How to Fight

By Michael Crichton

Originally Published December 1991 in Playboy magazine
Playboy asked for an essay on how to argue in a relationship, how to fight fair.

Here’s what I don’t understand. If you were going to spend your life in physical battles — bar fights, or boxing matches, or whatever — you would almost certainly get some instruction. You might hire a coach, do a little training. At the very least you would learn the fundamentals: how to punch, and so on. Such instruction would make sense to you.

But the same people who feel the need for instruction in boxing will instantly join in a verbal domestic argument without a moment’s thought about what they are doing, let alone any real training.

Yet verbal fighting, like physical fighting, is a skill. Domestic fighting can be learned. One can become very good at it — although almost nobody is, because almost nobody thinks it’s necessary to learn this skill. Many men don’t bother because they erroneously believe that women are more verbally skilled and emotionally nimble than they are. But whatever the reason, most men just jump into a domestic fight, adopting the fighting style of their fathers, or various people they’ve seen on television.

If this method has been working for you, then you don’t need this article. But if you find you are coming off badly in your fights — if you are uncomfortable fighting — if you avoid fights, or dread them — if you are afraid of seriously hurting your opponent — then you better read on. Because you need to get a little balance. Do a little roadwork. Build up your wind. Work on your mental attitude.

And above all, learn to win.

Just so we’re clear, the purpose of this article is not to teach you to get along with a woman. That’s a life’s work. The purpose of this article is to teach you how to win a domestic fight. To win quickly, cleanly, and bloodlessly — but above all, to win. Got it?

Okay. Let’s get started. First rule of domestic fighting:—

Respond to the challenge at once.
Most men make fatal errors in the first 30 seconds of a domestic fight. They’ve lost before the fight itself has begun.

Why? Because they opt for the time-honored masculine strategy of weariness in the face of the advancing female. Here she comes, spoiling for a fight. You turn to her and say with a tired sigh, “What is it now?” Or, “Do we have to talk about this now?”

The fight is over.

You just lost, buddy.

Look: if Mike Tyson was advancing toward you with clenched fists, would you look at him and sigh, “What is it now?” Of course not. You’d sit up straight and be energized, ready for anything. You’d see his advancing figure as a serious challenge, requiring your full and total attention.

Well, that’s the way she wants to be seen, too.

So do yourself a favor. When you see a fight coming, deal with it. Right then and there. Stop whatever you are doing, and forget whatever you are thinking, and deal with it. An angry person is brim-full of emotions, and she needs to be dealt with now.—

Pay Attention
In a domestic quarrel, battle lines shift constantly, moment to moment. It’s confusing, exhausting, emotionally draining. She may go ballistic at any time. A domestic fight takes everything you have — every ounce of intelligence and energy. So don’t be glancing through the morning headlines or watching Bryant Gumbel, unless you want your head handed to you. Pay attention.

Don’t tell me that you do. I know you don’t. I mean pay attention as if you were standing at the plate waiting for Fernando Valenzuela to pitch.

Pay attention as if you were driving into the turn in Indy at 200 miles an hour.

I mean total, focused attention of mind and body.

Men often lose simply because they fail to pay this kind of attention — and to keep paying attention.

For example, a classic male moment comes midway through the fight, when the guy throws up his hands in disgust and announces, “I don’t understand this fight. I don’t understand what is going on.” He behaves as if this is proof of his logical superiority over the hapless, emotional female.

Bullshit. The man doesn’t understand what is going on because he stopped paying attention. That’s nothing to be proud of. It’s a weakness and an error.

Actually, you will learn that not paying attention in fights is rather common. Women do it too. Once you learn to watch her closely, you will start to see the moments when she zones out, when she stares into space, when she didn’t hear your last comment. And you’ll learn how to take advantage of those moments.

If you are paying attention. Meanwhile you should be considering,—

What’s it all about?
What kind of a fight is being proposed? There are all kinds of fights, but let’s define a spectrum.

At one end is the fight which is a disagreement about action. You want to live in the city, she wants to live in the country. You want to party every night, she wants to stay home. You want children; she doesn’t. You want to move to a new apartment; she likes it the way it is.

