1. People & Relationships

Surviving the First Fight

Where the Honeymoon Ends and The Relationship Begins

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First fights are scary things. When conflict arises in a once friction free relationship it always gives way to uncertainty. But the first fight can actually be a positive thing; a defining moment in a relationship that actually makes things more solid.

Falling In Love

In the early days of falling for each other everything is always rosy. People are on their best behavior.

While still immersed in the getting-to-know you stage people tend to bend their expectations to the absolute limit of their tolerances and are more forgiving of the things that may later bother them.

Once a comfort level has been reached and there is some security in the relationship that tolerance level shifts back toward an individual’s real life base line. This is what breeds the first fight.

When the Relationship Settles

Once a relationship becomes more established people start showing their true personality. The best behavior honeymoon stage comes to an end, often abruptly and without warning. The sudden shift from best behavior to normal behavior can be a bit of a shock.

The first fight usually happens when boundaries are put to the test. In the early days when something unsettling happens both people try to handle things as calmly and diplomatically as possible. Hurt feelings are sucked up and nothing is said.

Once the relationship is more established when those same unsettling things happen the person who is bothered speaks up. With the rules suddenly changed the person on the receiving end of the upset feels confused and defensive. This leads to the first fight.

First Fight: The End or a New Beginning?

It is true that the first fight is the end for some couples but it doesn’t have to be. While first fights are never fun they are actually essential to the evolution of a relationship.

Nobody, no matter how close or how compatible they may be, agrees on absolutely everything. There will be conflict in even the best most successful relationships. What determines the quality of the relationship isn’t whether or not fights happen but how those fights are played out and resolved.

Couples who listen to one another’s concerns and perspectives, who respect the other’s point of view whether they agree with it or not, and who work toward finding a compromise, are most likely to make it through the first fight stronger for the experience.

Always Fight Fair

How you fight is as important, if not more important, than why you fight. Violence of any kind is never healthy and should not ever be excused. Hitting, kicking, throwing things and other physical manifestations of anger are unhealthy ways to communicate upset. They accomplish nothing and always do more harm than good. Same goes for name calling or playing the blame-game.

Even if somebody is clearly in the wrong it doesn’t need to be harped on. Mentioning a past issue once or twice can lead to resolution but bringing it up over and over can only bring out defensiveness.

One exception is when the person who has done wrong won’t own up to what they have done and apologize, or when they keep doing the same thing over and over. In that case the issue moves beyond bringing up old problems and becomes a question of why the past keeps rising to the surface.

Surviving the First Fight

In order to survive the first fight a couple must be willing to really examine why the fight happened and both people must be ready to make a compromise. The compromise won’t always be equal, one person may have to give more, but compromise not conquest should be the ultimate goal of any conflict.

When deciding who should bend there are three important things to ask as a couple; who if anybody was in the wrong, who will be hurt most by having to make a change, and if the change being asked is reasonable and possible.

In the case of clear right and wrong, such as cheating or lying, the person who has done the wrong must be prepared to give up the most in repairing the damage. But rarely are fights started over issues of clear right and wrong. More often than not it is a difference of opinion or a variation in needs that causes couples to fight.

Handling Touchy Situations

Where the issue of right or wrong is not clear, which is usually the case, the question then becomes one of compromise. Just how much compromise or sacrifice should one person make for another?

For example, if a girlfriend is very sensitive to friendships with ex-girlfriends the boyfriend needs to ask himself if making her uncomfortable and insecure is worth maintaining those friendships.

If a guy feels those friendships are important enough to be maintained even if it bothers his girlfriend he needs to do everything he can do make his girlfriend comfortable. He can never be secretive about what he does or says to the ex and ideally should bring the girls together.

If a guy feels that it’s not worth damaging a relationship to maintain ties to an ex then the friendship should be put on the back burner.

Whatever issues arise and whatever compromises are made it is essential that the primary relationship always be put first.

How First Fights Make Relationships Stronger

First fights define relationships. They reaffirm the couple’s commitment to one another and if they are worked through properly they can make a relationship stronger. While it is always scary to fight for the first time it is important to acknowledge that fights are normal and that they happen in every close relationship.

Why you fight is important but it is how you fight that determines whether or not the conflict will strengthen your bond or stretch it to the limit. Break ups are not the inevitable outcome of the first fight although fearing it will lead to a break up is normal.

If a first fight leads to a break up it simply means the foundation of the relationship was not very strong. For good relationships the first fight will solidify things. By wanting to work through conflict rather than run away couples show each other that they are there for a long time, not just for a good time. This realization is an important one.

First fights don’t have to be negative. They are a sign that your relationship is moving to a new, more intimate and more committed level. Isn’t that a good thing?

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