Talk with Lia

a couple arguing over small things

How To Stop Arguing With Your Boyfriend Over Small Things

Stop Arguing Easier Said Than Done Right?

Arguing with your boyfriend over small things can be so frustrating. People feel like they are wasting their time arguing over small things–they feel that they should be able to handle these small issues. 

However, I would argue that even though things feel “small,” oftentimes, there are big emotions underneath that are often pushed in these small arguments. The fact that your boyfriend didn’t text you that he was going to be late–the issue isn’t about texting; the issue is about him being considerate and respectful of your time.

So it’s small, but it isn’t. 

And this is where it gets tricky. Because to you, it feels pretty hurtful, but when it comes out to your boyfriend, it can seem “petty.” And herein lies the conflict. So the goal is for him to receive what you are saying. And in order to do that, you need to speak his language so his defenses don’t come up. Acknowledge that it’s not really a big deal, but then also communicate what it means to you. 

A few caveats:

1. This advice is for when you are arguing about something that you haven’t brought up before. If this is something that you’ve told him many times and he is still not adjusting, a more serious talk needs to happen.

2. **This is not only advice for boyfriends but girlfriends as well! **


Here are 8 tips to stop arguing with your boyfriend over small things: 


  1. Give him the benefit of the doubt. 

How you bring up an issue can set the entire tone for the discussion and can mean the difference between a full blown argument and a two-minute talk. Ninety nine percent of the time, the one thing that spirals an argument out of control is someone’s tone. So even if you have the right words, the tone will kill all of it. 


So how do we change our tone? We have to change our mindset and intention. We have to think differently because our tone is a reflection of what we feel inside. Giving him the benefit of the doubt will help you talk to him in a tone that will set your discussion in a positive direction. 


For example, say you had a super busy day. You open the fridge–starving–to eat a quick 5 minute lunch, only to find that your boyfriend ate everything! Instead of thinking, “how could he be so selfish and inconsiderate?!? He is always this way, etc. etc,” try giving him the benefit of the doubt. For example, think about how he knew that you didn’t eat shrimp so that’s why he ate the entire box. Or maybe he saw that you had lunch plans on the calendar so he assumed you wouldn’t be eating. Or maybe it was none of that but he was just flustered because he had a long day at work and wasn’t thinking. 


It could also be that maybe he just messed up, forgot, or wasn’t thinking. Is that annoying, frustrating and maddening? Sure. Would you ever do something like that? No way. However, give him space to be himself, allow him to make mistakes (remember, this does not apply to multiple offenses, that’s a different issue). But if this is the first (or even second) time, don’t jump straight to anger. 


2. Remember His Positive Traits

That the character trait you are angry with him about is usually something that is also amazing about him. For example, does he always forget to do things? Maybe part of his forgetfulness is due to the fact that he is very creative and fun and makes you laugh. Did he leave his socks out again? Maybe he is laid back and rarely criticizes you when you do the same thing (or similar things!).


Does he get cranky about how the dishes are done? Maybe he is really organized and does the majority of the house-chores.

I’m not saying to let it go. I’m just saying that if you want to talk to your boyfriend about something, especially if it’s “small,” you want to be able to do it with as little anger as possible, and starting with your own mindset and intention is a good way to begin. This is a great tip to stop arguing.

3. Bring up the issue with a soft start up

People are often tempted to “let it go” when they’ve calmed down. If this is you, great. However, if you keep thinking about it, bring it up. Otherwise it will come out the next time you argue, and it will probably be done in a nice way. 


So now that you’ve calmed yourself down and can talk in a calm manner,  bring it up. 

Using some buffer sentences before you talk about your grievance can make a huge difference. It literally takes 10 seconds to use a soft startup by using some buffer sentences. 


Here are some examples: 

-This is not a big deal, and I know you were probably (busy, tired, forgot)..

