The Surprising Uses of Dating Advice – Part 3

Timothy and Rachel are juniors who have been best friends since they met the first week of freshman year. Timothy had been an art major, but he has decided that he really wants to major in a STEM field, despite the extra time it will take him to graduate. Rachel doesn’t think Timothy will do well in science courses and is certain that Timothy is throwing away of lot of time and money with the change. Timothy announcing his plans to stay an extra three semesters to switch majors turns into a screaming match between the two best friends.

The Tip: If the argument is started and there’s no compromise in sight ask, “Would you rather be right or married?” [Pro Tip: substitute “friends,” “roommates” or whatever applicable label is needed]

Why It Works: Not only is conflict inevitable in a relationship, but also it will escalate proportionately with how deeply the people involved care about each other. Whether with a friend, coworker, or romantic partner, eventually you may find yourself tight in the grips of an argument where a significant person disagrees with one of your fundamental beliefs. For college students, who are in midst of developing and refining their beliefs while also presented with opportunities for new friendships, this can be a particularly common type of conflict. In the depths of the disagreement, you might decide that compromise is impossible and the relationship is doomed. Rather than calling it quits, it’s possible for you to ask yourself a variation of the above question: “Would you rather be right or married?” This question gets you to think about the values in play in addition to the actual person – the person with whom you have wonderful memories and future plans. Rachel may believe in her heart of hearts that Timothy is making the wrong choice, but by asking this question, she can realize that there is a human cost to her certainty – namely her friendship with Timothy. There are situations where individuals should stand confidently in their beliefs in the face of adversity, and asking this question can help individuals determine when those moments are – and salvage the relationship when it is not the hill worth dying on.

Previous Article: The Surprising Uses of Dating Advice – Part 2

Next Article: The Surprising Uses of Dating Advice – Part 4

Ethan Johnson is a Residential Learning Coordinator at Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana. He is a mighty stalk of majestic Midwestern corn. When he is not helping students or catching bats in his building, you can find him reading, watching Grace & Frankie, or tweeting at @ethantjohnson.


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