Chinese saying: you don't know someone until you've fought with them - do you agree?

I think it makes sense. You’re more likely to get into fights with friends than casual acquaintances. Like atoms, if people get too close, there will be repulsion.

Anyone have close friends they’ve never fought with? Is there an equivalent English expression?

I’m assuming it doesn’t just mean physical fighting, i.e. having verbal disagreements count as well? Because yes, you do see another side of a person when you have a disagreement with them, and that can tell you a lot about their character.

I’m struggling to think of an equivalent english proverb though!

I agree. I don’t want to know *everyone *well enough to have to argue with them, of course. But I believe the best barometer for success (or failure!) in any relationship is how the first argument plays out. A couple who never argues doesn’t really know each other, because it’s absolutely not possible for two people to agree on EVERYTHING (not even identical twins!). If a person truly never argues with their partner, it’s because one or both of them are repressing feelings and opinions. Same goes for friendships… a friend you’ve never disagreed with is merely an acquaintance. There’s nothing wrong with having acquaintances, of course, but they shouldn’t be mistaken for friends.

I don’t believe the principle applies to physical violence, though. That’s more of a Fight Club thing. I’ve had a lot of friends and several boyfriends in my life, and have never hit or been hit by any of them.

I agree with the saying, but I don’t agree with this interpretation. I think sandra_nz’s interpretation is what it means:

Ok my Chinese words got lost when I started the thread. They are:
and literally mean “no/don’t hit no/don’t know”. Someone is welcome to come up with a better translation than me.

And yes, it doesn’t refer to actual fighting (I think).

it’s easier to find tv tropes than idioms…


i should add that the original saying refers to friendships.

You don’t know someone until you’ve fought WITH them. What does “with” mean? I fought “with” you against our foe or I fought “with” you because you are my foe? It can also apply to how you and your friends relate to each other against a common opponent.

How well do you really know someone? Maybe you’ve heard of them? Maybe someone has related stories of their deeds or manners? Maybe you’ve met them, ate with them, laughed with them? There’s no pressure. There’s no pressure to win or survive. Maybe you don’t like them but you can tolerate them. Maybe you love them. You know something about them but not everything. Maybe “something” is enough under most circumstances.

You can assume you know everything about a person and there may never be a need to know more. However, people can act differently in a stressful situation. Under pressure, they may break down emotionally, fight dirty, cheat, stand their ground, surpass even their own expectations and become true heros.

I believe the saying pertains to physical confrontations as well as verbal or emotional confrontations. It doesn’t just apply to your opponents either. Your opponent might not be another human being, it might be a mountain or a house fire.

Rookies are a dangerous element to any operation. Firefighters, mountain climbers, surgeons and nurses, soldiers storming a beach. Will the rookie hold up under pressure? Can they be counted on in a crisis? Nobody, including themselves, knows how someone will react under pressure until they’ve actually been under pressure.

Just my 2 cents and you didn’t even pay that much for it.

And all this time I thought it was just something they made up for The Matrix

I’ve had a lot of close friends and have never had so much as a small argument with the vast majority. I choose my friends well (they’re good, considerate people who rarely do anything that would annoy anyone and whose views on most things are in accordance with mine) and I am also incredibly easy-going. It’s been 12-13 years since I met my oldest good friends in this area, I like to think we know each other pretty well.

I’ve had two friends, both very dear to me, who I argued/fought with fairly frequently because of their bad behavior when they got emotional. I don’t feel I know them any better for it; although certainly I know they have much less self control, and worse tempers, than I and most of my other friends do.

I recently got out of a 7-year relationship, and my ex and I rarely disagreed; though in hindsight, I should have taken a stand on several things that I did not.

Well, as Shan Yu said; “Live with a man 40 years. Share his house, his meals. Speak on every subject. Then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano’s edge. And on that day, you will finally meet the man.”

Taking a more literal meaning, those serving can probably express it better, but it goes something like, “Despite all training, you never know how someone will behave in combat until he’s in combat.”

I would say you don’t know someone well if you haven’t seen them express a full range of expressions–sadness, joy, and anger. Any of these can be repressed in polite company.

If someone feels comfortable enough to show you their sad and angry sides, then you are seeing them how they are. Not everyone is argumentative or confrontational enough to get into a fight. But having different emotions is kind of universal.

I would say that fighting with someone (verbally) can give you much insight into that person’s character but would stop short of saying that having that fight is indispensible to acquiring such insight.

Agree. I’ve made some interesting observations (All while sitting at a bar. So take that for what it’s worth)

On several occasions I’ve witnessed two guys get into an argument. Some of them culminating into physical fights. But by the end of the night, the guys involved, not only make amends, but they embrace each other as brothers. (Weird)
Then there’s the ‘Bad Boy’ observation. BB intentionally gets into argument with a girl of interest. Words are tossed back and forth. And then, low and behold, they leave together or are sucking face by the end of the night.

So the empirical evidence seems to suggest that arguing does create some sort of bond.

[Man, I love people watching]

That’s a wise saying. I agree, many people will show a whole different side when they are fighting. It’s not necessarily their “true” side, it’s just their hurt/angry/etc side.

For most of my friends that’s a side I won’t be meeting if I can help it.