A couple in bed face away from each other, distance between them

New relationship tips: the first argument

by Eharmony Editorial Team - February 25, 2011

There’s a watershed moment in every new relationship – the first argument. But what matters is not that you argued, but how you handle it.

However wonderful and perfect your new relationship is, the chances are you will hit the odd bump in the road. It’s likely that first bump will come in the form of an argument – about anything or nothing – and it will leave you wondering what it means for your relationship

But when it comes to arguments, it’s not the fact that you argued that matters; after all, everyone does at some point, there’s something not quite right about a couple that doesn’t argue. No, what matters is that you handled it maturely and didn’t let your anger get the better of you. If you’re in this situation, we’ve got four new relationship tips to help you navigate that first argument.

Take a step back

The worst thing to do in the aftermath of an argument, whether you caused it or not, is try and continue the conversation there and then; the best thing you can do is walk away. Give each other some time apart to process why you’ve had an argument, and go through the steps we’ve laid out below. That might mean just going into a different room from your partner, or, as our Relationship Scientist Dr Gian Gonzaga says ‘go to sleep on an argument’. The time apart will give you both perspective on the situation and allow you to make better decisions about what happens next.

Figure out what lead up to the argument

Your state of mind before the argument is crucial in figuring out how critical your disagreement actually was. Had you had a bad day at work? Fallen out with another family member? Had some bad news? It’s important to pull all these strands apart in order to work out whether you overreacted to something your partner did, or whether you were justified in getting angry.

Work out the real cause of the argument

Often when we argue, the thing we fight about isn’t actually the real cause of the argument. For example, if it’s your anniversary and your partner calls you to say they’re going to be late as they got held up at work, your anger might be rooted more in them continually letting you down, rather than just on this particular occasion.

If you aren’t honest with yourself about why you and your partner argue you might find that you never actually manage to resolve your issues.

Decide where you go from here

The first argument you have in a new relationship is always a watershed moment, as it can reveal important character traits in your partner – and yourself  – that you never knew existed. If you both reacted in a mature and measured way, well done! But if you didn’t then this is a good time to try and resolve any issues before they get worse. If one or both of you reacted in an extreme way to confrontation, try and talk about it. There’s nothing wrong with a good argument; it can often help clear the air. Just remember that you should always learn something from an argument, if you don’t it’s nothing but a waste of energy!