#1: My girlfriend, wife, lover, whatever, of 3 months, 1 year, more
than a year, 7 years, whatever, and I seem to be arguing all the time.
She keeps claiming that I 'don't care enough.' When I try to tell
her that I do, or point out the things that I do for her that she
doesn't do for me, she gets even angrier. We patch things up for awhile
but then we have another fight. I'm pretty much in love with her but
all this arguing leads nowhere and is really dragging me down. Should
I just bail or what? It seems like a lot of pain to go through and
things aren't getting better. Is there something I should be doing
that will fix this problem? What is her problem anyway? Do you have
any insight on this?
#2: My girlfriend, wife, lover, whatever, of 3 months, 1 year, more
than a year, 7 years, whatever, and I seem to be arguing all the time.
I really love her, but she pulls so much shit on me. Like she'll lie
about something or try to hide stuff from me, she acts inconsistent,
she doesn't call, goes places without telling me, she never wants
to initiate sex, and [insert long list of minor but troubling complaints
here] and basically it just gets really complicated. Every time I
confront her or point out what she's done wrong, she just goes ballistic
basically and it seems like everything ends up being my fault. I don't
know what to do. I don't want to end things exactly because we have
really great times but it seems like....I don't know. I'm totally
lost. I'm really tired of it and I give up - so I turn to you. Any
clues on what I should do?
And so on.
Okey doke. So
here is where we dive into Arguing With Your Girlfriend 101.
Arguing in general is a highly advanced form of civilized discourse
that occasionally involves throwing things, and the proper study of
it takes decades. And if things go well in your life, you will have
that long to master its subtle yet rewarding intricacies. However,
at the moment, you are floundering around, having involved yourself
in a relationship, and therefore forgotten the simplest basics of
arguing as it applies to girlfriends or what have you. Or perhaps
you never really understood them in the first place. That
happens. Don't worry, though, we are going to give you an itsy-bitsy
refresher course in the fundamentals of arguing your way through a
relationship for fun, profit, and an enhanced sex life. We'll start
with some general principles in random order.
#1: Arguments that she starts are almost always 'you don't
care enough about me' arguments. You may appear to be arguing
about when a banana is too brown to eat, the dishes, or the very important
topic of tooth-brushing, but if she has started an argument about
it, what you are really arguing about is whether you care about her
Note that 'starting
an argument' is an incredibly advanced technical term involving so
many equations that we simply don't have space to define it here.
So we will use the layman's definition of an argument that she has
started - which is when you say to yourself 'she started it!' as though
that somehow makes you the injured party and entitled to compensatory
damages. So if you are having a lot of arguments where she gets mad
first, I want you to imagine to yourself that there is a large banner
hanging over your arguing space that says: Proposed: My boyfriend
(husband, whatever) does not care about me enough!
I want you to
imagine this so you will more readily understand how it is that you
always seem to get backed into some sort of corner wherein you are
defending how much you care about her with a sort of desperate, crazed
futility. Think of your argument as a vigorous, spirited debate on
this important hypothesis and you will understand your own and her
behavior more easily. You will not have the slightest fucking clue
what to do about it, but we'll get to that later. First, you need
to absorb this vital argument information slowly, mull it around in
your head like fine wine, get a ferocious headache from the mulling,
and then turn to me for the pain-killing advice you will now be in
a position to gratefully accept. That's our basic game plan, just
so you know.
At any rate, we
have now answered the question as to why it always comes down to this
- the you don't love me, you don't care issue, and why your FAQs are
so often poignantly filled with confusion on this topic. It always
comes down to that issue because that's what the fucking argument
is about, you dolt! We'll go into the nuts and bolts of this, how
a simple discussion of laundry can degenerate into a howling vicious
morass of deadly personal insults and accusations punctuated by horribly
wounded refusals to talk and an icy chill over your entire relationship,
but for the moment I just want you to consider this: is there anything
else in world really worth arguing about? The answer is not really.
The answers to otherwise intriguing questions about the optimal number
of miles over the speed limit to drive pale before the mighty majesty
of the you don't really love me enough, now do you? question.
As far as she is concerned, almost nothing beats it for sheer personal
interest. But while you ponder that, let's move on to Principle #2.
#2: Arguments you start with her are almost always 'you don't
really care enough about me, now do you?' arguments.
