It's easy to ratchet up the temperature in an argument with your partner.
You say something mean and cutting, they fire back - and before you know it, you're ensconced in a like-for-like trade of insults.
These can sting all the more because in a long-term relationship, we know each others' weaknesses so well.
Armed with an intimate knowledge of our partner's insecurities, we can always hit a nerve.
Relationship therapist Hal Runkel tells Business Insider that the one way to deflate this common scenario is to admit vulnerability.
When your other half says something cruel, inside of immediately biting back, Runkel says you should say something like:
"Ouch. That one hurt. I don't know if you were meaning to hurt me; I don't know if that's what you were going for; but that's what you did."
Guys! Just admit to each other that you're hurting...
Your partner may respond by saying you've hurt them - in which case, admit it and say you wish you hadn't.
"That conversation ... is now a totally different path because one of you chose to actually get vulnerable," Runkel says.
"It wasn't a step of pushing [your partner] away. It was a step of inviting [your partner] in by saying: You know what? I am open enough to you that you can actually hurt me. So now how about we talk to each other as if we actually love each other?"
By admitting to each other that you are close enough to cause hurt, you take the zing out of the argument.
You'll then have a calmer premise from which to proceed and talk about your differences.
Hal Runkel's new book is Choose Your Own Adulthood
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