The trope that "men fight to resolve their disagreements, then become friends"
By - MyKidsArentOnReddit
I think there’s a positive spin to this too, though - it’s that men are forgiving.
Well, generally. But I relate to this trope you’re describing; not so much as an adult, but I remember times in my youth where me and some friends would roughhouse and duke it out a bit, even in anger, and then be laughing about it half an hour later.
Same thing when I was in highschool, my freshman year. My bully became my friend after I stood up to him and punched him in the face. We fought in the cafeteria, it got broke up, we got sent to the office, we fought in the hallway on the way to the office, it got broken up, the principal gave us a warning (next fight it was suspension, then expulsion), an hour later we were sitting next to each other in class and people were asking us about it, we were laughing about it and we were friends from then on. We still talk on and off years after graduation.
My point is, it happens. I don’t know how gendered this is, but anecdotally when I’ve told my female friends this story and others like it they’ve said this sort of dynamic doesn’t exist among women. They’ve said women can hold grudges for *years*, and a slight years ago is felt just as severely as if it happened today but guys just forgive and forget.
Is that *always* true? I doubt it’s as black and white as my female friends make it sound; reality rarely is. But part of me wants to believe they are correct; when in progressive circles we have discussions about masculinity and femininity, I’ve noticed that masculinity is always framed as the “toxic” one of the two, and that femininity falls on the positive side of this dichotomy. Because of the of this set-up, I’d like to think that *for once* we have one of the positive traits on our side, that being forgiveness. I remember one woman telling me “I wish we could forgive as easily as men could.”
I actually wonder how prevalent this lack of masculine forgiveness in progressive circles is the driver behind cancel culture; the idea that a tweet or comment, even if made years ago, can be considered beyond forgiveness and punishable today.
But I think I’m Getting a little off topic. My point is, based off my own personal experience I think this is a media trope is rooted in reality, and while physical violence isn’t ideal, perhaps the aftermath (that being friendship) might be one of the positive aspects of being a man. I think forgiveness is an attribute missing in our society these days, as well as the idea that we can fight now and be friends later, particularly in these hyperpolarized times where we’re more divided than ever. If we all embraced this mentality, maybe we’d be less divided as a society.
I think it's a bit more insidious.
It is essentially that "real men accept that might makes right."
After fighting the men are friends because the dispute of who is alpha has now been resolved. Whoever won is alpha. If it was a draw they are co Alphas.
Hence, the Fast franchise having a lot of fights to a draw to establish new co Alphas into the mix.
I personally disagree, i see the fights as a more entertaining representation of arguments and such. Because in most of those shows and video games they are usually fighting for their ideologies or over a disagreement, and making the argument more of an actual battle is more entertaining to the viewers
It's a trope because it actually happens. I was in a fight with a kid in middle school and we later became close friends (25 years ago). It happens with sports rivals, too.
Agression is a real part of humanity. It is important to try to improve this and reduce violence, but it is also important to recognize that anger and agression are human traits.
My college roommate got into fist fights most weekends. When he'd run into those guys at house parties they'd be best friends. I guess it was a bonding experience. Made little sense to me tho.
In my experience young boys crave play wrestling and horsing around. I often see a mixture of hunger and eagerness for it in the boys that I know. It's the same for dogs as well. Playing with your dog will also make them infinitely more trainable and manageable.
> In my experience young boys crave play wrestling and horsing around. I often see a mixture of hunger and eagerness for it in the boys that I know.
My daughter loves wrestling too, as long as she wins every time. But she's still small, she will get better at losing as she gets older.
My first bully in first grade became my best friend. Been best friends 25 years.
How did that happen, if you don't mind sharing?
While I understand where your coming from.
This trope you are talking about is like opening a can of worms.
While violence brings more people apart more than anything. There are a lot of different cultures that see some type of “honor” and or “pride” in violence. (America just makes it, there identity)
I doubt there is a solid way to express the toxicity behind this stuff.
But it can also be construed as racist to put other groups up on a pedestal and deny them agency. We rank somewhere in the 50s in terms of murder rate, and so it's a little much to claim that glorification of violence is only a trope in "White American culture".
>The second is the role of violence - that it somehow brings people closer together. This to me is the more odious one that I feel like I still see in mass media. Not just through mutual respect as warriors, but because when there's tension violence will help you resolve that tension. Once the tension is gone, there's nothing left to prevent two people from becoming friends.
