FIGHTING ~ too much, not enough, a healthy balance

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Tuesday is the day of Mars, and Mars represents fighting, war, and fiery passion. It’s about going into battle and standing your ground. It’s strong, intense, and never backs down. Mars takes action, it doesn’t just sit there quietly. It has a lot of energy which is fueled by desire.

We tend to think of “fighting” as a negative thing — but it’s actually very important, it not only keeps us alive, but it gives us strength to thrive. As with everything else in life, fighting is something that should be done in moderation. Of course too much fighting is a bad thing, but so is not enough fighting.

I used to think that couples who never fight with each other were the perfect couples, exactly what we should aim for in a partnership. But the reality is that couples who never fight with each other are just as toxic as couples who always fight with each other. You see, life itself is a battle, and relationships should be fought for.

Fighting can be a sign that you care, that you’re fighting for someone, you’re working for someone. Most of us try our hardest to avoid conflict. So when you fight, you’re being brave enough to face a conflict head on instead of sweeping it under the rug. Humans are bound to disagree with each other at some point due to misunderstandings or other life stressors outside of the relationship.

If a conflict comes up and you choose to ignore it or pretend it never happened, that doesn’t make you stronger. It makes you weaker because you’re taking the easy way out. You’re not standing up for what you deserve — you’re settling for less.

The following is a list of signs you are fighting too much with someone, not fighting enough with someone, and finally the healthy balance between fighting and getting along. This not only applies to romantic relationships, but platonic and family as well:

Signs that you’re fighting too much:

Fighting too much may seem like an obvious one, but it’s actually much trickier to define than you realize. You make excuses like “we only fight over text message, that doesn’t count” or “our fights aren’t that bad” or maybe you fight so often that it’s become your new normal. Take a look at these examples…

  • Every time you’re together, it’s stressful. — Stress is a part of life so you’re going to have some stressful times together. But if literally every moment with them is stressful, that’s a very bad sign.
  • You have the same exact fight over and over again and it leads nowhere. — If you continue to fight about the same exact subject and still can’t find any type of solution, bad news!
  • Your “make-ups” resolve nothing. — perhaps you believe your fights aren’t that bad because you always end up making up. But don’t be fooled! The initial “high” of making up will make you feel like everything is perfect again. Just wait until your dopamine settles down and you’ll pinpoint a pattern.
  • Your fights are extremely petty. — If the fighting involves stooping to very low levels, then let go. Examples include getting other people involved, stealing things, pissing them off on purpose, egging them on, being immature about it, etc.
  • Your friends make comments about it. — You shouldn’t always listen to what people say, but sometimes outsiders can provide insight that you can’t see. If you find multiple friends saying “you two are always fighting!” or something like that, consider their perspective.
  • You completely degrade and disrespect one another. — If there’s name-calling and humiliation, forget about it! A small amount of this is sometimes acceptable, but fighting should be about solving an issue, and when you’re simply attacking a person’s character, there’s nothing to solve. You’re just digging yourself a deeper hole and making everything worse.
  • It becomes physical. — Physical violence is completely unacceptable! There’s plenty of healthy ways to relieve stress together in a physical way — playing a sport together, going on a long walk together, giving massages, even “play fighting” if you’re both in a relaxed mood. But if there is any anger involved, keep your hands off each other. No pushing, no slapping, don’t even poke or flick the person.
  • You’re yelling at each other all the time. — Don’t be yelling at each other on a daily basis. This is more than straining your voice, it can also apply to texts or online messages.
  • You’ve lost your self-worth. — People who fight with one another too much, romantic or platonic, tend to become overly attached to each other. You reach the point where you let someone degrade you because you feel like you deserve it. Break contact until you’ve gotten your confidence back or else you’ll never be able to defend yourself.

Signs that you’re not fighting enough:

Not fighting at all is just as toxic as always fighting. There’s no passion, you don’t care about one another, but you put on a show and make yourself believe that everything is perfect. Again remember, “partner” can mean either romantic or platonic.

