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Arguments are common in relationships and can, at times, even be constructive. They open the door to frank discussions that enhance your relationship. However, whether arguments help or hurt your relationship depends on how you behave. After all, you may not realise you’re sharing your feelings in an counter-productive, insensitive or disrespectful way. What then, should you never do while fighting with your partner?
1. Be emotionally abusive
Your partner trusts you enough to have confided in you his or her insecurities and weaknesses. Exploiting these vulnerabilities will completely dismantle that trust. For example, if you know your girlfriend recently lost a close friend due to a disagreement, don’t tell her that her irrationality may be the reason why her friend dumped her. Some things are so hurtful they should never be blurted out even in the heat of the moment; you’ll end up regretting having said it at all.
2. Insist on a clear “I’m right, you’re wrong”
Of course you think you’re right! That’s why you’re arguing in the first place. But is being right all that matters? Your other half needs to feel like his/her beliefs are valued, and that you hold his/her perspective in high regard. Adamantly arguing that your partner’s stance is less valid than yours will make him or her feel like you’re trivialising his/her opinions. Relationships are about give and take – know when to back down.
3. Cling to illogical assertions
Getting emotional during a fight may lead to illogical assertions in attempt to simply win. For example, you may use parts of your identity to claim that you know better than your partner (“I’m studying Psychology and therefore I definitely know more than you on the subject, so I’m right!”). These assertions will frustrate your partner and make you seem bratty and unintelligent. Compose yourself before engaging your partner through making well-reasoned points. Most importantly, know when to give in or let things go.
4. Accuse your partner of not loving you
Remember, what your partner thinks has no relation to his/her love for you, and using this against your partner in order to force a retreat is emotional blackmail. Your significant other will be infuriated by this statement, and relations between the two of you will grow even more strained.
5. Recruit troops
Any argument the two of you have is strictly between the two of you. Therefore, never bring friends or family members into the arena and cajole them into supporting you. Your mutual friends and your family members should not be used to exert pressure on your partner. This will only make him/her feel cornered, betrayed and abandoned. The two of you must always play on the same team – that’s what relationships are about!
When fighting, always fight fair and keep the opportunity cost of each harsh word in mind. Would you rather lose the argument or the relationship? How much does winning the argument really mean to you?
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