Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

I hear people brag that they never fight with loved ones. There seems to be a special pride about never fighting with a romantic partner. Unfortunately, that’s nothing to be proud of. Just because you keep things on an even keel, your relationship isn’t necessarily good. I avoided all arguments when I was a DoorMat. But I wasn’t happy about it, since it meant I kept things all pent up inside.

Not expressing your anger or disappointment or frustration or any other negative emotions doesn’t mean you’re not feeling them.

Holding in negative emotions hurts you. Physical symptoms arise from them according to research from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The more you get anger and other emotions out, the less they can affect you and your health. I used to walk around with tummy aches and other physical discomfort when I was angry with someone but I kept my mouth shut. I thought it was a good thing. But it wasn’t. It kept me stuck.

Speaking up is good for a relationship, whether it’s with a romantic partner, a friend, or even your mom. When you avoid letting the person know how you feel, resentment builds because the issue doesn’t get resolved. And it stays with you. And does damage. That’s why it’s important to engage in healthy arguments. Not yelling and screaming. Not being nasty. Just state what you feel. Disagree without attacking the person. Share how you feel.

An argument won’t ruin your relationship. In fact, it would probably make it stronger.

A good relationship includes arguments/fighting over issues/disagreeing about things. When you trust your romantic partner, friend, colleague, family member, etc., that trust should include having your own take on a situation or having a negative response to something they do, and being able to air it without negative drama or fear that it will end the good relationship. If you’re too scared, work on building the trust. And keep in mind some rules for fighting in healthy ways:

•    Fight fair. Don’t hit below the belt by bringing up past issues that were already dealt with and are painful to the other person.

•    Pick a peaceful time to talk. Don’t bring up issues when you or the other person is rushed or in a bad/stressed mood.

•    Don’t attack the person with anger. Stay calm so the disagreement doesn’t escalate to something much bigger than necessary.

•    Don’t get loud. Raising your voice will also raise tension. Force yourself to sound as friendly as possible to keep your disagreement from becoming a nasty fight.

•    Use kind words. Don’t put the person down or say they’re bad or wrong. Just state your side and let them state theirs. Nicely explain why it bothers you.

•    Be willing to listen with an open mind. Often we’re thinking about our next comeback or point instead of really hearing what the person says. People feel better just knowing they were heard. Make a point of paying real attention to what’s said.

•    Acknowledge the person’s feelings and point of view. “I understand and respect how you feel. Here’s why I feel differently.”

•    End with a caring statement. “I’m glad we could clear the air on this, even if we don’t agree on everything. I respect how you feel and appreciate you as a person.”

Healthy disagreements strengthen relationships. Don’t avoid them! Just make them productive and caring, not nasty and hostile. Getting how you feel out leaves you feeling better physically and strengthens a trusting relationship.

Take the self-love challenge and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at And you can post your loving acts HERE to reinforce your intention to love yourself. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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