How to Handle Your First Fight

Fighting with your boyfriend is never fun and after being in a relationship for three years, I know I’ve had my fair share of disagreements. However, nothing is as nerve-wracking and down-right scary as the very first fight. When relationships are still starting out in the “honeymoon stage,” you’d like to think that the two of you will never have an argument and everything will be perfect. But realistically, fights in a relationship are inevitable and almost necessary to challenge the couple. So when you find yourself in a heated disagreement with your significant other for the first time, don’t panic! Consider these simple tips on how to handle the situation.

1. Take time to calm down

Before you say something you don’t mean or accidentally snap, take time to calm down and process what is happening. By taking time to register everything in your head, you are helping yourself figure out where to go next. Jennifer Baker, PhD, suggests in an article in Cosmopolitan magazine to take a 30-minute break away from each other to relax and then you should both be able to communicate your opinions clearly. You should think to yourself: how serious is the fight? Who (if anyone) is hurt? And how do we solve this together? After thinking these questions through, you will be able to maturely discuss and resolve the dispute without pointing fingers, overreacting and/or unnecessary crying.

2. Apologize when necessary

If you were in the wrong then simply apologize. No matter how much pride we may have, women can be at blame too, it’s not always the man’s fault. Show that you are truly sorry for what you did and make sure your apology is sincere- don’t make it sound as if he is pulling teeth for you to say it. On the contrary, if you are the “victim” in this case, you have to forgive. Depending on the severity of the fight, this may be hard to do at first and forgiveness is a process; by accepting the apology and knowing he means it, you are taking the first step.

Accepting his apology doesn’t mean you will completely forget and drop the situation and if you think that you still need time to forgive him tell him how you feel (see the following tip). An important thing to remember when you need to apologize is to not put it off, apologize immediately. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Oprah radio host, says in his article Learning to Apologize that the longer you wait to make your apology, the less it means. Make it timely to show how genuine your apology is.

3. Communicate

Communication is important to every relationship, especially when you are fighting. The difficulty is that most men aren’t all about heart-to-hearts and talking about their feelings all the time and when it comes to a fight, they sometimes think it is fully resolved after step two. John Gray, PhD, writes in his book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus that men in a relationship expect women to communicate and react the way men do; and vice-versa. If you happen to have one of these confused men, say something like “I just want you to know where I’m coming from” or “can we just clear a few things up so this doesn’t happen again?”

Hopefully, your man won’t be too stubborn and will see the reasonability. Before you can fully move on there are a few things that you should discuss. Talk about what caused the fight in the first place (remember-no pointing fingers!) and how it can be avoided in the future. If someone was hurt, whether you or him, discuss how one can make it up to the other (but don’t keep hanging it over their head). Lastly, discuss changes (if any) that should be made in your relationship- maybe you want to communicate like this more, maybe you want to stop texting 24/7 so you have time for other things, or maybe you even need to take time to slow things down. Now is the time to get all your concerns out, but remember not to bombard him with demands. Once you two have figured out what you want to do about the situation and you are both on the same page about it, moving past it will be much easier.

Follow these steps and congratulations- you’ve survived your first fight! The first fight is always a challenge, but after it is resolved, in a way it will make your bond stronger. Aside from these steps, there is one more golden rule that I think is utterly important: never go to bed angry. Going to sleep mad will only result in waking up with unresolved anger. Before you call it a night, make sure to have cleared everything up.

No couple in the world is perfect and rarely do they agree on everything; everyone is bound to get into a disagreement at some point. So when your time comes, always remember that occasional fights are healthy for a relationship; they will test you, challenge you, and in the end bring you closer.

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