When you’re newly dating someone and in the very fun and exciting infatuation stage, it can be hard to see the writing on the walls. If you’re fighting in a new relationship, that can be a sign that you aren’t compatible or a sign of progress (we’ll explain how shortly). There are certain fights that can be pretty detrimental to new relationships and ones that can help a couple grow closer if handled properly.
Let’s take a closer look at which flights can serve as major red flags and which fights can be productive in the right circumstances.
Detrimental fight: trust issues
It can take time to open up to a new partner and you don’t need to rush intimacy, but if you’re fighting about trust issues early, your foundation might not be strong enough to build a healthy relationship on. If one or both partners lie, are easily jealous, or generally lack faith in their partner, this can lead to some unpleasant fights. There’s no winning when it comes to trust issues. Either there’s a good reason that there isn’t a strong level of trust in the relationship (which is bad) or there’s no reason for doubt and suspicion, but the fights happen anyway (which is equally bad). Moving forward in the relationship without that confidence in each other will make it hard to relax and form the deep level of intimacy required to establish a successful relationship.
Important fight: the future
Fights about the future can get heated quickly because you’re dealing with hypothetical situations, and while you may be very emotionally attached to your vision for what you want the future to hold, it can be hard to clearly picture the future your partner is proposing. It’s OK to get emotional here as long as you’re being respectful of each other’s desires, listening to each other fully, and both willing to compromise. If neither of you can or want to compromise (like if one person wants children and the other doesn’t), this fight still serves an important purpose, as it may show you aren’t aligned on what kind of lives you want to lead. Sometimes, it’s best to figure that out sooner rather than later.
Detrimental fight: time control
It’s understandable if you want to spend all your free time with your new paramour when you first start dating (the honeymoon period happens to everyone and we won’t judge it), but when it’s time to come up for air, if one partner tries to control how the other person spends their time, you’re on a path to some unpleasant fights. Controlling how someone spends their time and who they spend it with is not a sign of a healthy relationship. It’s important to have outside interests and relationships so you don’t need to rely on your partner to meet all of your emotional needs (codependency doesn’t benefit your relationship).
If you’re fighting over how you spend your time, one or both of you might not be emotionally ready to be in a serious relationship, not to mention this level of control can be a sign of emotional abuse.
Important fight: establishing boundaries
Establishing how you want to spend your time is an example of an important boundary to set, so let’s talk about boundaries. Sometimes, people push past boundaries on purpose, but when you’re in a new relationship, it can be easy to accidentally break a boundary. For example, while you may be fine with acknowledging your family isn’t perfect and are OK with venting to your partner about their faults, they may not want to speak negatively about their family. If you accidentally overstep and criticize one of their family members in a way they’re not comfortable with, this could lead to a pretty big fight, and that’s OK.
As long as you listen to the boundary they’re setting, choose to respect it, and don’t put a wall up, you can move forward and actually improve your relationship. Being firm when establishing boundaries can feel like fighting, but it doesn’t need to turn into a fight if both partners are respectful and understanding.
Detrimental fight: the past
While our past informs what we want and how we manage future relationships, holding someone’s past against them never does any good. If a couple can’t look past mistakes, relationships, and choices that happened before they met, they can’t continue to grow their relationship in a healthy way.
Important fight: money
Fights early on in a relationship can be constructive if they help you better understand each other. While it may not seem like it at first glance, money is an emotionally charged topic for many people and it can be hard to see eye to eye if your partner has different financial habits and beliefs than you do. If you fight about money but can come to better understand how the other person feels about their finances, you can learn how to work together better as a couple. If you’re looking to build a long-term relationship—possibly one that involves marriage, children, or homeownership—it’s best to get any money fights out of the way early on so you can properly manage your finances as a team when the time comes to do so.
Detrimental fight: threats
Once you involve threats in a fight, you lose the chance for the fight to become constructive. Threatening to leave someone if they don’t do what you want or threatening other types of punishments doesn’t work, and if it does, it only works on a very surface level because of fear. Threats can stem from two different places that are equally negative: The first is a desire to manipulate a partner into doing what you want and the second is being so desperate to enact change that you don’t know what else to do. If you have to threaten to break up with someone if they repeat an action (like cheating), it may be time to go your separate ways.