"Sometimes it's worse to win a fight than to lose." --Billie Holiday

When in personal relationships, like marriage, boyfriend/girlfriend, or good friends, conflicts are bound to arise and when they do, how you handle them can determine how the relationship will proceed. Below are some basic do's and don'ts for interpersonal conflict.

Rules for Fighting Dirty

  • Apologize prematurely.
  • Refuse to take the fight seriously.
  • Chain-react by piling on all the issues and gripes(kitchen sinking).
  • Hit below the belt. Use intimate knowledge to humiliate the other person.
  • Withdraw and avoid confrontation (walk out, be silent).
  • Withhold affection, approval, recognition, or material things.
  • Encourage others to side with you against your partner.
  • Play demolition derby with your partner's character; tell her or him what's wrong with her or him, what she or he thinks, feels, means and so on.
  • Demand more; nothing is ever enough. Push to have everything your way.
  • Attack a person, activity, value, or idea that your partner holds dear.

Rules for Fighting Fair

  • Fully express your positive and negative feelings.
  • Define your out-of-bounds areas of vulnerability.
  • Paraphrase the other’s arguments in your own words and allow the other to do likewise.
  • Think before fighting, not after fighting. Try not to let your feelings undermine reason and fair play.
  • Consider the merit of the other person's opinions of you before rejecting or accepting them.
  • Focus on the other person's behavior and ideas.
  • Define what the fight is about and stay within limits.
  • Look for where you and your partner agree as well as where you disagree.
  • Decide how each of you can help the other resolve the issue in way that satisfies her or him.
  • Avoid discussing a problem or conflict when you are emotionally raw.

Source: Adapted from Bach, G.R., & Wyden, P.(1973) The Intimate Enemy: How to fight fair in love and marriage. New York: Avon.

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