During my relationship, which is coming up on its first anniversary, I have had exactly one fight with my boyfriend, and it was resolved within such a short period of time I can hardly call it a fight. We use the most magical thing to happen to relationships since the prenup: communication.
Though you may find that your relationship has changed since your time at Pacific, things don’t have to change for the worse. The key to arguing (or not) with your partner is to do it in a healthy way that builds your relationship. Instead of fighting, learn how to negotiate.
Talk every day. Step 1 to preventing any unneeded altercations is to COMMUNICATE. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day, talking to your partner(s) is the easiest way to make anxiety dissipate, and small issues you face fade away through simple conversations.
Don’t fester. If you have a problem, TELL THEM. If it’s small, don’t wait to point it out because if you do, it will grow over time, as will your resentment towards your partner. However, this is not the same as being hypercritical. Learn how to pick your battles and make sure it’s an actual problem you have, not a quirk you find annoying.
Advocate for your needs. Vocalizing your wants and needs with your partner is the only way that they will understand what you require from them. In a relationship, communication is important, because when you leave your partner guessing, there are a trillion things they can do wrong on the path to finding the one thing to do right.
Understand, don’t assume. I have found myself in many a pickle within past relationships because my cardio was based on jumping to conclusions. When you assume something, you’re more likely to be wrong than you are to be right. Assumptions are made by the imagination, often fueled by anxiety or emotion that feeds off of past experiences, anecdotal evidence, and even societal norms. Don’t assume the other person’s thoughts, feelings, or how they may behave-humans are unpredictable and it’s best to leave the other person’s decisions up to them, and not your thalamus.
Use “I” statements. When you’re talking about issues you have, use “I” statements that take blame and guilt out of the equation of fighting. “I feel taken for granted” is much softer and easier to navigate than “You’re taking me for granted” which places negativity on your partner(s). Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements shows personal accountability that can instigate conflict resolution.
Understand that it’s you vs the problem, not you vs your partner(s). You are in a relationship with your partner(s) for a reason. Your problems do not necessarily define your relationship with them. Working on the problem as an outside issue that you can tackle together builds stronger bonds between you and doesn’t demonize the other person(s) in the process.