Fiona’s Blog: How to Fight With Your Best Friend
The title of this blog might have initially scared you (“Best friends don’t fight!” you exclaimed, with big, innocent Bambi eyes), but knowing how to argue with your friends is one of the most important aspects of friendship, and in this post I’ll talk about how to go about it the right way.
1. Vocalize the issue. Too often, we keep our feelings bottled up inside. While you definitely shouldn’t pick your friends apart, criticizing them for everything they do, you should speak up if their actions are making you feel hurt or offended. Don’t yell at your friend because she has a habit of smacking her lips when she talks, but do confront her if she has a habit of smacking down your opinion whenever you voice it. I know that if I keep my feelings to myself, I sometimes end up expressing them in other ways—like snapping at the people around me—or having a giant meltdown when my feelings become too hard to internalize.
2. Don’t get too caught up in the moment. You know those arguments (you’ve probably had one with a parent or sibling) where you get so caught up in arguing that you forget to be civil? You might be debating with your sister about Taylor Swift’s new single, but before you know it, you’re yelling stuff like, “You don’t know anything about music! And also, I hate your leg warmers!” Even though your emotions may be running high during a conflict with a friend, try not to say things you’re sure to regret. In debate, this is called an ad hominem attack, which means “to the man (or lady!).” You’re sure to regret something you say about your friend’s appearance or personal character. Remember that you like this person; you wouldn’t be friends otherwise.
3. Don’t leave in a huff.
If you feel that you can’t discuss the issue any further due to location, time, or your emotional state, make sure your friend doesn’t think you’re abandoning her, cutting her off, or belittling what she has to say. “Let’s talk at lunch,” or, “Why don’t we get some sleep and chat in the morning,” are both good phrases to let your friend know you are willing to take up the conversation later.
4. Don’t treat your arguments like a book club. Remember that arguments aren’t for other people to analyze. As fun as it might seem to sit around with cups of cocoa and discuss your argument in detail with other friends, it’s not very fair to the friend you had the fight with, and will probably only make the situation worse. While it may initially make you feel better, talking about your argument with a larger friend group will most likely result in more people becoming involved. This may be especially hard if you are a part of a large group of friends, like I am, but is definitely a rule I found worth following. Making the personal public means that it is very likely the story of your fight will become gossip that gets back to the other person.
5. When you make up, don’t leave out the bad or the good. When you do get around to talking later, make sure you’re honest with your friend and yourself about what bothered you during the fight.
Sometimes when you’re calm, it’s easy to shrug off things that once bothered you, in the hope of ending what may seem like an uncomfortable confrontation. Just remember that if something bothered you once, it’s likely to bother you again if it isn’t resolved.
I know I have a tendency to associate making up with apologizing, but it’s important to only apologize for the things you’re truly sorry for. “Sorry” is only a word, and saying it won’t make you feel better if you think you were wronged. Making up is also a time to look at your fight in the larger context of your friendship. Tell your friend how much she means to you, and explain to her that her actions hurt you, because you care so much about your friendship. Bring attention to the positive actions she may have taken to help resolve your conflict.
6. Don’t forget the hug!
Fiona Lowenstein is a high school junior, weekly guest blogger and Girls Leadership Institute alumna. Read more of her work here.