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tinyfaery's avatar

What do you do when you are with a couple and they start to argue?

Asked by tinyfaery (42908points) September 3rd, 2008

Say you are out with people, and a couple begins to argue/bicker about something. What do you do? I always feel so awkward, but walking away isn’t always an option. Sometimes I just want to laugh, simply because of the ridiculousness of the situation. What is a good way to handle this?

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33 Answers

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

Well it depends…is it usually just you and the couple, or you and a few other people?

If it’s just you, you have a few options; if it’s a possibility, you could excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, or maybe to get some air. If it gets bad enough, you could just leave all together. If excusing yourself isn’t an option, you could just sit there quietly, but try not to get involved or anything.

There are a few options for you and other people as well. Again, you could all excuse yourselves to go to the bathroom [if you’re out where there are multiple-stall bathrooms] or to get some air. If you can’t really excuse yourselves at that point in time, talk amongst yourselves and try not to get distracted by the argument.

xgunther's avatar

ugh I hate this. Especially when one of them asks you who’s side are you on. I just joke around and say, “both of you shutup. You’re both wrong. I’m right.”

Allie's avatar

Give them a look of disgust. Just look at them and shake your head. Public humiliation works well, too.

AstroChuck's avatar

If it was uncomfortable enough I’d just politely find a way to excuse myself and leave. Either that or I’d take out my machete and start hacking away, painting the walls with their blood. One or the other.

tinyfaery's avatar

Either way, whether I’m in a group or alone with the couple.

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

You could make an excuse to leave in either situation, just you or a group of people.

Poser's avatar

Pick a side—preferably the most unreasonable side—and then begin pushing the envelope even farther than the couple was. Take that line of reasoning as far as you can logically push it and completely take over the argument. Raise your voice just below the level of acceptability for the venue (unless the couple has already breached that threshold, in which case, scream your point of view at the top of your lungs) and keep at it until the couple gets disgusted and/or gives up the argument.

Snoopy's avatar

You could spray them w/ seltzer? Yell “Um Helloooooooooooo?” really loud?

Seriously though….I would excuse myself temporarily. Or try to interject and make light of what they are doing….by saying something stupid like “geez can you two cut it out?!”

I have actually been that couple. Sorry :(

Poser's avatar

How about a simple, “Get a room.”?

poofandmook's avatar

This happened last month when my boyfriend and I were out at a bar with one of his best friends and his girlfriend, “Bob” and “Jane.” These two have a notoriously volatile and unhealthy relationship, and everyone sees it but them.

Bob has some quirks, like everyone, and he doesn’t do too well when he’s made fun of or made to feel bad because of them. He has this thing about a certain mannerism when people are at his house, even his girlfriend, and he gets very upset when this mannerism is ignored. Jane said it was absurd. Bob was understandably upset, and he started picking on her. As he spoke, he got more and more upset, and a little meaner, to the point where he was yelling to our area of the bar and saying, “Hey! This girl here has no backbone!!” while pointing at Jane. My boyfriend and I just sort of sat there and watched them fight. Then my boyfriend said to Bob, “Hey come outside with me for a sec” and I sat inside with Jane and tried to talk her down. After an hour when they still hadn’t come back, we went looking for them. They weren’t outside. Apparently Bob was so angry by the time he went outside that he got mad at my boyfriend, and ran across the street, almost being hit by a car. My boyfriend chased him down to his car a block or two away and talked him down, but with a lot of effort.

That, um, is what we did when it happened to us. LOL. NOT. FUN.

marinelife's avatar

I usually make a joke to make clear my discomfort. For example, “You forgot to mention that a Punch and Judy Show was part of the entertainment.” A couple so insensitive as to do this does not deserve a lot of consideration.

I have also been known to say, “Folks, you want to give it a rest or shall we just leave you two to have at it?”

poofandmook's avatar

I should also note that when it happened, I was way more concerned about my friends than what it was doing to me and my boyfriend, or our night out. I don’t get mad or upset when it happens… I’m just concerned that they’re okay.

tinyfaery's avatar

So maybe I should just laugh? Maybe it will clear the air, help the couple in question see how their behavior is affecting others.

@poof You are more gracious than I. I would never tolerate or reinforce this type of behavior, especially if it is spilling over into my life.

