I purchased a book called The Ethical Slut earlier this year and something struck me as odd regarding their chapter About Fear/Jealousy.
They wrote, “Thinking about how intimate bonds are cemented by sharing vulnerable feelings brings us to perhaps the ultimate act of intimacy: fighting. Many people believe that fighting between partners is to be avoided at all costs, but most relationship therapists disagree.”
I hold a PhD in Psychology and know many others who hold various Doctorate Degrees. However, I don’t know many who label themselves “relationship therapists,” nor have I spoken to people who claim that title. I added that in here because I disagree with that statement and perhaps that may be a reason why.
As a clinician, therapist, counselor, whatever title you choose to consider me to be, others I know who practice as I had didn’t believe fighting or arguing to be a necessity nor the “ultimate act of intimacy.” Those in my circle and individuals I met at conferences and workshops all favored clear calm communication to resolving disputes and disagreements. If one person needed a cooling down period, taking a short break (after expressing a need to do so), the talk would continue later on.
The process of resolving a conflict typically looked something like this:
- Expressing displeasure of something said or done and explaining why.
- Acknowledging the offense may not have been the other person’s intent, while not downplaying the hurt felt.
- Owning one’s own feelings of offense, hurt, disgust, anger, sadness, etc of what the act or statement lead to.
- Stating a sense of turmoil so great that it wasn’t a good time to process the situation and scheduling a time to actually discuss it until a resolution was found.
- The discussion would pick back up at the appointed time.
- The persons would discuss it, using “I” statements versus “You” statements.
- It would be a discussion, meaning each person would take turns listening to the other and then speaking to share their own feelings and perceptions.
None of the above is done with raised voices, placing blame on the other person, not holding one’s self accountable for their own actions and words, and not speaking emotionally. If this is what the book considers “fighting,” then I agree it is an act of intimacy. If the book views loud irrational talking at a person rather than talking with a person, then I disagree. Maybe I’m simply unclear of what the authors meant.
I do agree that open, honest, transparent, authentic communication with another person, and “sharing vulnerable feelings” is an intimate act. Not everyone is capable or willing to have a calm conversation about something they disagree with, when their feelings are hurt by someone else, or when told they’ve hurt another person.
What are your thoughts on the above? Do you believe “fighting” is necessary? What is your definition of “fighting?” Do you prefer a conversation as outlined above? I look forward to reading your thoughts and experiences.
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