I dated a guy once who seemed to have created the picture of what a perfect relationship should be far before he ever met me. He believed that he was ready for marriage and because we had some very odd things in common from the time we met, he deduced rather quickly that I was supposed to be his wife. I think most women might have found this flattering, and as I was newly in my 30s, I think if I had let that be my guiding light I would have probably bought into his dream as well. Needless to say, things didn’t work out and it came down to one recurring issue in our “getting to know you phase.” He didn’t welcome disagreements.
For him, every time we didn’t see eye to eye was a chip away at his perfect picture. Issues as small as me not wanting to leave a warm event to walk to the car with him in the dead of winter ended with us agreeing to take a break. The first few times were funny to me. I would think, “Are you really mad? I don’t believe you.” After awhile it became highly annoying and stressful. It began to feel as if I was always doing something very wrong no matter how small the issue seemed to me.
From my perspective, every disagreement in the beginning of our “relationship” was just us getting to know one another. It was as simple as,”Oh, you don’t like that? Noted. Now we can move on.” With him it was more, “This thing could turn into a big thing so let’s nip it in the bud now. This is not how I planned this day to go, so I’ll just sit over here and sulk.” Needless to say, we didn’t last long and he eventually told me that if we ever saw each other out in public not to feel obligated to speak to or acknowledge him. He also unfollowed me on social media so he might not see this article, but if he does, I learned some valuable lessons from him and I hope there are a few things that he learned from me.
Here are 5 ways that a new relationship can benefit from welcoming disagreements:
1. You can learn so much about each other.
It’s all about perspective. If you think disagreements are terrible, you’re wrong. In the beginning of a relationship or dating you should look at them as opportunities to learn. You really don’t know each other so you have to hit a few bumps to learn the really hard stuff. Insecurites, pet peeves and communication issues can all come to light with small disagreements. The key in really benefitting from the process is for both people to express themselves honestly.
2. You can learn even more about yourself.
If you are really lucky, honest and insightful,you can take this opportunity to figure out a lot about yourself. In the moment, try to be mindful of what your partner is teaching you about yourself. Are you realizing that you have a tendency to react first and think second? Is your partner pointing out a flaw in you or an area for improvement? Have you heard this is some form before? Can you own up to it? Why or why not? What patterns have you practiced that might not be of value to continue? Are there practices that you have learned in past relationships that would be helpful to express in this moment? These things will not only teach you a lot but might help you to reach a resolution with your partner. Always, at the very least, reflect on how you handled the disagreement when it’s all said and done.
3. The first time will show you the other’s fighting styles.
The first time the two of you don’t see eye to eye is an opportunity to learn how your partner fights. Is it fair? Does it feel more like a conversation than an argument? Can the two of you talk things out with the goal of finding a resolution in mind? Is there real resolution at the end of it all or just hurt feelings and annoyance that you both are trying to ignore. Can both of you clear the air and move on? Keep in mind that the very first one may not be the truest example of how they would act typically, but if it’s less than civil you can get a good idea of what to expect in the future.
4. The second time you get to work on doing it the right way.
Now that you’ve gotten the first one out of the way you can use what you have learned and reflected upon after your first disagreement in your next…because it will surely happen again. This has to be a conscious decision and it first comes by choosing to view disagreements not as negative but as a great way of growing closer to your partner. If you don’t fear having a disagreement there is no pressure or ego to get caught up in. There is no heat of the moment. It is just another discussion that is happening.
5. You can choose to be a better person because of it all.
Knowing how to approach disagreements calmly can have a profound affect on other aspects of your life. These tools can transcend to work relationships as well as family and friends. In fact, every interaction with your partner is a learning experience. Treat them as such. Thinking of your interactions this way takes the pressure off. You will no longer stress about being perfect and move into accepting each other for who you both really are. Good relationships are ones in which partners reflect each other. See your conflict not as condemnation, but as a new way of really looking at and discovering your true self. Your partner will show you how you can become a better person. Embrace the reflection of your areas for improvement as you will no doubt show your partner how to grow as well.