I happened to engage in a discussion with my partner about a topic that we both think we know about. In this discussion she initially made statements that were not my opinion, and that I at that point believed to be wrong. The problem there was that the discussion was about a music genre, which is something that is more difficult to argue about than laws of nature, for example. Of couse there is less of a right or wrong on certain statements, but I wouldn't go as far and say that there is no right or wrong there.

The discussion continued and we both explained our opinion on the subject. I was carefull to tell her what parts of her explanations I did find convincing, but also, afterwards, what parts where still needed for me to approve her opinion. I was not convinced, and I said so. Eventually, the discussion became more heated, and then she made a statement that to my eyes at that point was 1. Completely wrong and formally disprovable by simple facts (that we both knew), 2. To my eyes diminishing the music of a Music-Group I really like.

I quickly looked up the facts to be sure, and stated them, as I thought that those would prove me right. She then became angry, and accused me to never be moving in an argument, and be pushing her, and be trying to "win against her" everytime we have a discussion. Of course the situation made me angry, and after a while kind of helpless, because I realize I can't know I'm right. I'm kind of caught in my own (possibly wrong-thinking) mind, and as mutch as I'd like to know I'm right, I can't. So how do I cope with this situation? In the process of thinking about this happenings, serveral questions arrose to me that I'd like to post here: As they are all related to this happening, I want to state them all, so it is clear what I'm thinking about:

Question 1: How can I accept that my Partner has a different Opinion? Especially when she bases her opinion on seemingly unlogical reasoning, that I not only do not understand, but furthermore feel to be "wrong" in a formally logical sense What seems to be so easy with stranger people on the street becomes a big problem with people who I'm closer with. I'd like to respect her opinions, and not be bothered, if she displays reasoning that has some mistakes, but I am bothered, and here is why: I feel that in those situations, my partner is being an irrational person, that I feel can't understand my way of thinking about things. I'd like to rely on her, and to have faith in her being able to understand me in situations where I need her to understand me, or in situations that we both have to decide something together. This faith is broken in situations where I feel she isn't thinking in the same rational way I do think.

I'd like to have answers to the question taking into the account the assumption that I AM formally right, and my partner is not. I am well aware of that it might be otherwise, but I'd like to treat the cases where I might not be right in the further questions.

Question 2: How can I express that I have an other opinion, without at the same time demanding her to give up on her own opinion Let' say I acknowledge she has an other opinion on the subject, for example because I'm not sure that I in fact am right. As I am not yet convinced by her position, I'd like to let her know what arguments are still there, that speak against her position. I want state to her the obstacles, that are still in my way to actually tell her she's right. Furthermore it would feel like lying to just give in and tell her she's right, when in fact I still have my own opinion on the topic. It's kind of a status update "where we are", to tell her by what points I'm not yet convinced. She perceives this constant feedbacks as an attempt I make to disprove her opinion, and I'd like to know what I can do so she stops thinking that.

The last Question adresses my general insecurity on being right: My Partner accuses me of being stubborn, hard to convince, and just wanting to "win" the discussion. Of course my impression was that she did exactly the same things I did. While I'd really like to just think "I'm right, she'll have to learn it", I can't think t hat. Because I can never know if I in fact am right, as well as I can't know I actually am "just wanting to win the discussion". I can't think of an objectiv argument that would prove to to me (and, more important, to her!) that I'm right. Her head inside probably looks similar to mine. She's probably thinking "I'm right, why doesn't he see this", as well, and I can't never know who actually is right or wrong.

To cope with that, I try to stick to very formal logic, and communicate every little step of thought, in order for her to spot eventuall logical mistakes that I've made. I as well try to always state the initial assumptions that my arguments are based on, to see if we don't agree at those, for example. But besides that, Question 3: How can I find out in the "best way" wether I'm actually trying to contribute to a thoughtful debate, or wether I just want to "win the discussion". If I come to a conclusion, how can I show her who of us is trying to win over whooom?

Edit: Since I can only ask one question at a time, I'd like to know ask question 2 here: Question 2: How can I express that I have an other opinion, without at the same time demanding her to give up on her own opinion

Edit: Her statement was along the lines of "The music of a band is based on a machine machine that they built, and produced by this said machine". Which is not true since the first (and only album up until now) was produced in 2013, while the machine they became famous with was finished and showed to the world in 2016. Of course I had a contradictory opinion.

