Every relationship has arguments, there’s no getting around that. But did you know there is a difference between clean fighting and dirty fighting?

Clean fighting helps build your relationship. Dirty fighting tears it down.

First, let me explain what dirty fighting is. Dirty fighting is when argue, but you’re looking to tear down the other person as much as possible while you’re doing it. There’s also usually some type of nasty name calling. You might bring up old arguments or issues that are no longer relevant. You’re pretty much going to say anything you can to make the other person feel like shit. Hitting below the belt kind of stuff and usually, it’s things that have nothing to do with what you’re arguing about. No one is heard and nothing gets accomplished.

This kind of fighting will destroy your relationship. No matter how many times each of you apologizes, those words and actions can never be taken back. Each time you tear into each other, a piece of trust, love, and security is being taken away. In its place you leave, anger, resentment, hurt and pain.

When I was dating my ex-boyfriend we used to dirty fight like it was our job.  We said the meanest things we could think of. We kept rehashing the past and mistakes we had both made. We insulted each other’s families, friends, jobs, financial situations, personalities.  I mean you name it, we went there. It got ugly and exhausting. I would literally try to do whatever I could to prevent a fight from starting. That’s  an entirely other issue for another day.

Ultimately it ended up destroying us. I remember after we broke up, I felt completely battered and defeated. It took me a long time to finally recuperate and feel like myself again. But what I did learn is that type of fighting doesn’t solve anything and all it does do is leave you feeling hurt and betrayed.

Clean fighting on the other hand is the complete opposite. Clean fighting is when you’re having an argument from a calm, clear place. No one is being put down and there’s no name calling. Each person gets the chance to talk, while the other person listens. Feelings and emotions are acknowledged. You both leave the argument feeling like you were heard and you have a direction for the future. You stick to the topic at hand and you don’t rehash past arguments. Nothing is being used as leverage or held over anyone’s head.

Clean fighting can actually help your relationship because it builds trust where dirty fighting destroys it. Clean fighting brings to light issues you may need to work on individually and issues you need to work on together as a couple. It strengthens communication and listening skills. And it lets your partner know that they can talk to you about tough issues.

I would be lying to you if I said Justin and I only clean fight and never have dirty fights. We’re human and it happens. But the majority of the time our fights are clean. Some arguments we’ve had to have a few times, but each time we do the situation gets better and better. I know that when I come to him with something I’m upset about he’s going to take the time to hear me out. He sits and he listens. He acknowledges my feelings and apologizes for making me feel that way. Then he makes a conscious effort to do better. That’s all I can ask for. I feel like I can trust him. I feel respected. I feel heard.

If you find that you’re having more dirty fights than clean, first start by becoming aware of it. That is the first step to changing anything. Talk to your partner about it and say that you don’t want to dirty fight anymore because it’s destroying your relationship. Try really listening to what they’re saying instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next to hurt them. Remember that you love this person and fights are inevitable, but its how you fight that will make or break you.

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