Fighting early in a relationship

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Arguing with your ificant other isn't necessarily unhealthy. In fact, what you're actually fighting over is less important than how the two of you resolve conflict. I spoke to two experts about the kinds of fights you should work through at the beginning of your relationship, how to have productive argumentsand s your conflict style may not be as healthy as it could be. Arguing early in a relationship isn't always a red flag, but it is important to take these four steps before you reach the three-month mark.

If you're struggling to communicate effectively with your new partner, don't panic. Conflict is never easy, especially with someone who makes you feel all warm and fuzzy just by glancing your way. Here is everything you need to know to get through the first fights of your relationship — plus, strategies for working through new conflicts as your relationship continues to progress.

During the first few months of dating, it's important to clarify your boundaries and make sure you understand each other's expectations. You want to be in agreement early on, to prevent unnecessary conflict down the road. Unfortunately, at the beginning of a relationship, both partners tend to shy away from discussing critical topics.

Who wants their crush to know their embarrassing quirks or insecurities right off the bat? Pharaon says that some common conversations you should be having include establishing boundaries and "essentially agreeing to the terms of the relationship.

Early on, discuss what exactly you're doing, whether you're seeing other people or in an exclusive relationship, and what you're each ultimately looking for.

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If you don't initiate these conversations at the start of your relationship, you won't know whether you and your partner are on the same. Meredith Shireya couples therapist and the founder of a private counseling practice in New York Cityexplains that early in a relationshipyou are more likely to overlook big conflict indicators. Whether it's a disagreement about culture, family, time management, or affection, when you're feeling connected to your partner and positive about the relationship, you tend to minimize the importance of these potential differences.

Are you a big planner, but your partner would rather live spontaneously? Do you hate PDA while your partner loves it? It's not until later on in the relationship that you'll see a rise in conflict and really notice those differences.

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But the more difficult the conversation, the more important it is to have. Deep breaths… you can do this. These conversations require vulnerability and ask us to bravely share our hurt, fears, and insecurities with another," says Pharaon. In order to share your side more effectively, she suggests thinking about the message you're trying to communicate before you speak. Approach the conversation from a place of curiosity rather than accusation. You like this person and want to be with them, so making them feel seen and heard is a big indicator that you care about their perspective.

If your partner is responsive and makes you feel validated, that's a good your relationship will last.

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She notes an important quote from Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes : "The more difficult the conversation, the greater the freedom. Additionally, the sooner you can talk to your partner about a problem, the better.

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It can feel easier to avoid talking about conflict, especially when you're worried about fighting in the early stages of the relationship, but Shirey says that avoidant behavior might actually be indicative of an unhealthy dynamic. Both Shirey and Pharaon mention John Gottman's studies about relationship success or failure. Gottman's research shows that the four greatest predictors your relationship won't last are contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These are all examples of how not to approach an argument.

She says that contempt means communicating a sense of superiority. Think passive-aggressive comments to your partner during an otherwise fun date. Shirey describes criticism as a lighter version of contempt — a complaint about who your partner is as a person which is just going to offend them. Criticism is easier to bounce back from than contempt, but it still needs to be addressed.

If you feel like everything is an unproductive fight — if you're always raising your voice, calling each other names, or feeling forced to walk away — pause and think about whether this is a good relationship to stay in.

If not, this might not be the person for you.

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Vienna Pharaond marriage and family therapist in New York City. Meredith Shireycouples therapist and founder of a private counseling practice in New York City.

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By Jamie Kravitz. Updated: July 9, Originally Published: March 16, Have The Difficult Conversations. Search Close.

Fighting early in a relationship

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