve the issue, but you can figure out how to address sort of behavior in the future. Some arguments don’t really have a resolution so much as they have an acknowledgement of bad behavior, and a promise to either avoid that behavior, or not engage in the behavior again.In my experience, that’s how most arguments with a simple cause get resolved in relationship. Some arguments can’t be resolved with just a discussion, but at the very least you both should know why you were arguing, and try to address the issue. I’m using addressed rather than resolved because I always prefer to say “This is my plan for if I screw up in a similar way moving forward” rather than “It will never happen again”.
When you’re addressing the issue, you should decide whether or not to compromise, try to convince your partner, or acquiesce. Personally, I think that choosing to only do one of those things as your standard argument style is a bad idea. Compromise has it’s place in resolving arguments in relationships, and I think that you should compromise MOST of the time, but there is a place for sticking to your guns, and also a place for just accepting something reluctantly without protest. There are just some things that I don’t think you should compromise on in relationships. Those things might be different for me than they might be for you, but I don’t think all relationships should be built on 100% compromise. If you’re still at a loss for whether or not you should compromise, convince, or acquiesce, here’s some examples: If your partner wants to see you 5 days a week, and you want to see them 3 days a week, and this was causing arguments in your relationship, I feel like you could probably compromise by alternating how often you see each other per week (Week 1 – 5 times, Week 2 – 3 times, Week 3 – 4 times, etc.). If your partner believes the Earth is flat, and it’s causing arguments in your relationship, feel free to try to convince them that they should learn science from scientists, not internet memes. If you’re getting into huge arguments with your partner because they prefer to keep the lights off during sex, you know, maybe just accept it and move on because really, is it worth fighting over?
If you’ve had an argument and you think you’re right, that’s awesome, but it’s inconsequential in the big picture. Relationships are a partnership between people, not concepts of right or wrong. If you argue about something, and you’re right, but your partner remains unhappy, their unhappiness should be your main concern. Your goal after an argument should be reconciling, not about proving being right. Being in the right in an unresolved argument is never going to grow relationship. Try to avoid dwelling on being right, and just focus on moving forward. You were right, but that was in the past, the same way that your argument was in the past. By focusing on moving forward, your partner is less likely to feel uncomfortable talking about any arguments you may have had.
Even if you are right in an argument, neither dwell on it nor gloat about it, and just focus on moving forward. Focus on working together to come address an issue.
Oh and one note I want to make: There might come a time where you can never fully address or resolve something you’re arguing about in a relationship. Reading this post isn’t a guarantee that all your arguments can be resolved, especially if your partner is refuses to try to address an issue. Some issues have no real solution, other than to leave. ✌🏼
Good Luck Out There.