Being in a relationship can definitely have its perks. During the beginning, especially, you're both starry-eyed and happy. It's fun texting each other throughout the day, you look forward to the next time you see them, everything is just fine and dandy... right? But this "honeymoon" phase doesn't last forever, of course. So when should couples have their first fight? And can you use it to actually improve your communication?
We all know that relationships take work. And just like anything else, you get what you give. Disagreements are expected, and the occasional fight doesn't mean you're doomed. As matchmaker and dating coach Julia Bekker of Hunting Maven tells Romper in an email, it's how you disagree that will make or break the relationship.
Fighting can be a good thing, if you do it right. Have you ever been in a relationship that was virtually free of arguments? It was probably sort of nice, except after a while you might have found yourself thinking something like "Hmm, we could really use a good fight one of these days." There's a reason for that. "Arguments can actually infuse some adrenaline into a couple’s relationship," Dr. Gilda Carle explained on the Match.com website. Arguments can also help establish certain key factors in a relationship that help it thrive, such as defining boundaries, beating boredom, and revealing how high the stakes are for each person.
That makes so much sense, right? How can you know what's really acceptable and what's not if you don't have a disagreement from time to time? Plus, being able to stick up for yourself commands respect. Licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson told Elite Daily that "arguments are typically the result of unmet needs." Arguing can be a way of learning about each other and communicating your wants and needs. Still, when should your very first argument happen? How soon is too soon?
Richardson explained that there's no magic number to when couples should begin arguing, but that getting into an argument within the first five dates should be a red flag. Richardson warned that "it may signal that communication doesn't flow easily between you and your partner or that you may not be an ideal fit." It's common sense, when you think about it: If you can find things to fight about when you've still got those rose-colored glasses on, what's going to happen when you're in the "warts and all" phase? Still, don't confuse arguing with a good debate. Lots of people enjoy a fun debate, myself included. If you get into a disagreement that it turns into a playfully heated discourse, that could be a cool way to learn how your opinions differ, don't you think?
The key ingredient to a productive fight is communication, says Bekker. She says, "learn to communicate in a non-combative/argumentative and blame-placing way. If there is no communication, how can you expect anything to change or be resolved?" Another great tip for couples is to take time to learn about each other, or what Bekker calls learning each other's love languages. "People give and receive love in different ways," she says. "It’s important to know what what your partner interprets as loving and appreciative gestures." The more you know and understand the needs of your partner, the more you can meet those needs and avoid future fights. Not speaking up for yourself can lead to "passive aggressiveness and silent resentment," says Bekker, which which ultimately create a disconnection.
While there's no magic number when it comes to when a couple should have their first argument, what's important is both the quality and quantity of the fight. Get to know your partner and let your partner be aware of your wants and needs. Communicate and allow your arguments to be productive (not destructive) and watch you and your partner become closer than ever.