-Just a quick you think next time you could…

-I’m not mad at all about this, it would just mean a lot to me if …

4. Tell him how it made you feel or the consequences you suffered

Telling him how it made you feel or letting him know about how is actions affected your day will give him some context about why you brought it up. It will help him focus on the issue at hand vs on you criticizing him, or his own shame. 


For example, try not to say, “ You forgot to put the milk away! You’re so irresponsible and wasteful!” In this statement, the focus is his shortcomings. The result is his shame or anger, which will make him either shut down or become angry. 


Instead, try: “Not a big deal, I saw that the milk was out, I know that you were super busy and probably forgot, but I just don’t want it to get spoiled.” In this statement, the focus is on the milk and it not getting spoiled. The result is hopefully him also not wanting the milk to get spoiled and agreeing happily to put it away next time. 


Maybe it wasn’t something as small as the milk. Maybe it was a little bigger. Maybe he did something “small” but it hurt you. Like maybe he didn’t text you good night last night or you felt left out when he ignored you last night at his friend’s party.  In that case, let him know how it made you feel.

Tip: try not to use “angry” “frustrated” “irritated” or “annoyed.” Try saying, ” I know you were super busy at work last night but when you forgot to text me,” or ” I know you didn’t forget me, but I felt ignored. ” This can often stop arguing in its tracks.

5. Don’t make a big deal out of it, lecture or interrogate.

Again, I’m not saying to just let a guy be a jerk. If something is a big deal–if he cheated on you, if he left you stranded somewhere or did something that is a big deal, then please make a big deal out of it, lecture and interrogate.

However, again, if we are talking about a “small” thing, your boyfriend will become defensive. Have you ever been yelled at for something small? How did it make you feel? If you’re anything like me, it made you feel angry, confused and made you respect that person less. The last thing it makes you do is take that person seriously.


Sometimes even saying something like “I know this is a small thing but it feels really heavy to me” can help you communicate that even though it seems small, it is important to you. 

6. Give a quick solution.

Men are solution oriented. Oftentimes, they feel anxious when there is no solution or the solution is open-ended. So if you can give a simple solution, it will often help your boyfriend have a clear path of what he needs to do and be more open to receiving what you have to say. 


Example: Last night when you were with your friends I felt a little left out so I’d love it if you could just refer to me here and there, and make sure I’m not by myself. I’d appreciate that a lot. 

7. Remember it’s a two way street. 

Our partners need to be open to feedback, and to compromise. My advice to the boyfriends would be to try not to immediately spring to defensiveness (anger) or shut down mode (shame). Try to hear out your partner, have empathy for what they are feeling and be curious about why they are hurt vs assuming it’s their fault. Don’t default to “she’s depressed,” or “she’s crazy.” Be curious. 

8. Sometimes arguments over small things are inevitable, so just take a break when it’s getting too heated. Remember to use the phrases “this is important” and “let’s come back at x time.” And then follow through. 


… & that is 8 tips to stop arguing with your boyfriend over small things


Arguments are tricky and communicating through these waters are an advanced skill for sure! Making sure that both parties are calm and in a good space to talk is going to give yourselves the best chance at working through the issue vs fighting. Communicating clearly and vulnerably will help the other person hear you out. On the other end, be open to listening, lay down your pride, and remember what the goal is (not arguing, getting along, working through your stuff together for an amazing relationship!)

If you are feeling like you both can’t work through your arguments, consider talking to an outside party like a therapist. They can help you understand your patterns and give you better tools to work through these issues, and also pinpoint if these “small” issues are really symptoms of bigger issues that need to be addressed. Stop Arguing


About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that specializes in building couples communication, trust and intimacy. If you need help in these areas, find out more about her here.


Lia Huynh San Jose and Milpitas


My life’s work is helping individuals and couples get better. I help couples restore their sense of togetherness by rediscovering their strengths as individuals, and their collective strength as a duo. And I help my individual clients to negotiate the sources of depression and anxiety, while moving them gently toward feeling a deeper sense of connection with their world. This is all done through our counseling and therapy together. 


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