As many probably do, I grew up believing that conflict of any kind was evil. I thought that if a couple was arguing, their relationship was dysfunctional. The reality is, while fighting isn’t necessarily a good thing, it is a mark of some level of intimacy. We only fight with people we’re close with. In a fight both parties take off polite masks to let true emotions pour out. It’s incredibly vulnerable.
Relationship arguments are the hottest because they have the greatest intimacy potential. When done well, fighting can be a catalyst for deeper intimacy (and really hot make-up sex.) Follow these guidelines to increase the intimacy next time you argue with your lover.
Increase Intimacy while Arguing:
Remember to Play
An argument is a game in the most basic sense. Two players, you and your other, act to affect and be at the effect of the other. Actually the argument is a small game within a much larger game that is your relationship.
To “play” doesn’t necessarily mean to take it lightly. It means to respond to every moment and let it take its course as opposed to treating it as “work.” Instead of trying to make something happen, just try to keep the ball in the air. You might even find arguing to be fun.
Listen to What Your Partner is Asking for Emotionally
Relationship arguments are emotional, not logical. Trying to “win” the argument with facts is a fool’s errand. Even if you win, you lose. Instead of focusing on facts, focus on how your partner feels.
For instance, once a woman told me something to the effect of “You’re not man enough to handle me.” I had the immediately impulse to say something mean back or cite instances proving that I was too man enough, but that would have missed the point. What she really was communicating was “I feel scared that you might not really care about me so I’m going to challenge your ego till you prove it.” By ignoring the mean words and responding to her desire for more affection, we were able to get closer rather than hurt each other further.
Most relationship argument topics are nonsense anyway. Beneath the story and circumstance you’ll see all arguments are some sort of emotional request.
Imagine how fun a movie would be if you were blindfolded; or concert with earplugs in, or sex if you couldn’t touch. Kind of robs you of experience huh? Emotions are the most important sense for women in relationships. Let your partner know your true feelings. Most of my relational arguments have smoothed out by me admitting that I was feeling jealous or insecure in some way. By dropping your persona and letting your true emotions be felt, you give your partner permission to stop being on the offensive and be vulnerable too.
Most unpleasant conflict occurs through the personas. Your persona is a shield you use to protect your tender self. Paradoxically it provides a hard surface for hurtful words to hit against. By softening and being real, you remove the target for attack and you can connect on a deeper level.
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Allow Each Other to Be Out of Control
The problem is rarely the problem, so don’t try to fix it. Sometimes there actually is no problem. Sometimes a we just need to feel whatever feelings are coming up despite how irrational they may seem. In such a case, your role is to allow your partner to feel safe to feel and express whatever wants to come out. It’s really what you don’t do here that matters. I see so many couples drag out arguments because they want to solve the problem. Don’t do that. Just shut up and listen.
Play the Benevolent Villain
The two of you got connected and are now arguing for a reason. We attract people who piss us off so we can work through our conditioning. That’s why many people have recurring patterns with exes. Some of my most intense arguments have required me to call out some sort of unconscious behavior she wants to stop herself. It may initially stir things up further, but they will save you grief in the long run. If you don’t mention the elephant in the room it will fester as resentment and become a bigger deal that is has to be.
This doesn’t mean saying random hurtful things just to get a rise. It means telling the truth and being empathetic. You know you’re doing it right when you can feel what your partner feels. Be the lover who is so dedicated to your partner’s well-being that you are willing to be seen as an asshole temporarily.
Break the 4th Wall
In theater, the “4th wall” is the imaginary wall between actors and audience. When an actor turns to talk to the audience, he “breaks” that wall.
You can break the 4th wall in an argument. For instance, if your partner hits you with an extremely mean comment you can pause and say “Wow, that was a good one.” Breaking the wall acknowledges that the bigger game of: your relationship is more important than any little conflict. You demonstrate your sense of humor and breadth, of attention even in the heat of an argument.
Keep Your Attention on Your Partner No Matter What
Many arguments are caused by dissatisfaction with the quality of attention you give each other. (Gents, when a woman is asking for more “quality time” she’s usually really asking for better quality attention.) No matter how angry you are, keep your attention on your partner. That way you can feel each other and there’s a chance at resolution. If you disengage when you’re angry, then you’re blocking opportunities for intimacy. An argument is just one stop on the journey of your relationship. A constant underlying current of love and approval allows you to move from conflict to conflict without getting stuck on any of them. If you decide to stay connected no matter what, you can fight it all out and still make up afterwards. Not only that, but those arguments can actually bring you closer together.
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