The 7 steps to fighting fairly

I love a good argument but I hate to fight. I am a Libran and by nature we are peace lovers, having said that, I have withstood my fair share of fighting and I can be a right-royal pain on the ass sometimes, so I have had my fair share of fights.

It’s fine, really. The closer you are to someone, the more likely you are to fight. The Boyf and I have (up to this stage) avoided fighting but now we are past that magical four month mark where you think that everything they say and do is simply perfect and that all their faults are adorable, we have had a fight.

Luckily for me – at one stage he was trying to fight with me after having just got out of the shower, so he had his shirt off and was dripping wet. I was thinking, “You’re so annoying but DAMN you’re cute!” As usual the fight boiled down to not much more than a combination of a grumpy mood and a few misunderstandings. I hate to fight with people and I love to make up as quickly as possible.


Luckily for me there is a plethora of advice online about how to fight fairly. Learning to fight fairly and respectfully is a pretty good tool to have in your tool belt. Here are the seven major rules I found after consulting many sources online and anecdotally in my own life. Here we go:

1. Choose your battles

You don’t need to fight over everything, There are certain times when it’s best to just let ‘sleeping dogs lie’. Sometimes I get into a bad mood for no good reason. Often this is when I am hungry or tired and I get stroppy like a giant, overgrown toddler. Choosing the time to fight is a good tool as we are not always in the best frame of mind. Don’t attack someone when they’ve just got home from work, on their birthday or after they’ve gotten off the phone from their mother. Choose your battles and choose your times.

2. Avoid bad language and name calling

As I have gotten older, I have realised that importance of this point. I can’t say I always do this, but I realise that it’s never a good time to use bad language and certainly not a great time to pick on someone’s flaws. Sure, bad language and fighting go together like bacon and eggs, but there’s a difference between slipping in the occasional f word and tearing into someone’s person character with petty name calling.

3. Use time outs when you need to

I am terrible at this one, as I have problems with self control, as do many tantrum-throwers in my generation. As I age and get more mature (ha!) I have learned that I often calm down if I have a chance to gather my thoughts. I often use these time outs to breathe, mediate or pray (please let me get to the end of this argument with respect!) even though I am not a religious person. I think that taking a time out is a good way to calm down.

4. Set a time limit

There are many reports I read that suggested that you should never argue for more than 15 minutes. I am not sure about this time limit, but I think that seems fair. Really, if the thing you are fighting about is an established problem, 15 minutes might be enough, but sometimes it takes me a while to get to the bottom of what is really wrong. I do not like fights that drag on all day. I usually have lots of interesting and wonderful things to do – so I try to time-limit myself when fighting.

5. Acknowledge attempts to end an argument constructively

Sigh – often we harp on about things well pats their use by date. If the person you are arguing with is trying to end the argument, then consider letting the issue drop, particularly if you have reached the 15 minute mark. One thing I am trying to get better at is dropping an issue. I have had many dreams that indicate to me that sometimes I simply ‘won’t take no for an answer’ and I need to learn when to let go of an issue.

6. Keep to the issue at hand

Remember that thing you did last year? Or that awful thing your relative said two Christmases ago? When you are arguing with someone, it’s best not to dredge up the past. Try to keep to the issue at hand and not complicate things. Sometimes I think that I am keeping to the issue at hand and then I realise that I have brought up other things that are bothering me, because I am upset.

7. Learn what your partner’s triggers are and don’t go there

We all have triggers. For me, it is the F word. Never, ever call me fat or talk about my weight or appearance during a fight because I get very sensitive and I will cry and become irrational. I had one rotten partner who would do this all the time and it was very childish and not constructive at all. The closer you are to someone, the more informed you are about their triggers. Don’t go there. When fighting like an adult, don’t fight dirty. If you know your friend or partner’s triggers – steer clear of them.

“People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.” Will Rogers

One of the best things about The Boyf is that he leads by example. He doesn’t ever tell me what to do, he just does things correctly and hopes that I will catch on. Often I do. I have done this in the past and it often works, particularly if the person you are trying to influence cares about you and your relationship.

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Colin Powell

What are your tips for arguing fairly? Any that I have missed?

  1. Pingback: How to argue effectively | Arguing on social media & avoiding trolls

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