A few weeks ago, I was witness to a friend fight. The really ugly kind that involves the silent treatment and passive aggressive comments during brunch. I was neutral: think Switzerland, cool and uninvolved. I sat in the bleachers, watching my two friends tousle it out using cutting words punctuated by eye rolls and snarky comments. They threw their own personal insecurities at one another, revisited old hurt and blamed one another. Eventually, they cooled off. I had remembered fights before, but never before was I so close to the center of it, without actually being involved. As I watched the action, I couldn’t help but notice how the fight was playing out, so I took notes. Here is my advice or how to have a proper fight, one that is productive, not too brutal and will hopefully lead to a stronger friendship in the end.
- Recognize that it is okay to fight. Friends fight. Get over it. A fight does not mean that the friendship is dying, or that it is a relationship not worth fighting for. A fight means that there is a conflict, and conflict is part of being alive.
- Do not invalidate your feelings. Sometimes, in order to end a fight quickly, we attempt to put the blame on ourselves. We make excuses, and try and downplay our emotions. Your feelings are valid, and there is a reason behind them. Simply pushing these sentiments aside will only delay.
- Act; don’t simply react. My advice for any friends revolves around time. Take time to cool off, allow yourself to feel and ruminate on the situation. If you react immediately, or in the heat of the moment, the situation may simply get more emotional and heated. In my experience, time allows for you to reassess your feelings and the situation entirely.
- Don’t let the emotions consume you. Do not let your thoughts become consumed by the situation. It’s easy to build up anger, to become so consumed by the drama. The truth is, we love drama— even those of us who claim to hate drama. We love stories and gossip, we love to bitch and moan about things that piss us off. The only consequence of this is that anger breeds more anger, and if you keep on building up the anger in your mind, you may not be able to bring it back down. Stop talking about all the time. Stop rehearsing speeches in the shower. Stop reliving the situation.
- Recognize unhealthy patterns. If this is a fight that is constantly recurring, try to figure out why. Is there a legitimate solution to prevent the fight? Or is there a way to better your reaction?
- Sometimes this is a symptom of a deeper issue, and sometimes it is not. Sometimes a fight is simply the result of a misunderstanding; a joke gone too far or a line that you didn’t even know existed was crossed. But sometimes, a fight is the result of a larger problem; whether that problem can even be resolved is a question you have to tackle.
- Never fight when intoxicated. Trust me, this is a recipe for disaster. Inhibitions are lowered, emotions heightened, and whatever conclusion you come to may only be remembered by one party. The urge to reach for a bottle of wine while having a difficult conversation may be strong, but it is definitely not worth it.
- You can cut people off… sort of. We are adults, the concepts of friends forever is complicated, and it is okay to lose friends. People change, and the rolodex of friends is allowed to change as well. But understand how to cut someone off in a reasonable manner. You still have to be respectful, kind and treat them as a human being. These campuses are small, so it is incredibly difficult to go around the colleges pretending someone doesn’t exist.
- Listen to the other person’s side. Yes, this is cliche. But it is so, so difficult to do. We humans are simple creatures, and so we want simple answers to our problems. It is easy to simply call someone a bitch and move on, but 9 times out of 10, there is something beyond the simple going on. You can choose what you
- Don’t cling on to your hurt. Pettiness has never brought anyone joy. It has never improved any lives or made any situation better.
10/30, Volume XXIX, Issue 3