Fighting with your friends sucks; there are no two ways about it, but sometimes it's inevitable. Here are my top nine tips for keeping it civil and coming out of arguments with your relationship intact.
Don't literally fight them, but you shouldn't be afraid of confrontation with someone you consider a friend. Communication is important in any relationship and while it's easy to talk about the good things or the unimportant things, it's just as dire to talk about the bad things and the hard things. Why? Because we improve and strengthen our relationships by working on and moving past the rough patches and we love our friends despite them. If you think simply voicing a concern or a differing opinion will ruin your relationship, you may want to reevaluate the friendship.
2. Don’t poke holes-- actually listen
This is really hard, and almost all of us are guilty of it-- when we're right, we're right and we need to tell you exactly why you're wrong or why your side is invalid. However, this is not a productive way to argue with a friend or anyone really. It's important that you make an effort to listen to what your friend is trying to say instead of clinging to your side of the story while forming a counter argument and trying to poke holes in their side in your head. When you actually hear what the other person is saying, it's much easier to get to the root of the problem and move past it.
3. Your goal shouldn’t be to hurt them.
No matter what you're arguing about, you may say something that your friend doesn't want to hear or that unintentionally hurts them, but your goal should never be to be vindictive or malicious. First of all, it's neither a productive nor a mature way to disagree, and second of all, theoretically, this is a person you care. If you're at a point where you're willing to intentionally hurt them, maybe there's a bigger issue you should be addressing within the relationship.
4. Don’t try to get even.
Just because someone said or did something that hurt you does not mean you should hurt them back. Why? Because it's petty and childish, but also because that's a stressful way to live your life. Either forgive them or don't, but it's not good for either of you to keep a scoreboard or hold past incidents over each others' heads.
5. Give them space.
You may want to rush into being best buds again or have a set timeframe by which you think they should get over it, but people need time and space. Chances are they'll let you know when they're ready to be full on friends again. In the meantime, just let them know that you're there for them and meet them where they're at.
6. Don’t re-open old unrelated arguments.
This isn't about what they did the summer of 2013; this is about right now. If you're arguing about them being unreliable, there's no need to bring up the time in middle school they went with Steven Smith to the spring formal even though you made it very clear you had a crush on them. This is also not the time to bring up past arguments that you've already supposedly forgiven them for. If you're bringing it up now, you're obviously not over it, but that's a separate issue you can deal with another time.
Regardless of if you think you've done something wrong, if your friend is telling you that you're words or actions hurt them, you should apologize. If you feel strongly that you're not in the wrong, you should still apologize for hurting them, even if you're not sorry about what you did. Why? Because it shows that you're considerate and that you do care about their feelings, even if you're in a fight. By the way, an apology is not a justification and should not include a qualifier. "I'm sorry, but.." and "I'm sorry" are not the same.
8. Make up, or don’t
Chances are you aren't bound by a blood pact, so regardless of how much time or effort you've put into a relationship, it's okay to walk away. If this person is causing more stress in your life than happiness, or you've come to the conclusion they're just not a good person for you to be around, it's okay to tell them you don't want to be friends anymore. I'm not saying you should cut people out of your life anytime anyone does you dirty. I am saying that if this one instance is representative of your entire relationship or there's a definite theme, it may be worth it a. bring that up with your friend and b. really take time to look over that friendship and see if it's one worth still being in.
9. There are no sides.
Your fight isn't the Superbowl; there are no teams. Consequently, you shouldn't be dragging mutual friends into the mess and make them pick a side. Your relationship with a person is completely independent of your friends' relationships with that same person. This also means you don't get to sit around with your mutual friends and talk trash, putting people in an awkward situation of having to agree or disagree with you. It's unfair to your friends and to be honest; it's a little petty.