When you bring a date somewhere, whether they're your partner of many years or your most recent Tinder match, it's natural to want to make your relationship appear picture-perfect. But sometimes you and your partner are just not there. While there's not exactly an opportune time to get into an argument with your S.O., when you start to fight right as your Uber is arriving to take you to a party or event, it kind of sucks. So what should you do: Go to the party mad or try to resolve the argument before you get there?
How you decide to handle the situation depends on the actual argument, but the most important thing to do in scenarios like this is to try to be levelheaded, says Goal Auzeen Saedi, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist. That means you may want to restrain from going to the party and sulking the whole time, or texting all your friends that your partner is a jerk (both of which can be very tempting).
"Ideally, it would help significantly to try to resolve concerns prior to arriving," Dr. Saedi says. If you're fighting about something small (for example, your partner forgot to pick up wine to bring to the party), then you should try to fix it before you get to the function. If you're pouting or stewing at the party, it won't be fun for you, and it'll be uncomfortable for everyone around you, too. "Tension can be quite palpable," Dr. Saedi says. So, if you can, figure it out or suck it up.
You might be tempted to tell someone at the party that you're in a fight, so they don't judge your behaviour, but that's not wise, either. "What's between a couple is between them," Dr. Saedi says. "Too many times, individuals poll the audience for advice and enter other people into their private business." Of course, if you really do need help from your friends and family to get through a rough patch, you should definitely ask for it, "but a public party is definitely not the venue for such heart to hearts," she says.
Putting on a happy face might seem like you're being fake, but Dr. Saedi says that's the most mature thing you can do. "It shows you can be an adult, compartmentalise, and be a courteous guest," she says. This isn't just about being polite and keeping up appearances, though, because being able to compartmentalise can be an important skill in a relationship, she says.
Let things percolate, process, and calm down.
Goal Auzeen Saedi, PhD
That said, there are some arguments that you can't fix right away. In some cases, if you're having trouble working through heated emotions, then one of you or both of you should just stay home, Dr. Saedi says. "Let things percolate, process, and calm down," she says. Individuals process conflict at their own pace, which can be hard to grasp as a couple, but it's really important to remember that as you suss things out, she says. Spending a few hours alone might give you the clarity you need to figure out what you want, and how you're going to achieve it.
If you and your partner got into a heated fight or woke up some larger, dormant fight, then you probably shouldn't try to solve your issues before the party, or even later on that night, Dr. Saedi says. You've probably heard the saying, "don't go to bed angry," but the truth is that sometimes you should put arguments aside until you can address them with the right attention they deserve, Dr. Saedi says. "You don't want to superficially resolve the argument just so you can get over the discomfort," she says. "Maybe the disagreement was over something bigger that requires more attention." In that case, you and your partner might decide to wait until the morning after the party, when you're both feeling fresh, to talk things through.
The good news is, there's no reason to overthink the significance of the event, and oftentimes you can really just skip the whole thing if you don't feel like you and your partner are on solid footing, Dr. Saedi says. "Many times, we can build [events] up too much in our heads," she says. "I'd recommend the couple skip the event altogether and work things out between them, rather than have passive aggressive behaviours all night long."
And if you can't skip it? Hopefully, you and your partner can agree on one thing: You'll figure it out together — after the party.