>In real life, I can't think of many times when violence has helped to reduce tension. In fact, even the old advice to "punch a pillow when you're angry" turns out to be counterproductive
This is correct, but I'd expect you to hear a different rationale from people who would actually endorse this kind of interaction. It isn't a simple analogy for punching a pillow, and even if it is still problematic it requires a more complicated response.
Any non-lethal fight is an exercise in trust, and the aftermath is an exercise in forgiveness with few analogies. Violence always faces a risk of escalation, barring death, and a "friendly" fight involves exercising restraint and care during a situation of unusually heightened emotion. It involves going through an ordeal with someone, and challenging people to forgive each other at times when forgiveness is most difficult.
The ostensible point isn't that Person X treated Person Y's abdomen like a stress pillow. The ostensible point is that Person Y got punched in the gut by Person X and didn't try to punch Person Y in the throat. The argument goes that Person Y was able to experience aggression and choose forgiveness, with adrenaline still pumping through their veins.
Yeah, I kind of think that the people intellectualizing this kind of interaction are completely missing the point. I get that not everyone has had the same experiences, and that's fine. We all interrelate differently.
But I can tell you that I have been good-naturedly punched in the face, and I immediately returned the blow, and then we both laughed and that was it. I insulted him, so it was warranted, and I saw it coming but trusted him not to actually try to lay me out so I just took it, and I didn't hit him as hard as I could have either. Nobody got seriously hurt and it was ultimately a bonding experience, in part *because* we both exercised restraint. Both by not hitting too hard, but also by just standing there and taking the punch.
Now that I think about it more, willingly letting yourself get hit (which we both absolutely did, neither of us made any attempt to get out of the way) is almost like saying "Yeah okay, you're right, I crossed a line and now I'm gonna get hit. I accept your judgment and I'm not going to try to get out of it."
And that's just the first layer. Shit's complicated man.
>Any non-lethal fight is an exercise in trust, and the aftermath is an exercise in forgiveness with few analogies. Violence always faces a risk of escalation, barring death, and a "friendly" fight involves exercising restraint and care during a situation of unusually heightened emotion. It involves going through an ordeal with someone, and challenging people to forgive each other at times when forgiveness is most difficult.
That's such a brilliant way to put it, the first line in particular
I usually see this claimed in comparison to relational aggression among girls (often characterized as being done by women as well), usually as some kind of positive alternative, as if inflicting violence on a peer is any better than *Mean Girls* type of conflict between peers. It's always struck me as simultaneously idealistic (ignoring the ramifications of violence and bullying between boys/men) and sexist (look how terrible girls/women are, boys/men are so much better at conflict resolution).
Funny you should mention that. I had been thinking about this for a while, and one of the catalysts for this post was seeing some post on twitter by someone claiming that he preferred to hire men because they would resolve their problems by "duking it out" while women would be "catty" to each other. (I have no idea if the twitter post was real or parody, and I can't find it now, sorry). That just goes to support what you're saying - that part of this is the idea that fighting is a better form of conflict resolution (for men at least) than verbal conflict.
While the trope exists (and it does because it happens quite often), I feel like you're taking a bit of a grim interpretation of the implications of it. You claim it teaches violence brings people together and helps resolve tension.
That seems short sighted. When there's tension and animosity, resentment, ire, complexes of inferiority, and many other examples that make a person uneasy around another, **the first and most necessary step to solve it is to stop repressing it.**
Violence is one big, easy way to express that and fly it out in the open. It won't necessarily solve the issue, but it by default takes the first step towards it.
After that, there are matters of respect, "honor", and many other psychological and evolutionary reasons violence can clear the air between two men. But once again, it's not that violence brings people together, but the catharsis that comes once both parties have expressed and acted on their mutual resentment.
To give you a tiny example of why this can work: After a fight, both feel like they've "got even" with the other. This person who was annoying the fuck out of me? I've punched his face. That makes us even. And him punching mine accounts for the time I told him he's a weirdo.
It's not the violence on itself bringing people together. And, while it's a trope, it's one that does indeed mirror reality.
I don't relate to the "let's just fight so we can get over this argument and be friends". I've never seen it personally either but I have seen it a lot in media.
