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10 Mean Fighting Strategies To Avoid In Relationships

10 Mean Fighting Strategies To Avoid In Relationships

6)    Arguing from a distance

The farther away partners are from each other during a conflict, the easier it is for either of them to hurl accusations and insults without feeling responsible for the effect on the other.

The distance also allows the need-to-win partner who claims it to more easily assess the weakness of the other, and to take a more protected stance.

It also can alleviate guilt because the intimacy of closeness is diluted and responsibility for causing pain is easier to ignore.

Read 4 Toxic Behaviors That Are Ruining Your Relationship

7)    Hitting Below the Belt

During any disagreement, partners who care for each other know what they can use in an argument and what they must never say no matter how heated the conflict becomes.

They trust each other to never use the special knowledge they have of one another’s deepest vulnerabilities to win an argument.

The most serious and relationship-destructive conflicts occur when one or both partners break that trust by using the sacred information they know about the other to gain an unfair advantage during a confrontation.

8)    Martyrdom

An insidious but often effective strategy to win a fight is to begin beating oneself up on the other end of any accusation or challenge, and then blame the other partner for the exaggerated self-destruction.

These kinds of fighters act as if the other’s accusations were much worse than they were intended in order to make the attacking partner feel guilty and then back down.

9)    Intimidation

In any committed relationship, threats of abandonment, exile, and escalated aggressiveness are needing-to-win fighting styles that are intended to make the other partner feel insecure and fearful of loss.

The goal is to use that response to have him or her focus on what might could be lost if the fight continues.

10)    Feigned indifference to outcome

Whether they feel differently inside or not, partners who pretend they don’t care about whether they win or lose can actually win an argument by acting as if they are giving in without really agreeing.

The other partners can feel the ruse and know that they have essentially been robbed of power or influence by the “playing dead” posture of the other.

None of these needing-to-win fighting styles will ever lead to a productive resolution of conflict. Rather than the partners listening, respecting, or being open to each other’s experience, they continue to see only their own positions and to do whatever they can to wipe out the other’s reasonableness.

The arguments that ensue from these no-win battles create deepening grooves of resentment that become harder to overcome over time.

Once these negative fighting styles are identified and stopped, couples can begin to deal with conflict in more productive ways. They are ready to learn the rules of productive disagreements.

There are multiple sources that are available to help intimate partners learn how to fight productively. I have written many articles in this area for Psychology Today Blogs that are available on my website. The following is a simple synthesis of the wealth of knowledge in this area.

Seven Simple Rules to Begin Changing Negative Conflict

1)    Avoid arguing at all if you are tired, frustrated, or there isn’t enough time to adequately resolve the situation.

2)    Sit close to one another, preferably physical touching in some way.

3)    Listen completely to the other’s point of view. Support does not mean to have to see things the same way.

4)    Argue only one issue at a time. If others get brought up, agree to talk about them separately and only after you resolve the one at hand.

5)    Don’t add support to your position by using other’s opinions or past arguments to bolster your argument.

6)    Stop the conflict if either one of you escalates the need to win.

7)    If you cannot stop from employing a needing-to-win style when you disagree with your partner, seek out the support of a mutually respected professional or lay witness to observe.

Following these guidelines may initially seem hard, but they get easier over time. The compounding rewards encourage most couples to continue practicing them. Disagreements that are handled with mutual respect and support both enhance and strengthen the intimate connection between the partners in committed relationships.

Read Help Your Partner Understand Your Side of the Conflict in 3 Steps

My patients who have left this negative combat style behind and practiced this new way of conflict resolution not only have fewer conflicts and more successful results but heal more rapidly when they do disagree.

Written by Randi Gunther, Ph.D
Originally appeared on:

10 Mean Fighting Strategies To Avoid In Relationships
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Dr. Randi Gunther

In her 40-year-career as a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, She Had Spent Over 100,000 face-to-face hours with singles and couples helping them to sort out their desires and conflicts about intimate relationships. She Had explored all the reasons why their relationships so often start out euphoric only to crumble and how they can turn those disappointments into future successes. She truly believe that the greatest obstacles standing between you and the love you want is often right before your eyes but you are unable to envision the journey. Her specialty is to help you look at yourself and your relationships with heroic honesty and the willingness to look deeply at yourself and what you bring to a relationship so that you can finally create the kind of transformation that will change you forever. You'll finally understand why you've struggled in love, and what skills you'll need to create the kind of relationship you've always wanted - one in which you fall deeper in love while simultaneously scaling the heights of your individual potential. It's how her husband and She have made their marriage their bedrock for over 60 years. Subscribe to her free advice newsletter at where she'll tell you everything she has learned about finding and keeping a truly heroic relationship.View Author posts