  • When conflict comes up, you sweep it under the rug. — When a red flag pops up, you simply ignore it or pretend it never happened. You’re constantly giving “benefit of the doubt” or telling yourself that “ignorance is bliss.” Instead of bravely facing conflict, you run away.
  • When your feelings are hurt, you “justify it” by thinking of the times you hurt your partner. — Let’s say that someone did something that really hurt you. Instead of expressing this to them, you tell yourself that you don’t have “the right” to get offended or be mad about it because of others times you may have hurt them. The truth is that pain is pain, and no one has the right to tell you that you’re not hurting, no matter what happened in the past. And holding grudges is no excuse to continuing hurting someone.
  • Your friends say that you two are “perfect together” because you never fight. — This is so toxic! You may bring up to your friends that you’re thinking of disconnecting from someone, and they argue with “but you two are great together! You never fight!” While an outsider’s perspective can be helpful in certain situations (like when you’re fighting too much) it can also be a bad thing, as they can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes.
  • You’re too caught up in what other people think. — When you’re a perfectionist, you want everyone to think you’re perfect. So you hold your tongue and avoid conflict because you’re worried that outsiders will see that *gasp* you’re secretly a real human being with feelings!
  • You’re passive aggressive with each other. — When you run away from conflict, it doesn’t just go away. It comes out in other ways. You bicker, you make snide comments, etc. all while keeping a happy face and pretending you’re fine. Better to put it all out there so you can move past it.
  • You keep bringing up the same issue over and over, but then you drop it. — or vice versa, your partner keeps bringing something up but refuses to genuinely discuss it. This is a sign that something is bothering them but they’re too scared to have a real conversation about it. You’ll never resolve it this way, just be constantly reminded that something is wrong.
  • There’s no passion. — Maybe there was passion at some point, but it died. This is because you continued to have conflict and misunderstandings without actually doing anything about it. It means you don’t care enough about each other.
  • You often feel guilty. — Guilt is extremely toxic and something that people use against each other to control one another. Guilt is a tactic someone uses to prevent you from leaving them no matter how toxic the relationship has become. You’re never going to start a fight with someone you feel bad for, so you suppress your hurt, you ignore your pain, and it keeps getting worse.
  • Fighting is just “not worth it.” — Yelling and putting your feelings out there is just “too much work.” You have absolutely no faith that fighting is going to solve anything. You’d rather save your energy and swallow your discomfort. They are just not worth it. You don’t care.
  • You’ve lost your self-worth. — Just like couples who fight too much, couples who don’t fight enough are also suffering from low self-esteem. Similarly, you don’t have enough confidence to stand up for yourself. You settle for a passionless relationship because you think that’s what you deserve.

Signs of a healthy amount of fighting:

  • You’re not afraid to tell your partner you’re having a “bad day.” — No one gets offended or takes it too personally if the other is having a “bad day,” it happens! The important thing is that you communicate that your negative feelings have nothing to do with them. You don’t use the other as a punching bag for things beyond their control. You may have to ask for some temporary space, and that’s fine, but you don’t just suddenly disappear out of nowhere.
  • You hurt each other, but lessons are always learned. — People hurt each other, we are human, we make mistakes and have different perspectives. The point is that after the hurt, you can learn and grow from the pain. Pain can be the best teacher when treated with care.
  • Occasionally, you raise your voice, or harsh words slip out. — You might call them a derogatory name or say something you end up regretting. Again, we are all human. It’s better to blurt it out rather than keep it locked in your head. It shouldn’t be a constant thing, but sometimes lines are crossed, it happens.
  • You have cried in front of each other before. — Crying, or even simply a sad or pouty face, shows vulnerability. Don’t feel like you always have to be smiling and happy around them, that’s just creepy. Open up.
  • You keep your fights between one another. — It’s very important that you keep your fights between each other. Don’t pull innocent outsiders into the mix who are just trying to mind their own business. Don’t stir up drama, don’t form “sides,” and don’t make your partner feel like you’ve got an entire group against them. This is degrading towards your partner and also causes a lot of stress for anyone else who has become involved. Plus there’s two sides to every story and people don’t always realize that. Exception: if you’re facing verbal/emotional/physical abuse, please reach out to someone, but preferably a professional.
  • You communicate your feelings at any risk. — Communicating your feelings means taking a risk: your partner could run away, or they could try hurting you, or they could become upset, etc. Not knowing how someone is going to react is very scary, especially when they mean the most to you. But that’s no excuse to hide your feelings. When you truly care about someone, you make communication a priority no matter the risk. Instead of taking the easy way out by pretending you don’t care (which only backfires in the end), you bravely put it all out there.
  • No matter how dark a fight gets, you can look back and laugh about it. — Fighting is not pretty and it can get very dark. If there’s a fight that you just can’t talk about, then you’re never going to move on from it. You want to be able to look back on previous fights with understanding. You might not necessarily “laugh” about it, but you’ll at least find a way to lift some of the heaviness. And you should never laugh at your partner’s pain, or your own pain, but find a way to work through it and accept what happened.
  • You don’t “expect” forgiveness. — It happens all the time in toxic relationships: somebody “messes up,” and then they come back with “a grand gesture” and expect everything to be okay again. Many people try to literally “buy” forgiveness with lavish gifts. Or they may say, “I drove X amount of miles to see you, so you have to forgive me!” or “I did X, X, and X for you, so you have to forgive me!” While it’s important to apologize or offer kindness after a fight, you should be doing it in a humble way. You hope to make-up, but you do not expect it. Otherwise you are caught in a viscous cycle of excusing toxic behavior without change or growth.
  • The past is in the past. — You live in the moment. When someone says that you hurt them, you don’t reply back with, “well you hurt me X amount of weeks/months/years ago!” To do that is to discredit their pain which is unfair. When you’re fighting about something, you don’t throw in junk from the past in order to distract them from focusing on the current issue. You don’t hold grudges. If there is something from the past that still genuinely bothers you, then you can have a separate conversation about that. There is no “keeping score.”
  • You have strong self-worth. — You stick up for yourself when it’s necessary, not just “to pick a fight.” When you feel disrespected, you don’t run away or stay quiet, you do something about it. You fight with the intention of solving a problem with honest communication. You use “fighting” as a tool for growth and self-awareness, not as a weapon. You and your partner have a healthy amount of fights that always eventually lead to genuine forgiveness. You fight for each other with love because you are both so passionate about one another.

