Are There Benefits To Arguing With Your Significant Other?

Relationships can feel fulfilling when you're going on romantic dates together or supporting each other on difficult days. But all relationships will run into some bumps in the road where conflict and disagreements emerge.


Arguments may not be fun, but they're an inevitable part of couplehood. According to a 2022 YouGov America survey of partnered-up Americans, only 3% claimed to never argue with their significant other. Other respondents were nearly evenly split between saying they argue weekly (30%), once or a few times per month (28%), or around a few times a year (32%).

Arguments can range from tiny squabbles over toilet paper to major disputes over family and finances (per Psychology Today). Either way, research by The Gottman Institute suggests that 69% of these conflicts are perpetual issues that will never be completely resolved. Yikes!

The good news is that discussing problems and differences can offer several benefits to your relationship –- but only if you argue the right way. Here are some of the top reasons why bickering with your partner can be healthy and how to do it fairly.


Arguments help you learn about your partner

According to Psychology Today, attraction early in a relationship is often made up of little more than idealized projections of a significant other. People see what they want to see, imagining their partner to be free of flaws or characteristics that might be challenging to deal with.


This infatuation will eventually be shattered and, if things go well, replaced with a deeper love and acceptance for each other. And arguments play a key role in this transition. "It's through resolving conflicts of interest (which every relationship has) that we learn about our partner's motives," Dr. Laura VanderDrift, associate professor of psychology and director of the Close Relationships Lab at Syracuse University, told Bustle. Without difficult discussions, you may not be aware of how your partner really feels or what they really want.

To make the most of these arguments, it's important to practice active listening to fully understand what the other person has to say. As MindTools points out, people usually only absorb around half of what others say during conversations, but active listening makes it easier to hear the full story -– and avoid misunderstandings that may only make arguments worse. Be a better listener by paying attention to your partner's word choice and body language, asking questions to clarify, and avoiding interrupting them when they talk.


Disagreements can lead to problem solving

No matter what your horoscope says or how similar you and your partner are, there's no such thing as perfect compatibility. And arguments can help you and your boo work through your differences. "These disagreements are just showing us where we are misaligned and where slight adjustments are in order," ​​licensed marriage and family therapist, Moe Ari Brown told Insider.


Rather than resenting your differences -– and the arguments they trigger –- see them as areas of improvement that just need a little boost. This can make all the difference in relationship satisfaction, according to research. One 2019 study published in Family Process (via ResearchGate) revealed that happy couples use arguments for problem-solving, while unhappy couples spend arguments trying to coerce the other.

In short, even happy couples argue. The key is to see conflict as a productive opportunity to solve problems by finding win-win solutions in your relationship -– not as a chance to prove who's right and who's wrong.

Arguments allow you to express your needs

Bottling up your feelings isn't great for your mental health –- or your relationship. David Maxfield, who conducted a study on conflict in relationships, explained to Bustle, "When people don't voice their concerns, the concerns leak out in other ways — they become more abrupt, dismissive, and rude. The solution is to talk it out in an honest, frank, and respectful way. Dialogue is the solution. Silence causes the problem to continue."


Being more assertive in your relationship and expressing yourself can be tricky, especially if you tend to avoid confrontation. However, it's totally healthy to share what you need, even if the conversation feels uncomfortable at first. Everyday Health suggests approaching your partner with respect, avoiding name-calling and other destructive behaviors. Then, recognize the root of the issue. Is there an underlying fear or pain point? Is the problem related to a traumatic event from your past? Finally, share your feelings using "I" statements that express your perspective rather than casting blame on the other person.

Arguing reflects trust and security in a relationship

Did you think frequent arguments are a sign that a couple's doomed? Think again. Being able to engage in conflict can actually signal a couple's commitment. "People don't fight with you if they don't care about you," licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Allan pointed out to Everyday Health. Discussing an issue, rather than skirting it, shows that you and your other half are both invested in the future of the relationship and want to work through your problems.


Feeling comfortable enough to argue and disagree with each other can also strengthen trust in the relationship (per Marriage). As you navigate tough conversations together and eventually overcome them, you and your partner grow closer, knowing that you can work together as a team despite your differences. Plus, when you're both able to speak your mind, you can trust that the other will be honest and transparent.

Arguments must be well-timed

While arguments do deserve time in your relationship, some moments are better than others for initiating a tense talk. For one, Psychology Today urges against arguing when emotions are running high. Facing conflict as soon as it strikes might seem like a smart idea, but arguing when things are heated means you're each less likely to think calmly and rationally. Then, you may say or do things you'll later regret.


Giving your partner a heads-up and scheduling the conversation for later might result in less damage, psychotherapist and coach Dr. Daryl Appleton told Good Housekeeping. "Part of fighting is you need to do your own work; you need to have your own self-reflection," she says. Postpone fighting until you've each thought about the problem and feel ready to discuss it calmly and without distractions.

Even if you try to carefully time your conversation, it still may not go according to plan. If you can't see eye to eye or the talk grows hostile, consider taking a break and returning to the argument later when tempers have cooled.

Balance arguments with affection

Part of what makes an argument successful in your relationship is what happens when you and your significant other aren't arguing. In other words, conflict must coexist with kindness in order to be productive. According to researchers Dr. Gottman and Robert Levenson, the "magic ratio" of positive interactions to negative interactions within relationships is five to one (per The Gottman Institute). That means that couples should have five interactions of affection and loving connection for every one argument. When your relationship feels like a safe space –- not a warzone –- it can be easier to patch up disputes that arise.


Similarly, you and your partner must share more similarities, especially when it comes to life values and future goals than differences. Dr. JaQuinda Jackson, a licensed therapist, told Insider, "If you are in a relationship in which you find yourself having verbal disagreements daily or more disagreements than agreements, this would be considered unhealthy."

Keep fights fair

Arguments can be healthy and necessary for relationship growth, but that all goes out the window when communication becomes toxic or abusive. According to Healthline, there are several differences between an argument and verbal abuse. Arguments focus on a specific issue or disagreement, while abuse is more likely to be an attack on one's character. During arguments, it's normal to be angry and even yell at times, but it may become abusive if one person shames, belittles, gaslights, or threatens the other person. An abusive partner may also make unfair accusations or blame the other person for their bad behavior.


A less aggressive but equally toxic behavior during conflicts is stonewalling. Stonewalling is when one person shuts down and refuses to communicate, sometimes as a way to overpower the other person (per GoodTherapy). When one person stonewalls, they aren't simply taking a time-out –- they're abandoning the issue and ignoring the other person's needs or requests.

Arguing with your significant other can offer several important benefits to your relationship but only when done in a constructive and respectful way.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.