The general discussion was about wether the said band belonged to a certain musical genre. Her opinion was that the band belongs to a musical genre, because they have serveral machines on stage that produce part of the music. I think that the band doesn't belong to the musical genre, because employing machines is just kind of a weak indicitor for the musical genre. Furthermore, the overall sound of the band differs so mutch from other bands from that musical genre, and she is the only person I have ever heard to connect the band to this musical genre.

Further Clarification: If I talk about different opinions here, I mean opinions and statements that can't coexist because they proof each other wrong. I'm aware that there are many cases, where in the end "both people are right, in their respective view of the things". I'm explicitly not talking about this occasions here, but instead about 2 opinions, of which at MAX 1 is the right one.

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    I need some examples. Are these statements like "X is better than Y"? Or "X has influenced more guitarists than anyone else?" "Y has sold more albums?" "X concerts are never more than 2 hours?" - to what extent are these simple facts and to what extent opinion and taste? – Kate Gregory Jul 20 '18 at 23:13
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    Can you edit this to ask one specific question? – sphennings Jul 21 '18 at 0:01
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    Questions 1 and 3 are really more intrapersonal skills and not in scope for this forum – baldPrussian Jul 21 '18 at 2:52
  • I did an edit to only ask Question 2, and provided examples in an edit. – Quantenirrwisch Jul 21 '18 at 5:22
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    @Quantenirrwisch Thanks for the edit! If you're only asking question #2 it might be clearer to edit further and remove the other questions. – Upper_Case Jul 21 '18 at 7:05

First note: be aware that women are different from men in that it is more difficult for them to separate arguments from emotions. A woman often perceives arguments aimed at her position as a personal attack. This cannot be helped, one simply has to cope with it somehow.

One good method to minimise the combativeness of a discussion is to go Socratic: viz. instead of throwing in arguments in favour of your position just ask questions about hers.

E.g.: so you think the band belongs to the genre X? Interesting, why do you think so? Because it uses machines? So you think that any music that uses machines belongs to the genre X? So would you say it is impossible to play genres Y or Z using machines? Etc. Make all effort not to sound aggressive: you are exploring her position and its ultimate principles, not trying to trap her. Whenever you are tempted do derive certain conclusion yourself, do not state it but pose it as a question: OK, and would you agree that from your claim X it follows that Y? (If not, why? Etc.). In this way, you need not have any shared assumptions, or preestablished definitions or principles - all this is only to be found during the discussion, and she not you will state them. Theoretically, she can venture to deny even logical principless, but very few people have the guts to do so and usually draw back from such a position.

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This question seems based on some very specific details which it's hard for me to get my head around in the very general terms in which it is presented. So, I'll acknowledge that my presumptions may be incorrect, and some of my suggestions may not apply to you and your partner at all.

That said, I think I'm largely siding with your girlfriend on this, based on the question as written. Your question 2 is:

How can I express that I have an other opinion, without at the same time demanding her to give up on her own opinion?

This goal absolutely does not require either person to be convinced by the other. Accomplishing this goal only needs something along the lines of

"Well, [name of partner], I don't find your arguments convincing and so I disagree."

That's it! No need to prolong the conversation, no need for either person to be convinced or for either person's arguments to be defeated. Her opinion is certainly not something for you to approve. By insisting that only one person is right, and also demanding that that person be identified, right now, and that you are the sole arbiter in making that determination, you likely are being stubborn and trying to win the argument.

The situation you describe is about as low-stakes as it gets. You're not discussing which wire to cut to stop a bomb from going off. If you are already in possession of a set of logical arguments which you feel are internally consistent, complete, and persuasive then it is unclear to me how indulging a preference for being explicitly acknowledged as correct (assuming, as per the question, that you in fact are correct) could be classified as anything other than stubbornness and a need to win.

If you absolutely must continue these arguments, what can you do?

I see a few options.

First, examine your own arguments with as much aggressive skepticism as you can muster. In my debate team days I became all too familiar with the tendency to overestimate the quality of one's own argumentation. If your arguments have any gaps or assumptions which cannot be formally proven then your correctness cannot be ascertained. So a stance along the lines of "I'm not convinced, but I can't prove my own case" is appropriate. Even if you feel your argument is solid, it's easy to mistake internal consistency with actual correctness. And the fact that you are convinced isn't worth anything-- it's tautological (and therefore an invalid argument) that you believe you are correct because you can observe yourself believing that you are correct. It's easier to be less argumentative when you recognize that demonstrating that the other person is wrong does not mean that you yourself are right.

