Half of Us Don’t Know How (or When) to Argue

Are you making the same common mistakes when you fight?
by Paired
May 24, 2021

Often find your arguments spiral out of control? You’re not the only ones. New results from Paired couples app found that nearly half of us don't know how to stop an argument getting out of hand.

According to the results of Paired’s in-app ‘Repair Attempts’ quiz, answered by over 11,000 Paired users, a staggering 45% confessed to not knowing how to get a heated discussion back on track, largely because they miss key opportunities for repair during arguments.

“‘Repair attempts’ are any actions or statements that help to diffuse tension and de-escalate conflict, such as taking breaks, saying sorry or making a joke,” says Dr. Marisa Cohen, Head of Couple Relationships at Paired. “When things get heated, it’s easy to forget about these – we get lost in the weeds, fighting about how we are relating to one another and losing sight of the initial reason we engaged in the discussion in the first place.”

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We don’t take breaks

According to the results, almost half (48%) Paired partners revealed they don’t know when to take a break during an argument.

Yet, taking a well-timed break is a crucial repair technique, says Marisa. “Each person is different, some want to express their views right away, whereas others want time to process their thoughts and emotions. No matter what, if you notice an increase in physiological arousal (thus increased levels of stress and anxiety), which may lead to engaging with one another in ways that aren’t as compassionate, slow down and pause.”

We struggle to say sorry

It seems apologies don’t always come easy, either – 2 in 10 partners admitted to not saying sorry, even when they said or did something mean. This is a big no-no for your relationships, say the experts: “Sorry is the kindest word. By saying sorry you take ownership of what you have done wrong (intentionally or unintentionally), creating a culture of respect between you,” says Marisa.

We forget to be kind

Furthermore, 60% said they struggled to show love and kindness towards their partner when they argued. “Showing kindness during an argument is the best way to mitigate harm caused during an argument,” says Marisa.

“Even if you are upset about a certain situation, you should still communicate to your partner that you care about them as a person, instead of attacking their character or focusing on the behavior at hand. A touch on the arm, a kind word or a joke can all serve to de-escalate the stress experiences. It can be helpful to talk to your partner first about what type of gestures they’d most appreciate during tense discussions.”

BUT our repair attempts, WORK!

Good news is that when we DO remember to offer these repair attempts, 67% say they respond positively to them and thankfully, 7 in 10 (74%) say their attempts at repair are effective.

Plus, an overwhelming 73% of people said they work together to understand why they argued in the first place.

“Remember that disagreements are normal – there are going to be things that we don’t agree with our partners on, and this doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed,” says Marisa. “It is how we choose to engage with our partners when we disagree that matters, so choosing kindness and respect while working to understand each other’s point of view is important. “

“It is imperative that we understand how our partners best like to handle difficult conversations so that we are mindful of how to engage with them in a way that they feel valued and cared for. By doing this, we can approach arguments in a kind but constructive way, keeping the discussion civil and productive.”

Download the Paired app to take our couple's quiz to find out how well you repair harm during arguments.

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