How to Resolve a Fight with Someone You Love

A simple, effective process for emotional resolution

Anna Mercury


Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

You know how it goes. You tell him why you’re so upset and he says, “I hear you,” but nothing in his actions demonstrates that you’ve been heard. If he really heard you, really understood what you were saying and feeling and needing right now, he wouldn’t be responding like this.

She says she’s listening. She sits there quietly while you speak, but the next words out of her mouth have nothing to do with anything you just said. She says she understands, but clearly she doesn’t, or how could that be her reply? It doesn’t make any sense.

They say it: “I’m listening. I hear you. I get it,” but it’s like what they’re hearing is something else entirely. You don’t feel “got.” You don’t feel felt. There’s communication, but there’s not a sense of true connection.

And so, whatever it is you were fighting about never feels quite done. The conversation you started in order to solve a problem just creates another one.

The reason for this is simple. When you don’t feel felt, don’t feel that the other person is hearing what you’re saying, that’s because they aren’t. They are, almost literally, hearing something else entirely.

They may be listening to your words, but those words carry a different meaning to them than the meaning you intend to convey. Whether it’s your words, your tone, your body language, their past experiences or any combination thereof, whatever it is you’re saying carries with it associations, implications or triggers for the other person that distort and change its meaning.

That’s the wicked process by which a sentence like, “It hurts my feelings when you do X,” gets transmuted into, “You’re not good enough for me,” or how, “I’m tired of fighting” gets turned into, “I don’t think you’re worth my emotional effort.” It’s how the same conversation can unfold with both parties walking away having completely different interpretations of what was said. It’s how fights become unending, how communication breaks down, how trust and emotional safety get broken.

In order for any fight to come to a genuine resolution, both parties have to not only hear each other, but feel heard. They have…