But what I have seen is competitive fighting or training bringing people together. I used to do brazilian jiu jitsu for years and I can fight those folks and still be friends. In that setting a fight/bout is about competition and training, so I often *will* make friends and even admire the people I fight. I will thoroughly enjoy a tough fight and the challenge of it. But there's never anger or conflict involved in those fights. Those fights aren't to resolve conflicts but to train ourselves, it's a different mindset and it's perfectly fine if not everyone gets it. And after having been beat by someone, you sort of get to feel the effort and training they put into their bodies. And that makes them relatable.
I think the only real issue is that some men don't respect other men you unless you can beat them in a fight. That's where I see toxic masculinity. The idea that only tough men are worthy of respect.
>Obviously there's all sorts of toxic assumptions that go into this trope. Firstly that a man (and it is always men, at least in my memory), can work out their differences with violence.
I mean, to be honest, people *can* work out their differences through fighting. It's a toxic assumption that men *should* work out their differences through fighting, but they clearly *can*.
>The second is the role of violence - that it somehow brings people closer together.
Again, it *can* bring people closer together. Through a shared fight, I became closer to my fighting gym and our fighters.
> I think the only real issue is that some men don't respect other men unless you can beat them in a fight.
That's a really great point and I think it should be highlighted in this discussion. A few people are saying that all physical aggression is toxic masculinity and that we as a species need to move past it. I think that's a case of "I don't interact this way therefore it's bad." So setting the standard of "it's toxic when it takes this specific form" is a step in the right direction.
Firstly, don't conflate an organized physical competition (boxing, Jui Jitsu, etc) with a fight. The main difference is the emotional aspect. With the latter, you're fighting because you're overwhelmed by anger and don't feel like you have another outlet for it, so you lash out violently. You become closer to your gym buddied by sharing a mutually enjoyable experience - that's not unique to fighting.
>Obviously there's all sorts of toxic assumptions that go into this trope. Firstly that a man (and it is always men, at least in my memory), can work out their differences with violence. The second is the role of violence - that it somehow brings people closer together.
Firstly, it's not only men. I mean it is if you draw the line at physical violence. But physical violence is just an escalation of a conflict that happens more often between men. The media trope of "enemies to friends" appears just as often in women as in men I'd argue (think the movie Mean Girls for instance).
Also I don't see it as negative as you do. It just shows that we as humans can rise above disagreements, especially when both parties realize that they went too far and actually have more in common than they initially thought.
The movie mean girls isn’t a great example, they’re not enemies clashing until suddenly friends.
Also it’s not rising above disagreements, it’s a toxic way of releasing anger until they’re both suddenly able to be rational again after their anger is spent.
It’s a trope because it happens. One of my best friends is a kid I got into a fight with in middle school. The fight basically let us get out all of our tension towards each other and a week after that we were best pals. Sorry not sorry.
I think this is somewhat real, but usually uncommon outside of the younger years, where you aren't capable of really hurting someone or really wanting to make them seriously hurt. I feel like there is nothing inherently wrong with social fights at the younger years, when we are young we sometimes don't have all tools to deal with situations accordingly, no emotional balance to control your emotions, no communication skills to defuse situations, etc. Not saying all kids/teens don't have these skills, but it's very common to not have developed them very well yet, and this results in social fights.
Toxic masculity does play a role in turning this (IMO) natural phenomenon into something prevalent, but I think even in a perfect world these kinda of fights would happen.
There is a lot of lessons to be learned in social fights, limits for example, I know a lot of people who would have become terrible douches if not for being punched in the face in a fight they themselves started. Not saying it was a punch that made them not become douches, but I think without this specific punch it would take much more years of self-reflection.
In general we should never encourage fights, but they WILL happen even when society don't encourage it, and when they happen the adults should use it as teaching oportunity, about limits, empathy, etc. (Again, Im not saying these things can only be learned because of a fight, Im saying these things will happen nonetheless and they make prime opportunities to reiforce such lessons)
It happend to me, I got into a fight and became friends with the other person, as a teen. And there was no way easy way to really defuse that situation without a fight, guy was acting as a asshole, was a bully, I confient no amount of talking would make him change, but one day he crossed the line, he shoved me against a pillar and I attacked him, the same teachers he wouldn't have heard before, he heard this time, because of the fight, and he also learned people have limits, aftar that he chilled and we become friends.
Edit: And that's why I think the no tolerance policy is absurd and useless, it does not only NOT prevent fights but absolutely squander any opportunity of using it as a prime teaching moment.
I'm just guessing here, but it sounds like you've never done any martial arts or played competitive physical sports?
