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What? Did you actually think you were going to fight about SMART shit?

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My girlfriend and I fight about the STUPIDEST shit. Yesterday, it was her against me and
the fact that I canceled plans on my one of my best (and coincidentally ex-gf) friends in an attempt to see her (which fell through), and she didn't want me "using that against her" or something later. Right? It sucks. Those fights suck. I'm still trying to hone my "don't use logic, use i'm fucking pissed" sense about these things per your FAQ. But we're still together after months of on and off, happy and sad, yadda yadda yadda. You know the stuff.

Right, so, do I/we put up with each other because we feel some commitment/connection/love for the other person, or because we are just stubborn perfectionists and giving up/walking away/ generally losing the relationship battle isn't in our nature?

Is there a way I can differentiate from what I'm committing to out of love (assuming I feel it), and what I do out of habit/personality? I'm trying to figure out if I'm fighting this losing battle because I care about her/us, or because I desperately don't want to lose, or
because I'm afraid I won't find anyone better. If it matters, this is the longest, most intimate relationship I've ever had (almost a year) and I've never fought with anyone in my life as much as I fight with her.

Okay, there are several layers here. The first layer is obvious and universal and relates to a question you did not ask: which is why do you guys fight so often about such stupid shit? The answer, which everyone knows and does not believe, is that two human beings engaged in doing anything together whatsoever are supposed to spend the entire doing things together time period fighting intensely over single stupid fucking thing you can possibly imagine.

By this I do not mean that two people in love should spend their lives fighting with each other over trivia. I mean two people of any sort. Two brothers. Two sisters. Two neighbors. Two classmates. Two friends. Two anything. Now, nobody can actually live this way, so what people do in order to survive is figure out how not to do things together!

So, for example, a pair of people who have been married for a long time may figure out that when they are in the same car together, they are not actually going somewhere together. Actually, one person is driving and another person is fantasizing about ways to spend money. They are not spending their lives raising children together. Instead, they are each in turn waiting impatiently while the other one fucks up raising children. An old retired man will figure out that when his wife is making a sandwich for him, they are not actually making lunch together, and therefore he better keep his fucking mouth shut if he ever wants to eat again.

Even sex is not something that two people do together if they want to live through it in a pleasant and enjoyable fashion and experience it again with the same person. A wise and prudent person learns that her husband does not need to know the details of all the people that she fantasy-fucks while he is laboring away and the wise and prudent husband is not letting his wife know the thoughts that are going through his mind during this crucial bonding period or why.

And so it goes. For siblings, neighbors, friends, even people and their dogs. A dog owner with any brains learns that he is not walking with his dog. He is walking behind his dog while his dog sniffs things that seemingly ought better to be left unsniffed. They are not doing the same thing.

Co-workers learn that if you want to get anything done with someone you work with, you'll damn well figure out how not to do it with the person you're working with. I had a writing partner for years. We greatly enjoyed working with each other because we figured out how to produce most of our work without actually writing it together. When we had to write it together, we fought about every single word. When things went well, we sometimes fought about who should get the credit for it. Fortunately, our fights were hilarious good fun and when we fought about credit, we would always insist that it was the other one who deserved it. But the principle remains: We were able to get things written because we sat down right next to each other and still managed to not be writing together. We took turns writing while the other one pretended she was interested.

In one pathetic and yet entirely understandable sense, you and your GF have simply not yet figured out (after almost a year) how not to do things together.

The fight you described is a classic example. Your girlfriend was informing you that the two of you were NOT making a joint decision about who you would spend time with. You were making your own fucking decision joker, so don't go blaming it on her!

It can take awhile to figure out how not to do things together. It takes some people decades. Others never figure it out. But until you figure it out, you will continue to fight over everything imaginable and some things you can't even identify.

At this point, a little light bulb should be going on over your head. Not a physical material light bulb because that is wasteful of electricity (unless you are using one of those new energy-efficient bulbs, then it is okay), but a cartoon light bulb, such as one sees in cartoons.

The cartoon light bulb should be appearing as a metaphorical indicator of your vast and hitherto unused intelligence. Of course!

This is why you described the dilemma in the terms that you did. You knew instinctively that there was a battle for control going on that neither of you wanted to lose. The battle for control will go away when you stop trying to do things together.

