When Is It Normal To Have Your First Fight? Experts Say Not Before The Third Date
Imagine you're on a first date and you and your partner each point at different dessert items on the menu when the waiter comes over. No big deal, right? Just a funny story to tell your friends when you make your relationship official. Except, your partner is majorly offended. She's appalled that you actually think the raspberry cheesecake is half as good as the fudge brownie and so, you have your first fight. If you're asking yourself, "When is it normal to have your first fight," it's certainly not on your first date and probably not over a fudge brownie, either. I mean, dessert is great and all but I'm not about to have a full-blown argument with someone over the 40-page dessert menu at The Cheesecake Factory.
Although we can all agree that the first date is way too soon to have your first fight with someone, it's not always that clear-cut. Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist says, "It's less about time and more about when you feel comfortable enough to disagree openly with each other. It's natural for couples to disagree and even fight. After all, you bring two separate people who come from two different families with completely different dynamics, you’re bound to have different points of views."
Whether you run into these problems a few weeks into your relationship or a few months in depends on relationship dynamics like how often and how honestly you communicate your needs with each other and how responsive each person is to their partner's concerns.
Here's what Dr. Walfish and Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist, had to say about when most couples have their first fight.
When is it OK to have your first fight with your partner?
I wish there were an exact answer for this but Richardson explains, "Since everyone communicates differently, there isn’t a typical amount of time after which couples start arguing." Instead, she says that fighting within the first three to five dates is a no-no because "it may signal that communication doesn't flow easily between you and your partner or that you may not be an ideal fit."
You should at least be able to get through a week of dating them without uncovering something totally disagreeable. If not, it's probably best to reconsider a future with this person.
Fighting too soon in your relationship is a nightmare but is it ever too late to have your first fight?
Making it through the first few dates without fighting is one thing but if you and your partner never fight, are you doing something wrong? Is your relationship destined to fail because of this? Luckily, according to Richardson, the answer is no, not really.
She tells Elite Daily, "If a couple is able to be open and get their needs met without conflict, then that's great. Arguments are typically the result of unmet needs, even when you are arguing about things that you are not really upset about so as long as both people are getting their needs met, then arguments aren't required for health and happiness. That said, healthy, happy couples argue."
Why? Well, it's important to know how you and your partner co-exist in times of conflict, even if it's over dessert options so that when the really important stuff comes up, you're not blindsided.
Dr. Walfish explains that never fighting might create problems later on in your relationship. "A couple [that has never had an argument] may proceed toward engagement and marriage and have no way to evaluate how they navigate differences. Come an unexpected life crisis like a car accident, a medical scare, or the death of a loved one, the couple might have to deal with both the crisis and their opposing points of view, raising the stakes and intensity [of the fight]," she explains.
The goal, of course, is not to have petty fights for the sake of arguing but to be able to work through an emotional, heated discussion with your partner without one of you giving up altogether.
Like both Dr. Walfish and Richardson point out, it's perfectly normal to argue with your partner, especially if you spend a lot of time together. Remember that arguing becomes more of a concern when there is name-calling, physical abuse or intimidation, emotional abuse, or a desire to hurt each other. If at any time you feel threatened or abused by your partner, don't be afraid to reach out to a family member, friend, or professional for help. You can also contact The National Domestic Abuse Violence Hotline by dialing 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or speak to an advocate via live chat.
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