5 Things A First Fight Can Tell You About Your Relationship
It’s no secret that fighting is inevitable in any relationship. Even the healthiest, happiest of couples go at it from time to time — it’s only natural. (And healthy, if you do it right!) If you’re in a new relationship, you might still be in the throes of the honeymoon phase, but once the next phase of your romance begins, so too does the potential for fighting.
And the number one thing couples fight about most often? Nothing. Nada. Literally nothing. According to research from the Gottman Institute, meaningless arguments are the most common, whether it’s over where to eat dinner or who lost the remote.
So, arguing is going to happen, and to keep your relationship healthy, you have to face it head on. Avoiding tough discussions is a quick way to derail your relationship and create trust issues.
Maybe you haven’t even thought about arguing with your new partner, and that’s totally fine. But when reality hits and you find yourselves in the middle of an argument, it ends up teaching you a lot about your relationship.
Learn about the best ways to argue with Relish, our relationship coaching app! Get access to personalized lessons, quizzes, games, and more, along with 24/7 access to a real relationship expert. Download the app and start your 7-day free trial.
Here are 5 things a first fight can tell you about your relationship:
1. How You’re Able to Compromise
You spend the beginning of your relationship in a magical, rosy daze, and then BAM — you’re fighting in the middle of Target over which tablecloth to buy. It happens to the best of us, and one of the first things you’ll notice from your first fight is your ability to compromise.
When you argue for the first time, you see a new side of each other. You want that magical, rosy feeling again, so what do you do? You compromise. A first fight not only teaches you how your partner compromises, but also how much you’re willing to compromise yourself. If you’re with the right person, a first fight will make you realize that you want to make it work, and you’re determined to prioritize their needs and find some common ground.
2. How Your Communication Styles Differ
Communication is a key factor in any healthy relationship. The ability to talk to each other is crucial, and when you’re in the middle of your first fight, you’ll get a pretty good glimpse at how that will look moving forward.
Pay attention when your partner is talking during your first argument. What is their communication style like? Are they patient and calm, allowing you to say what you need to say? Are they more assertive? Do they completely shut down or avoid talking? Or are they quick to name-call and belittle you? An argument is a quick way to bring out someone’s true colors, and you can learn a lot about your partner’s communication style (and how it’s similar or different to yours) the first time you fight.
The end of your argument is a great opportunity to discuss any differences in communication styles and how you can improve them moving forward. Think of your first fight as a “trial run.” What could you have done differently to resolve things sooner? It’s important to be completely open and honest about any actions you appreciated and those you found uncomfortable.
Remember, the two of you are new at this! Laying down some communication “ground rules” after your first fight helps ensure you approach the next one more effectively.
Do you know your partner’s communication style? How about your own? Learn more about how to communicate not just during arguments, but every day with Relish! Download our award-winning relationship coaching app — your first week is free.
3. Whether There are Any Signs of Toxic Behavior
If your first fight turns into a full-on screaming match, it’s probably not a sign of good things to come. Arguments can bring a lot of toxic behaviors to light, so it’s important to look for potential red flags. Some of the most obvious ones include:
- Criticizing or putting you down
- Constantly accusing you of things (that usually aren’t true)
- Calling you names or cursing at you
- Stonewalling behaviors
- Controlling the conversation
- Emotional blackmail, such as threatening to end the relationship
- Kicking, hitting, or throwing objects/furniture
- Any type of physical abuse
If any of these happen during your first fight, it doesn’t mean the relationship is over — but it does mean you need to have a separate conversation about it. While it’s true that you cannot “change” a person, you can have them improve their behaviors, especially if they cause you to feel devalued in the relationship. Arguments can certainly get heated, but there’s a difference between a bad fight and toxic one.
4. Your Ability to Accept Responsibility
There is nothing more frustrating than arguing with someone who refuses to take responsibility for their actions. Sure, we can all get stubborn sometimes, but if someone is blatantly disregarding their role in a particular situation, it could be a sign of some underlying issues. During your first fight, you are able to get a good look at your partner’s willingness to accept responsibility, along with how well you’re able to do so yourself.
Although it is just the first fight, you can still spot signs of gaslighting, which are incredibly important to look out for. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that drives people to question their sanity (or even their reality), and a key tactic of gaslighters is shifting all of the blame on to you. Even when they are faced with proof of lying or other hurtful behavior, they will avoid taking responsibility and try to convince you that you are the problem.
If you’re noticing that your partner is aggressively avoiding blame during your first argument, it could be a potential red flag. Be sure to pay attention to how they act after the argument, when things return to normal. If they are still unable to accept any responsibility after things calm down, there could be bigger issues at play.
Gaslighting is incredibly detrimental to any relationship, but it’s still possible to turn things around. Download the Relish relationship coaching app and talk to an expert relationship coach about how to get your romance back on track. Your first week is free!
5. Your Ability to Apologize
It’s a terrible feeling to end an argument without truly resolving it. Maybe you decide to end it out of frustration (or exhaustion) without either one of you apologizing. When you have your first fight, you’ll get to see how well you and your partner handle apologies.
When things start to cool down, take it upon yourself to apologize for any of your own actions that contributed to the fight. When offering an apology, it’s important to point out exactly what it is you are sorry for and what you could have done differently. Most importantly, how can you improve your behavior to prevent it from happening in the future?
It can be tough to swallow your pride and say sorry, but if there’s anything a first fight will tell you, it’s how much you care for your partner. If you’re in the right relationship, you’ll want more than anything to see your partner happy, and if that’s the case, offering a sincere apology shouldn’t be much of a challenge.
Tips for Arguing Effectively
Once the dust settles from your first argument, talk to your partner about it! Bring up any concerns and remind yourselves how much you both care about each other and the relationship.
If you are still in need of some healthy arguing tips, try implementing some of these into your next fight:
- Gather your thoughts before speaking
- Practice active listening (make eye contact, avoid preparing a response while your partner is talking)
- Try being empathetic (put yourself in their shoes)
- Ask yourself how a reasonable, rational person would respond
- Remind your partner how much you care for them
- Don’t dig up past issues
- Stick to the facts
- Avoid accusing, belittling, or condescending your partner
- Let your partner know you are open to hearing their view (and they’ll be more open to hearing yours)
Going through the first fight with your partner can be tough, but you shouldn’t let it deter you! Everyone fights — period. Believing that you should never argue with your partner is a recipe for disaster (and totally unrealistic), so why not embrace your first real argument as a couple?
Instead of viewing your fight as a hiccup in your relationship, look at what it taught you about each other. Have you come out of it feeling stronger and more connected? Are you willing to put in sincere effort to work through challenges moving forward? Or did this fight make you rethink your connection?
Your first big fight as a couple isn’t exactly an exciting milestone for your relationship, but it’s an important one. It’s a good indicator of how well you will be able to tackle tough situations together. Above all else, it’s a normal, healthy part of your relationship!
Learn more about relationship self-care, communication and healthy relationships with Relish! Connect one-on-one with a supportive and professional coach. Get tips, lessons, quizzes, games, advice, and more with your free 7 day trial. Install now!