You will end up essentially negotiating who is doing what when and the two of you will stop trying to do them at the same time. You'll do grown-up and intensely unininteresting things like "set boundaries," "stop scraping on each other's last nerves," "stop accidentally hurting each other's feelings over incomprehensibly tiny decisions," "negotiate important decisions as separate adults with full and equal respect for each other's opinions." Or not.

Because here's the deal. Not too long ago I saw a young married couple with an infant child fighting over opening the trunk of their car. You would think that there is not much to opening the trunk of a car. Little area for dispute there, you might think. But oh, you'd be wrong. Not only is there room for dispute, the woman in question said out loud that "Maybe we ought to just get a divorce." This is entirely normal.

Not fun, but normal. Because when people get together, their wily Sex Brains often cajole, manipulate and coerce them into attempting to Do Things Together as a means of establishing precedent for the Cooperative Enterprise of Joint Survival while ensuring that the little wriggling human bundles that carry their Joint Genes do not die.

Now, you may consciously or unconsciously think "I am in no way planning to produce little wriggling human bundles of Joint Genes with my current girlfriend, so there is no need whatsoever for Cooperative Enterprises of any sort. It's just silly and painful!" And you might even be right if you consciously or unconsciously think this way.

But tough. Because the wily Sex Brain perceives the need for Practice Painful Cooperative Enterprises, and almost as soon as you start sleeping with someone it will trick you into setting them up. I have been duped by the wily Sex Brain in this fashion many a time, and it took me quite awhile to catch on to the game. The fact that I ever did somewhat amazes me. But I did and have established through Close Observation and Intensive Personal Research that it is possible to avoid Cooperation almost entirely if you remove love and affection from the equation. But who wants to do that?

Well, maybe you. But you need at least a smattering of decent information before you can make this decision. So let's lay out your choices. They are:

A) Difficult Intimacy or B) Diffident Indifference.

Either will work. Difficult Intimacy, as you might imagine, is Difficult. It involves getting to know another person so thoroughly that you can finish their sentences and know their thoughts while sleeping, driving, making love, cooking bacon, or watching TV in a hotel room 3000 miles away. You can only get to know a person this thoroughly by fighting with them intensely and repeatedly until you have exchanged enough Conflict Chemicals that half the chemicals in your body are theirs anyway. This is also known as the That Lady Looks Just Like Her Dog syndrome. In other words, given enough intimacy two people of opposite sexes (or even the same sex in some cases) will start to look just like each other, which is kind of scary if you think about it really hard because it hardly ever turns out that the ugly one looks more like the beautiful one but more often vice versa.

Simple enough. You just fight your way through hell often enough and you'll Establish Difficult Intimacy sooner or later, usually later. And then, in a really hilarious and terrible twist of fate, you'll do the Marriage Flip, in which you both completely change at the same time, and you have to do the same thing all over again. Just in case you are wondering, this is the Secret to a Happy Marriage; namely, about 14 years or so of Near-Constant Unhappiness. Sometimes it only takes about 7 years, but never less than that. It works really well, and if you happen to find True Love, I highly recommend it.

Diffident Indifference, on the other hand, is almost exactly the same, except with a different outcome. In the Diffident Indifference Plan, practiced in most Western marriages, the two parties simply learn, after being bludgeoned by Repeated Unbearable Irritation until they give up all hope of Difficult Intimacy, to Never Cooperate and to retreat to their separate corners and live their lifes. Then, after awhile they realize, or one of them realizes (usually the female) that hell, There Is No Intimacy Here, and she leaves to go search for it somewhere else, the foolish woman.

Since you are under no obligation at the moment to get married or even stick with the person you are with for another week, you can try either or both plans. You can practice Difficult Intimacy or practice Diffident Indifference. Depends on how bad you want to quit fighting. Or...

It depends on the answer to the question you really asked, which is whether or not you are fighting out of Love or out of Stubbornness or some other Personality Trait, such as Wanting Always to Be Right. The answer to which will surprise you, as they say on my local news every fucking night and they are always wrong, it never surprises me. And perhaps you won't be surprised either. But you'll never know unless you click below.


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