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Fighting—What’s okay? What’s not?

Fighting is—unfortunately—part of almost every relationship. As unpleasant as fighting may be however, it’s actually better that you get your feelings out, instead of keeping them bottled up inside. That being said, there are certain things that are just not okay, even in the most heated argument. 

Being mean. If the goal of a fight is to get someone to see your point of view, nothing turns off a person’s ears (and brain) faster than being nasty. Being angry happens. Being mean doesn’t have to. If your partner is mean to you when you fight, tell him or her, “When you’re mad at me I want to know what I did to upset you, but it’s not okay to just put me down or insult me.”

Refusing another point of view. So much time in arguments is wasted on trying to determine who is “right.” But for many fights, there just isn’t a “right” or “wrong” and you may have to agree to disagree. It’s okay if you don’t see things exactly how your partner does. But it’s not okay to tell your partner he or she isn’t entitled to their own opinion.

Ignoring your partner. To have a supportive relationship, you have to listen to your partner when he or she is upset. Brushing off your partner’s concerns saying they’re stupid or NBD will only make your partner feel isolated, lonely, and resentful. If you think your partner is always upset and you can never do anything right—that is a separate conversation. If you want to stay in the relationship, however, you have to hear their feelings out, even when you don’t agree with them—something easier said than done.

Using the break up card. Breaking up is serious business. If you think your relationship needs to end, that is fine. What’s not fine is to use that as a threat every time you fight. Besides, if you are trying to evaluate your relationship, it’s best not to do it mid-fight. Wait til you’re calm, then decide you want to end it (or not).

Humiliating your partner. So you’re hurt or pissed as hell. That doesn’t make it okay for you to try to embarrass or humiliate your partner as payback. Whether it’s making a scene in public, posting something degrading on Facebook, or doing something to embarrass them—that’s not an okay thing to do to someone, especially someone you’re in a relationship with.

Making emotional/psychological threats. You should never threaten your partner no matter how upset you are. It’s not fair to say, “If you don’t do X then I’m going to do Y.” A relationship is a partnership, not a game of chess. Your goal is to work with each other to find a solution, not pit yourself against each other. 

Making physical threats. A physical threat could be a threat made against you, or one that your partner makes against him or herself. Even if he or she never actually hurts you, threatening physical/bodily harm is not okay, and is actually abusive. Throwing things in your general direction, destroying your things, or breaking things around you is all behavior that could be categorized as physically threatening and it is not ok. Ever. If you are in a relationship that you feel may be abusive or otherwise unhealthy call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to speak with a counselor. They can listen to what you’re going through and offer up non-judgmental information that you can use to decide what course of action is best for you. 

Violence. This is by far the most serious item on this list. While many of the items towards the top are mistakes that most people will make during one fight or another, the items towards the bottom can be indicative of an abusive relationship. Violence in a relationship can take many forms, and none of them are okay: punching, slapping, hitting, pushing, choking, or even just threatening to do these things all counts as violent behavior. If you are in a relationship that you feel may be abusive or otherwise unhealthy call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to speak with a counselor. They can listen to what you’re going through and offer up non-judgmental information that you can use to decide what course of action is best for you.

Author: Amber M.
Teenagers sitting on a tree limb

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