If you and your partner seem to
bicker all the time, it's not necessarily a sign of a problem. Some couples go back and forth and have frequent but small arguments. And it's this type of bickering that can simply be a reaction to temporary stress, or a harmless little habit that's developed over time.
Larger arguments aren't necessarily a bad thing, either. "Arguing is normal in a relationship," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "All couples have disagreements and working through them is the key to creating a strong relationship." You can learn a lot by having an argument, hashing it out, and agreeing on ways to do better going forward.
What to look out for are signs these
arguments have turned toxic, which might point to a problem. "Healthy arguing involves sticking to the topic, not letting it spiral into a bigger argument, and finding a resolution, even if it’s just agreeing to drop it," Bennett says. "It also involves not making the argument personal, which can result in name-calling, hurt feelings, and a damaged relationship."
It's fine to bicker every now and again, especially if you both laugh it off afterward. But if anything listed below sounds familiar, experts say it may be a sign you're
bickering too much — and you and your partner may want to sit down, talk, and figure out why.
You Argue At Inappropriate Times
It's one thing to have disagreements in the privacy of your home as you go about your lives, and briefly get on each other's nerves. But it's something else entirely if the bickering follows you around, and impacts other areas.
For example, "if you’re bickering at very inappropriate times, it’s a sign that it’s turned into a real problem," Bennett says. "Examples can include arguing in public, at parties, at family gatherings, around friends, and so on."
These are moments where you should be present and focused on those around you —
not embroiled in a fight. So if you can't help but bicker, even if you're supposed to be having a good time, take note. It could be a sign a larger problem is going on, and that you may want to set aside time to chat about your relationship.
You Keep Thinking About The Argument
"Healthy bickering involves hashing it out and moving on," Bennett says. "If you find yourself thinking about the argument long after it’s over or it bothers you hours later, then your fighting is taking an unhealthy turn."
Not being able to move on can be a sign the arguments are happening a little too frequently, maybe even that something more is going on. Are you two having communication issues? Is something else bothering you? Whatever the case may be, you'll want to work on together before it gets worse — or call in the
help of a therapist.
You Take To Social Media
Putting your fights on social media can show that you’re desensitized to the fighting, Bennett says, so if you're in the habit of taking to the internet, try to stop and assess whether doing so is helpful or necessary.
Remember, it's always OK to reach out to friends and family for relationship advice. Instead of bickering with you partner online, you may find a time to talk with your friends privately,
vent about your relationship, and get their advice.
Choosing to keep the bickering offline is a good thing, not only for yourself and your partner, but also the relationship.
It's Become A Source Of Entertainment
Some couples find themselves bickering almost as a form of entertainment. And while that's OK to a degree, you will want to check in with yourselves occasionally to make sure it isn't taking a negative toll on your relationship.
If, for example, either of you gets a thrill out of the fight, it may be becoming a toxic habit, Bennett says. He points to research that shows it's even possible to become
"addicted" to the negative emotions bickering stirs up. You can easily fall into a toxic feedback loop, he says, and not even realize how bad it's getting.
That's why it's important to remain aware of how you
communicate with each other, and assess whether the bickering still feels OK. If either of you is upset or stressed, it may be time to cut back.
You're Walking On Eggshells
If you've been bickering incessantly, you may find that you're starting to walk on eggshells around each other, in order to prevent yet another argument. And that can be a huge red flag.
"If you are afraid to share how you really feel with your partner for fear of upsetting them, that is a sign your arguing has taken an unhealthy turn," Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of
Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle.
You two should be able to disagree without fear, she says, while also living your lives free from worry about when the next argument might erupt. If that's not the case, therapy can be a big help, as can simply talking about the situation together.
You Mostly Communicate Through Arguments
When was the last time you had a calm conversation? "If you’re mostly communicating through arguments, that’s a sign you are bickering too much,"
Dr. Racine Henry, PhD, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Sankofa Marriage and Family Therapy, tells Bustle. "Everything shouldn’t be conflictual or solicit an argument."
If you find that you can't get through the day without arguing, or that every conversation goes south, it's definitely time to think harder about this bickering. By having a heart-to-heart, you may be able to uncover what's going on — while also agreeing to find different ways of communicating.
It's Easier To Not Talk
In a similar vein, if you find that it's just easier to not talk at all, that's another big red flag. As Henry says, "If you find yourself not bringing up certain topics or preferring the silence to an attempt at a conversation, you and your partner probably don’t know how to talk without bickering."
If the aforementioned heart-to-hearts haven't helped, it may be time to bring in some outside help in the form of
a couples therapist. While it may not feel like bickering warrants an appointment with a professional, it really can help you focus on different ways of communicating.
The occasional healthy argument can be a good thing, and a few moments of bickering here and there are usually nothing to worry about. But if any of the things listed above sound familiar, it may be a sign you and your partner are
bickering a little — and that it may be time to figure out why. too much