What To do After a Fight With Your Girlfriend
First thing’s first: disagreements are normal, not arguing at all is more of a red flag. Don’t freak out. If this is your first-ever fight as a couple, it’s easy to spiral into panic mode and make some regrettable moves out of sheer panic. When in fact, arguments can actually strengthen your relationship if you know how to handle the aftermath. You can get more of an insight into their character, values, love language, and what they truly want out of your relationship – which are all valuable qualities in a healthy relationship. View every argument as an opportunity to grow, not as a setback.
The heat of the moment can cause things to surface that usually wouldn’t day to day and reveal things that may not have been brought up naturally. It’s vital that you create a safe space for each other afterward to talk about what went down, so we speak to the experts to find out exactly how you can do this to take your relationship from strength to strength.
Take a Deep Breath
It can take some time for your system to exit fight mode, especially if things got heated. Arguments can become ugly when you’re emotionally invested. “Consider going for a walk – sometimes it takes a while to understand what happened before you are able to talk about it,” says Rebecca Hendrix, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
“Tell your partner that you know you need to talk things through, but you need a breather to get clear on what you want to say.” Once you feel calmer, you can begin to process your perspective on what happened. But don’t forget to vocalize that you’ll be back to discuss the disagreement, the worst thing you could do is to leave your partner wondering whether you’ll return or not.
A simple “I love you (or I care about you depending on where you are in your relationship), and we’ll work this out together, but I need some time to gather my thoughts” will go a long way. Letting her know how much you love (or care) about her and that you’re confident you can move past your argument will also help her gain perspective on the situation, so when you return, you’re more likely to be on the same page.
Identify Your Feelings
Ask yourself how you really feel. Sometimes we confuse one feeling for another, most commonly anger and hurt. Typically, anger is born out of hurt as a defense mechanism. Until you identify what you’re truly feeling, the issue can’t be truly resolved. “Are you angry, hurt, sad? Feel betrayed, belittled, misunderstood? What are you most angry, hurt, or sad about?” says Hendrix. Your feelings are valid, and it’s important to name them. Only once you identify them can you begin to process what made you feel that way and move on.
Is the Story You Told Yourself Accurate?
Hendrix encourages you to ask yourself whether the story you told yourself is what actually happened. Often, it’s the stories we tell ourselves about something that causes us to feel a certain way. Take the time to think about what really happened. “If your girlfriend tells you she thinks you should have received a promotion, and you feel like you did something wrong; you might be telling yourself a story that she thinks you didn’t work hard enough,” says Hendrix. But “this may not be true. She may feel you worked incredibly hard and deserved a promotion.”
If you’re ever unsure of how she meant something, just ask her, especially if it hit a nerve and you’re on the verge of losing it. The only way to know whether you perceived what she said or did the way she meant it to come across is to ask her. Communication is key in any successful relationship.
Prepare To Talk About What Happened
Think about how you contributed to the fight, no one’s completely innocent as it takes two people to argue. “In most arguments, you are 50% of what caused the fight to occur,” says Hendrix. Can you own what you said, or did the very fact that you couldn’t, cause the conversation to escalate into an argument? “Can you put yourself in her shoes, to feel what it must have been like to be on the receiving end of what you said or did? This will help her do the same for you.” Accepting responsibility is a huge part of reconciliation. It’s essential to remember you’re on the same team with the same end goal. Whatever you do, don’t start pointing fingers when thinking about the part you played in the argument.
Avoid saying things like “I know what I did was wrong, but you did it first and I was just reacting to what you did, so technically, it’s all your fault,” unless you want to go for round two that is. If you didn’t like what she did, choosing to do it to her is hypocritical and even more hurtful when you’re aware of how it made you feel. Own your actions and she’ll more than likely follow your lead and take responsibility for her own.
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Initiate Repair When You’re Ready
Don’t force the makeup process on her unless she’s ready, and vice versa. Some people need time to process things after a fight. If they don’t get the time they need to deal with their emotions, these feelings can resurface at a later date causing an even bigger argument. “This is the most important part of the whole process. When you guys come back together you should have processed the fight and come to a place of peace with it. If you have not, you are not ready to talk,” says Every Man’s Personal Wing Girl, Marni Kinrys, founder of The Wing Girl Method and creator of the F Formula.
Hendrix explains that when you’re ready, it’s vital that you both take turns initiating repair after a fight. Share your perspective on what happened, using “I” not “you” words. Ask her about her feelings, what hurt her most? “Apologize for the hurt or pain you may have caused, even if it wasn’t your intention – it’s the impact that matters. Jointly identify what a re-do would look like. Commit to what you’ll both do differently next time.”
Do Something Physical To Work Out the Hormones
“I know that when I fight with my husband my insides are all topsy turvy,” says Kinrys. “In order to get nerves settled and back to normal the best thing to do is something physical. Run on the spot or go for a run. Punch a pillow. Jump up and down.” Something to get all that negative energy out of your body so you can calm your nervous system down. Get those feel-good endorphins following and your body moving. Out with the bad and in with the good.
Think From Her Point of View
Kinrys explains that after a fight so many people go into their own protective mode and work to protect and defend their position in a fight, which only creates more anger and distance between the both of you. We all think and react differently to different situations and every argument gives us an opportunity to discover and learn how they respond. It’s no secret men and women have unique ways of thinking that might not be so easily understood by the opposite sex. Be open-minded and play good cop bad cop. “Instead of being the defense lawyer for your POV, be the defense lawyer for her POV,” she says. “Seeing the other person’s side is essential in any argument with someone you love. Remember your partner is not trying to hurt you.”
Acknowledge How You Could Have Handled Things Better
This doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, you don’t have to be wrong to realize you could have handled things better than you did at the time. “It’s just about looking at the way you handled things and how to do it better and differently next time,” says Kinrys. “Did you call names and use awful defense tactics in the heat of the moment? Did you scream when you should have been calm?”
Really analyze and think about how you could have handled it better, this will give you more confidence when the next argument arises and strengthen your bond, instead of letting it get ugly and pushing each other away in the process. At the end of the day, most of the time you’ll work things out. “Hopefully in the process, you can also learn about one another and actually use the fight to bring you closer together,” she says.
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