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Destructive Arguments Are Not A Sign of "Good Chemistry"

High conflict couples usually want desperately for the conflict in their relationship to change. Boring would be a relief from the roller coaster of arguments and blow outs.

But for some high conflict couples, although they know the conflict is toxic and want to stop, they are also ambivalent about what changing the way they fight might mean. This is often especially true for couples who still feel in love despite having big, destructive fights. When you have warm feelings underneath the surface of terrible conflict, it can be easy to assume that the conflict is part of why you feel this way. After all, cultural narratives often tell us that love stories are more meaningful when they are epic, intense, and passionate. Love isn't easy, right?

Although a bit of interpersonal friction can certainly fuel a healthy sense of spark in intimate relationships (and often differences attract us to complementary partners), having messy, out of control fights is not romantic. However, you may have grown attached to the intense bonding that can come from riding a roller coaster together. The lows are low, but the highs are really high.

If you have equated conflict with chemistry, you might find yourself:

  • Justifying yours or your partner's bad behavior during conflict. You know it's not great to threaten to break up, scream, slam doors, or get in your partner's face. But since you made up afterwards, maybe this is just part of your process, right? Unfortunately, this kind of thinking ingrains the message that your loving connection thrives on chaos. Far from being healthy, this is also probably not true. Never knowing whether a fight might erupt or whether your partner might leave breeds insecurity, not love.

  • Glorifying the passion of your relationship and putting down more stable relationships. You wonder if reducing destructive conflict would make you boring. You hold onto the intensity because without it, you'll just be another average couple.

  • Using make up sex as a "get out of jail free" card for out of control conflict. Make-up sex, or sex after a conflict, can be a perfectly healthy way to reconnect. However, the downside to makeup sex is that it builds a connection between big fight and passionate sex. You might even find that sex without conflict feels a little bland, missing the intensity of having just torn each other apart.

Some high conflict couples do have a lot of chemistry - often they did from the early days of their relationships. Although for some couples, having a lot of arguments kills any sense of spark or connection, others find that they get charged up and extra "lovey" after big fights. If this sounds like you, you may even fear losing that cinematic quality to your relationship. If you ditch the crazy conflicts, will you also sacrifice the chemistry?

Here's the thing. Conflict is not your chemistry. If you have a dynamic relationship with your partner, that will still show up when your fights stop being so toxic. In fact, your chemistry will be deeper and more meaningful. Huge fights and make ups can give a sense of vulnerability and openness, but it's a false front. Real intimacy - the kind you build through not hurting each other and resolving conflict safely - is hotter than knock down drag out fights.

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