I don’t enjoy having an argument in a relationship anymore than the next person (well, I think we all know there are some people who just love to fight for some reason…), but when one must be had, it must be had. I’d rather just get it over with so we can get on with our lives, and get back to enjoying the relationship. Holding a grudge over something — whether done as a power move, or because you simply don’t like confrontation — only comes around to bite you in the butt. It does more harm than just having the argument would have done.
After having been in a few serious relationships, I’ve learned something that’s pretty universally true for men: they really don’t like conflict. They’ll do anything to get out of it. And they generally think that most arguments (I prefer to call them discussions) don’t need to be had. If and when we finally get around to talking about what we need to talk about, it’s only because I pestered, harassed, and nagged. And we had half a dozen micro fights about the subject of having fights in the first place, before we could even get to the damn original issue.
I’m quite used to men trying to avoid an argument now. I know all of their tactics. I really don’t understand how they think the problem will just…go away. “Do we have to talk about this?” they’ll ask. Um…yeah. How else do we fix it? We sure as hell won’t fix it by you continuing to play your video games there and me just taking the dog for a walk and getting some boba. Going for a walk only diffuses drunken bar fights: not real discussions between actual adults. I don’t want to fight often, but when we need to have a discussion it’s gotta happen. Here are annoying tactics men use to get out of arguments.
It’s too early in the day
“It’s 9am. Do we really need to do this right now? I literally just woke up. I haven’t even had my coffee yet. I need to get my thoughts straight. Don’t bombard me with this the moment I open my eyes in the morning.” Yup, it’s always easy to blame the earliness of the day. It’s an excuse we’re all forced to respect—someone’s right to just have some coffee before we fight. But then the day gets busy, and the fight doesn’t happen. So we wait until…
It’s too late in the day
If you’re two working individuals, the only times you likely have to argue are in the morning, before you go to work, or in the evening, when you get home from work. But if you wait until the latter, then your partner will say, “I just worked a full day. I’m exhausted. You’re really going to do this to me right now?”
Now it’s the weekend
Okay fine. You give up on trying to have this discussion during the week because it’s either too early in the morning or too late in the evening. So you try to move it to the weekend but now he says, “Ah, come on, babe, you’re going to ruin our weekend with an argument? Weekends are supposed to be chill. I need to have a good weekend if I’m going to have a good week.” (Ah yes, that time when you’re also not allowed to bring up a dispute).
They’re having a bad day
If he’s having a bad day, you’re not allowed to bring up an argument. You don’t get to have needs or feelings or demands if the world has already put too many demands on him that day. If his boss was mean to him or he got into it with a family member, you are accused of just piling on the problems, should you dare bring up your thing.
They’re having a good day
So, if a bad day isn’t the time to bring up a fight, maybe a good day, right? He’s in a good place. He’s feeling strong enough to weather this argument. So you’ll bring it up but…nope. Now, you’re accused of ruining his good day! “I was having a perfectly good day until now! Are you really going to ruin my good day with this fight?”
We just had a different argument
He may impose timeframes on you—buffer periods, if you will. You are not allowed to have one discussion if you just recently had another one. No matter how pressing your thing is (like, that old college friend of yours who your partner doesn’t really like asked to stay with you guys and she needs an answer, like, yesterday), he says, “We just had an argument this week. We need a breather. I don’t want to talk about that right now.”
Accusing you of “loving to fight”
Argh. Is there anything more frustrating than when a man accuses you of loving to fight? It’s very manipulative. Essentially, he is taking your very human—very normal—need to just have certain demands met and twisting it into you just thriving on conflict. He’s making you feel like you’re messed up for just…having feelings.
“Let’s just have sex”
Right. Because that fixes so much. First of all, women need there to be an emotional connection—typically—to have sex, so we really cannot get in the mood while we are angry with our partners. Second off, we’ll probably just wind up feeling more upset with our partners after the sex, because they somehow just convinced us to do something that feels good for them, when they’re making us feel very not good lately.
Reminding me of a recent good deed
“Hey, before you get mad about this, remember how last weekend I picked up your parents from the airport and stopped with them to get lunch because you weren’t feeling well?” Grrr. Yes, you remember. But it’s quite manipulative of him to bring that up, when you’re trying to talk about the fact that his friends are super disrespectful of your home when they come over. What does one thing have to do with the other?
When has this ever worked? My boyfriend still tries this. I’ll say, “Hey, we need to talk about insert unpleasant topic here” and he’ll just keep staring at his laptop screen, watching Netflix, not responding. As if I’m just going to say, “Huh. Okay. I guess he can’t hear me. This is just a lost cause and I’ll just go on living with this situation I don’t like.”
Accusing you of being difficult
I always think it’s so funny when a couple can’t agree on something, and one person accuses the other of “Just being difficult.” The very fact that any sort of argument is happening is proof that both people are being difficult. If my boyfriend wants something to happen one way, I want it to happen another way, and he says I’m being difficult, I call bullsh*t—if he were being chill, then none of this discussion would be happening. We are both being difficult. Not just me.
Drinking so much that it’s “not a good time”
There’s nothing a six-pack of beers can’t fix, right? Well, I’ve had boyfriends who believed that was the case. I’d say, “We need to talk about this” they’d say, “No worries, in a bit” and then they’d proceed to drink so much that then they’d say, “Babe, I’m like seven beers deep. I don’t think it’s a good idea to talk.” Mhmmm. And whose fault is that?
Adding friends to the equation
I had an ex who would do this constantly. He’d know that, at the end of the day, we needed to talk about something difficult. So I’d come home and find his friends on our couch. He’d “forgotten” that we needed to have a talk and, “We’re not going to fight when my friends are here, right?” Well-played. Well-played.
Pretending to agree
“Yup. Totally. Okay. Got it.” These are things a man may say just to make the argument stop right now, with no intention of actually making the changes you’re asking him to make, and without even really absorbing the information you’re giving him. You will have the same fight again next week because he wasn’t even listening, but made you believe that he was.
The old, “I’m not feeling well” excuse
“I injured myself at the gym. I need an Advil,” “I ate something bad, I need to hide away in the bathroom for the next half hour” (my boyfriend does this, but he does it to himself by eating foods he knows upset his stomach). We’d be monsters if we said, “No, we are having this fight right now, while you’re literally bent over in pain over the toilet!”