At the other extreme is the disagreement about feelings: she feels neglected, you feel overworked. She feels pressured, you feel slighted. She wants closeness, you want elbow room. These feeling fights may not translate into any particular action, but they often feel like a tangible dispute anyway.

Of course, most fights are a blend of these two. But as you go into combat, it’s useful to ask yourself whether this is a dispute primarily about feelings or primarily about action. Because the two must be resolved differently.

In simple terms, disputes about feelings are best resolved by acknowledging the injured feelings. Basically, you say “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and the fight ends. There isn’t really anything to do, although men frequently make the mistake of trying to do something for a woman anyway. This only irritates her and makes her feel belittled, as if she can’t solve her own problems. Thus in a fight about feelings, men often try to do too much.

On the other hand, disputes about action will eventually require action. If she wants a new apartment, your being sorry she feels that way won’t solve a thing. You’re going to have to address her concerns and perhaps move. In the face of a demand for action, many men prefer to assume that the issue is basically one of feelings, and will do too little.

Got the difference?

If you don’t, you’ll learn as we go.

The point is that there are different kinds of fights. Pay attention to what kind you’re getting into. And think about the possible outcome. In particular,—

Decide if you want to fight.
Often men behave as if they have no choice about a fight. But they do. And to think anything else is disempowering and weakening. It’ll makes you feel pushed around before anything has actually happened.

As in every aspect of life, you have a choice. You don’t have to fight unless you want to. There are at least two important ways to avoid any fight. You should be aware of them.

Your choices are to postpone the fight, to avoid the fight entirely, or to go ahead and fight. Let’s consider the choices in order—

Postponing the fight.
Sometimes a fight is genuinely inconvenient to one partner. Sometimes it’s just a specific matter of timing, and sometimes it has more profound unconscious meaning. You’re up for a wonderful promotion and she claims she’s excited for you, but somehow she starts to pick fights at times and places that are sabotaging your chances, or at least hurting them. What can you do about it? Psychotherapy may help, but it isn’t quick. And meantime you have a problem.

There is a simple answer. Negotiate fight terms. In fact, you should negotiate terms anyway. Fights are a feature of any relationship, like division of household responsibilities and money matters. You and your partner have the right to decide how you want to handle your money, your chores — and also your fights.

So in a cool moment, the two of you should look back over your recent battles, and negotiate a few rules. Some of the rules should concern postponement.

For example, in my relationship, if it is after 11 PM, I have the unconditional right to postpone the fight until the following morning. I’ll say, “If you want to have this out tomorrow, I’ll delay leaving for work to do it, but I don’t want to argue about this now.” In my experience, 97% of late-night fights never make it to the following morning.

Second, I am not required to fight if the other person has ingested any alcohol or drugs at all. Any. A single glass of wine at dinner postpones the dispute.

Finally, I have the right to claim the fight is inconvenient and therefore to reschedule at another time in the near future. As a practical matter, I find it helps if I show a willingness to give something up to schedule the fight soon. For example, I’ll say, “If you want, I’ll cancel my lunch tomorrow and we can have this out then.”

Of course, postponed fights often lose steam. This is frequently useful. Many fights are just the result of momentary tensions, with no real weight behind them. They won’t survive a postponement — so you might as well postpone them, and not waste your time on trivialities.

Negotiated rules are useful, but of course they’re not reliable. I can say I want to postpone the fight, but if she replies, “Like hell,” then I’m going to have the fight, then and there. Still, I have gained an important advantage. If I have invoked one of our agreed-upon rules — and have been churlishly turned down by her — then I’ve subtly demonstrated that she is irrational and out of control. That’s a burden few verbal fighters can come back from.


Avoiding the fight.
Many men mistakenly think their manhood is threatened if they don’t rise to the occasion of any proposed conflict. Yet there’s nothing wrong with avoiding a fight. If she’s angry but it doesn’t suit you to tangle — you’re tired, busy, or just not in the mood — then go ahead and avoid the argument. Take the steam out of the engine.

How do you do that? It’s not easy, but you should master the basics. First,

Don’t match emotions.

