12 Rules of Lesbian Fight Club: How to Properly Argue with Your Girlfriend

by riese and laneia

The first rule of Lesbian Fight Club is DON’T BE A B*TCH. The second rule of fight club? DON’T BE A F*CKING B*TCH. The third rule of fight club? If you can read, you’re a big girl, and it’s time to fight like one.

You know when you’re arguing with your girlfriend and she’s like, “That’s against the rules!” and you’re like, “Oh where’d you get this from, Papi’s Rules of Poker or Emily Post’s Rules of Etiquette or your last relationship, huh?”

Well, no fear, fighting werewolf lesbians of the world, we have assembled THE RULES.

How to Fight Proper:
Autostraddle’s Rules of Argument Etiquette

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1. You Are Not a Martyr For Love

Don’t say,”Oh waaah it’s all my fault. I don’t know why you’re still with me.” This doesn’t further the conversation or help you learn anything about yourself or them. It is the most pointless thing you will ever say.

“I’m just a stupid cat on a ledge! You should find someone better, I guess. You should just leave me here! I’m pointless! Look at me – I’m not even upright!”

How do you expect someone to reply to this inane statement? “No, babybabybaby that’s not what I meant! You’re not terrible! I love you and your shinyshiny hair!” ?? or “Well, now that we’ve both agreed you’re an asshole and I shouldn’t be dating you, I guess your inability to call when you say you will is a moot point.”

Dumb.

Other words and phrases that don’t enable constructive problem-solving:
+ always
+ never
+ every time
+ I’m going to kill myself*

*Do you really want to kill yourself? There’s a hotline, a whole list of other hotlines, and a Psych ER for that! Seriously. A Psych ER is a real thing. We love you.

2. There’s No Baseball in Crying

No throwing bicycle helmets, dishes, books, laptops or lamps. No kicking or punching walls. It’s super dramatic, cliche, and besides, physical force is ALWAYS off limits. Save your brute strength for assembling that Ikea dresser or playing softball. If you’re that mad, take a fucking walk. Seriously, get the hell away from her.

Especially refrain from destroying your cell phone, because then you just look like a huge douche and we can’t even call you to tell you what a douche you are.

3. And Your Friends They Sing Along And They Love You

Do not use your friends as backup. “My BFF Becky, who only ever hears my side of the story, made a really good point about how you’re an asshole and always treat me so badly and that I deserve better.” Your friends, as well as your therapist and maybe also your mother, will almost always take your side. It’s why you’re friends. As such, their opinion is pointless. Her friends probably think you’re wrong. Who cares? This is between you and her and no one else.

“Everyone who thinks my girlfriend is a total bitch when she makes fun of my cargo pants, raise your hand. Stacy! We’re not friends anymore.”

4. Get a Room

Do not fight in front of other people. Just thinking about this makes me feel awkward and slightly angry. The world does not revolve around how upset you are at any given moment. Much like watching Steel Magnolias or dancing to LFO, arguments are special, private things and should be treated as such. No one deserves to witness your personal matters — not The Real L Word camera crew, not your roommate, nobody. The presence of others taints the purity of your discourse. Save it for la casa.

“Jesus Christ on a cracker, I cannot believe they are doing this in front of me. I just wanted to watch Twilight and maybe eat some pad thai. WTF.”

5. Are You Ten Years Ago?

Keep the irrelevant past in the past. The fact that she used to fuck boys or had a nose job is completely extraneous. Stay on the specific topic that you’re discussing in this moment. If these past events bother you so much, why are you here? Yeah, zip it.

6. You Listened In, You’re Guilty of This,
She Should Know This

No anonymous tipsters or resources. If you snooped and saw something you shouldn’t have or heard some weird gossip from last week, fess up. People deserve to know what you know, or what you think you know, you know? And if you read her email, you probs deserve a serious smackdown yourself.

“Oh THIS text from her ex-girlfriend is very interesting. Very interesting, Gertrude. I’m going to write this one down as soon as I finish photoboothing her call log.”

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7. Let’s Not Talk About Money Honey

If you volunteered to pay for things, insisted on being the primary breadwinner while your ladyfriend finished college or made purchases for your partner on your own volition, they’re off-limits as examples of how one-sided, etc., this relationship is.

8. Don’t Speak, You REALLY DON’T Know
Just What She’s Thinking

STOP interrupting! You should be listening with your ears, not formulating rebuttals with your brain. I know you have fifty really good points to make, but at least try to respond to what she is actually saying when SHE’S DONE SAYING IT. You may be able to talk louder or talk longer, but that doesn’t make you a winner.