Second, establish the requirements of proof before discussing arguments and then respect them. Your example of "employing machines is just kind of a weak indicator for the musical genre" is a great example of a terrible debate position. It equivocates (kind of a weak indicator?), and essentially concedes that that indicator is valid, just not a clearly definitive one. It also suggests that you were having two separate discussions: she was assuming that the indicator was valid and basing her argument on that, while you were assuming that it is not. The discussion which addresses this is whether or not that indicator defines the musical genre, and until that is settled the "main" argument can't be approached by either party in the discussion.

The overall sound of the band relative to other musical groups is distinct from that, and unless you are both formally defining what the sound of a band is it's easy to talk past each other. If your position is that they use atonal, syncopated rhythms, which other bands do not, and hers is that the pattern of harmonies between band members and musical themes are similar to the defining groups of a genre, but you are both vaguely describing those as the band's "sound", how could you ever understand, let alone convince, each other? A common set of definitions makes a "competitive" discussion possible.

It's also often the case that, even where detailed arguments can be made, a correct position does not exist or is not identifiable. All you have in such cases is that you find your position convincing and, as above, that you find your own position convincing is meaningless as argumentation.

Third, you can recognize that she may not care enough to formally explore her position in her mind before making an idle comment, and/or that she may not be articulate enough to express her position clearly. These are both common, especially in cases where people are not intending to get into a debate or become heated. Conversations usually happen too fast for people to go through exhaustive, sequential examinations of every comment or passing thought, and some people have trouble expressing ideas precisely. Even if you understand what she's saying, you may not understand what she means to say. So treating her like a hostile witness you are cross-examining to find holes in her position may be too strong a posture. Asking lots of questions to pin down her exact position could feel like that to her.

Fourth, you can let her drive the discussion. If she says something and you don't agree, you can just say that you don't agree. If she asks you why, you can summarize your case. If you're curious about why she holds an opinion, you can ask her the same and then stop once you've heard her explanation. You don't need to attack her arguments or undermine her position to know what she thinks. If you offer arguments when she asks for them, rather than hurling them at her and requiring that she account for herself at your own whim, it will go a long way towards addressing her complaints.

Final note: a bit of humility on your part will probably be valuable. I know that you asked for this to be omitted in your question (hence this as a note at the end), but your position as laid out (let's assume that only one person is correct, that you are that person, and are exactly correct) is absurd. That's not a violation of the "be nice" policy, but a strict usage of the word. Especially when you note some insecurity about being correct on your part. Epistemology being what it is, your positions are always going to be that you feel you are correct based on the evidence you have perceived and the consideration you have given that evidence.

Even if you are confident that you have done a thorough job, the position that you are definitely correct is generally hard to formally defend. Look at the example case you posted for an excellent instance of a position that can only be correct or incorrect based on the specific criteria used to make the assessment, a (seeming) lack of precision in how correctness could even be determined, and a (seeming) lack of agreement on those standards. Treating this as a case in which you simply are correct, beyond question or reproach, suggests that some re-calibration may be in order on your part. You may find your goals easier to achieve after dropping the presumption of absolute correctness.

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Your question strikes at the very heart of the relationship between Man and Woman. It is not unique.

But your music is unique to you both, each in your own ways and probably it what may have brought you together.

You have to reaslise that you cannot cast your partner in your own image. You believe your self to be rational, relying upon known facts. But try to put yourself in her place to realise how she sees the world and how she values it.

If you could each celebrate your differences, so that they are let go and no longer matter then you may be able to begin tackling more concrete matters than music - together.

Question 1

You must get into the head of your partner and see how she drives her reasoning. If it is less rational to you and more emotional then your task is to get over it. For if you cannot do this things may not proceed much further in your relationship. This is for you to do, and then to no longer care about it that is if your feelings for her are important to you.

Question 2

More of the first - try to seek connections between your ideas. Realise that your minds do not share each others assumptions. Do not be angry if your rightfulness is irrationally denied, but try to stop this from mattering to you. Do not force home your opinion or show resentment.

The ancient problem is getting along with each other and you are not on your own in this. Celebrate your differences and set each other free.

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