13 Things To Never Do After a Fight With Your Partner, According to a Therapist

Couple sitting beside each other with crossed arms after an argument

When was the last time you got into a fight with your partner? Did you argue for hours or have a quick disagreement? Was the argument about something that made you extremely angry or just a little frustrated

Either way, the success of your relationship depends on what happens afterward. Reconciliation, or at least understanding your partner’s point of view, must occur after a fight. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to bed a little angry or deal with parts of the argument the next day. It means you should attempt to work things out after you’ve calmed down and had time to process what happened. And it's about what *doesn't* happen afterward as well. Therefore, we've got 13 examples of what not to do after a fight with your partner.

It’s completely normal to fight with your partner. In fact, I’m always shocked if a couple comes in for a therapy session with me and says they never fight. Unless you’re a carbon copy of your spouse and have the same opinion on everything (which can be a sign of codependency), you will bicker at some point.

Since arguing is relatively universal, being aware of what to and not to do after a fight with your partner is crucial. So, here are 13 things to avoid when you’re still navigating how to handle a fight with your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner or spouse.

Related: 11 Common Signs You're 'Parenting' Your Partner, According to Psychologists

13 Things to Never Do After a Fight With Your Partner

1. Pretend that nothing ever happened.

Don’t sweep things under the rug by ignoring what started the fight between you and your partner. Doing this repeatedly makes one partner feel unheard or unappreciated, leading to resentment and unmet needs. Your relationship needs to be a safe space for you and your partner to express what’s bothering you.

And while discussing the problem is important, make sure you can discern whether this argument needs to be continued at length or if it can resolve itself with a small discussion. Unresolved problems only emerge as larger ones in the future.

Related: 35 Common Gaslighting Phrases in Relationships and How To Respond, According to Therapists

2. Don’t allow your partner to have the space they need.

After a fight, it’s natural to want to take time to yourself. Smothering your partner with guilt-ridden affection or forced conversation can make them feel like they can’t (or don’t deserve to) process their emotions immediately after walking away. The healthy alternative to this behavior is simple: if your partner wants space, give them space.

Expressing they need a break from the fight isn’t always bad, although it’s common to assume that. Allowing space can give you and your partner the chance to maintain personal boundaries and have time for reflection, leading to a more productive conversation in the future.

3. Disclose the details of your fight to close friends and family before hashing it out with your partner.

While it might be tempting to vent to your friends or family, refrain from airing your relationship grievances as much as possible until you talk to your partner about what happened. It's hard to change their perception once they hear something negative about your relationship. Confide in someone you trust about what’s stressing you out to avoid losing your partner’s trust.

However, talk to someone immediately if you feel you’re not in a mentally safe place. Call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or text HOME to 741741 to anonymously reach a crisis counselor.

Related: 7 of the Most Common Reasons Why Couples Get Divorced, According to Relationship Therapists

4. Bring up past arguments.

Bringing up things from the past isn’t a way to get more evidential support for your side of the argument. Plus, it’s difficult to remember all the details from something that happened a week ago, much less from years ago. Revisiting past arguments can also subvert your or your partner’s reconciliation efforts. It distracts from what initially caused the present dispute and makes your partner feel like their efforts to change or improve aren’t valid.

5. Give them the silent treatment.

Taking a break from talking to your partner after an argument seems productive, but is it? Not always, and it can be manipulative. Silence is counterproductive when you’re inciting it with malicious intent.

Let them know you’re not avoiding them, just taking a few minutes to recenter yourself after an intense argument. Make sure you’re calm and in a good headspace, and think about what you want to address before you reignite the conversation.

6. Force them into an ultimatum.

How would you feel if your partner was willing to threaten the relationship's stability for their own gain? Not too good. Again, forcing your partner into anything after a fight is the wrong way to approach reconciliation.

Giving them an ultimatum falls under this umbrella, as it only escalates conflict rather than promoting a healthy resolution by creating an unnecessary power dynamic—giving one partner more control over the situation.

To maintain a strong partnership after a fight, communicate empathetically and openly about what happened.

7. Blame them entirely for the fight.

It takes two people to start a fight and two to end it. While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, placing full blame on your partner is unnecessary and increases the chance they’ll become defensive.

Use “I” statements to express your feelings to create a safe space for understanding each other’s feelings. For example, instead of telling your partner they never listen to you, say, “I feel unheard and frustrated when I don’t feel like you’re listening to me during our conversations.”

Related: 5 Unexpected Signs *You* Might Be the Toxic One in a Relationship—Plus, How To Break Free from the Behaviors

8. Scream, shout or yell.

Raising your voice at your partner is usually a one-way ticket to escalating a fight. When this happens, the person getting yelled at may shut down—stopping the conversation at that moment and preventing anything productive from happening.

A hostile environment is the last thing you want when trying to reconcile in a relationship.

9. Assume you know how they’re feeling.

Have you ever assumed that your partner was over a fight, but they weren’t? What were the consequences of that assumption?

Believing you know what your partner is thinking or feeling is one of the biggest mistakes you can make after a fight in a relationship. Although it’s tempting to think you’re an expert on your partner, you can’t know everything happening in their brain.

10. Throw around insults or say things you don’t mean.

Contrary to the old saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” what people say does have an impact.

After fighting with your partner, being intentional about what you say is important. Hurling insults and harsh words only worsen things, making your partner feel disrespected. A calm-down period helps reduce your anger and prevent you from saying things you don’t mean.

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11. Ruminate on what was said during the fight.

Clearing your head is essential after fighting with your partner. But while this is the right thing to do, it’s not always possible. Ruminating about what was said during the fight, which is where you’re unable to stop focusing on it, only prolongs the negative emotions and stress associated with it.

Try to divert your attention away from hurtful words or comments by using mindfulness techniques like deep breathing or meditation.

12. Be intimate if you don’t feel like it.

Intimacy is a special part of a relationship. It’s a time when you can be vulnerable with your partner in a positive way. If you are intimate because you think it’s the right thing to do or that you’re “making up” for something that happened during the argument, it’s a problem. It could also make you resent your partner, make you feel used or cause further issues for intimacy in the future.

13. Beat yourself up after the fight.

Fighting doesn’t make anyone feel good about themselves. Feeling worn out or exhausted after a confrontation with your partner is normal. And, as we’ve said, all relationships have conflicts and disagreements. Remember, your relationship isn’t doomed after one fight. However, seeking couples counseling or individual therapy could be helpful if it happens consistently.

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