Dirty fighting can weaken and ultimately break a relationship in the same way that rust weakens a piece of metal. Dirty fighting breaks the bonds of intimacy and causes cracks in the foundation of the relationship. These cracks spread and just like rusty metal eventually breaks apart, at some point the relationship collapses. Both of you ultimately suffer. Here are some toxic communication patterns to avoid:
Timing: You try to catch your partner off guard. You look for a time when your partner is least able to respond or least expects an argument, for example you call them at work and start an argument.
Escalation: You quickly move from the main argument to questioning your partner’s personality and then move on to wondering if the relationship is worth it.
Overwhelm: Instead of sticking with the original issues you bring up as many issues as possible in great detail. You try to overwhelm the other person so that they can’t argue effectively.
Exaggerate: You draw the worst possible conclusions regarding the relationship. The issue gets blown out of proportion and you talk about catastrophes.
Question: You treat your partner like a child, making them feel like they are incapable of an adult relationship. “Why can’t you just love me like he loves her?”
Complain: When your partner complains, you respond with a complaint of your own instead of addressing the issues. “So what if I forgot to make the bed. What about all the times you haven’t helped me clean?”
Over-Generalize: Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, you use words like “never” and “always” and try to force your partner to defend themselves. “You never do anything in the relationship.”
Blame: You take the position of ‘victim’. You don’t admit to your part in the conflict and refuse to change. “It’s always your fault. If our relationship is going to improve you have to change – not me.”
Mind Reading: You become the expert on what your partner is thinking or feeling. “You’re not really angry.” This way you avoid talking about your partner’s anger or taking responsibility for your part in the issue.
Pull Rank: You avoid conflict by saying you make more money or work harder or have more friends or more education. You try to make your partner feel less than equal.
Give Advice: Instead of talking about the problem, you give your partner advice. You suddenly become the expert on the issue. You have better answers, and try to tell your partner how to think or feel. When they complain you simple say “…but I’m just trying to help you.”
Labeling: You label your partner as “neurotic” or “paranoid” or “immature”, trying to make them think that they are at fault. You try to portray them as flawed rather than focusing on your own behavior.
Refusing Compromise: You must win regardless.
If you’re a “dirty fighter,” know that it’s not productive nor will it help you achieve a better relationship. While you may gain temporary control or you might scare or manipulate your partner into obedience, in the long run what you’re doing might just cost you your relationship. There are much better and healthier ways of getting what you want out of your relationship and from life. Seeking help from a professional therapist for individual or couple counseling could help you learn effective ways of communicating in your relationship.
Please call me at 949-760-7171 or text 949-244-8572 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to schedule an appointment. See an overview of my book Building Better Relationships – A Guidebook for Men.