Your whiny and
heartfelt complaints about various forms of deception, about how often
and under what circumstances sexual relations are conducted, her numerous
complications, irritating personal habits, manipulation of any number
of kinds, how she always gets mad and so on and so on...are all just
clever disguises for your deep-rooted, sincere, and recurring belief
that she just doesn't really care enough about you, now does she?
It is amazing to me how deeply and frequently you are convinced of
this in your relationships and to what extraordinary lengths you will
go to just to arrange arguments in which you can hang this Debating
Banner over your relationship and get your heart stomped on. But it's
human nature and you're going to do it, so there's no use me babbling
on about amazement. The principal difference between you and her is
that you will almost never admit this, you would rather have your
fingernails pulled out by wild rabid ferrets than admit what you are
arguing about. So in most cases she actually has a slight edge on
you in the honesty department. But who cares? Honestly, no one. It's
completely irrelevant. You're going to argue about it. You're supposed
to argue about it. The only important question is how you are going
to turn the basics of human nature into everlasting love and happiness
or at least a less than tortured life. Which brings us to Principle
#3: The point of having an argument with your girlfriend is to cause
That's what arguments
were invented for. Honestly. I'm not making this up. If you are not
getting deliriously passionate make-up sex out of your arguments,
you are not conducting them properly. This is an important point,
so we're going to belabor it for a minute.
Let's go back
to our initial principles - that arguments, even if they are seemingly
about how much time you spend playing computer games, are really about
whether or not someone really just doesn't love the other person enough,
now do they? The definitive answer to that question, and the only
truly satisfactory one, is to be found in Make-up Sex. It's really
pretty fucking clear and pretty fucking simple. Even if your head
is deeply enmeshed in the troubled fog of your current relationship,
you can dimly sense this. You can see how if love, caring, and
passion are the questions, then Make-up Sex would actually be the
answer. It is misunderstanding the fundamental nature of the question
that leads you astray and into thickets of verbal abuse and intermittent
anguished and confused alienation.
Indeed, the classic
way for human beings to truly reassure themselves that love exists
in their relationship is through the magical sensual bonding act of
sexual contact, ecstatic release of chemicals, warm glowy feelings
of contentment and so on. You are slightly more vulnerable than she
is to needing this particular form of reassurance due to differences
in Social Brains, and Information Processing, and other boring (or
fascinating, depending on your mood) topics we won't go into now,
but suffice it to say that Make-up Sex is a pretty good deal for everyone.
The question, of course, is how to get there. A question we won't
address until we get to the Basic Arguing Techniques section of the
FAQ. For now, we'll just go into Principle #4, pausing only briefly
to point out that you can't have Make-Up Sex after an argument, unless
you have an argument.
#4: Starting an argument is nature's way of saying "I really
Human beings didn't
invent arguments. Lots of mammals use them, and use them to establish
close, loyal, intrinsically useful relationships. Rival monkeys who
engage in some sort of vicious conflict (and monkeys can be really
vicious in case you weren't aware) and then make up are more likely
to back each other up in times of threat from another party, to share
food, and to assist each other in times of distress. Dogs use initial
territorial fighting to establish long-lasting dog friendships rife
with loyalty and heroism. Even cats, and for all I know, ferrets,
attack each other in play as a way of establishing ongoing friendly
relations. Human beings are mammals and they do the same thing. Arguments,
and conflicts, are key ways that mammals, including people, sniff
each other out, test each other, get to know each other, learn to
trust each other, negotiate ongoing living relationships, understand
each other, and establish the kinds of bonds that are both mysteriously
chemical in nature and surprisingly durable. No one ever truly
trusts someone they haven't fought with. Remember this.
A good old-fashioned
highly upset argument disarranges you physiologically, lowers your
social defense mechanisms and opens all your pores so that your true
underlying upset and highly caring chemicals can come gushing out
in a hugely revealing and upsetting way. And all this gushing out
of repressed chemistry is exactly what leaves a sort of chemical emptiness
and desperate craving for replacement chemicals that allows you to
accept what the other person is offering in chemical return and then
wrestle each other to the kitchen floor in a desperate frenzy of extremely
rewarding Make-Up Sex. The whole system is intricately designed by
evolution to make sure that animals who need each other will form
tight long-lasting bonds even when they later wish they hadn't. It
is much, much more difficult to break up a mutually argumentative
relationship than a non-arguing one. This is a relevant point
in your life. It may be relevant at the moment because you are finding
it harder than hell to get out of an arguing relationship even though
you are in distress and want to. Or it may become a relevant point
after you have been married for 17 years and your wife leaves you
to marry some jerk who argues with her all the time in preference
to what you thought was the ideal non-arguing harmony of her marriage
to you - but was in actuality an arid, dry, chemical-free, barren
wasteland of complete marital indifference. However it affects
you, for better or for worse, you really need to be aware of this
underlying point. Knowing this will guide your future decisions
with a sure-footed brilliance and mastery of relationships that will
awe your dolty and unaccomplished friends.
