Couples fight. There's no two ways around it. And any relationship expert will tell you that it isn't just normal, but fighting is actually healthy in relationships. Walking around with pent up anger that isn't expressed leads to resentment and resentment in a relationship is never a good thing. It's toxic, unhealthy, and damaging to the relationship, as well as the individuals in the relationship.
"Even mutually happy couples slip up and say and do things they regret," Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of the new book Training Your Love Intuition, tells Bustle. "But what distinguishes their missteps from unhappy and unhealthy couples is that these couples' mistakes are not as mean or unkind. Their slip ups are also far less frequent, and lower in the intensity of the anger. Their fights flame out, and usually move toward a mutual solution."
But when it comes to fights between people who aren't compatible, resolutions are rarely part of the equation, and the word choice and lack of respect reaches a whole other level.
"Incompatible couples often consist of one person who cannot manage anger or disagreements," Dr. Wish says. "This person tends to experience issues in the relationship as a loss of control and disrespect from their partner. This person also has a deep fear of being wrong —and an inability to recognize that they are out of control verbally or physically."
If you can't fight fair or give other the necessary respect to even want to fight fair, it's time to look at your compatibility. Or, in this case, your incompatibility. Here's how experts define a fight that shows you're incompatible.
1. One Of You Makes The Other Partner Feel Guilty
"The turnaround is a technique used by your partner to make you feel guilty (and bad) for [their] offense," bestselling author and relationship expert, Susan Winter, tells Bustle.
Winter lays out a scenario in which a couple has plans to make dinner at home, but one of them shows up four hours late, after having not responded to texts.
"When you ask where they’ve been and why they didn’t respond to your call and texts, they make you the bad guy," Winter says. "They attack your line of questioning and feign supreme insult. Their error is your fault for noticing. How dare you call them out on their bad behavior?"
In other words, if there's any form of gaslighting going on during your fights, it speaks volumes as to whether or not this is a relationship you'll want to stay in.
2. Someone Is Always Saying Sorry When It's Not Their Fault
Gaslighting someone by making them feel like they're to blame, usually ends in an apology — but the apology is being said by the wrong person. As Winter explains, when blame is shifted and guilt is misdirected by a partner who has manipulated the argument, the person who should be apologizing isn't saying they're sorry. Instead, they're insisting on the other partner to apologize instead.
3. Compromising Is Out Of The Question
"Your non-negotiables oppose each other, and you feel compromising anymore would invalidate who you are," Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Bustle. "Some issues might be more clear cut: one partner wants marriage and the other doesn’t, one wants to have a child and the other doesn’t."
As Chlipala says, a lot of issues and problems in a relationship have degrees of differences. But what it comes down to is how those differences are handled. If one, or both of you doesn't want to compromise, then there's no room to move forward — especially on the bigger issues.
"Each partner has to look at what their non-negotiable is on an issue, areas where they’re flexible, and whether their partner is willing to honor the non-negotiable," Chilpala says. "This will help to determine whether the issue truly is a dealbreaker that could end their relationship."
4. Someone Plays The Victim Card
Oh, the victim card. Nothing says incompatibility quite like an argument where one partner plays the victim to a T.
"One partner insists upon being the victim at all costs," Winter says. "This position is maintained regardless of the truth surrounding the matter. All that’s wrong in the relationship is your fault. They’re the loving, patient, and put-upon partners."
That's simply not how relationships work. There should be an equality even when arguing.
"The victim role is often activated by the turnaround," Winter says. "However, it’s sustained by your partner’s skewed perspective."
5. Someone Is Always Begging For Forgiveness
Some people deserve to be forgiven, while others do not. And those who keep coming back, begging forgiveness for their behavior, time and time again, likely don't deserve it.
"Your partner might not be a good fit for you if they [...] cry, beg for forgiveness, and make promises to change," Dr. Wish says, "but never take steps to accomplish it."
There's only so many times a couple can go down the same road without the necessary changes needed.
6. The Fights Are Riddled With Lies
It goes without saying that two people's versions of one event can be completely different. However, when one partner out-right lies during fights, for whatever reason — to play the victim, to get the upper hand — it screams incompatibility.
"Your partner re-tells the facts of an issue in a way that’s totally false," Winter says. "They make up details and change events and what was said to suit their needs. They tell these embellished stories to the point that they believe them as truth [...] They insist they’re right. Therefore, there’s no way for you to win. There’s no way for the truth to be told."
7. The Fights Are Violent
One partner doesn't necessarily need to be physically abusive to the other during a fight to prove them incompatible, but according to Dr. Wish, even throwing and breaking things is a sign that compatibility is an issue.
"Unfortunately, love and hope can blind all of us to a partner's serious limitations," Dr. Wish says.
Someone throwing a vase across the room during an argument is a sign that they likely have violent tendencies, and it may be time to recruit the help of a professional or loved one in exiting the relationship.
8. There's No Attempt At Resolution
According to Dr. Wish, walking away from a disagreement is a sign that you and your partner are likely incompatible. It doesn't matter who does the walking away. If either one of you does, it shows the other partner that there's little to no interest in resolving the problem. Things need to be resolved before people can move forward.
"One major difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships is the ability for partners to work through their issues," Winter says. "Couples that lack the skills required to come to conflict resolution don’t have a chance at sustaining a healthy and happy relationship."
But a healthy couple will learn to work through disagreements. "Managing disagreements and mistakes is a hallmark of compatible couples," Dr. Wish says. "They are quicker to apologize — and more willing able to examine what tripped off their hot-headed responses."
No relationship is without its own brand of conflict and disagreements, but there are levels to those disagreements and when resolution is no longer an interest for either partner, it's time to say enough is enough. It doesn't matter how much you love someone, without compatibility, you don't have the whole package, and the whole package is necessary in the long run.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.