The Real Reasons Couples Fight


Ever wondered how you can go from thinking someone is flawless to feeling like you can’t stand them once the honeymoon phase wears off? I’d love to tell you that your relationship is unique, but in reality, this is a pretty standard experience for a lot of couples. What starts as pure bliss often transitions into confusion and conflict, leaving many of us questioning what went wrong. Below, let’s dig into why couples fight.

Your Type Explained

If you’ve ever been rejected because you weren’t someone’s “type”, you’re not alone. When it comes to attraction, many of us gravitate toward a certain type without even realising it. We’re creatures of habit, drawn to what feels familiar. This familiar territory often comes from our early experiences with our primary caregivers — usually our mother or father. Basically, our type can mirror the very traits and behaviours of these key figures in our lives.

We unconsciously seek out these dynamics because they feel comfortable and known. This tendency is hardwired into our psychology, as our brains link familiarity with safety. So, we end up being attracted to what we know, even if it’s not always the best match for us. As Freud would say, you’re essentially seeking out a romantic version of your parents!

Take a scenario where, as a child, you were devastated by your father’s infidelity. Fast forward to your dating life, and you find yourself irresistibly drawn to the “bad boy” type — the Lothario with a different girlfriend every week. Or maybe your mother was a helicopter parent, constantly hovering over you. Now, you find yourself in relationships with controlling partners who always need to know your every move, mirroring the anxiety and control you experienced growing up.

“We Unconsciously Seek to Resolve and Rewrite the Past”

Even if you promise yourself that you’ll never end up in a relationship like your parents’, these tendencies often run deep beneath the surface, influencing your choices without you even knowing it. This is because we unconsciously seek to resolve and rewrite the past. It’s like trying to finish a story that never got a proper ending.

For instance, if you had divorced parents and one remarried and spent more time with their new family, you might be drawn to partners who prioritise work, friends, or even cheat, unconsciously trying to prove you are worthy of their attention and affection.

If we can just make our current relationships work, it feels like we’re proving something — that we’re deserving of love and that our past hurts can be healed. This unconscious drive to succeed in our partnerships is our way of trying to mend the wounds of our childhood and validate our self-worth.

Why Conflict Often Arises

When these unconscious patterns come into play, it’s no wonder that conflicts arise. Once the initial excitement fades, the dynamics of the relationship begin to shift. As you grow closer to your partner, the relationship can start to feel like a parent-child dynamic. The safer you feel, the more likely your guard is to drop, allowing all those old childhood wounds to surface.

One minute you might be thinking, “Could this person be more perfect?” and the next, they unknowingly remind you of a parent, triggering past hurts and causing you to project unresolved issues onto them. Imagine your partner criticising you in a way that feels eerily similar to how your parent did; it can trigger a rejection wound from your past, leading to an intense emotional reaction, similar to a child having a tantrum.

Or perhaps your partner doesn’t answer your calls on a night out, triggering an abandonment wound from your parents’ breakup, and suddenly, you’re in the middle of a full-blown emotional crisis, right back to the very moment your parents told you they were officially divorcing.

Here’s a good rule to keep in mind: the more intense your reaction, the more it’s likely tied to something from your past. If you find yourself really losing it during a fight, chances are it’s hitting on an old wound that still needs some healing.

How to Resolve These Conflicts

Something that will save you a bunch of money in therapy bills is understanding that we’re all carrying around emotional baggage from our pasts. Think of it this way: we’re like wounded kids in grown-up bodies. When you and your partner argue, it’s rarely just about the present issue. More often than not, these conflicts are rooted in unresolved hurts from your past. And even if you had the most idyllic childhood, you’re not immune to these patterns either. Everyone carries some level of emotional residue from past experiences.

So, what’s the takeaway? Try not to take these conflicts too personally. And next time a fight breaks out, take a step back and consider: Are you truly fighting with your partner, or are you just battling with your own unresolved past?

Nicole Colantoni is a dating and relationship expert. As POPSUGAR Australia’s dating columnist, Nicole will share updates on dating trends, advice, and answer all your burning questions. Slide into her DMs to share what you’d like her to answer next. Nicole hosts a podcast, Love Uncensored: The Modern Guide to Dating & Relationships, which you can learn more about and listen here.


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