Fighting in person is ugly. Fighting while apart, however, is a mind and heart crusher. Things get blown out of proportion, anger goes further when we can’t read body cues, and a single word can thrash our feelings.
Everyone fights. And when people live long-distance, it can be harder to convey things which are much easier in person. Here are some tips on handling fights when you’re apart from one another.
- Don’t argue over IM or text… wait until you can actually talk about it or at least elaborate in an email. IM and text can lead to too many misunderstandings because you can’t hear the person’s tone of voice. Sometimes sarcasm or resentment is imagined that’s not there when fighting over IM/text.
- Not seeing body language can be a plus. You know when you have a fight with someone, and they make that one face that just drives you nuts? Yeah, not a problem here. Instead, use the lack of body language to your advantage. Speak honestly and use clear, concise language to get your meanings across.
- Take a step back. If your fight gets heated, or simply leaves you tongue-tied, agree to a temporary truce to calm down. Then pick a time to come back and speak to each other about the problem. Use “I feel” statements, and try to refrain from saying “You do this”, as it will make a person defensive.
- Write it down. I suggest writing two things down. First, spew out all the angry, unfair language you want in a private journal, to get the heavy feelings out of the way. Then, once your head is clear, write down what about the fight made you angry and why. Then when you discuss it, you can explain in clear words rather than searching for the right words to use whilst in conversation.
- Agree to disagree. Understand that when a fight happens, you don’t have to agree for it to be a success. The important thing in a fight is to understand the other person’s platform, and to part on respect for that person. Agreeing doesn’t matter; respect for their opinion, even if it’s different, is what’s valuable.
The Final Say — Two Important Things
The best defense against fights is a good offense. Take the time when there’s no fighting to set some ground rules on how to handle fights. Any of these tips we mention above work even better when both partners understand the framework for solving issues.
Don’t think that things will all be better when you close the distance. It’s better to face problems head on instead of thinking “It’ll be all better as soon as we are short-distance”. Blaming all your problems on the distance is no good.
Marisol Dunham has been a freelance writer since 2007, and now lives with her once long-distance boyfriend in Australia. An American wandering the bush, she writes about her life and writing ventures on her blog at http://www.madunham.com/. You can find her on Twitter at @maridunham.