All couples will disagree.  It’s natural, it’s normal, it should be happening.  If you never fall out, it suggests neither of you is being honest because it is hugely unlikely that both of you think everything is perfect all the time.  This isn’t Disney. 

Whether you are dating online or have been in a relationship for a while, it’s important to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy fights for the health of your relationship.

But knowing it is normal to fall out is one thing. Aggressive, regular fighting is another.  You’ve probably seen, or may even know, a couple who just fight.  It’s what they do.  Every time they go out, there’s a problem.  Every few weeks they break up only to get back together again. 

It looks pretty exhausting doesn’t it?  However, depending on what they’re fighting about and depending on how they’re doing it, it may be that it’s a healthy thing to be doing.                  

Here we’re going to talk about what makes a fight a healthy or an unhealthy one – both the topic of those fallouts and the way the fallouts are conducted.

Healthy topics to fall out about

This one is dead easy.  Essentially any topic that one party feels is a concern, a worry, a mystery or a problem should be talked about.  We’ll go on to talk about how these should be discussed to ensure the conversations are done healthily, but the key is making sure the talking happens. 

By talking, and by talking early, you reduce the risk of animosity developing, of misunderstandings, or incorrect assumptions being treated as fact.  So ‘healthy topics to fall out about’ isn’t necessarily an accurate title to this paragraph; ‘healthy topics to debate and discuss’ is far more suitable and, as I say, the answer should be ‘everything,’

5 healthy way to have a debate

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable  

The more you do this, the easier and more normal it will feel.  But it is vital in the development of a strong relationship and the creation of a calm mind.  Agreeing that by talking you will solve your problems is the first stage. 

Regardless if it is a disagreement about who should be making the kids’ lunches for school, or whether you should relocate for a new job.  Not voicing your thoughts is the first step to going from ‘healthy debate’ to ‘unhealthy fight’. 

Adjust your mindset from ‘this will be a fight’ to ‘this will make me/us happier’.

There is no winner; there is no loser

Or at least, there shouldn’t be.  Healthy fall outs aren’t about getting one over on your partner or agreeing that one point of view is more correct than the other.  If anyone on in the relationship is feeling or thinking something, then they’re opinions are to be respected, discussed and heard. 

Regardless how much you may not initially agree with them, if they’ve had the courage and respect for you to voice something, then in a grown up strong relationship you should hear them and let them know they’ve been heard.  And vice-versa of course.

Be a great listener

“as I can tell this is important to you, I want to make sure I understand fully what you are saying…”.  What a great sentence.  It helps them to know their point is landing.  It helps you to give an accurate and thoughtful response. 

And it helps the relationship feel strong.  If you are listening to what they are saying in an attempt to pick flaws in their logic or highlight areas you could exploit, then you probably need to re-read point 2 above.

Ask questions

Calmly (where possible), genuinely and respectfully.  Asking questions, clarifying situations and establishing facts helps take potential boiling points down to a simmer.  For example, my partner would wear cologne but on rare occasions and randomly. 

My first paranoid brain tried to work out from his end of day review if there was a particular client he liked and so would make an extra effort on the days meeting them was in his diary?  After a couple of months of this happening, I asked him why he did it. 

But regrettably, I asked the wrong way, ‘who are you trying to impress when you decide to wear cologne to work?’.  His answer? ‘Nobody, we just had garlic last night’.  Sure enough, he was wearing a scent when trying to mask any potential smells from last night’s spicy, garlic meal and history would back that up. 

So asking questions helps to establish facts before the pointless fight erupts.

50/50

It’s the classic bit of advice, but it is so true.  Compromise.  A grown-up committed relationship is full of it.  You don’t want to buy a house for another year, but he’s good for it now?  Meet with a financial planner and come up with a six-month strategy. 

You’ve got something you want to share with your girlfriends but you would rather it remained a secret?  Agree that before you start sharing private information, you will tell him first your reasons for why you want to talk to friends about it so that he doesn’t think you have a gossip at his expense.

Disagreements will happen.  They probably should happen.  But they don’t need to be screaming matches.  One thing is for sure though; you never feel as good about your relationship or enjoy it more than when you’ve just made up after a fight.

In the online dating space, being able to recognize these types of viruses extremely important. If you have unhealthy fights from the very beginning after meeting online, it is an excellent sign to step away.