You And Your Boyfriend Had A Big Fight: Here’s How To Use The 3-Day Rule

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the mythicized 3-day dating rule that advises waiting a trio of days before post-date contact (to avoid the stench of desperation).

But there’s another convention for couples when trouble smashes into paradise: the 3-day rule after an argument. 

Mastering the art of post-argument communication can cement a partnership, so that’s what we’re discussing today.

In this article, we’ll examine the truth about couples and fighting, how long to wait to talk after an argument, and the three-day rule.

What Is the Three-Day Rule After an Argument?

What’s the three-day argument rule? Ultimately, it’s a structured way to take a break after an argument.

couple talking in the park 3-Day Rule After an argument with boyfriend

The parameters recommend taking three days of space after a blow-up. But why three days? Admittedly, it’s an average. Every relationship has unique contours. What works for you may not for a friend or neighbor. 

So be flexible. 

Maybe your relationship would benefit from a two-day or five-day rule. The point is to take some time apart in the wake of solvable arguments before addressing the triggering issue from a more level-headed place. 

Should You Talk to Your Boyfriend Right After an Argument?

Rom-com movies typically punctuate explosive fights with effusive apologies and romantic reconciliations.

But the truth is a lot more gruesome.

Big fights can end real-world relationships and often do! Breaking up is equally as likely as staying the course. Where you land depends on how well you communicate in the face of anger, annoyance, and antagonizing quips.

Moreover, it's perfectly normal not to speak with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner after an emotional throwdown.

Stomping off in opposite directions — each secure in your righteousness — is more common. So don't believe the toxically positive hype.

But festering discord can erode a relationship, so avoid it. Furthermore, address issues by their magnitude. For instance, an hour apart should suffice if you're arguing over a meal or date night plan.

If you discover your partner has been embezzling money with a long-time paramour, you'll probably need several weeks to lower the temperature.

And for everything in between, there’s the 3-day rule.

7 Considerations When Utilizing the 3-Day Rule After an Argument 

We’ve discussed the basic tenets of the three-day argument rule. Now, let’s dissect a few cool-down and conversational considerations to employ throughout the process.

1. Define the Purpose

Applying the 3-day rule without informing your partner is passive-aggressive — the opposite of helpful. So clarify your intentions. Discuss why you want to try the method and how you think it’ll help.

Define boundaries and make sure you’re on the same page.

If your boyfriend is a “yes man” — (the guy who agrees as an escape hatch) — ask him to confirm the rules in his own words to ensure he’s genuinely listening.   

2. Consider Practicalities

Life goes on, even when domestic squabbles descend. So flexibility is a must. You may have kids, intertwined business dealings, or shared living space

Whatever the case, your situational circumstances require communicating with your partner over the down-simmering period. 

How do you keep things civil during those times? The trick is suppressing passive-aggressive instincts, which defeat the purpose.

Instead, calibrate behavior for each moment and learn to compartmentalize. Keep reminding yourself you’ll have your say in a matter of days.  

3. Define the Type of Space

While you may need to communicate during the 72-hour cooling period occasionally, define the space you’ll need. 

Will you sleep in the same room? Will you have meals together? Will you spend time in the same room after dinner? Is it possible for one party to decamp to a hotel if things are rough and ugly?

Consider all these questions and more. 

4. Be Respectful of Dependent Parties

Our fights may be our own, but the fallouts can impact others. For example, you may need to worry about children or elderly parents in the picture. If you have roommates, you must weigh their comfort.

After all, you can’t expect everyone to vacate spaces for several days to accommodate your alone time. 

And if you think that’s a reasonable request, do yourself a favor and check out some articles about narcissism and how to determine if you are one.

5. Use Mindfulness Tools

A significant benefit of the three-day argument rule is having time to cool off and calm down.

But you won’t achieve the clarity you seek if you waste time stewing instead of letting go and calmly processing your thoughts and emotions. 

To quickly achieve a mindful and peaceable state, try the following tools.

We get it; several suggestions may seem cliche and fall on the wrong side of “woo,” but study after study shows these tactics genuinely soothe the nervous system and optimize brainwaves, providing enhanced cognitive function and emotional balance.

  • Journal
  • Meditate
  • Do breathing exercises
  • Try yoga or plain stretching
  • Exercising

6. Engage in Self-Reflection

Of course, you think you’re right — and your boyfriend feels the same way. That’s why you’re arguing. You’re both unwilling to budge.

One of you may be right, or the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Regardless, self-reflection is essential and worthwhile if you want to build relationship skills — romantically, professionally, and platonically.

Think about what you could’ve done differently. And no, “nothing” isn’t an answer. There’s always room for improvement. Dig deep and unearth any faults or personality quirks contributing to the issue.

It’s tough to admit when you’re wrong. Some people never learn how. But those that do live more stress-free, balanced lives. 


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7. Moderate Vices

Sure, if you want a glass or two of wine to unwind, that’s fine. If you live in a state where cannabis is legal, perhaps you’ll pop a gummy or indulge in a “green brownie” to find a blissful calm. Whatever the vice, moderation is vital.

Getting sloshed daily during the three-day rest period is a terrible idea. It’ll only worsen things. 

We’re not suggesting teetotalism is the only practical path for a three-day break. At the same time, you shouldn’t go on a bender. Truthfully, you should probably cut back from your norm.

