AdviceHey, Bonita!

Pointless Fights and Safe Spaces

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s possible to communicate too much in a relationship. Case in point: My fiancée is really big on talking and honesty, and it’s a big part of our relationship, but as a result we argue like crazy! We’re usually able to work it out in the end or at least agree to disagree, but it gets really stressful in the moment, and I’m starting to get tired of fighting. Sometimes when we’re talking it just turns into arguing, and then we’re not on good terms for weeks.

She’s really insistent on openness, and I love that, but I worry that all the talking leads us into disagreements that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Everything else really is perfect except for this, and I look forward to marrying her, but I don’t wanna be kicked out of bed twice a month because of some random comment I made during a pointless fight.

I want to change the way we communicate, but I worry we’ve been involved for so long that we can’t. I’d appreciate any suggestions you have about managing this.

Communication in relationships is definitely a double-edged sword, but it seems to me that you’ve gotten the worst of both edges. If everything is turning into blowouts that put y’all in separate beds, I’d definitely agree that your communication style needs some work. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to stress openness and honesty, but you’ve gotta pick your battles, and you two are just screaming “LEROY JENKINS” and running into the fray.

Ideological differences and offensive perspectives are understandable reasons why one might put her partner on the couch, but I hope y’all aren’t having giant philosophical blowouts that often. If the conversations are always intense and existential, I’d recommend moving on to more lighthearted topics. But if you’re being put on punishment for not liking that new Rihanna song, then it’s time for you two to figure what’s really important in your relationship.

I believe in standing one’s ground, but letting things go also feels good. Shorten the conversations that you know will lead to arguments. Once everyone’s made their points, just move on to something else.

I split up with my girlfriend a few months ago, and it wasn’t pretty. We decided to keep the peace by sorta “splitting up” our regular hangouts, but she hasn’t honored her end of the agreement, and now I just prefer not to go out at all. I’m getting bored, though, and the weather is warming up, so I know I’m gonna want to hit the town soon, but I really do dread running into my ex. I have people that I hang out with, but most of my friends are downtown, and I’m starting to miss them. How can I get my social life back without seeing her?

I like to think of Athens as the Reno of the South: the biggest little city you’ve ever seen. It looks big but feels small, especially on that interpersonal level. It’s pretty much impossible to not sleep with your friends’ exes or avoid someone you hate. If you’re attached to spaces that she enjoys, too, maybe it’s time to break the silence and talk again about your agreement.

I offer this advice with hesitation, however, because you’re obviously still in a lot of pain if it’s been months and you still don’t even want to see her face. I worry that reaching out to rehash the conditions of your breakup will be triggering for you and angering for her—if she’s moved on and is living her life happily, she’ll marvel at your nerve for asking her to change for you. And she wouldn’t be wrong to scoff at your request, while I do feel you have the right to make it.

Your main focus should be letting go of any emotions you still have for your ex so the sight of her can have no effect on you in the future. In the meantime, you don’t have to party at your same old haunts, and the Epps Bridge part of town is getting pretty fun. Those friends you never see would probably love to meet up and hang out at a new place.

You could ask for your space from her, sure, but you could also find a better one.

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