“You just love fighting.”
These are the words I’ve heard time and time again from my boyfriend and dwell on every time I find myself crying over something (admittedly) stupid. But why would I love fighting? Who likes to feel this miserable all the time? That’s when I realized it wasn’t him, it was me.
There were times we honestly felt like our relationship was more like work than fun. For some reason, there was always an issue to discuss. I know what you’re thinking: sounds unhealthy. Sometimes it was little miscommunication, sometimes it was an ongoing dispute, and sometimes it was just a difference of opinion, that regularly complicated our daily interactions. Whatever it was, we always found ourselves fighting and hashing things out to get everything back to normal. It was to the point I felt like all the conflict, friction and disagreement were normal. Everything was an issue.
I was scared I was going to hate him at one point. I took some space and time to really think about everything, and how we could grow towards a happy and healthy relationship. If you’re not sure what annoys you so much in your relationship, here are some problems that are worth talking about:
1. You’re harboring resentment or anger, but instead of expressing or being honest about how you really feel, you pick at the little things.
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Every advice column/article I came across said the same thing when it comes to figuring out why couples fight all the time. Take time to get to the root of your feelings. In other words, what is really bothering you? A dirty sink and clothes piled up on the floor are annoying, but what’s the bigger issue? Do you not feel like your partner is respecting you? Do their actions seem to confirm your fear that you are somehow unworthy? Are you holding a grudge against them for something they did a long time ago?
You have to ask yourself if there’s a bigger conversation and take the time to talk it out. Once you get everything out, you can both work together to work things out and make sure you can get passed it. This way you won’t feel so annoyed with little surface-level annoyances.
2. You’re dealing with stresses unrelated to the relationship, so you vent that stress where you easily can: on the people closest to you.
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Is the stress of school, work or family piling and you don’t feel like talking about it? Ask yourself what is causing you to feel so irritable to frequently - in what ways are you overextended and unbalanced and what do you need to do to change that?
I took some time to allow myself some space to meet my own needs (instead of always putting everyone first). This is so important because you cannot possibly be happy with anyone else unless you’re happy with yourself first. To be able to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically is vital so you don’t feel so drained so frequently. Once you take care of your own issues, you won’t create as many in your relationship. Prioritizing your needs helps both you and your partner.
3. You had a preconceived idea of what you thought being in a relationship is like, so you get upset when things don’t happen the way you want them to.
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I’ll admit that this is my biggest problem. We all have Hollywood to blame. But being in a relationship has taught me that your relationship is your own story. Yes, Noah wrote Ally everyday for a year, but let’s not get that upset about our partner not responding quickly enough.
The little things that are bothering you - have you done those things before? And how would you like someone to respond to you when you make those little mistakes? This isn’t the same as allowing someone to treat you poorly. This is recognizing when those little things really aren’t signs of that, but rather an indication that someone else is human and doing the best they can. Everyone grows up differently and has different views. I always make the mistake of not appreciating everything my partner does and that he really is doing the best he knows he can. (And because I am the Leslie Knope of this relationship and go out of my way to do things doesn’t mean I can get upset at him for not being the same way.)
4. All of your relationships involve constant drama. (So fighting has been normalized as it is the only way you know how to be in a relationship of any kind.)
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I got my wake up call when I talked to my ex about fighting so much in my current relationship. He told me I love drama. He told me I love fighting.
If you grew up around chaos, you might actually feel more secure when you’re yelling, getting yelled at and making up. It might even feel uncomfortable to have a day without any conflict. Challenge yourself to sit with your feelings so you can learn to minimize your internal drama. When you work on releasing your anxious energy, you’ll be able to explore what relationships can look and feel like without it. You may only experience this for short lengths of time at first, but if you work at it every day, that time will increase. You’ll slowly start feeling more secure in enjoying the other person’s company and appreciate them, and have less of a need to model this relationship after other that hinged around friction.
If the issue is more about liking the excitement that drama creates, focus on creating excitement in other ways. My partner loves making up - I was at a point where I felt like he would fight with me on purpose just so we can make up and fall in love all over again. Yes, you have to go through the bad to get to the good, but we know now that there other adventurous ways to make ourselves feel excited without fighting.
5. You’re in a relationship that’s not good for you, but you’re too scared to leave.
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This is the hardest one. And the one that people will jump too quickly. My partner and I have had so many talks about this. We felt like we were toxic or even not compatible. How could something so wrong feel so right?
You can choose your battles, but this is about recognizing when it’s time to stop fighting the truth. It’s definitely not easy, but you need to be honest with yourself about whether or not you really want to be in this relationship. It might help to ask yourself: If I knew I could find something more fulfilling by walking away, would I? Do I feel like this relationship leads to more pain than joy? A lot of people won’t ask themselves these questions because once you know you’re compromising yourself to stay with a sure or unsafe thing, you only have two options: continue doing that and feel even worse about yourself or find the strength to walk away and open yourself to something better.
We can low key admit that fighting and making up can be fun, but I reached a point where it wasn't. I was really beginning to feel like I hated him or he hated me. If not, we would eventually get there. These are some of the top reasons why relationships often feel like war zones. There will be times when the other people in our lives do these same things. Hopefully we can be more self-aware by modeling what that looks like. There will be times when there are legitimate issues that we need to addressed, but as long as we choose our battles wisely, it will be much easier to work through these tough times together.