I sort of staddle two social groups: One filled with academics, and the other with fighters and athletes. The former would agree with you. There is also a lot of unresolved tension within that group, and there are lots of flareups between individuals, just not physical ones. Most disagreements are never really resolved.
With the second it's more complicated. I'd highly recommend [this podcast with Josh Barnett](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJWPowbCK_I), one of the deadliest men to ever live. They talk about the philosophy of violence, how it manifests in different situations, and a lot more.
I'd also point out that you start with talking about conflict, but then swap in violence. They aren't necessarily the same. A lot of the fighting that leads to friendships isn't unhinged violence. No one is gouging out eyes. It's closer to a form of rough play.
There is a world of difference between an organized sporting event and a fight.
I don't think you quite understand what these fights are like in real life. There isn't a lot of difference. They still have rules, and they happen in social situations where there are others around to enforce them. Both individuals understand what is happening and how it works. If one of them doesn't, then it's just unprovoked assault and it's not going to end in friendship. These fights aren't considerably more violent than a game of pickup tackle football would be.
I don't want to take a 'side' in this debate, but to be clear, there is a reason why the trope you're describing exists. The point is that in their willingness to fight each other, the men 'earn' each others respect, showing that they're willing to fight for their 'honour.' And by not killing each, by stopping the fight before it gets out of hand, they demonatrate that they don't actually want to fight, they just want to be respected. By fighting each other, the two men demonstrate that they don't *actually* want to hurt each other, and so they don't have to see each other as a threat anymore.
I'm not condoning it, but it seems to me that that it how this works.
Yeah, like the sword duels of yesteryear that fought to first blood. You're showing that you're willing to die for your honor; but actually killing for your honor crosses the line into barbarism.
What would you say about people who don't want to or can't engage in violence (or "rough play", whatever?).
Resolving conflict is necessary but a physical fight is not, in my opinion.
They can happily live their entire lives without engaging in it and that's perfectly appropriate.
Thanks. A lot of people in this thread are talking like not enjoying fights makes you an abnormal, dishonorable man, and that doesn't sound like the sort of thing this sub is about so I wanted to ask. (To be clear, I have practiced martial arts myself; I stopped because it was lowest priority of my hobbies when I started studying and working full-time and preferred to lose one thing than half-arse everything.)
>A lot of people in this thread are talking like not enjoying fights makes you an abnormal, dishonorable man
I guess I'm not seeing any posts that imply this. I do see posts that are explaining the psychology behind the trope/phenomenon.
Good choice. Never half-ass two things.
Whole-ass one thing.
One of the deadliest men ever to live? Really? How exactly is that measured -- has he killed more people than anyone else? Are you including Genghis Khan and Pol Pot in that estimate?
I'd be willing to bet that your average Army combat veteran is more deadly by far than any professional martial artist.
I realize you're probably just repeating some marketing you heard, and that you didn't really mean it the way I'm taking it here. It just stuck out to me as being a bit of a silly claim.
Edit: he responded and then deleted his response. Probably a good decision.
In a one on one fight to the death with no weapons I got Barnett over Genghis any day.
Yeah obviously. But that's a silly set of restrictions -- almost as silly as trying to determine who the "deadliest man" is in the first place.
I’ve become friends with men that I’ve had conflicts with. I’ve been in two fights, I’m friends with both guys now.
My mortal enemy from 6th grade is one of my best friends now.
This is definitely something I've seen time and time again.
Like a number of others here I fall into the category of enemies turned friends. Shared experiences make it easier to relate to people and a fight is kind of like that particularly the emotional build up before that
The way I see it, violence is the primary tool of a patriarchal society, and the trope needs to be viewed through that lens. If you don't right back, the bully establishes a feeling of dominance, and perhaps a sense of control in their lives that they are otherwise missing. Besting them in a fight might cause them to act submissively, but that's only because you are placing yourself above them on the dominance hierarchy.
To that end, I don't think the trope is acceptable within a better society. I don't disagree with fighting if that's what's needed at that specific moment, but ideally, the need for violence shouldn't arise at all and really speaks to a kind of moral rot.
Only guy I ever fought for real made a complete turn-around and wanted to be besties the day after, whereas the night before he'd been a complete bully towards everyone. He almost acted... submissive? Like, he wanted to please me. A weird experience, and I did not reciprocate. So for that guy, this actually seems to be a thing? My best guess would be that his approach to violence in this case is, well, "social" - to establish a pecking order, of sorts. I admit however to having trouble understanding the mechanics of such.