Let's pick this
up on a more conceptual level since you aren't really accustomed to
thinking of things in the brute animal terms that in reality rule
your life. If your girlfriend is taking the trouble to start a 'you
don't really care enough about me, now do you?' argument - it
must mean that she is actually interested in the answer! She
wouldn't do this unless she cared whether or not you loved her. Understand
this! If your girlfriend is never starting confusing, illogical, and
distressing arguments with you, it's a bad sign. Take it from
someone who has very deliberately not started arguments with otherwise
wonderful men because she no longer gave a fuck whether they cared
enough or not. If you are having ongoing, chronic arguments that she
always starts - it means that she is making an heroic attempt to
get you to give the right answer. (The right answer, by the way,
is that you do care enough about her. This may or may not be the truthful
answer, but your most common problem is an inability to figure out
how to convey this answer, whether sincere or not.) Ongoing argument
starting means she is giving you many many chances.
If you are the one
starting the arguments and doing the confronting, it means you are making
a heroic and courageous attempt to get her to give the right answer.
This is highly admirable on your part and sometimes also kind of
pathetic. Particularly when you don't know how to convince her to give
the right answer. But at least you're fucking trying.
If you are both
starting arguments all the time, it means that you have reached a
point in your relationship where both of you are unsure as to whether
there is enough caring dispersed helpfully throughout the relationship
and are trying to figure it out. Or - it means you both like to
argue! Some couples like to argue more or less as a lifestyle
because it constantly reminds them of how much they love each other.
It's as though their brains were to saying to themselves 'God, I must
really love this man/woman or why else would I be putting up with
all this shit! I wouldn't, so therefore this must be a love for the
ages!' And frequently it is. Often, to the dismay of less feisty friends
and relatives, you can't pry an arguing couple apart with a crowbar.
Their chemicals are constantly energized, their love constantly renewed,
and furthermore, all problems can be resolved by the simple expedient
of arguing about them. In short, you can get away with arguing
with your girlfriend all the time if you have the stamina for it (and
many of you don't), but you cannot get away with never arguing.
#5: There are certain times in a relationship that are vitally important
Many of your FAQs
vaguely reference certain key time markers, such as around 3 or 4
months, round about a year or a little more, and deep into a relationship
such as 4 years or 5 years. These time periods are negotiation time
At around the
3 or 4 month mark, something happens inside both your heads. It may
be a little earlier or later, depending on how old you are, but here's
what happens: A little buzzer goes off inside your Relationship
Assessment Center that says 'We May Have A Deal Here!' You have
cautiously or wildly sniffed out the possiblity of good times, good
sex, love, activation of feelings, attraction, the meeting of hidden
needs or god knows what hideously complex set of factors it is that
draw people to one another. And you have decided, sometimes against
your will, that enough of these things exist to make striking a deal
As soon as you
decide that, even if you didn't want to, your entire outlook on life
changes. Because once your body decides this is something that could
last more than a week or two, it immediately starts making plans for
the future, and deciding how it wants things arranged, and so on.
Things that were perfectly acceptable if you were only going to be
dealing with them for a week or two now appear to your body to be
completely unbearable if they are going to last the rest of
your life. And you (or she) will be seized with an sudden
overwhelming desire to start an argument over where to sit in a movie
theatre. It's fine to sit in the front near the speakers so he can
take in the full ear-crushing effect of the various loud explosions
the movie has to offer for a month or two, but if it's going to be
the rest of your goddamn life, it is imperative that you start an
argument, and get very irritated about it right now
at the 3 or 4 month mark.
