Anyone who has ever been in a relationship with a human being has picked a fight with someone they love. It’s one thing to run into conflict with your partner because of the things that naturally occur in daily interaction, but it’s a whole other thing to intentionally try to start an argument with your partner without reason.
But the tricky part of it is, there usually is a reason. Even “picking meaningless fights,” can have implications of a larger relationship issue.
“‘Picking a fight’ typically starts with finding fault with and going after something a person did or said and escalating it into a fight,” intimacy coach Irene Fehr told Elite Daily. “It’s a learned behavior used as a gateway to address a past hurt or resentment, without coming out vulnerably to talk about the thing that really bothers you.
The fight ends up more as a way to get your partner’s attention, than it is actually about the incident that caused the squabble.
“Most picked fights are not about the actual subject of the fight; the subject is merely a facade that allows you to act out on the deeper ‘meta’ message that you feel frustrated, unappreciated, not important, slighted, or ignored without having to admit to feeling this way,” Feh told Elite Daily.
“It’s a passive-aggressive way to express how you feel, and it’s highly ineffective because the fight is never about the issue at hand, so the true source of discontent is never resolved, creating cycles of prolonged frustration and resentment,” says Fehr.
If you are the one instigating these petty arguments, be real about the source of your pain so you and your partner can heal it. You have to be direct and communicate the core of what’s bothering you–and if you can’t find the words, work with a therapist or counselor to get to the root.
If you are on the receiving end of this behavior, point it out to your partner and tell them how it affects you.
“Name that you see a pattern in your relationship around picking fights, name the impact on you: ‘when we fight this way, I feel less connected with you and less trusting. And it hurts,” Fehr advised. “Express to your partner that you want to break through this pattern and understand what’s really bothering them. Ask if they’d be willing to have a more vulnerable conversation about what’s going on.”