> I admit however to having trouble understanding the mechanics of such.
He was pushing to figure out who was 'in charge' between the two of you. You fighting him established to him that it was you. Thus he was happy to go with that.
(A lot of people with that mindset deal with a _lot_ of anxiety all the time around not knowing where they stand with people. 'Knowing' that you were the winner/stronger/in-charge person in the dynamic was probably a huge relief for him because it was resolved.)
Thank you for laying it out. It sounds reasonable.
Now I feel bad for blowing him off the day after. It can't be fun or easy to live like he does. I had all that bullying of other people fresh in mind, but still, if it was as you say he wasn't even really looking to be mean - he just sought... structure? Something to think about.
Would folks here think it's acceptable for a man to fight a woman to resolve a conflict? I'd wager no\*. I don't see why it would be any different with men in an equal society, which is presumably what we would all strive for. It's very strange to see so many responses in this thread admitting that they see men fighting each other as healthy or necessary rather than as vestiges of the past that we need to do away with. This feels like a very patriarchal type of thinking with a little bit of gender essentialism thrown in.
\*Outside of self defense
Note: I'm also not referring to 'playing rough' or fighting-based sports
>Would folks here think it's acceptable for a man to fight a woman to resolve a conflict?
If it was a very big woman and a small man, then yes. I think for the real life version of what this trope refers to to work like it does, there are several conditions that need to be met. The biggest are the sort of unwritten rules of a fight in which the winner doesn't win and then kick the person's head it when it's over, and the second biggest is that there isn't a huge size (and probably power within society, but that's more complex to get into) difference between the people.
The trope makes sense when viewed in the context of an Honor Society. Fighting proves that you have courage and are willing to take a beating for your honor. After the fight you view the other guy as the thing that allowed you to prove your courage. And he's also a guy with courage willing to fight for his honor; he's the kind of guy you respect.
A lot of anecdotes in this thread. Has this been researched?
This has happened to me more than once. If you don't get it that's fine, you don't have to, but don't lambast the experience as toxic masculinity if you've never experienced it yourself.
Conflict has a weird release and usually at the end if it, outcomes of resolution are generally formed. It's entirely a built in understanding of things once it's concluded. We see it in animals that after a fight, one will be considered a victor so resolution is formed, in warfare, it's either one wins and gets to dictate the terms that makes it a poor conclusion as it's considered unfair and rightly so. There's been articles I'm sure that arguments in a relationship with your partner is considered healthy through debates.
I've seen a video of a woman throwing a man's clothes and belongings out on the front lawn and another of a woman folding another man's clothes and stacking his stuff neatly. The comments were that the relationship can be resolved again by the first scenario as it was 'in the heat of the moment' whereas the second, the other person made up their mind and is beyond hope.
People learn to fight problems, with either violence, heated debates/arguments as both people have a claim and when everything been exhausted, some type of realisation comes out of it.
Fighting amongst competitors turned friends is just often shown in those trope shows that they look at it afterwards and realise how stupid they to have fought in the first place over whatever it was and some type of admiration of each other comes out of it, akin to respect.
Yes it's a trope and it can be used wrong, but this has happened to me so many times, especially as a child/teenager. Idk why it happens, but when I and a friend would have something escalate to a fight, we'd become friends again between 10 minutes and a few hours later.
If I had to guess I'd say that when you calm down you both feel a little bit guilty, like you didn't really want to hurt each other and that it wasn't worth fighting over, but counterintuitively it is that process/feeling that you both experience at the same time that you then connect over. Or maybe it's biological, idk. But it 100000% exists.
It's especially the case with children of the same age because it's very difficult to hit each other enough for it to hurt for more than a day.
https://youtu.be/bdKUm6fLOgY conflict and reconciliation. Our closest relative's do this all the time, humans probably do it to.
Physical conflict to establish dominance is pretty common in the animal kingdom. When humans do it we view it as a pretty outmoded way for one person to establish dominance over another. (I mean, when was the last time corporate promotions were decided by a boxing match?) The trope I'm referring to isn't necessarily dominance driven though, it's about conflict reduction.
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This is hands down in the power rankings for dumbest tropes.
In real life fighting someone you don't know well isn't a good idea.
In real life, not knowing how to resolve disagreements without violence 100% means you are an imbecile IMO.
I think men think this trope is good because children and boys DO exhibit this behavior. But it's because they are IMMATURE and do not know how to resolve conflict effectively.