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13 Expert Tips On How To Argue Without Ruining Your Relationship

Increase your relationship IQ.

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1. Sit on a comfy couch before having a big conversation — it seriously works.

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A study published in 2010 by professors at MIT, Harvard, and Yale showed that when people sat on a “hard wooden chair,” they were more rigid and inflexible when it came to decision making. But when they sat in a “soft cushioned chair,” they were more accommodating. Though the study was small (it consisted of 86 people), this trick could be a helpful tool in any big partner negotiations.

2. Hold hands before a big talk.

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“Physical touch releases oxytocin — a pleasure hormone — in the brain,” couples therapist Lori Gottlieb tells BuzzFeed Health. “You’d be amazed to see how hard it is to raise your voice at someone who’s holding your hand.”

3. Start conversations with “I” instead of “you.”

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“Saying ‘you’ starts the conversation off as an accusation,” New York-based individual and couples therapist Irina Firstein tells BuzzFeed Health. “Always begin an important conversation with something like, ‘I have something that I wanted to share with you,’ to keep the other person from feeling defensive.”

4. When you really just want to talk out your ideas on a topic, let them know that.

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This can be especially helpful in extrovert-introvert pairs, where one person is typically more careful of what they say, while the other verbalizes every single thing on their mind. “When extroverts start thinking out loud, some introverts admit that their heads start to spin,” introvert expert and Quiet Influence author Jennifer Kahnweiler, PhD, tells BuzzFeed Health. So if you're really just ready to ramble, let your partner know that there's a think-fest coming up so they don't take every little thing at face value.

5. In an argument, put your hand on your heart.

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“Sometimes I find that if you do that while looking at the other person, it can show that you’re coming from a loving place,” says Firstein. “It can really soften the mood.”

6. Address them with a nickname if that feels natural.

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Obviously you shouldn't do this in a manipulative way, but sometimes people are tempted to use a person's full name in an argument when you otherwise wouldn't. But this can seem overly formal and distant, Gottlieb says. "Lower your voice and, if you'd like, use an affectionate nickname to show them that you care."

7. Set boundaries that you know will not be crossed even in the heat of an argument.

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It's so important to respect your partner even when you're frustrated with them. If you feel like your partner is using a triggering topic to try to prove a point when you're in an argument, wait until the situation has deescalated to bring it up with them. It can sound something like: "I've noticed that you bring up this topic in the middle of our arguments, and it's something we can talk about if you'd like, but I don't feel comfortable having it introduced when we're arguing."

8. Consider swapping the word "my" with "our."

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If your significant other has voiced feeling detached or excluded from some part of your life, try using the word "our" more often (like our home, our weekend, etc.). Overusing the word "my" can make your partner feel like an outsider, Gottlieb says.

9. Take a time-out, but with a set amount of time.

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“The adult time-out is a crucial relationship skill that you should talk to your partner about beforehand,” psychotherapist, author, and host of VH1’s Couples Therapy Jenn Mann, PhD, tells BuzzFeed Health. “Make a commitment to each other that if things get too heated you’ll take a break.” To keep your partner from feeling like you’re storming out on them, give them an ETA on how much time you need. “I think it could be helpful to say something like, ‘I’m feeling really heated and would like to talk about this when I’m in a better place, so I’m going to take a five-minute walk.”

10. Wait a beat before responding to them.

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“When you have strong feelings about something your partner has said or done, the first step is to have an inner dialogue with your feelings,” individual and couples therapist Jean Fitzpatrick tells BuzzFeed Health. “That way, instead of just blowing up, you can consider how to express yourself calmly and constructively.”

11. And if your significant other is an introvert, wait a little bit longer.

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“Since introverts spend more time processing their thoughts internally, people tend to talk over them even when they have more to say,” Kahnweiler says. Allow for a pause after they finish talking in case they have other ideas.

12. DO. NOT. INTERRUPT.

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All the experts agreed that it feels dismissive and usually adds more fuel to the fire. If you interrupt your significant other, acknowledge that you cut them off and give them time to continue.

13. Consider checking in with a therapist (alone or together) if you notice some of the same issues coming up in your relationship.

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If you’re arguing about the same issues with little growth or feeling shut down around your partner, consider couples therapy. “There are situations where one person wants to go to couples therapy and the other person will say, ‘But we’ve only been together for however many months!’” Mann says. “But most couples need to learn relationship skills, and the earlier you can learn them, the better your relationship is likely to go.”

Senior lifestyle editor and craft book author in love with style, design, and all things handmade.

Contact Alison Caporimo at alison.caporimo@buzzfeed.com.

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