Almost everybody in our culture, male and female, will instinctively match a strong emotion emanating from another person. If the other person is sad, we feel sad, too. If they’re happy, we join the happiness. And if they are angry, we’ll feel anger within moments. This response feels like the natural thing to do.

But hold on.

Just because she’s mad is no reason why you have to get mad, too. You’re a separate person with separate feelings. Be conscious of the tendency to match emotions, and don’t do it.

This is easier said than done. It requires practice.

Let’s take an example. She walks into the room and says furiously, “Why didn’t you call today when you said you would?”

You’ve had a hard day at the office, and you’re tired, and your first thought is what the hell is she going on about now? I can do without this crap. I didn’t say I’d call. I only said I’d try to call. And then I got busy and couldn’t do it. What is the big fucking deal? I sent her flowers last week.

Thinking these and similar thoughts, you will find it requires a powerful effort not to speak them aloud. And any of these views, uttered aloud, will guarantee a fight. For example:

“What the hell are you going on about now?” You have a fight.

“I can do without this crap.” Fight.

“I didn’t say I’d call.” Fight.

“I only said I’d try to call.” Fight.

“What is the big fucking deal? I sent you flowers last week.” Fight.

So you see that all your usual internal thoughts, running through your mind, guarantee a fight if they are uttered aloud. In part, this is because you have become angry in response to her anger — you’ve matched her emotion.

But also, in part, it’s because you have defended yourself, focusing on who’s right. But to avoid a fight,

Forget about who’s right.

Perhaps you know, in your heart of hearts, that you’re right. You clearly remember that you explicitly did not promise her you’d call. On the contrary, you told her you had a busy unpredictable day ahead, but you’d try to call. So she’s off base now about the phone call and her anger is unwarranted. She’s accused you unjustly. You would like nothing better than to set her straight.

But wait.

Even if what you believe is true, and she’s worked herself into an inappropriate rage, setting her straight, even in a calm voice, will just makes her feelings worse. Now she’ll have all these upset feelings and no place to put them.

Except on you.

And that’s exactly what she’ll do. With a vengeance.

So you might as well forget about who’s right. You can’t avoid a fight by explaining to her why she is wrong, no matter how reasonably you do it. You’ll have to do something else, namely

Kiss the hurt.

The only way to avoid a fight is to see the situation, at this exact moment, from her point of view. Whatever you actually said that morning, she went away thinking that you were going to call her — looking forward to your call — and when it never came, she felt slighted and angry. You can understand how that would feel, can’t you?

Realize that 80% of what an angry, wounded person wants is acknowledgement and sympathy. They want some variation of “I see you‘re angry and I am sorry you are upset.” They want you to kiss the hurt and make it better.

So just do it.

Many men can’t feel sympathetic in this moment, because they get hung up on the fact that they are being blamed. She is blaming you, accusing you unjustly. It’s annoying and angering and illogical.

But wait. All you have to do is,

Sympathize without accepting blame.

Few domestic fighters learn this vital and powerful technique. It’s one of the most important in any fighter’s arsenal. You do it this way:

“Honey, I’m sorry you felt disappointed. I’d never want you to feel that way. I guess we misunderstood each other this morning. I thought I only said I’d try to call. But I know how bad it feels to wait all day for something that never happens. It feels lousy. I’m sorry it happened.”

The first time you make a response like this, it’ll feel weird and weak. A pussy, wimpy sort of speech. But in fact this approach has stunning power. It will almost always take the steam out of her sails. And it takes nothing from you. Notice you are sympathetic to her position without ever agreeing she is justified to hold it. On the contrary, you’ve calmly disagreed with her explanation for how the situation came about. But you are not blaming anybody. And you keep the focus on what you both can agree on — that you’re sorry she feels bad now.

This procedure also works well with repetition, wearing her down.

“Gee, honey, I’m sorry you feel that way.”
“Don’t call me honey.”

“Jennifer, I’m sorry that you felt stood up.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am. It must have felt terrible.”

“It did, yes.”

“Jen, I’d never want you to feel that way. I’m really sorry it happened.”

