Sure, all is fair in love and war. Or is it? Your relationship isn’t a war, though, so why would you want to treat it like one?
There are just some couples who are like oil and vinegar—they simply don’t mix. If you’ve gotten to a place in your relationship where you feel like all is fair in love and war, that is a recipe for disaster. The nastier a relationship gets, the likelier you’ll be to strike back. Before you know it, you’re saying things that create tiny cracks that chip away until there is nothing left.
The phrase, “All is fair in love and war” is probably true, but your relationship is not a war, nor are the battle royals that you may be getting into. Instead of living by those types of conditions, it is much easier to stop the battle before it begins.
All is fair in love and war doesn’t have to be your motto
Follow these rules for engagement to make for a lasting relationship. Instead of fighting like you’re trying to win a war, take small victories in battles averted.
#1 Don’t think that you have to one-up your mate. When you’ve been hurt, it’s not a competition. You don’t have to one-up your pain by striking back with something that takes it one step further. Once you cross a line, it can’t be uncrossed. You have to remember that you don’t want to make your partner feel worse than you do. You want to be constructive, not destructive. [Read: The power of words can make or break your relationship]
#2 You can’t take certain things back, even with an apology. When you say something to your mate, or when they say something to you, it doesn’t just go away when you say you’re sorry. Hurtful words can linger, so be careful that you truly mean what you say before sharing it. [Read: How to apologize and say sorry to a lover]
#3 If you go too far, they will never know if you’re being honest. If you overstep a boundary and try to take something hurtful back, they will never know what you truly feel. Were you honest when you said that you loved them, or when you hated them?
#4 Don’t dredge up past arguments. If you are going to argue about something, stick to the subject at hand. If you start to pull things out of the closet to prove a point, how can anything get resolved? Leave the past in the past and focus on the present and moving forward. [Read: Relationship arguments: 23 dos and donts to remember]
#5 Don’t bring other people into your discussions. If you start saying things like “everyone,” or even “my friends” or “my mother,” you’re involving people who can’t speak for themselves and are making your partner feel ganged up on by you and the world. There is nothing worse than feeling like the deck is stacked against you, and it certainly isn’t fair.
#6 Don’t rehash embarrassing moments for your partner. If you know there is a painful or embarrassing event in their life from the past, leave it in the past. There is no need to try to open up wounds or demons that they have finally let go of. That does nothing but make your relationship worse.
#7 Don’t bring up old relationships. You weren’t in their past relationships, so don’t think that you have any idea about what happened or try to analyze it. If you think that you understand why their past partner left, you may or may not be right. But that is none of your business. [Read: Dating history: Which exes should your partner know about?]
#8 Don’t change your story as you go along. If you start having an argument about something, don’t switch it mid-stream to win. There is nothing worse than trying to play a game when someone keeps changing the rules. After all, this isn’t supposed to be a game, nor a war. It’s supposed to be love. Stay objective, and don’t be wishy-washy for the sake of “winning.”
#9 It isn’t fair to stop listening. All is fair in love and war, maybe, but nothing is fair when you’re not listening. Just because you don’t want to hear any more doesn’t mean that the conversation is over. There is nothing more selfish than deciding when someone is worth listening to and when you’re done with them. If you make them feel insignificant, you can’t undo their feelings of insecurity. [Read: 10 ways to be a better listener in your relationship]
#10 Don’t call your partner names or label them. You aren’t in high school anymore—you can’t just end a fight by calling someone a name. Sure, it’s tempting to say things that will hurt one another, but you can’t take back those horrible things you come up with in the heat of an argument.
#11 Don’t call them out in front of other people. Don’t be one of those couples who fights in front of others and pulls out embarrassing things about each other. No one else wants to hear your ugly fight. In fact, when you say negative things, it only makes you look bad. If you want to confront your partner, wait until you can have some time alone.
#12 Don’t bad-mouth each other to your family and loved ones. When you say something bad about your partner out of anger to your family, it may feel fair at the time, but you are poisoning the waters. What does that mean? After you make up and have solved your issues, your family doesn’t get to see that side of things. Instead, they will likely hold a grudge against your partner that will be difficult to smooth away. [Read: 13 signs your friend are ruining your relationship]
#13 Don’t bring your sex life into the argument, unless that’s the center of your discussion.
This goes along the lines of not saying things that you don’t really mean. If you say one thing— maybe about poor sexual performance, questioning his manhood, or her inability to turn you on—but don’t really mean it, you could seriously harm your relationship. How will your partner ever know if you really meant what you said, or if you were simply looking for ways to hurt them? [Read: Using sex as a weapon? 10 harsh truths you need to know]
#14 Don’t belittle them. Don’t make your partner feel insignificant or unappreciated. Those incidents add up, and before you know it, all those battles turn into a war, and your mate doesn’t have the security or the self-esteem to cope. Don’t steal their ability to fight back or fight for themselves—even you know that isn’t fair.
#15 Don’t mock them. “I know you are but what am I?” How frustrating was that when a three-year-old played that game with you? It isn’t any less hurtful or degrading when your grown adult partner does it to you. Have respect for what they’re feeling and saying if you want your relationship to last. [Read: 25 must-following relationship rules for happy love]
All is fair in love and war, but your relationship is not a war, it’s supposed to be your love affair. Every time you up the ante and do something to hurt your partner, it makes it easier to hurt them even more the next time. Like an avalanche, your fights, language, and treatment are burying you both.