In other words,
if you're going to have a deal - it is important to negotiate the
terms of it. If you skip this step, you don't really have a relationship
yet. On the other hand, if the two of you are arguing like motherfuckers
at this crucial point, it means you have a deal. You like each
other, maybe even love each other and therefore it is worth working
out the terms of the relationship. People don't really get confident
enough to argue with true vicious abandon until they feel like there's
something there worth arguing about. Take heart from this. Some
of you bail every time this happens. Don't! You cannot get to the
good stuff until you negotiate your way through the basic terms. Often
these terms will have to do with how much time you spend together,
how often and when you call, who calls first, sex, personal space
and you guessed it - you don't really care enough about me, now do
you? All you are doing is establishing that there is enough caring,
as proven by the make-up sex, to make the darn thing worth continuing.
should expect to renegotiate the terms at around the 1 year mark.
Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are good times to get into vicious
arguments and renegotiate for more favorable terms or address whatever
problems have arisen in the working relationship. Again, an important
anniversary like a year indicates to your body that maybe this darn
thing is going to last and therefore minor problems must be addresed
soon or they will last for the rest of your life! Similarly,
if you plan to get married, you should set aside the entire first
year for emotional and seemingly pointless arguing on a tremendous
number of trivial points. There is nothing like getting married
to scare the wits out of your body and make it believe that every
minor irritation will only grow into a gigantic cancerous bleeding
sore if not argued about right now! This is because you
have basically informed it that you are indeed going to be stuck with
this situation for the rest of your life.
There will also
be points down the road, several years into things, when you will
want to renegotiate terms. It is like a renewable contract and adjustments
have to be made to update the terms, just as in a business relationship.
Principle: You don't really want to win an argument with your girlfriend,
even if you think you do.
This goes back
to our Make-Up Sex point. The point of an intimate argument is never
really to win, it is to release 'I love you and want to have sex with
you' chemicals. Winning doesn't lead to sex. Ponder this.
And consider this
subtle yet logical train of thought (because women understand it even
if you don't). If you win an argument you started, you have basically
proven that she doesn't really care about you, now does she? Because
that's the territory you staked out. If you are proven right, you
are in actuality the loser. If, on the other hand, she wins, she has
basically proven that she doesn't really love you, now does she? Let's
say you are arguing because you always have to initiate sex and she
doesn't and you want her to sometimes. If you prove that you are correct,
you have essentially proven that she doesn't care enough to initiate
sex. She will be mad that you proved this, when she was planning to
keep it to herself, and you will unfailingly find that hammering home
your point about how right you are, will never lead to more and better
sex. If she wins, by proving that she shouldn't have to, well then
we are back at square one, aren't we?
If she starts
an argument about how you never call and you win, you have proven
that you don't need to call and she was excessively needy to ask for
all this damn calling, which means you have proven that you don't
really care enough about her, now do you? And if she wins, she has
proven that you weren't calling enough, now were you? You are always
screwed either way.
Again, this is
something you understand intuitively, and why you sometimes avoid
arguments, or get desperate during them, but during full-on argument
mode all subtle logic escapes you and you end up foot deep in it,
twisting your ankle and falling on your face. So let's remember our
points about animals, chemicals, and sex. The reason you are arguing
is to release those chemicals and drop those defenses that will allow
the two of you to trust each other more firmly than rationality could
ever account for. Arguments are an information exchange. We'll
say it again - arguments are for information exchange. Information.
Chemicals. Emotions. Exchange thereof. Revelation of internal states
of being. Establishment of trust. Arguments are not for winning.
Never ever prove yourself right during an argument with a girlfriend.
Take down that
debate banner, even if she doesn't. An argument is really a question,
not a debate. You don't believe this and neither does she, but it
is. Answer the question, or get the question answered. No one is
right. No one is wrong. There is only the question of sufficient
caring and the practical matter of how that caring is to be conveyed
behaviorally. She has her preferences, you have yours.
The two of you have a deal, and you are merely working out the terms.
Embed this understanding into your soul and save yourself some amazingly
agonizing heartache down the road.
Okay now that
we have gotten philosophical on you (in a way that can only improve
your life immeasurably), we must acknowledge the practical reality.
If you are going to be arguing over where to sit in a movie theater
(and you will), somehow or another you've got to fucking figure out
where you're going to sit or whether you'll be able to sit together
at all (sometimes you won't). The gritty practicalities are going
to drive you nuts. So you will need Arguing Techniques. At
long fucking last, we are leaving behind principles and moving on
to actual goddamn techniques. How to resolve your horrible not caring
enough problems and the even worse practical problems of What To Watch
Together on Television.
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