If you keep expressing sympathy in a genuine, honest way, it’s very unlikely that she can press onward to a fight.

Unless, of course, you want to have a fight, too.—

Let’s assume you’re in the mood. There’s a snarl forming on your lips. You’re ready to tangle, and tangle big.

Let’s also assume the fight is about something. (This is not always true in a domestic quarrel, but let’s assume it is, anyway.) The fight is about coming to grips with some conflict, or revealing some wounded emotion. In my view, anything that gets the fighters to the underlying point of the fight is good. Anything that evades the point is bad.

Okay. Here’s how I recommend you do it:

No drugs or alcohol.

Have a serious fight totally sober. Require it of others. Not a sip of beer at lunch, not a glass of wine after coming home. Not a drag or a pill. No ingested substances. Rules for fighting should be essentially the same as rules for driving a car or operating dangerous machinery.

No physical violence.

No violence on either side, of any kind. No throwing pots and pans, no kicking furniture, no breaking glass, no sweeping stuff off the desk, no slamming the wall, no biting, pinching, hitting, slapping or kicking. No threats to do so: no bunched fist raised to strike.

In short, no physical violence and no threats of physical violence to a person or their belongings.


It’s a very smart rule. First of all, face facts: we live in a time when violence by men against women is held in the media spotlight, while violence by women against men goes largely unheeded. Nobody’s interested in your version. If she gets drunk, gets really pissed off, pulls a gun or a knife and kills you, everybody will assume that you must have done something to deserve it.

Second, in any violent encounter men, being bigger and stronger, have an advantage. If the verbal battle becomes heated enough, women may feel intimidated, and men may worry that their words or gestures are unfairly intimidating. Thus the mere possibility of violence can actually cause men to restrain their verbal attacks. That’s debilitating. You may have run across a woman cunning enough, when the verbal battle is not going her way, to suddenly retreat in apparent fear, pretending that she thinks you are about to hit her. It’s a known ploy. Her behavior will completely change the context of the dispute. Before it was just an argument. Now it’s whether or not she is justified in fearing that you’ll hit her.

So. Wise up, and obviate these hazards. Require that all violence be ruled out. Tell her that if she gets violent you will stop the fight or leave.

If you, or she, can’t stick to that rule, then you’ve got a problem that requires professional help.

And if you’re in a relationship that gets off on physical violence, good luck to you both.

Respect your opponent.

Never laugh at her. No matter how idiotic you find what she is saying. Not a laugh, not a snicker, not a condescending smile.

Don’t imitate her speech patterns or her body movements. Don’t exaggerate or caricature.

Don’t trivialize her verbal positions.

And especially,

Don’t characterize her.

Have you ever had someone say, “Let me tell you what your problem is?” You’re immediately angry. Fighting words. It’s a natural reaction.

So, don’t tell her what her problem is. Don’t tell her what kind of a person she is. She won’t like it any better than you would. Besides, in the midst of a fight, your opinion of her is actually rather predictable. If you’re really furious, then the chances are you think:

a. she always pulls this shit.
b. she has no self-control.
c. she’s really stupid.
d. all her friends who agree with her are stupid, too.
e. she has no respect for you or your problems
f. she never listens to you
g. she doesn’t appreciate what you do for her
h. you wish you’d never met her

In summary, in the full flood of your anger you probably think she’s a stupid self-centered bitch that unfortunately you had the poor judgement to get involved with.

You can tell her all that, and you can tell her the other things you think about her, too, but your views don’t amount to much. The presence of certain key words like “never” and “always” marks your complaint as excessive. Everybody who’s mad feels this way. So all they really mean is that you’re mad.

Furthermore, expressing these views will inflame your opponent, and therefore obscure the fight. The fight is not about the fact that she always pulls this shit. The fight is about something else.

Deal with something else. Deal with the essence. If nothing else, the whole issue of characterization should have shown you the importance of the next rule:

Don’t get mad.

You probably think the whole reason for a fight is that you are mad. Think again. Do you imagine Tyson is mad when he is in the ring, bludgeoning somebody? Of course not. He may be energized. He may be pumped full of adrenalin. He may be focused. But he’s not mad. When you get mad, you lose self-control. Just because you are having a fight is no reason to get mad.

