One of the sad, strange realities about being a couple is that no matter how committed you are to getting along, you will find yourselves fighting about the most seemingly insignificant things. Trust us, even people in the most evolved and tranquil relationships bicker about dirty socks not making it into the hamper. And although they are hard-pressed to admit it, they once had a full-on blowout about the “slightly judgmental tone” one of them used to talk about the other’s best friend. On the surface, conflicts like this might seem trivial and meaningless. But what if that dumb fight isn’t so dumb after all? What if, in the midst of yelling at each other about the way one of you flosses your teeth too frequently (or not often enough), you pause and realize this isn’t really about flossing technique at all, it’s actually about control issues you inherited from your mother? Yikes. Here are some examples of common dumb fights and what they might actually be about…
1. The Dumb Fight: He says you talk too loud on public transportation and reminds you that “people are always listening.” You reply with “Who cares?”
What It’s Really About: Conflicting feelings about privacy. One of you values it more than the other.
2. The Dumb Fight: You leave your dirty clothes on the floor instead of the hamper and he doesn’t seem to understand why you “can’t just take the extra millisecond to put it in the bin.”
What It’s Really About: Freedom. You like to give your partner little reminders that yours will never be stifled. NEVER.
3. The Dumb Fight: You repeatedly forget to call when you’re going to be home a few minutes, hell, maybe an hour, late and he is pissed when you walk through the door because the vegetarian pizza he made is cold.
What It’s Really About: Time management. One of you has, let’s say, a much looser sense of time.
4. The Dumb Fight: He seems to get in the foulest mood every time you have a friend’s birthday party or a work dinner on the schedule.
What It’s Really About: Honesty. He should just buck up and tell you he gets social anxiety at your events and he would prefer not to go, but he doesn’t because he fears disappointing you.
5. The Dumb Fight: He’s annoyed that you fall asleep whenever you watch a movie on Netlix post-9pm and you’re annoyed that he’s impossible to get out of bed before 9 am.
What It’s Really About: Sleep schedules. It’s hard to accept that your partner is a morning person and you’re a night person or vice versa, but it’s really not gonna change. The sooner you accept it, the better.
6. The Dumb Fight: He accuses you of “babying” your electronics by charging them too much and loves to remind you that they “should do what you tell them to do” and that the battery works better if you “let your laptop die every once in a while.”
What It’s Really About: You’re more uptight and he’s more free-spirited, and the way you treat your electronics is just a manifestation of that.
7. The Dumb Fight: You want to go to yoga or go for a run on Saturdays; he wants to nurse his hangover with brunch at the greasy spoon around the corner.
What It’s Really About: Your lifestyle choices aren’t quite in sync, and you need to find a compromise — say, taking a run and then meeting him for biscuits and gravy.
8. The Dumb Fight: You find yourself having a full-blown freakout that you don’t have enough couple friends to hang out with.
What It’s Really About: Fear of stagnancy. As much as you love hanging out together, adding some variety to your social life can ward off the feeling of being stuck in a routine as a couple.
9. The Dumb Fight: He’s obsessed with you when you’re “doing something else” like working or painting your nails and loves to distract you.
What It’s Really About: Attention. He doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough of yours.
10. The Dumb Fight: He says “you look nice” but he sometimes says it in a less-than-excited tone, like he’s just phoning it in.
What It’s Really About: Insecurity. He obviously thinks you’re beautiful, but you’re not feeling the same way and need extra validation.