And! And! If you’re on the interruptee side of this and do convince your lady-love to STFU long enough for you to speak, please do! Nothing darkens your future of seamless speech like crossing your arms and saying, “Well, now it doesn’t matter anymore” and letting the fight languish into silence.

Special Tip From Laneia: Think it’s weird to take notes during an argument? Think again! There’s a reason Moleskins were invented and that’s so you can WRITE SHIT DOWN IN THEM, then reference that thought later. Try it.

9. Think Before You Drink (and Argue.)

If you drink before a fight, you might say some things you wouldn’t have said sober. That’s fine, sometimes you say honest things, but there’s no take-backs the next day. Drinking may be a reason, but it’s not an excuse.

While we’re discussing substance abuse – DO NOT TAKE ADDERALL OR ANY AMPHETAMINES BEFORE OR DURING AN ARGUMENT. Seriously, even if it’s prescribed. Why? While 100% tunnel-visioned focus may assist you in writing a term paper, you don’t want that kind of attention paid to your girl-on-girl argument. Perspective is important, and you won’t get it if your brain is telling you that this fight and this girl is the only thing in the whole world that exists. Especially, my dear drug-abusing bunnies, if you’re also drunk.

10. I Don’t Care How Fast You Run,
Just Tell Me Baby When You’re Done…

I know it feels super dramatic and special to Run Away, but running away, hanging up, or shutting down your computer is likely the number one reason your girlfriend is completely insane. This kind of behavior isn’t going to solve anything. Furthermore it’s disrespectful to the human being who wants to love you. Trust that, sooner or later, she will pick up this conversation exactly where you left it.

11. This Isn’t a Marathon

If you’re talking in circles or the sun is rising, you should put things on hold for a few hours. It’s ok to take a break! Courts do it all the time. It’s called ‘recess.’ You should find a slide or a swing set maybe. Take a nap.

12. Nothing To Figure Out, You Gotta Get Her Out

How you know this relationship might just be over over OVER:

+ You’ve had the same argument more than three times or as recently as last week.
+ You spend more time talking about your relationship than being in your relationship.

“It’s okay I learned a lot about myself and now I can read a book in the quiet and stuff yeah I’ll be totally fine I bet my friends miss me.”

But ideally these rules will help you to fight productively and therefore problem solve fights like real humans! If not and you break up, it’ll be okay, you can share your pain on the breakup open thread, check out eight nerdy ways to mend a broken heart, and then learn about the pleasures of solitude. Then you can start the whole cycle over again with our tips on how to pick up chicks, how to get a girl to sleep over, and how to properly court a lesbian. See how helpful we are during slow news weeks?

Avatar of Riese

Riese is the CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1680 articles for us.

99 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

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    OMG my girlfriend needs to read this! Every time we fight she brings up ex girlfriends and things that happened two years before we even met. Then she shuts down and says “oh just forget about it” and won’t talk to me for a whole day. Most of the time I don’t even know what I did to make her mad.

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        I have never taken notes during an argument, but if I am planning to start a fight I MEAN DISCUSSION, I usually outline my primary points ahead of time — for all kinds of fights, really, not just relationship fights. And those are always fun notes to find later!

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          I totally do this. Not with the intention of making sure I win the argument, but just because I prefer to understand what I’m going to say before I open my mouth.

          With consideration for those who have been on the other side of these discussions though, I’ve been told it’s unfair to enter such conversations with fully formed thoughts and clearly articulated explanations, only to expect the same in response. When you’ve already had time to think everything through, apparently it’s only fair to give the other person the same opportunity. (I try).

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          maybe we should start scheduling ‘discussions.’ like, as a people.

          “can we plan an argument / discussion re: [topic] on [date] at [time]?”
          “hm, no that time is no good for me. perhaps [time].”
          “ok yes. i will see you then.”
          “excellent. where should we go for dinner tonight?”

        • Thumb up 2

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          I did that exact thing with an ex.
          1. scheduling a day and time
          2. making notes about what was important
          3. having the discussion and letting the other one read/say what was important

          and I can only say it was great. solved problems, felt satisfying.

          She wasn’t the greatest problem-solver and listener after all (I mean, ex), but I the thing itself is something I’d definitely recommend.

        • Thumb up 1

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          If you’re both wordy types who are down with writing, you can also write ACTUAL LETTERS to each other when you’re mad. This usually works best when you’re already in the thick of it, and need to take some time out in separate rooms so you can cool down/stop before you hurt each other, and it’s especially helpful if you’re so wound up that you can’t listen to what the other person is feeling over your own anger (which happens!)

