Why do people argue with others

Why we always stir up arguments with our loved ones for no reason

Illustration: Mallory Heyer.
This story begins like so many stories about relationships: the other day I was sitting with a very good friend in a moderately good café and we were talking about matters of the heart and other stuff. She told me about her job and all the stress she was exposed to there, about her financial worries and all the things that you just have to get rid of sometimes. Her mood was modest, to say the least.
“And to top it all off, I also quarreled with A. I don't even know exactly why, but he just stresses me out so much! Sometimes I feel like I am downright contentious. I know that, theoretically, that everything is fine and then, in that situation, he annoys me so much that I start yelling at him ”. Aha! I immediately had the urge to investigate more closely, after all, the principle of contentiousness is not entirely unknown to me either. And so at this point I just have to ask quite SATC-wise and a bit sensationally:
Why do we often start arguments with our loved ones for no reason?
Projections and other bad guys
What at first sounds like a stupid cliché has a pretty serious background, keyword projections. What do I mean by that? I would like to illustrate it briefly with an example from my own life: a few years ago I moved in with a person whom I loved very much at the time. We actually got along very well, but we still fought a lot and it was always me who started the arguments. Not because he was such an idiot, but because I was always mad at him. I accused him of having no ambitions and goals and, completely wrongly as I now know, asked him to change his life. For me, for our future, because you have to achieve something in life. I was so clinging to the subject that I interpreted his every action to mean that he lacked ambition. I could hardly think of anything else and in the end that was the reason why the relationship broke up. The thing is, he wasn't lazy at all, he just had his own pace and goals. I wasn't at the time, though. I stumbled through my studies and worked in a bar 4 nights a week, which isn't wrong, but it just wasn't what I wanted to do. I had absolutely no plan, no visions for the future, and to be honest, I didn't look for it and wallow in my misery. Instead, I shot myself at my partner and blamed him. Apart from the fact that it is completely okay not to want to make a career, he did it and finally realized his dream: today he has his own little snack bar (ass successful). At that time, after the separation, I already suspected that my gigantic problem could possibly be a tiny projection, that his serenity and, to a certain extent, his sedate determination had triggered me, that I could not bear how relaxed he was Lived the day while I was putting insane pressure on myself to find my passion. At the time, I thought that I could never earn money writing, let alone photography, and that's why I didn't even pursue these passions. Spoiler: You can't hide from your own passion and at some point I understood that too. But there's another story that might (or never) want to be told another time.
We all know another reason for pointless arguments: We take old relationships with us into new ones. So not literally, but we take the problems of a past relationship into a new relationship instead of leaving the garbage outside the door. The bad guy from bygone times makes himself really comfortable and poisons the new love. So it can happen that things hurt us in a new partnership that actually have nothing to do with the new partner. A small gesture or the wrong word can open old wounds, make us feel hurt or angry. Quite unnecessary, but if we all look honestly into ourselves, each of us knows one or the other situation in which we made hell for something that this person was absolutely unable to do at that moment.
Know your triggers
But how can you scare away old bad guys? Admittedly, it takes a lot of self-reflection to unmask your own triggers. It took me years and pretty strenuous therapy to realize what my fucking problem was. Now, not everyone wants to go into therapy, but it often helps to critically question one's own life on one's own. What are my goals? When and why do I get mad? What annoys me about other people? How long have these things been bothering me, was there a certain trigger? It also helps to keep a journal and reread the entries after a while. An analysis of the old relationships makes perfect sense when it comes to relationships. I have recognized these triggers and can now - not always - react to them when my current partner hurts me. For example, I can say that he should refrain from certain behavior patterns or sayings, as these trigger an unusually strong reaction in me. So we can avoid unnecessary conflicts as much as possible, which is pretty great. The difficulty, however, lies in recognizing what old wounds are and where a thunderstorm is actually appropriate because the other person has actually misbehaved.
Walk it off
That all sounds pretty dramatic, but there is actually a way out of the spiral of argument and I mean that literally. In particularly dramatic moments, it works wonders to leave the situation. Not only mentally, but also very banally physically, because new thoughts can often only arise when we are exposed to new stimuli. A lap around the block or a short visit to your favorite café are quite beneficial here. Of course, this does not mean that you should look for the distance in every argument, but a little distance helps you to look at your own feelings a little more critically. I myself have stomped off several times with a huge rage in my stomach, maybe even one or the other door slammed and I swore to myself that I would never set foot in the scene again. After a 5-minute walk (I like to go to the supermarket, that distracts me so much), I had mostly analyzed the core of the matter and I went back to my favorite person with a cooler head to clarify the matter. Incidentally, it also works in the event of a justified dispute. Because even if the other person has actually screwed up something, there are certainly a lot of reasons for a peaceful de-escalation. Love for example.