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How to Survive Your First Big Fight with Your SO

In a perfect world, we would never fight with our SO. If we did have any problems, they would be resolved calmly. But the fact of the matter is, arguments happen. Whether you’re fighting with your SO right now or you’ve made up and are looking to move on, it can be difficult to know how to proceed. We talked to three experts who gave us their advice on how to survive your first big fight with your SO.

Preventing the Initial Argument

The ultimate goal is obviously to avoid the blowout altogether. While this can be difficult to achieve, it is possible. According to psychiatrist and author Dr. Carole Lieberman, “The best way to prevent small arguments from turning into big fights with a SO is to ask yourself how important the issue is and whether this is the best time to talk about it.” She recommends asking yourself if it is worth fighting about, and also suggests questioning whether you are coming from a place of insecurity. “Most fights that girls start are out of fear that their guy doesn’t love them anymore,” says Dr. Lieberman.

Think about how you really feel about the situation. Is there any anxiety about the relationship below the surface of the issue you are bringing up? If you can get to the bottom of why you are upset, it will be much easier to have a mature conversation about it with your SO.

Related: Emotional Baggage: How it’s Hurting You & How to Move On

Clinical psychologist Dr. Mark Sharp reminds us that it takes two people to have a fight. “One person not participating can keep a fight from happening,” says Dr. Sharp. “The big lesson to take from that is it is important for the woman to focus more on what she is doing than on trying to change what her partner is doing.” This is extremely important and is in line with Dr. Lieberman’s views. Because you cannot control the decisions your SO makes, the key is to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward in the relationship. If you don’t use negative behavior that allows the problem to escalate, it will be very difficult to have an argument at all.


We’re Fighting… Now What?

If a fight does start, there are a few ways to deal with it. Dr. Lieberman and Dr. Sharp both agree that the best thing to do initially is take a step back. “Take a break from each other until both of [you] are cooled down enough to have a good conversation,” says Dr. Sharp. “When [you] are still angry from the fight, it will be difficult to have a constructive conversation. A big mistake many people make is not waiting long enough to have the conversation. Of course, a bigger mistake is never having the conversation at all.” If you don’t ever talk about the problem, how will you resolve it?

Dr. Lieberman suggests taking about a week away from each other after a big fight in order to cool down. “After you’ve both had a chance to miss each other, you’ll realize (hopefully) that the fight was silly, or that there’s a way to solve the problem,” she says. This amount of time isn’t set in stone. Maybe you’ll be ready to talk after ten minutes, and maybe you’ll need ten days. It depends on the intensity of the fight (and the stubbornness of the two people involved!). Just make sure you are both calm enough to discuss what happened in a rational manner and that you are open to truly listening to one another.


Communication, Communication, Communication

Once you have both calmed down, it is time to talk about what happened. It may be a cliché, but it’s one for a reason: communication is key. Jeffrey Sumber, psychotherapist, author and relationship consultant, knows that big fights occur. “The most important thing to remember about your relationship is not the problems but the process,” says Sumber. “Process is the way we disagree and the way we connect. If our problems got the better of us today it is likely because our process still needs some work or even might require a tune up.” Whether you’ve been together for three weeks or three years, it’s not always easy to communicate your feelings effectively.

According to Sumber, the first step to take after a big fight is to ask for forgiveness. “Offering an apology for how I acted is not saying the other person was right or I was wrong, it is acknowledging to myself more than anything that I can do better,” he says. If you feel that you have something to apologize for (and if you fought, it’s likely that you do), there’s no need to feel like you are giving in to the other person. It’s about understanding, and apologies don’t determine who was right or wrong.

“Focus on trying to understand your SO’s position first, then trying to get your SO to understand your position,” says Dr. Sharp. “When you speak, focus on your feelings and your experiences.” As was already mentioned, you are only responsible for your own actions. Do your best to understand where your SO is coming from rather than simply defending your position.


Learning from Mistakes

As Dr. Lieberman reminds us, “A big fight doesn’t have to be the end of the world, if you both learn something from it.” Notice what went wrong, and use the argument to do better next time. As long as you are continually making better choices, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

There is always something positive to gain from a negative experience. “You can learn not to fight when you’re already upset about something else unrelated to each other, or when you’re hungry, or when you’re in a rush to get to class or preparing for a big exam,” says Dr. Lieberman. Even the biggest fight can lead to positive changes in your behavior and your relationship.


Fighting with your SO can seem like the end of the world—especially the first time. If you can prevent arguments from even occurring, good for you! In the event of a big fight, though, remember to take the time you need to calm down. Once you are both ready, talk openly about what happened. Try to understand your partner’s point of view, and then explain yours. Learn from the fight so that you know what to do in the future. If you keep these tips in mind, your relationship will benefit and you and your SO will be stronger than ever!

Jamie is a senior Writing, Literature and Publishing major at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She is the Her Campus Life Editor, a National Contributing Writer, and Campus Correspondent of the Emerson Her Campus chapter. Jamie plans to pursue a career in the magazine industry. See more of her work at: www.jamiemkravitz.com
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