          This allows you to 1) think about what you’re REALLY mad about, 2) explain your position in full without being interrupted, 3) be calm enough to USE “I STATEMENTS”, and look over what you’re saying so you don’t regret it as much later. Then you swap letters, read each other’s, and get back together to talk.

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        I don’t know about that notebook thing, Laneia. I might have to take some notes and then schedule a time to talk to you about this. On one hand – if my girlfriend started taking notes during an argument, I would think she was writing inappropriate things about me or drawing pictures of me with horns and it might irrite me. On the other hand – I lettered in Debate (*cough*nerdschool*cough*) so the notebook might give her a fighting chance (literally and figuratively).

    • Thumb up 1

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      I have always wanted to take notes during an argument, however I have come to the conclusion that some people gain some strange pleasure from breaking the rules of Lesbian Fight Club, and these people will generally not appreciate you responding to their crazy-ness by calmly making notes in your moleskin. In fact they will most likely react to your rational actions by throwing said moleskin at you or, if you’re in public, in the the most attention seeking direction possible.

      But maybe I’ve only ever had arguments with crazy argumentative people (…person)

  2. Thumb up 1

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    you should put “have adorable pictures of kittens” around because they just don’t let you get angry. and now i know why i was so annoyed when i would argue with my ex. fucking bitch :)

  3. Thumb up 2

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    Everyone needs to read this. Everyone. I’ve already learned to hate hate hate most of these from the bad example of my ex-husband: always-never-generalization-hyperbole, let’s have this serious private conversation while out for a jog or standing in a hallway of his parents’ house, topic bouncing to everything else wrong with our relationship ever, and the damn two-hour long “discussion” – though when I suggest the solution to that is taking a break, hello accusations of running away from our problems!

    Needless to say, number 12 was also a factor.

    • Thumb up 1

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      It’s not about winning, I hope you know that.

      Oh please people make that one last rule:

      DO NOT TRY TO WIN.
      EVER.*

      *Because ultimately a fight should be about finding a solution for a problem in the relationship together while trying to understand the other persons point of view.

      • Thumb up 1

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        Truth! I was thinking that the whole time I was reading this. The goal of an argument should never be to win it, It should be to resolve whatever problems caused the argument in the first place. When you try to win you just wind up hurting the other person’s feelings and make things worse.

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          …I actually don’t see why anyone would want to “win” in a relationship?
          Because a relationship only wins if both (or all of them) parties win as equally as it gets…or that’s what I thought?

  4. Thumb up 1

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    I read this for the kittens. My girlfriend and I don’t fight. I just fight with the entire Internet. I will also fight with anyone who tries to fight with my girlfriend.

    If you’re on a web site you know your girlfriend reads, you should probably talk about how awesome she is and how you never get mad at her.

    But really, our relationship has never felt like that much work. Not to sound like a Helen Reddy song, but I’ve always felt like it’s us against the world, not us against each other. And I’m not just saying that because my girlfriend reads this site.

      • Thumb up 0

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        I am woman, hear me roar
        In numbers too big to ignore
        And I know too much to go back and pretend
        ’cause I’ve heard it all before
        And I’ve been down there on the floor
        No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

        That Helen Reddy.

        But the song I was thinking of was “You and Me Against the World.”

        • Thumb up 1

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          I feel that Helen Reddy’s most important contribution to humanity is the utterly inexplicable/great “Angie Baby”, where she…sucks a boy into her radio, I think, and brings him out when she wants some?

          The headlines read that a boy disappeared
          and everyone thinks he died
          ‘Cept a crazy girl with a secret lover
          Who keeps her satisfied
          It’s so nice to be insane
          No one asks you to explain
          Radio by your side, Angie Baby.

          Also “Candle on the Water” from Pete’s Dragon, obviously. In fact every single thing she does in that film, including swinging from the mezzanine &c, made/makes my life better.

  5. Thumb up 2

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    I think I got all the song references but the first one. A Better Son/Daughter was my fav, though.

    It’s also good to try to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Assuming that your gf loves you and wouldn’t want to intentionally hurt you will help you not to get your feathers easily ruffled.

    My ex and I used to hug for five minutes without talking before we had a serious argument because it made us remember ‘we care about this person and want them in our lives so be kind and think before you speak’. Made the argument go smoothly and put us both in the mood for sexyfuntimes. And sex after a resolved fight is the cat’s pajama’s.

