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IN-CAR FIGHTING: WHAT A PSYCHOTHERAPIST HAS TO SAY

Why we often fight in car

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Arguing in the car can be so annoying, especially if you end up doing it a lot. But it turns out there’s a biological reason. I know I’ve had those car fights where you can see it coming a mile away, but you just can’t seem to find the off-ramp.

This has happened to me so often that I was starting to think there’s something about cars that just bring out the worst in people, but I couldn't figure out what. Plastic seats? Burnt brakes smell? Cardboard pine tree hangy-thing?

That’s why I like this graphic from my fav pop psychotherapist, Gayle Paul. It brings a new perpective to this problem. Recent experimental research by Dr. Stan Tatkin of the PACT Institute in Southern California has shown that people argue more when sitting side-by-side. Why? Because when you’re not making eye contact, you’re not really listening to your partner. You’re just sitting there marshalling the arguments you’ve been collecting over the months—years?—you’ve spent with this person.

As the humorist Fran Lebowitz likes to say, “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”

So when you feel that argument coming on, take preventive action. Either put it aside for now and agree to come back to it later. Or, if you must have it out now, at least pull over so you can talk face to face.

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