We love each other, but we fight all the time...

Originally Published: October 20, 2006 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 11, 2008
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Dear Alice,

I've never done this before so here it goes.

I've been dating my current boyfriend for about 8 months, and we do love each other very much. However, I believe we both want very different things from our relationship, and we fight on a regular basis. We fight about everything from spending time with friends to how we feel we are being treated and so forth.

We have a lot of trouble identifying with each other and being considerate of each other’s needs. Should I move on and accept that we are incompatible, or should we try a new approach?

— confused

Dear confused,

You're not the only one struggling to sort through whether it makes sense to stay in a relationship. It's often a big step to acknowledge to others that you're having relationship troubles, so it's brave of you to write in. Hopefully, some reflection and conversation with your partner can help you decide what to do.

Have you talked with your boyfriend about the situation? It'd be helpful to know whether you're on the same page about whether you want to keep the relationship going, whether you see that there are problems, and whether you're both willing to try to make changes in your behavior to work things out.

If you're both dedicated to making changes, you might start by practicing your listening skills. Take turns listening to each other describe what's important to you in a relationship and a partner and what you value about the relationship you have. Rather than focusing on your own feelings, take time to probe and understand what the other person thinks and feels. If you practice this skill when the topic's upbeat, it may help you be more empathetic and considerate when the going gets tough.

If you can figure out what you both want from your relationship, it may be time to move on to talking about how you want your relationship to change. Conflict isn't always negative, but it's important to find healthy ways to address it. Here are some ideas:

  • Express your feelings, and take time to listen to the other person's. If you let frustration fester for a long time, things usually get ugly.
  • Be specific about what you want, and be willing to compromise.
  • Stick to one topic at a time — it's not fair or realistic to bombard your partner with a whole laundry list of complaints.
  • Avoid accusations. Instead, focus on certain actions and how they made you feel.

Including an outside person (like a counselor or mediator) might help you reconcile some of your differences or offer a neutral perspective. It's really hard to change behavior patterns in general, and probably impossible for you to change your boyfriend's behavior if he's not motivated to change himself. If you aren't both invested, it may be time to move on.

Alice

March 13, 2012

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I am so much like you! I'm always the one who starts the fighting and he is forced to end it, whether he is right or wrong. You're off to a good start by admitting that you have a problem. Whenever...
I am so much like you! I'm always the one who starts the fighting and he is forced to end it, whether he is right or wrong. You're off to a good start by admitting that you have a problem. Whenever you feel the urge to fight, just stop and think or be the one to apologize first, something that helped me a lot was thinking of all the good times we've had and how much we both love each other. I used to have a lot of self esteem problems but after dating my current bf, he tells me how pretty I am everyday :) so believe him when he tells you that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, and that is what he sees and why he loves you. Guys hate it when women have low self esteem and talk crap about themselves all the time. Sorry lol I know this is late but I hope it helps wherever you are in life right now and I just needed to vent since I am also searching for some help!!! In the end, LOVE CONQUERS ALL!

July 1, 2008

21436

Dear Confused,

My girlfriend and I fight too, so many times. But I think the best thing that works for us is that we keep them short. Why hold a grudge overnight? Our philosophy has been...

Dear Confused,

My girlfriend and I fight too, so many times. But I think the best thing that works for us is that we keep them short. Why hold a grudge overnight? Our philosophy has been to drag out our arguments on over the night, so that, eventually, maybe at 3 in the morning, everything is resolved. Someone has to give in and be the first to apologize each time, but once this happens, it's as if a wall has crumpled. There is so much to lose if you hold a grudge for a few days or even longer — what's more important, loving each other or fighting? We fight all the time, but we always make up. And make up sex is pretty awesome.

October 4, 2007

21356
Dear Confused,
I can really relate to what you are or were going through. I have the exact same problem with my current boyfriend and I don't know what to do anymore. I tried the "sit-down...
Dear Confused,
I can really relate to what you are or were going through. I have the exact same problem with my current boyfriend and I don't know what to do anymore. I tried the "sit-down and talk" thing, ignore the problem and see if it works its self out, I have talked to a lot of people about my boyfriend issues and nobody seems to have the answer. Me and my boyfriend have been going out for a year and four months and everyone that knows us and our relationship issues say that we need to go to marriage counseling even though we are not married.

January 5, 2007

21172

Dear confused,

I read this and said to myself "I totally 100% relate to this." Everything you said is exactly how I'm feeling right now. My boyfriend and I have been together for about a...

Dear confused,

I read this and said to myself "I totally 100% relate to this." Everything you said is exactly how I'm feeling right now. My boyfriend and I have been together for about a year and a half, and it seems as though we continually fight more and more.

I've tried the "I listen, you listen" thing. He listens to me but never gives me the chance to listen to him; he doesn't talk to me about his problems, he just keeps it all shut in. It usually ends in us both getting frustrated and angry, and we never solve anything.