Arguments with friends

Friends are meant to be fun and reliable – right? But no matter how awesome your best mate is, they can mess up, and so can you. So how do you deal with an argument with your friends?

two blonde boys having an argument

"How dare you get the same haircut as me?"

It’s perfectly normal for two people not to agree on everything, in fact that’s healthy. It can be an interesting source of debate and you might both learn something interesting if you can keep your cool. But sometimes this can turn into a full-scale row, which is where you have to be careful.

When a row blows up

By all means express your anger about whatever it is that’s got your goat. Just remember not to start trading petty insults, making unfair generalisations, screaming at the top of your voice, or throwing punches. Nobody’s going to respect your opinion after anything like that starts.

Say what you don’t like and why you don’t like it, then suggest what you’d like to happen instead. For example: “I really don’t like it when you let yourself into my room and borrow my jeans, it makes me feel like you don’t respect my privacy. Please ask me first next time,” is more likely to get a more positive result than: “Hey, you bitch, give me those jeans back! You’re always doing stupid things like this!”

If someone starts screaming at you, resist the urge to shout right back at them. If you’re feeling brave, ask them what the problem is in a calm voice. It’s quite common to find that there’s a crossed wire somewhere and they’re sounding off at you because they haven’t got their facts straight. Being reasonably calm allows the other person to save face in this situation.

However, if they’re pissed off at you for a genuine reason, the best thing to do is just suck it up and apologise. Admit you’ve made a mistake and look for a way to put it right or avoid anything similar happening again.

After a row

The worst arguments are often about nothing much, and tend to blow up when people are feeling tired and grumpy. It’s up to you to judge how long things need to cool down for, before you try to patch things up. There is usually fault on both sides, so you might want to apologise first, or say that ‘things got out of hand’ and you want to make up. If you said something very hurtful or untrue in the heat of the moment, now’s the time to take those comments back. If they apologise first, don’t throw it right back in their face and start another row.

You may have to decide to ‘agree to differ’ on certain subjects. This is fine, and shows an ability to get on with all kinds of different people. Or you may just choose to tolerate each other’s little quirks and preferences, in order to get along better. Perhaps you can work out a good compromise that makes it easier for all concerned. If one person has really upset the other, it may be sensible to agree to some reasonable ground rules to avoid future fights.

Is it worth it?

Most minor rows are worth patching up as soon as possible, especially if the conflict is making all your other friends uncomfortable. You may think twice about making the effort if it’s just a passing acquaintance, or a friend who has really crossed the line, perhaps by stealing a partner/being violent/stealing money/spreading malicious gossip.

This kind of behaviour can ruin the original friendship completely, but you may want to partially make things up or give them a second chance. Just make sure they know that they’re ‘on probation’, and you’re not a pushover who will let them get away with the same thing twice.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015