Of course there is a wonderful, hot surge of emotions when you finally have had enough of her nonsense, and you snarl, “Oh yeah?” And you pull out the big guns.

But think about it. Does getting mad put you in a better position as the fight continues? No.

Don’t get mad, or you may lose the fight.

Actually, everybody knows this rule, deep down. You’ll notice that when an issue is really important to somebody, they control themselves. They only let fly when it doesn’t matter that much.

In that sense, overt, out-of-control anger is a sign of disrespect. It means you don’t take the person, or the fight, seriously.

Think about it.

The other point to remember is that she will probably try to make you mad, because your position is immediately weakened once you are mad. Especially if she’s mad and you’re not, she has a problem and she knows it. She needs to get you pissed off.

Chances are she may characterize you — tell you what you always do and never do. How you never listen to her, how you are always such an asshole. Chances are, it will make you mad.

Find a way not to get mad.

Some men detach, and study the specific statements she is making. Some men quietly think of something else and wait for her attack to end. Some men imagine that they are seeing the dispute on television. Some men study the pores of her face or the wallpaper behind her.

Whatever your technique, just don’t get mad.

Admit minor accusations.

Once the arrows start flying, you will be inclined to deny everything that is said about you, including all sorts of minor flaws that you actually possess. You’ll deny that you like sweets, or that you stay up late, or that you are fussy about your wardrobe. For example, she says:

“You’re so particular about your clothes.”

“I am not.”

“Yes you are, you think you’re God’s gift to the fashion business.”

“I don’t.”

This can continue forever. Whereas you could have handled it another way. She says, “You’re so particular about your clothes.” And you say:

“Yes, I am. So what? I like to feel well-dressed. I want to make a good impression. I enjoy clothes. It’s true.”

These admissions have a beneficial effect on the progress of the fight. Because you haven’t allowed yourself to get sidetracked. (The fight is not about your clothes, presumably.)

Notice, too, that this can be a good maneuver when she is characterizing you, as in:

“You’re really stupid, you have no self-control, and you don’t appreciate what I do for you.”

“That’s right, I don’t. Right now I don’t appreciate anything about you, because we are in the middle of a fight. Now can we get on with it?”

Don’t threaten.

In the context of a fight, threats are evasions of the true issue. They don’t progress the fight. If you track the flow of a domestic quarrel, threats usually signal “time-outs” in the action. One person makes a threat, and then the other counters or complains about the threat (“How dare you” or something similar), and the two people argue about the threat for a while, before they finally return to the real subject at hand.

Why bother? It’s a waste of time.

Don’t make threats. Don’t respond to her threats.

And similarly,

Don’t leave the fight.

This includes a variety of maneuvers, such as threatening to end the relationship. “Oh yeah, then I’m leaving now!” Or “Oh yeah? Then it’s over!” Or just stomping out of the room, or leaving the apartment and going to a hotel overnight.

These cliched tactics distract from the real point of the fight. They state the obvious: anybody can obviously leave, at any time. And they fire the final shot, leaving you with nowhere to go — but out.

So don’t unilaterally abandon the fight by leaving the room, or answering the phone, or turning on the TV. They’re all cheap shots. No matter how much you try to disguise them in a cloud of your disgust with her, the fact is they reflect badly on you.

However, there are some related maneuvers that you should do. If you feel you want to leave, tell her: “When we argue like this, I feel like I want to leave this relationship.” Or “Right now I feel really hopeless, like there’s no future for us.” Stated honestly, these comments can be truly jolting. And it’s appropriate: your mate does need to know how you feel, she needs to hear when things really push your buttons and make you want to leave. She should hear that, without the threat that you will carry them out.

Similarly, it can be intelligent to leave the room if you are losing your temper, if you need to stomp around and physicalize a little, burn the adrenalin. But make it clear that you are coming back. And if possible, say so. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Otherwise, don’t leave the fight.

Pay attention to subtext.