I have been in practically all of these scenarios. I have been attached to someone I fought with too much (without even realizing it), I have been in angry relationships with nonstop fighting, I have been in passionless relationships with zero fighting (thinking that was a good thing), I have been in abusive relationships where I needed to reach out to a professional, I have been in abusive relationships where the other person had to reach out to a professional, I have been in abusive situations where innocent outsiders were dragged into it instead of constructively turning to a professional, I have been guilty of toxic behavior, I have been guilty of accepting someone else’s toxic behavior, I have crossed people’s boundaries, I have let other people cross my boundaries, I have been in relationships and situations that lowered my self-worth, and so on…

However I have learned so much these past several years. I now understand what fighting looks like from both healthy and unhealthy perspectives in a way I have never known before. I used to think that “never fighting” was the sign of a “perfect relationship.” I used to think it was unacceptable to disconnect from someone if you didn’t have fights with them — when the truth is the exact opposite. I used to excuse the toxic behavior of others, as well as the toxic behavior of myself, when I shouldn’t have. I’m happy to say that I grown much wiser in time. I value my self-worth now more than ever.

You are not necessarily a “bad person,” nor is the other person necessarily a “bad person” when involved in a toxic relationship (too much fighting or not enough) — what this means is that the both of you need to reexamine yourself. The toxic behavior is trying to point something out to you that you can’t see. There needs to be a change. And this goes deeper than “changing your behavior” which can only take you so far, you need to really dig deep and figure out why you have found yourself in this toxic situation. There is some kind of change you need to make that you’re not consciously ready for. You have to find more bravery and self-awareness so you can go ahead and make that change. Either your relationship needs to end, or something else outside of your relationship needs to end in order for this one to be repaired.

I hope that the future brings me a much more healthy amount of fighting. With my newfound perspective, I know it will. When conflict arises with anyone — friends, family, acquaintances — I won’t run from conflict, I will stick up for myself without destroying my peace of mind. If I’m faced with a toxic situation that I can’t handle, I will reach out to a professional. And if someone comes to me about a toxic situation, I will refer them to a professional — it would be irresponsible of me to do otherwise. Most of all, when I am in a committed relationship with the person I trust and love, I will follow all the guidelines I’ve come up with as a healthy amount of fighting. I will fight for love, with the intention of love.

4 comments

  1. Brilliant blog post, and this is so true. In order to resolve problems, a level of fighting is needed. At the same time, too much fighting can lead to tension which is not what you want either! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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