    • Thumb up 1

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      the hugging thing…im not so sure about all that, you do make a very valid point though, about the “we care about each other and i (hope) this means as much to you as it does to me”. but when im ready to have a discussion, hugging is not in the frontground of my brain. (yes, i said frontground). what is, is that i need to say this stuff, and i really need you to listen and point out what im misunderstanding,so we, or i, can figure out how to fix it because i love you. but i will for sure keep it in mind, because sexyfintimes are win, and also, because hugging is nice.

  6. Thumb up 1

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    Autostraddle get out of my brain! This is verifiable evidence that you all are higher life forms from some evolved lesbian planet come to earth to educate us all on how to be better gay girls. Suh-SERIOUSLY this is so spot on, I’m starting to think you have a nanny cam in my and my gf’s bedroom. Thank god me and my lady have matured out of most of these fighting faux pas, but this should be like a lesbian starter kit. Now I just need a minute to go THINK about my FEELINGS! ***Dramatically runs away***

  7. Thumb up 1

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    I feel like the proper way to argue with your girlfriend is to sing at them, preferably on a staircase or a pool table, in front of all of your friends and family. I mean, it didn’t work for Maureen and Joanne, but it could for you.

  8. Thumb up 1

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    So this falls under #4 but wasn’t mentioned specifically…I actually had a couple of friends take their domestic dispute to Twitter, which was awkward for everyone. You would think that “avoid social networking sites for your very personal argument” would be a pretty obvious rule but…I guess not?

  9. Thumb up 1

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    I really loved being right until I realized being heard was, like, more important and felt better, actually.

    I still like being right, though.

    - Righty MsRighterson

    PS. This books has helpful information about the shit that goes down in your bod during an argument (with your SO or spouse), which is actually kind of fascinating. It takes a min. amt. of time before your heart rate returns to normal, adrenaline levels stabilize and the fight vs. flight response subsides. If you are ruled by rationality and logic, knowing some of this can be kind of a relief:

    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Marriages-Succeed-Fail-Yours/dp/0684802414/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

    Plus, super cute gay marrieds Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski referenced it as a relationship-saver in their workshop last weekend at FemmeCon. They said it saved their marriage! YAY!

  10. Thumb up 1

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    A possible addition to the ‘have you had this argument more than 3 times’ one is: if the argument was about taking out the trash, it doesn’t *really* count, because it just means you’re now mature and responsible and probably in a long term relationship, and other horrible things like that.

    My arguments with my gf usually revolve around these topics:
    1. One of us has left un-laundered clothes/dishes/an up-turned plug in the middle of the floor.
    2. We’re currently rather poor. One of us has spent unnecessarily on something romantic/a totally necessary nerdy accessory.
    3. One of us is bored and needs entertaining (okay,this is mostly me)

  11. Thumb up 1

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    The fiancée and I recently got into it pretty seriously on the walk home from a friend’s house. It continued all the way through the park, onto the red line Metro, at the transfer station, onto the green line, and then the walk home.

    Instead of being embarrassed about fighting in public, I’ve decided that we should be applauded for normalizing homosexuality for all of Washington DC. I mean, pretty much anyone on the Metro got to hear us fight about what it means to get married, share finances, buy a house together, compromise for each other, etc., all because my ladyfriend decided to tell her BOSS before she told ME that she MAY BE LEAVING THAT JOB, right before we GET MARRIED AND BUY A HOUSE TOGETHER!

    I’m probably breaking more Lesbian Fight Club rules, cuz I think I just took this fight to the Internet.

    • Thumb up 1

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      sarcasm can be pretty hard to understand on the internets,
      and even though I wouldn’t immediatly think that you actually mean something as it’s written, it’s still good for other people to have a point on certain statements written down.
      because, you know, there ARE people who think it’s important to win. been there. ;)

  12. Thumb up 1

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    These are absolutely fantastic rules and most relationship books will agree with these basic rules.

    Now, if only it were so easy to get your girlfriend/significant other to agree to fight by the rules. *sigh*

  13. Thumb up 1

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    What if you just don’t fight? Ever? Because you just start crying? And crying in a fight is embarrassing and doesn’t get you anywhere? And what if this means you never resolve anything?

    • Thumb up 1

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      I RELATE TO THIS COMMENT. mostly i wanted to comment on this article b/c it’s fucking fantastic but i couldn’t think of anything that would not give away how frequently i break these rules. SORRY THAT I CRY A LOT AND TELL YOU YOU SHOULD PROBABLY BREAK UP WITH ME, EVERYONE I’VE EVER DATED.

