How the Goal is to Resolve – Not to Win – In Relationships

As an avid sports fan and passionate basketball player, I know the feeling of wanting to win. When you’re faced with a challenge, you want to not only overcome that challenge – you want to prove that you can beat it, and that you are the winner in that competition.

That mindset is great for sports. But for relationships, it’s not nearly as successful. Couples that learn how to resolve their conflicts rather than try to win arguments are more likely to have successful relationships than partners who try to “beat” each other. Because no matter how strongly you want to prove that you are right during an argument, or how much you want to get your way, when one partner wins, both partners lose.

Quelling the Desire to Win Your Arguments

When you and your partner have any type of argument or discussion, it is likely that a part of you wants to win. After all, you wouldn’t be arguing your point if you do not feel that your beliefs have more merit than your partner’s.

But if you ask yourself what winning gets you, you will ultimately find that it is actually not very much:

  • Sense of Superiority – It’s easy to see why winning an argument can give you a sense of superiority. It is also easy to see why this can be a problem. In a relationship, it’s not helpful for one partner to feel better than the other. Winning makes you feel good about being “better” than someone else, but being “better” than your partner isn’t necessarily a good outcome.
  • Overwhelmed Partner – The process of winning an argument is usually a long one, and the process of trying to break your partner’s thoughts, opinions or ideas down so that he or she admits defeat is one that is fraught with negative thoughts, and often overwhelming to your partner. If your partner is overwhelmed, then so is the relationship, and that is not helpful to you either.
  • Behavioral Change – Often the reason that people argue to win is because they are looking for a behavioral change in a partner. But research shows that behavior rarely changes simply because of an argument. In fact, for people to change in a relationship, they have to want to for their own reasons. You “beating” them doesn’t accomplish this.

In order to win in any argument or discussion, someone else has to lose. Since relationships are made up of two individuals whose successes and failures affect each other, one partner winning and one partner losing is unlikely to change the relationship dynamic in a positive way.

Fight to Resolve, Not to Win

Instead, look to resolve conflicts. Communicate about what you both need from each other, make personal sacrifices if necessary, and see how you can move forward without worrying about who wins and who loses. You’ll find that the outcome of your relationship – and the outcome of the argument – is much better for you and your relationship in the future.