What do you do after having a big fight with your girlfriend? The two of you are likely to feel resentful, upset, or angry. If you don't want to break up, there are ways to resolve this situation. Start by understanding what happened and then treat it with compassion and humility.
Part 1 of 3: Handling the Fight
Step 1. Cool your head
Don't expect to be able to resolve a fight immediately after it has occurred. In the heat of the discussion, take time to calm down. Take a few hours – or even a few days – to process all your feelings and emotions properly. Take a long walk, visit a friend or even watch a movie. Do some relaxing activity until you calm down enough to face the situation objectively.
Don't forget to let your girlfriend know that you're using this time to calm down. Tell her something like "I'm really upset and I need some time to process all this. Can we talk about this tomorrow? I'll try to calm down now."
Step 2. Analyze the cause of the fight
Fights hardly happen for no reason. Spend a little time analyzing what might have caused the fight and whether there is anything you could have done differently at the time it occurred.
- Review what happened. Why did you start fighting? What started the discussion? What was said? Are you sorry you said something? Why? Why not?
- Keep in mind that memory is subjective, especially during stressful times. Your girlfriend will likely remember certain details differently than you will. This is normal. However, it does not necessarily mean that one of you is being dishonest. The thing is, stress can make memories a little fuzzy.
Step 3. Accept your feelings
After a fight, you need to accept and deal with your feelings. While no one likes emotions like anger or sadness, it's important to acknowledge them, not ignore them.
- Keeping your feelings hushed for too long can cause an explosion in the future. If you are angry, allow yourself to be angry. If you are sad, allow yourself to be sad.
- Accepting emotions is not always a rational thing. If your girlfriend hurts you, for example, logically acknowledging that what she did was unintentional can help. Know that both of you have a right to react emotionally to a fight, even if that reaction isn't completely logical.
Part 2 of 3: Resolving the Fight
Step 1. Plan a conversation
When they're calmer, take a moment to talk about the fight. After a big fight, it's important to make an appointment to talk when the two of you are calmer.
- Choose to chat when you have enough time. Choose a night when you don't have to work the next day. Try to talk early in the evening after the fight, preferably after dinner. That way, hunger and sleep won't interfere with the conversation.
- If you don't live together, try to choose a neutral environment. While it may be awkward to discuss your relationship in public, a neutral location ensures that you are not uncomfortable. You can choose a place that doesn't have a lot of people around, like a spacious coffee shop or a park that's usually not crowded.
Step 2. Use open body language
When talking about the problem, use your body language to demonstrate that you are open to dialogue. This can allow the conversation to take place in a more relaxed and effective way.
- Make eye contact. Nod your head occasionally to show you're listening. Never cross your arms or do anything that makes you look tense. Try to avoid nervous tics, such as moving your clothes or touching your hands.
- Nod your head occasionally as this is a nonverbal indication that you are paying attention to what your girlfriend is saying.
Step 3. Use good verbal communication skills
When talking about a fight, also use solid verbal communication. Your girlfriend needs to know you're willing to work things out, so talk to her effectively after the fight.
- Be clear and concise while speaking. Don't include too many details and try to be straight about what you want to say. Don't interrupt your girlfriend while she's talking. Always ask if she understands what you say. Ask for an explanation if you don't understand something she said.
- Use "I" phrases. These sentences ensure that you are expressing your own feelings rather than making objective judgments about the situation. For example, instead of saying "You exaggerated about my tardiness and embarrassed me in front of my friends", say something like "I felt embarrassed when you argued with me for being tardy in front of my friends".
Step 4. Validate your girlfriend's feelings
It can be very frustrating to feel that someone doesn't validate your feelings in a love relationship. Even if you don't agree with your girlfriend's view of the situation, make an effort to make her feel that you validated her feelings.
- Often, the simple act of allowing a person to feel what they are feeling removes a lot of tension from the situation. This releases pent-up negative energy and makes your girlfriend feel that you really care about seeing her happy.
- You may not agree with the way your girlfriend feels. For example, let's say she got upset over a joke you made at a party. You may be tempted to say "It was just a joke, you're overreacting." Even if you believe it, the fact is, you hurt her. An emotional reaction is not something that people have direct control over. Instead, say something like "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, but I'm sorry my joke made you feel that way. I can see how upset you are and I'm sorry about that."
Step 5. Find your points of disagreement
Some themes will never be a consensus between the parts of the couple. This is normal among humans. Use a fight as an opportunity to find the differences between the two of you and try to reconcile them.
- Maybe you and your girlfriend have a little different ideas about relationships. Maybe your sense of humor is different. Maybe you have different needs about when to be together and when to be alone. Whatever it is, most couples disagree on some aspect of the relationship.
- See if you can identify these underlying issues that lead to fights. If you guys had a big fight, it's very unlikely it was over a small matter. Try to find out where you disagree and what you can do to come to an agreement. Sometimes just acknowledging that you think differently about something can ease the tension. You two will end up taking less personally if you understand each other's personality differences.
Step 6. Apologize
After acknowledging your actions and your guilt in the fight, apologize for anything wrong you did. Be specific. Don't just say, "I'm sorry." Instead, say something like "I'm sorry I didn't support you when you needed to study for the exam." A sincere apology – one that demonstrates that you really listened and understood your girlfriend's concerns – can help a lot during reconciliation.
Part 3 of 3: Avoiding Future Fights
Step 1. Talk about new issues right away
When you see a new problem coming up, don't ignore it. Instead, talk about it before it becomes a bigger issue. That way you can avoid big fights in the future.
Letting things pile up means you'll end up bringing them up in the next fight. This can make your girlfriend feel attacked. When a problem arises, deal with it immediately. Even small things can lead to resentment building up over time
Step 2. Create a process for resolving fights without feeling angry
Anger can make things difficult when it comes to handling the situation rationally. People often get angry and end up alienating others close to them. Try to find a way to deal with problems without indulging in anger. A good way to do this is to take five minutes to express your feelings after an argument rather than trying to talk right away.
Step 3. Listen for basic emotional needs
Fights are often related to the fact that some emotional needs are being neglected. When your girlfriend is upset or frustrated with you, try to find out what her needs are not being acknowledged. Have you been away lately? Have you been so busy that you don't spend a lot of time with her? Make sure you're meeting your girlfriend's needs, and if you're not, see what you can do about it.
Step 4. Summarize what was discussed to ensure you understand everything
After a fight, always take a moment to summarize what you two talked about. How did you feel? How did your girlfriend feel? Are you willing to work through this situation and make sure it doesn't happen again? Taking five minutes to summarize the situation after a fight can prevent it from happening again.