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The first fight in a romantic relationship is a turning point. Whether it occurs minutes or months after the relationship has commenced, it acts as wake-up call and reality check, and can prompt a litany of feelings, from panicked disenchantment to wry bemusement.

You could find yourself stalking back and forth in your apartment, saying nothing and seeing red, with the petulant words, "But that was weeks before I started seeing you!" echoing hotly in your ears, along with the conjured image of a third person you've never met and never wanted to hear about.

You might be abruptly shaken back to Earth with the realization that you have carelessly allowed yourself to fall in love with someone who genuinely, non-ironically admires Joe Francis for his contribution to female empowerment.

You may end up watching your conversation over dinner at a nice restaurant grind to a halt when you give your beloved a playful, innocuous grope under the table and they react so smarmily and so haughtily that you suddenly shrink to four feet tall and ten years old, confused humiliation stinging your cheeks.

But it could be a lot less dramatic, instead. It could be a lot more vague. It might be the first minute of not loving someone after about 956,437 consecutive minutes of feeling like they hung the moon. It might be the difference between knowing that someone isn't perfect and finally seeing solid evidence of this fact. It might be saying farewell to the person in your mind, and saying hello to the person standing right before your eyes.

The first fight always happens. It always hurts with the Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy slap of seeing a dream deflated, making the first mark on a pure white canvas. But you have the power to assign as much or as little value as you like. The first fight is as meaningful or as meaningless as you allow it to be. Let it ruin your love affair, or let it tick by like any other conversation. Let it fill you with doubt, or let it flood you with validation. Choose carefully, and reap what you sow.

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