The fighting woman is giving you a tremendous amount of information. Not just what she is saying. Not just body language. That’s the obvious stuff. But there are many other things to pay attention to. The specific language she’s using. The tone of voice. The expression on her face. And especially, the flow of her argument. How she goes from A to B to D. Don’t assume it is illogical. Instead, assume it has a logic, however subterranean. Try and figure it out, and try to anticipate where it is going. See if you can get there first. Does it all match up? And in particular, remember the important truth: she may not know what she’s angry about. People often don’t know, and they use the fight to explore. To find out.

So pay attention.

But identify subtext at your peril. “This is just about your mother” is characterization. Better to say, “This doesn’t seem important enough to argue over.”

Restate opposing positions.

It is very common that you feel she doesn’t hear what you are saying, yet she insists she does. You start repeating, and she gets annoyed. “I heard you, for Chrissakes, and you’re wrong.”

And you say, “You didn’t hear me.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I’m telling you, Jennifer, you’re not hearing me.”

This kind of argument can go on forever.

But it is easily resolved.

Say, “If you heard what I’m saying, then say it back to me.” Ask her to state your position in her own words. Insist that she not belittle your position, with vocabulary, tone of voice, body posture or gestures. Insist she state your position neutrally, if not sympathetically.

Correct her errors, and demand another restatement from her.

You will find this is an extremely useful technique. You’ll be amazed at how you can unclinch a fight.

Also, you can use the technique in reverse, at any time. Volunteer to state her position. “Wait a minute, let me see if I have this right. You’re saying that I promised you I would call, and that when I didn’t call I was setting you up to make you feel bad. That I intended to make you feel bad. Is that what you feel?”

State her position as honestly as you can. No accusation, no spin. Chances are, if you play back her position without spin, she will promptly decide that it isn’t very reasonable and will make some adjustments.

And even if she doesn’t, the fact that you have stated her position correctly will have a mollifying effect on her.

Trust me. It will.

The reason is simple. In a fight, both people feel a complex mix of emotins, one of which is the feeling that they are misunderstood. If you can sympathetically state her position, she will recognize that at least, she is not misunderstood. And that will lighten the atmosphere. Even if it doesn’t bring the two of you closer to agreement. And stating her position honestly and fairly will have a mollifying effect on you, too.—

“What would you like me to do about it now?”

“What do you need from me now?”

“What would make it better for you now?”

“If it happens again, what would you like me to do?”

Asked honestly, these questions can be very useful. Sometimes you are arguing and all she wants is a hug. If you can get her to tell you that’s what she wants — and if you can give her the hug — then you’re done with the fight.

This is an especially good maneuver when you get lost, because you’re not paying attention. Instead of saying, “What is this stupid fight about?” ask her what she wants to happen.

“What’s the evidence?”

This is a difficult ploy, but it has its uses in difficult situations. It is particularly useful with the woman who lives in primacy-of-feeling mode. Or the one who in effect says, “I feel this way, therefore my feeling must be justified.” People can get pretty confused about their feelings.

It’s also good for vague complaints, such as “You’re not supportive of me,” or “You never care about my career.” How can you respond effectively? It’s impossible. You have to shift the ground to evidence. What is the objective evidence about your behavior that justifies her feelings? Get her to start talking about that. And then you can offer counterevidence of your own.

Fight clean.

If, in the course of the last fight, you went out and fucked her best friend, don’t get mad and tell her about it now.

In the middle of a fight, people often say things that they regret later. The other person never forgets. They may not bring it up, but they never forget.

So: set your intention in a fight, and know your limits.

The purpose of a fight is to accomplish something without destroying the relationship. It’s easy to destroy the relationship. Any idiot can do that.

Keep on track.

Throughout the fight, be mindful of what is really at issue. Because if your oponent is beginning to lose the fight, they will begin to throw up all sorts of irrelevancies.

Keep the fight on track.

And I’d remind you it’s a powerful position to subtly set yourself up as the one who decides whether the fight is on track or not.

Talk about yourself.

This is the real power fighter’s secret.

Talk about yourself.