The healthier your mind and body, the better you’ll be able to think and see things objectively.  

Advantages of Following the Three-day Rule

Why should you apply the three-day rule? How can it benefit your relationships? Let’s look at a few pluses related to the practice.

  • Lowers the Emotional Temperature: Arguably, the main benefit of three-day breaks is the temperature decrease. It allows both parties to dial it back, breathe, and readjust their moods. The best time to apply mindfulness techniques is during this chill period. 
  • Time To Think (But Not Too Long): When humans are hyped up on adrenaline, stress, and anger, our bodies flood with survival hormones, causing us to be more aggressive and combative. Our partners become the proverbial prey — and vice versa. In these tense situations, our brains only care about surviving — aka, winning. So the trio of days gives you time to chill and then think. But, it’s not so long that you forget about the issue altogether. 
  • Test Period To Weigh Emotions: The three-day argument rule provides a short opportunity to test drive separation. If the argument is over something major — like infidelity or deep deception — breaking up may be on the table. Giving yourself three to five days to determine if your love supersedes the infraction can be very helpful.

Disadvantages of Following the Three-Day Rule

The three-day rule has helped countless couples, but it’s not a cure-all for every situation or partnership. Sometimes, relationships reach the irreconcilable differences inflection point.

Other times, contributing emotional, mental, and physical obstacles complicate considerations. 

So what are some disadvantages of the three-day rule?

  • It’ll Cause More Tension: Some people cannot calm themselves or self-reflect no matter space or time. Their brainwaves are stuck on stew, and they can’t find grace through the resentment. Unfortunately, you can do little to change their behavior and responses until such folks cultivate the maturity needed to deal with criticisms or disagreements.
  • The Issue Will Metastasize: Conversely, waiting three days may be too much for conflict-avoidant couples, causing the issue to rot and fester under the proverbial rug until it irreparably explodes. So if either of you tends to back down quickly in the face of discord and instead chooses to nurture internal grudges, the three-day rule may backfire.
  • Life Doesn’t Allow for the Luxury: Taking several days to practice mindfulness and contemplate an argument is a privileged luxury, and many folks don’t have the time or energy. Resultantly, in some instances, the most effective communication model is cutting to the quick. 

Why Waiting Is Not Always the Best Solution

Waiting isn't the best solution in every scenario. So when should you say “thanks but no thanks” to the three-day rule?

  • There's Domestic Abuse: Physical and emotional abuse is never acceptable. If your boyfriend is crossing boundaries, get out and stay gone. Kick him out or find a way to leave. Contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline if you feel stuck and the situation is serious. They have trained professionals willing and waiting to give situational advice and, if possible, lend a practical helping hand.
  • There's Substance Abuse: If one or both of you are dangerously addicted to drugs or alcohol, and it's affecting the relationship dynamics, safety is the top priority. After that, drying out is the next most important. Addiction erodes genuine, healthy, productive relationships. The poison spoils everything. So after you get sober and work on yourself, then you can start thinking about relationship and communication parameters. Don't worry; you’ll have plenty of time if you gift yourself with sobriety.
  • Logistical Factors Intervene: It could be a million and one things. Maybe you're moving in a few days. Perhaps your professional life currently requires unwavering focus. Or maybe something is going on with your family that takes top priority. Whatever the situation, dancing around a challenging topic requires more energy than you have available.

6 Effective Ways to Communicate After an Argument 

The most critical communication rule is that it's best done when tempers aren't dialed to 10. Let's look at six other aspects that contribute to a healthy dialogue and conflict resolution.

  • Attentive Listening: Good communication is born of excellent listening. Otherwise, you're just conversing with yourself, rendering you a narcissist. You should onboard and process his verbal ideas and try to connect with your boyfriend's emotions. 
  • Calm Expression: Sometimes, shouting and yelling feel freeing. It's like Draino for your emotional pipelines. But just as clog removers can be toxic, so is living in a state of constant reactiveness. So shoot for a calm but honest tone. You'll fall short, and that's ok. Keep trying, and you’ll improve.
  • Determining Common Ground: If you can reach a point where you agree on certain things, compromise is within reach. So when you're having the big talk, look for commonalities to shape the solution.
  • Grace and Empathy: Grace and empathy are easy to conjure in the good times, but we need them most when the waters are rough. Lean on these two virtues in the immediate wake of a massive disagreement. They're the fastest routes to harmony.
  • Personal Accountability: Nobody is perfect. We're all — some would say “deeply” — flawed. So take accountability for your role in the discord. Are you being short-tempered? Have you been enabling, which has caused the issues to mushroom? You may be the victim. You may be the innocent party. And you deserve to claim those things, push back, and voice your hurt and displeasure. But also engage in some critical self-reflection about the situation. 
  • Sincere Regret: Hollow apologies are worthless. Nay, they're downright offensive. They're like a verbal spit in the face. So if you genuinely want to incinerate an issue and leave the ashes in the past, sincere regrets and apologies must be offered by the guilty party or parties. And remember that genuine remorse must be followed by improved and rehabilitated behavior. 

Final Thoughts

A couple that has never had a fight or argument is a couple that’s either lying or on the verge of breaking up.

Everyone bickers with long-term partners and spouses once in a while. It’s as natural as breathing and sleeping. The key is arguing well.