I love my boyfriend and he loves me but we fight dirty. In our five years together he’s called me all manner of names including bitch and the c word. I’ve resorted to name-calling too. He has also told me to fuck off or get fucked when he’s really angry. I know this all sounds terrible but it’s about 2 percent of our relationship. The rest is awesome and what I’d call loving and respectful. It’s just when we’re mad that we can’t seem to respect each other. I want to change the pattern and have tried myself but he says when he’s mad he blurts it out and can’t control it. He is always apologetic later. What do you and the Manswers think? Are dirty fights ok if the rest of the relationship is good or are there things you should never say no matter what? (I’m going to make him read this!) Jen
When it comes to lovers tiffs, I’ve always been the wishy-washy one. I’m more likely to slam a door or walk out of the house than resort to name calling or swearing; weirdly, because on a daily basis I do curse probably too much. The one time I called a lover a fucking arsehole, he REALLY deserved it but those words, I remember, felt like pebbles in my mouth, so wrong was it – to me – to level that insult at someone I loved. Similarly, I’ve never told anyone to fuck off no matter how incensed I’ve been.
We all say hurtful stuff in the heat of the moment but that kind of verbal abuse just isn’t on in my book. Name-calling is the WORST. Psychologists say this kind of exchange between a couple may happen if one or both feel they’ve exhausted all other ways of expressing how they feel. Whatever the reason, saying these things breaks something precious that you can’t always rebuild. So Jen, in my opinion, here are a few choice phrases that should never be uttered … no matter how mad you are:
- Fuck off / get fucked (It’s ugly. SO ugly, no matter who you’re saying it to.)
- You’re a _______ / You’re being a ________ (name calling shows you have zero respect for the other person, plus names inflict emotional scars that might never heal)
- I hate you (which may be true in the heat of the moment, but often regretted later)
- I’ve always faked orgasm with you (even if it’s true, not the way to address this issue)
- I want a divorce / It’s over / I’m moving out (often a knee-jerk reaction and just tells the other person you can’t be trusted to work things out without issuing ultimatums).
A good way to break the pattern is to call time out when an argument looks like it’s escalating towards that danger zone. Say, ‘we’re both getting mad; let’s take a break and talk about this when we’ve both calmed down’. Lets see what the Manswers think about this one.
Love, reality chick
Dr Phil says… Having been party to the part-time serial cycle of verbal abuse and all the associated love-hate anguish involved in this type of trench warfare, I can relate to your plight. A previous relationship taught me this type of verbal assault (on both sides) chips away at the ever less tolerant core of a relationship, until too many bad things have been said, there is nothing left and its time to part ways. Yes, fighting is part of a relationship, but you’ve got to consciously check yourself in the heat of the moment to avoid saying terrible things you’ll regret later. It’s easier said than done. I’d suggest baby steps – initially both try and consciously intercept and catch yourself whilst seeing red to prevent a battle of bad words that will hurt each other. Prevention is better than cure.
BB says… Sticks and stones may break bones, but names really hurt too. It is normal for couples to argue and it might only be 2 percent of your relationship but when its this nasty and disrespectful it’s not okay. You say he is always apologetic afterwards. Simple, no need for him to apologise, he just needs to think before he speaks and not say the first thing that comes into his head. If he won’t change you should find a bloke who knows how to treat a lady.
RC readers, your turn: what do you think should never be said during a fight? Or do you have any other rules you stick to when it comes to fighting with a lover?