The main reason to talk about yourself is that that’s where the power is. No matter how hard you try, you can never resolve the fight by explaining what an asshole she is. All you will do is make her more angry and stubborn — more of an asshole.

On the other hand, you can resolve the fight by explaining how you feel in the argument as it progresses. Because that can lead to understanding.

So, use the most powerful technique of all:

Tell Her How You Feel Now.

Tell her your feelings at the exact moment you are speaking. Speak only from your point of view, and without characterizing her:

“Honey I’m feeling really angry as I listen to you, because I feel blamed for things that keep happening in our relationship and we don’t seem to get them fixed. We had a similar misunderstanding last week and I felt blamed then and now it’s happening again and I am feeling really pushed around.”

Or, “I am feeling really frustrated now because we started out talking about the phone call and somehow we have gotten to the laundry and your mother last week. I don’t understand why you are angry, or what this argument is really about.”

This is the most powerful procedure you can employ in any fight, but it is extremely hard to do.

‘Often men find it harder to do than women, because it requires you to reveal something of your inner feelings in a moment of emotional stress. In my experience, this skill is best practiced in trivial situations first — like when she shows up late for the movie — so that you can become comfortable doing it when the pressure is on, and you really need it.

It’s also a difficult technique because you are feeling some emotion, and you need to step back and see exactly how you feel and report it. That’s a perspective on yourself that is not so easy. Few people attain it without practice.

Finally, it is hard because you cannot characterize her. You can’t describe her behavior at all. That takes a lot of practice. It often slips in, as in: “I feel really bad because you’re ignoring me.” That’s not the way to do it. Instead, say, ” I feel bad. I really feel ignored in the relationship.”

Tell the truth.

If you tell the truth, you make it her problem.

“Yes, I do look at other women sometimes.”

Now, what’s she going to do about it?

It’s her problem.

“I’m sorry, Jennifer. I did promise to call you. I just forgot. I’m really sorry.”

It’s her problem.

“I don’t want to move, I like it here.”

Her problem.

You’re off the hook. You told the truth. You’ve come clean. It’s her problem to deal with it. And sometimes if you tell the deepest, most honest truth about how you feel, your opponent will sometimes fall back, gasping, and the fight will abruptly end.

The truth is incredibly powerful.

Try it sometime.—

I have two final recommendations, based on my own experience.

Fight hard.

Some men feel they should pull their punches when fighting a woman. What outmoded chauvinist piggery! How demeaning to her! If you have followed my rules, and set up the fight to be absolutely non-physical and non-violent, then you have no advantage over her. You’re on a flat field, on equal footing, it is the 1990’s, and you should fight hard.

Fight hard.

Keep to your position. Defend yourself vigorously. Hit her hard and repeatedly with your point of view. And show a little stamina, for Chrissake.

When you watch most men fight, you’ll see there is a certain moment when men just give up. The fight has gone on too long, and the woman does something — maybe an irrational flight of fancy, a leap to another point — and the guy folds. He just sinks to his knees and collapses.


Because he got discouraged? Because he finally thought “I’ll never get this bitch to understand?”

Wake up, buddy! No quitting! If she changes the subject, say, “You’re changing the subject and I want to talk about the real issue,” and drive her back to the point. Stay in the fight.

As for duration, a fight will last as long as it lasts. I’ve had fights that lasted all weekend. They started Friday night and they didn’t get resolved until Sunday night. I’ve had fights that lasted all week. I’ve spent days arguing with the woman, until she finally saw my point. Or I saw hes.

Just as you can’t evade a fight, you can’t suddenly get tired. Tired? What a fucking wimp! Get back on your feet and keep fighting! And finally,

Don’t expect to win.

At the end of a political argument, have you ever heard someone say, “Gosh, you’re right, I’m going to give up my life-long affiliation in the Democratic party and vote Republican from now on?”

Of course not.

There are many arguments that don’t conclude with a clear capitulation. Instead, the positions just get stated and the whole matter is dropped.

That’s the nature of fights.

Sometimes you’ll see a change in her behavior in a few days.

Or maybe not.

Maybe you’ll have to fight again.

Probably you will.

Good luck.