Whether you can't decide on a restaurant or you have different views on the role of family, the occasional relationship fight is completely natural. Dating can be gooey and sweet, but also sometimes can mean attending your boo's family event (that you didn't really want to go to) or editing their resumé after a long day at your own job. The longer you see someone, the more your lives start to intersect. This closeness can impact all parts of your relationship. But understanding things like how relationship fights change after getting more serious can be super helpful when conflict arises.
"All relationships will have their disagreements and challenges. It would be absurd to imagine that two people would never have opposing opinions," Susan Winter NYC-based relationship expert and love coach tells Elite Daily. "Each partner needs to listen to their mate's feelings, perspective, and rationale. This is a healthy form of conflict resolution."
If you and your partner are just starting to date, a fight may feel like the worst thing imaginable. And while your first relationship fight can seem totally scary, with the right amount of patience and listening, you and your boo can undoubtedly get through it. Of course, if you've dated for a while and your relationship has become more serious —according to Winter, it's natural that your fights will change after big milestones. "The stakes are higher in a committed, loving relationship — we assume that our partner means what they say, and that we will be treated with respect and kindness," Winter says. "You've (consciously or unconsciously) agreed to certain rules of engagement, behavior, and protocol." As Winter says, when you and your partner fight in a serious relationship, you may find yourself more willing to apologize or see their perspective.
When it comes to fighting with your boo after dropping an ily for the first time, Winter attests the changes you may see as you resolve your conflict. "'Saying 'I love you' increases the expectations of both partners," Winter says. "Things are serious now. There's is a joint responsibility that must be acknowledged and executed. 'I love you' establishes expectations for each partners' level of involvement and participation." According to Winter, saying "I love you" is a way of moving a relationship to a more serious and higher level. While in pop songs or teen movies the phrase gets thrown around a lot, according to Winter, those three little words can have a deeper meaning.
"'I love you' means: 'Your feelings are important to me. If I've upset you, I need to apologize and be aware of my behavior. I'll be here for you, and you can count on me'" Winter says. Once you and your partner have exchanged your first "I love you" it's natural to feel more invested in your relationship, as well as in your boo's wellbeing. When a fight occurs, you may find yourself more interesting in solving the problem at hand than being right, or more willing to apologize for your actions to show your boo you care.
According to Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach, after saying "I love you" to a partner, you may see your occasional fights as hard conversations that ultimately help you understand each other more. "Arguments happen and in the best of scenarios it allows couples to be honest and hold space for each other's vulnerabilities. Real conversations about triggers, insecurities, desires and ways of thinking can let you in on each other's internal processes — and deeper understanding of one and other," Melamed says. Although these conversations may get a little uncomfortable, Melamed attests that handling relationship conflict after saying "I love you" can be a super important milestone in and of itself. "It is one of those proclamations that carry so much weight. To be loved and for one to be told they are is one of life's most indelible experiences," Melamed says. "If the 'love' that a couple has is the kind that rides the waves of life, through ups and down, conflict and repair — the fights can actually bring people closer."
Saying "I love you" to a partner doesn't mean you'll never fight again. In fact, your relationship getting more serious probably means you and your boo will deal with more serious conflicts as time goes on. Yet, with accountability, listening, and self-awareness, even the biggest relationship fights can be unpacked when conflict arises. And when inevitable fights happen after you've said "I love you," you and your boo will totally tackle it in a productive and loving way.