Snoopy's avatar

@poof. Well I haven’t been that couple. Yikes!

poofandmook's avatar

@tinyfaery: I say this because they had both been hurt by the other’s words. They both had their feelings hurt by someone they loved, and I know all too well that when it happens, sometimes it’s very difficult to keep in mind your surroundings and hold your tongue until later.

edit: If it was just mindless bickering, I absolutely would be angry. But in my particular situation it went a bit deeper and so my priorities shifted.

charliecompany34's avatar

if you’re there in the middle of it, try your best to quell the situation with your infinite wisdom. separate the couple and get both sides. you are now the mediator whether you want to be or not. WOW! you could be a judge on the bench actually making six figures. find a diversion method where all parties will hug, be happy and make up. dude, you were wrong for that, you’d say. and then supplement your stand with an experience of your own. hey, anybody for margaritas? i’ll treat.

Snoopy's avatar

Oh whoa! @charlie. Add more alcohol? I don’t know if that is the best advice :)

PupnTaco's avatar

Derail it ASAP if I can, otherwise, excuse myself and let them be out of control on their own.

Allie's avatar

Alcohol is always acceptable. :p

stratman37's avatar

They usually don’t realize how inappropriate it is, and how it impacts you, so I like to OVER correct them to diffuse it. (Hey! Kids! Go to your room.). And if that doesn’t work, I throw a pot of hot grits on ‘em.

JackAdams's avatar

I usually tickle my throat (unnoticed), until I vomit.

That stops the argument, right there.

It also provides me with a reason to leave.

September 3, 2008, 10:09 PM EDT

augustlan's avatar

My ex and I used to hang out with a couple that fought nearly every time we were together. It got really old. We’d tell them to knock it off, but in the heat of the moment, they never could. So we talked to them before any fight broke out, and explained how uncomfortable it was for us. It didn’t stop the fighting completely, but it did cut down on it.

loser's avatar

Well, I would vomit but I would ask them to to stop because I feel uncomfortable and remind them that they are being rather rude. If it continued, I’d leave.

JackAdams's avatar

Thanks, loser.

Glad to know that you would also vomit.

September 3, 2008, 10:54 PM EDT

jlm11f's avatar

i would egg them on and say stuff like, “and did you know Brian called you FAT when you had left to go to the bathroom?”. Okay, just kidding.

I’ve been in this situation more times than I would like. The first few times, I would do what charlie said and that is become a mediator. But this just got old. They aren’t kids and you aren’t their babysitter. Everyone is out for a fun time together. So what I do now is more along the lines of saying something like “hey hey, let’s not ruin the evening” or “Way to be a kill joy” in a light hearted manner of course. If that doesn’t work, I like to guilt trip them by saying “listen, you both love each other and bickering about something so silly is rather pointless. Is this argument really worth all the wonderful times you have spent together?” Now, using this argument, they might not agree about it being a pointless argument but they will definitely be too ashamed to admit that :)

mdy's avatar

A lot depends on how well you know the couple.

I’m friends with one particular couple who used to bicker and fight a lot and didn’t care who was around to witness it. After several incidents over the span of several months, I finally got fed up and plaintively interrupted their ongoing fight with: ”Do I really have to be around for this?

Since they were both reasonable people, they stopped the fight and agreed to continue discussing their issue later, and we managed to actually finish our meal like civilized people. Since then their public fights have decreased noticeably too.

JackAdams's avatar

One way to stop a couple from bickering/arguing in public, is to stand off to the side and yell, “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” as you may have done, on the playground at recess in elementary school.

I prefer to yell, “HARDER! FASTER! DON’T STOP!”

That’s the same thing I used to yell to my old man, to get him to stop using his belt of my bare butt, when I was too young to deck him (which I finally did, at age 15).

(I hit him so hard, I almost broke the bat.)

September 4, 2008, 8:17 AM EDT

jca's avatar

i used to go out with a guy and we would argue sometimes in front of another couple, and the woman would ask us jokingly if this is our foreplay, which would usually lighten the mood and get us off the topic we were arguing about.

AstroChuck's avatar

Or there’s that machete thing. Don’t be so quick to dismiss that option.

stratman37's avatar

Yikes, Jack! You had some balls, eh? No, not trying to pick a pun fight, but I bet your Dad wasn’t too happy when he woke up.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Ugh. I first get all quiet then try to think of things to say to distract them, not much seems helpful though. What you say about walking away from the situation- bad choice. I’m thinking staying put and letting the pressure hang in the air of being observed or overheard might do more good.

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