The recent Esther B. vs. Joe B. Twitter Beef made me think about how important it is to avoid fighting in public. I know people who have been through ugly divorces after years of being together, but still show basic respect for the other individual despite their respective differences. Here is why you should NOT fight in public and keep in mind that public fighting involves ANY fight in front of anyone besides you and your partner (including the kids who are often the most damaged by your dances in the ring).
#1. It’s a green light for others to disrespect your partner. If someone sees you call your woman a “bitch” or your man a “pussy,” then they will think that it is acceptable to use similar descriptors. Shortly after Joe started going in on Esther – fans followed, and it got downright nasty. As her man, he went from her #1 protector to her lynch mob leader. No bueno!
#2. If you ever get back together you’ll eat dirt for all the negative stuff you said. When fighting in public there is no way to take it back. Especially if there is a written record of the beef. Your partner will not be as willing to trust you again and you’ll have to work on all of your issues plus the shattered egos and hearts from the public fight.
#3. An audience makes your adrenaline pump, intensifying everything you say and do. You’d be more willing to walk away, or more likely to think twice about the words that come out of your mouth. Your ears and your heart are more open in private.
#4. You never know what the other person is going to say. The saying, “hurt people – hurt people” is so true. This individual knows a lot about you, often your most intimate secrets. Don’t give them a reason to reveal anything private in a moment of rage.
#5. You look CRAZY! If you’re in a professional setting or you’re with your friends, it ruins the mood of all who witness it. In professional settings your coworkers and your boss lose respect for you. The only people amused by your public spat are people who don’t know you and who don’t care anything about you or your feelings. Don’t be someone else’s free entertainment.
#6. Public fighting doesn’t really allow you to get to the real issue. Instead you often just attack the symptoms and it kicks in your “fight or flight syndrome” so you get really defensive. In Esther B./Joe B.’s case, the real issues seem to be the abortion and the infidelity but instead of addressing the hurt and frustration of that they deflect and talk about each other.
Fighting in public – even if it is passive aggressive (e.g. a subliminal tweet or cryptic Facebook Message) is not the way to nurture a relationship of love, trust and respect. You do not want to be THAT couple that everyone secretly talks badly about because it seems like the only time you get along is in the bedroom. The next time it seems like you and your boo are about to have a heated disagreement, politely ask him/her to a private space to avoid the mess and if you can’t do that, politely remove yourself until you (or your partner) cool off and can address the situation privately. The world will thank you.