One fairly unremarkable thing social media has enabled is the charting of Other People's Relationships. My Facebook feed groans under the weight of holiday snaps, proposals, weekend activities, babies, living arrangements, cross-communications (really? You can't text or email?), and fascinating updates:"Pancakes and champagne in bed - I am the luckiest girl in the world!!"
So far, so uninspiring.
Which is why We Fought About - the Twitter account of a Chicago-based couple in their 20s - is so refreshing. Every time Claire Meyer and Alan Linic have a fight, the pair tweet its trigger as a one-liner, and in doing so broadcast a dynamic we rarely get to witness (thankfully, because when we do it's incredibly awkward).
Sometimes it's lighthearted and farcical:
Alan sent me an article that put Prince in a bad light.— We Fought About: (@WeFoughtAbout) October 3, 2013
But sometimes there is pathos:
Claire tried to comfort me and I wouldn't let her.— We Fought About: (@WeFoughtAbout) September 30, 2013
As reported by Maggie Lange at The Cut, the couple wait until their fight is resolved, determine what set it off, then out it goes into the ether:
"We thought our fights were just ridiculous and way too bizarre and that's why we started it," Meyer said. Instead, "We kept hearing the same feedback of, 'This is exactly what we go through.' ... It actually has made me feel like more of a sane girlfriend."
Adds Lange: "Though their account is well-curated, they promise that they neither edit out boring fights nor look for topics to fight about."
Meyer and Linic will probably get eye-rolls for their millennial, show-pony ways: fame-hungry, self-indulgent hipsters angling for a book deal, etc. And maybe there's some truth to that. But their project is also a refreshing antidote to the blitz of rose-tinted, best-Face(book)-forward content that's become part of our daily lives.
In fact, I applaud anything that helps to normalise what is ultimately a very normal part of coupledom. The general social narrative is that arguing is BAD. That something is seriously wrong, or you're fundamentally incompatible. So people panic. They don't know where their argument ratio sits on the spectrum of Normal. Does it mean we're doomed? Do other couples fight too? How much? About what?
Also, we're taught precisely zero conflict resolution skills as young people, because at some point the boss of all schools decided all we really needed to know was how to put a condom on banana. This is what experts call deficit theory.
It's unsurprising then that fighting is viewed through such a dark lens.
Not to say there's anything pleasurable about it. Personally, arguing makes me feel anxious and a bit sick. But how it's possible to grow and progress as a unit without any fighting at all ever, is beyond me. After all, when two people come together it's like playing the world's most complex game of tetris with your eyes shut. A complete gamble, basically.
Of course, there are couples who claim never to fight. Good for you, Serene Duology. As long as you don't feel like your relationship is frozen in time. And as long as one person isn't moulding themselves to the other in such a way that denies her own needs and identity. (Also: really? NEVER?)
For the rest of us, here's a quote plucked from the gob of my own boyfriend, who - in a fit of post-argument wisdom - spouted this cheerful analogy: Arguments are like building new muscle; in order for the relationship to become even bigger and better, a bit of muscle tissue gets torn in the process.
Alternatively, Oscar Wilde: No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.
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