In the heat of an argument, it can be hard to recognize the emotions behind the words you’re saying and the impact they will have on your partner. If you aren’t careful, they can turn into a competition of who can yell the loudest or who can hurt the other more.

I’ve found myself in these situations more times than I would like to admit. I’ve been on both sides — neither feels good. I’ve learned through my relationships with myself and others that healthy relationships don’t have winners or losers, so arguments shouldn’t be about trying to “win.” Instead, they should be about resolving issues to move forward.

How you phrase your feelings can play a major role in the way your significant other will react. If I say something that’s hostile, I can only expect that my partner will react in an equally or increasingly hostile way.

If I tell my partner, “Can you not always be on your stupid phone? I hate that you don’t ever pay attention to me!” my partner may not respond positively. Instead, I should say something along the lines of, “When we spend time together, I think we should both try to stay off of our phones so that we can focus on each other.” This is an example of using “I” statements instead of “you” statements.

By making this change, I avoid making accusations and set guidelines for both of us, rather than just telling my partner what to do. By making it about both of us, it opens up room for further discussion if my partner doesn’t fully agree.

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Another source of frustration I have come across tends to stem from the jealousy I feel when a significant other talks to other people.

Jealousy is something we all feel at some point in our lives. Regardless of if we trust our partner or not, those feelings can still arise. When discussing issues of jealousy, it’s incredibly important to pay attention to how you phrase things and to genuinely listen to your partner before you dismiss their thoughts.

If my significant other is talking to someone else and I get jealous because I see it as flirting or possibly more, that would hurt me. But I can’t retaliate by trying to hurt my partner back. That won’t solve any problems.

If I actually want to fix these issues, I need to approach my partner in a way that allows dialogue, rather than creating a wall between us. If I’m worried about the relationship my significant other is forming with someone else, rather than getting angry and accusing them of cheating, I should tell them why their actions have made me feel the way that I do. This means being honest and true to my emotions, without creating a hostile situation.

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It’s also important to recognize that if my partner is jealous of someone I have been talking to, I need to listen to why they feel that way, and then examine my actions rather than immediately invalidating their emotions.

Some arguments can turn more personal, such as disagreements with family, politics and the future. When approaching these issues, it’s important to know that when you target someone’s values you need to be respectful. If I tell my significant other that I think their political views are wrong, or that I hate their family, or that I think their plans for the future are dumb and unrealistic, I cannot expect a positive reaction.

The way you communicate with your significant other is a sign of the healthiness of that relationship. If I look at an argument with my partner as a fight to win, then I can only expect to lose them.

It’s necessary to pay attention to how both partners phrase things and go about discussions or disagreements to know if the relationship is healthy. If those conversations aren’t open, honest, emotional and respectful, you can’t expect anything to change or get better. If I fight to win because I think it’s fun, it isn’t healthy. If I use language that I know will hurt my partner, it isn’t healthy. If I look at every disagreement as a hostile situation, it isn’t healthy. If the relationship is worth it, then making conscious decisions to be honest and respectful should be what I want to do.