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        I am a Ms. Cryalot, too, especially when I sense that I’ve done something stupid, wrong, stupid.
        But the crying ends at some point and then I get my act together and even though tears start popping up here and there again, you can still make your point, not the one about the partner leaving obv, another time…
        Not talking, not fighting, not standing up for yourself, that’s the mistake. Not crying.

        • Thumb up 1

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          I don’t cry because I’m sad or even that upset, I just cry because I’m angry/frustrated. I think I cry just so I won’t explode.

          You’re right, though. Not talking makes everything worse.

  14. Thumb up 1

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    Next article you need to write:

    “How to deal with craxy lesbians who don’t follow the rules when you do”

    I don’t need it anymore, but I’m positive some unfortunate soul will absolutely need it.

    *coughlorimichaelsyoudumbcuntwhywouldyoudatefuckingdaniellestaubyourfuneralcough*

  15. Thumb up 2

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    i basically can’t fight with anyone because i can’t yell, but here’s something my frind’s younger brother once said:
    “you should never fight with a woman. because she either wins and you lose, or she cries, and you still lose.”

  16. Thumb up 1

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    Which is why instead of making me cry my ex used the make-her-laugh approach. Which works and distracts me, but unfortunately also makes me forget why I’m mad, until the reason I’m mad pops up again a few days later and it’s all just a big, confusing delayed fight. Ugh.

  17. Thumb up 3

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    Heh, I remember when my girl and I were ramping up into our first fight – which was my first fight with any girlfriend, ever – distinctly thinking to myself, “Oh shit! I’m going to have to argue with a woman now!”

    The mere prospect was terrifying because I instantly though about what it must have been like for my ex-boyfriends potentially to argue with me.

    There definitely IS a difference. Words have to be chosen more carefully, and every possible alternative meaning for them within the english language must be considered before speaking them.

    There comes a point when trying to remain calm and rational, while initially helpful if the fight can be done and over early on, winds up backfiring. Instead of being interpreted as logical and clear-thinking, it comes off as callous, detached, and condescending. At some point, if she’s crying, then I better start crying, too, otherwise, it seems like I don’t care as much as she does.

    Oh, and absolutely any attempt to defend the self is seen as antagonistic. Defending yourself = being defensive, which means you’re wrong and you know it but you won’t admit it, which means you won’t take responsibility for yourself. That one’s the hardest to deal with.

    I will say, though, that the last time she was mad at me, I was 100% deserving and I totally did not defend myself. There was nothing I could justify. I knew by even trying, I’d be prolonging my punishment and it was really in my best interests as well as hers to just suck it up and take what I had coming…besides, I was too hungover to form a coherent counter argument, anyway, ha!

    • Thumb up 2

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      I remember when my girl and I were ramping up into our first fight – which was my first fight with any girlfriend, ever – distinctly thinking to myself, “Oh shit! I’m going to have to argue with a woman now!”

      THIS

  18. Thumb up 1

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    Hi there mate, everything that you’ve just penned right here surely have got me intrigued up to the last word, and I’ve got to tell you that I hardly ever look at the entire post from personal blogs as I commonly gotten uninterested as well as sick of the gibberish this really is written to me each and every day and wind up looking over the photographs plus the headlines and so on. However your tag-line and also first sentences were definitely remarkable therefore instantaneously got myself hooked. Commending you actually for the work well done inside here. Many thanks

  19. Pingback: Paul Clement Keeping That “Defending DOMA” Gig by Quitting King & Spalding « The Joe Lake Blog The Joe Lake Blog

  20. Thumb up 1

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    You guys, this is relevant to everything. Every fight with everyone ever.
    Also, it applies really well to.. my friend, who can’t stop having (/starting) big dramatic fights with her ex-girlfriend. I’ll be sure to print this out and put it on my.. friend’s wall.

  21. Thumb up 1

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    This is hilarious with serious advice and witty captions/images to boot.

    I like the take-down-notes tip because, well, I do it. Though I must say I have to remember not to walk away or at least say, “Okay, time out. I need to take a walk, clear my head. Let’s take 10 and reconvene?”

  22. Thumb up 0

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    This is really the second article, of your blog I actually browsed.
    And yet I enjoy this specific 1, “Autostraddle – 12 Rules of Lesbian Fight Club:
    How to Properly Argue with Your Girlfriend” the best.
    Regards -Isabella

  23. Thumb up 0

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