Friday, June 19, 2009

My least favorite arguing antipattern

My least favorite thing to have happen in the middle of an argument is for the other person to just shut me out and run away (whether figuratively or literally). I don't mind someone saying (or screaming) "I don't want to talk about it any more right now." That's fine. But don't walk out the door, or hang up the phone on me, or just abruptly stop talking and go about your business. That's infantile. It's how a child acts. It is literally tantrum-like. And it's not helpful.

It's very simple: All couples argue. Sooner or later everyone has arguments. The couples that succeed in having a longterm relationship are those that "make it through" the arguments intact. Couples who know how to argue win out over couples who don't, it's as simple as that.

Nothing guarantees failure in an argument as much as total, willful communication breakdown. If one person's style of arguing is to stop talking and run away, and shut the other person out, that's a guaranteed recipe for failure. The relationship is doomed right there. It's a North Korean bargaining style that just does not work.

So when I'm in a new relationship and it's one that I want to last, I look carefully at how my partner argues. Is she a screamer? Is she prone to violent rages? Does she get physical? Does she name-call? Does she bring logic to bear in an argument? Or when the going gets tough, does she simply get in her car, leave without saying good-bye, and disappear for days without returning phone calls?

Running away is bullshit. Shutting someone out is bullshit. Tantrums and deliberate unwillingness to engage in conversation are bullshit.

I've tried the 10-Day Bullsht Diet Plan before, and I can tell you, it does work great for losing weight. But I'm not going on that plan again any time soon. I can guarantee you that.

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