The One Upper. This type of argument goes like this: “Hey, um, Friend, what you did was kind of shitty and I’d like to talk to you about that shitty thing.” “YEAH BUT YOU WERE SHITTY LIKE TEN TIMES IN THESE SPECIFIC AND TRIVIAL WAYS SO WHAT ABOUT THAT.” It’s the tactic people try to use so as not to have to address the complaint being raised against them by just making even more complaints themselves. It’s like, okay, maybe I was shitty and we can talk about that if you want, but that is irrelevant to what I brought up and also it’s suspicious that you’re all of the sudden telling me this now. Arguments with my ex-boyfriend always went like this: “It makes me really angry that I asked you to do the laundry and you folded yours nicely and dumped mine on the floor.” “Yeah well I unloaded the dishwasher like the last three fucking times.” You get the picture.
The Pity Partier. In a similar way, this person will bring up something totally irrelevant to the conversation for the sake of changing the tone from blaming and criticizing to pitying, in the hopes of ultimately softening the angered party to the point that the argument is mitigated. When I found out my college roommate had made out with my boyfriend* I confronted her and rather than admit or deny it, she began a long, rambling, teary story about how she had been depressed the last few months on account of having had a one night stand with someone who never called her back. Oh, sorry, so someone mistreated your emotions and behaved unkindly towards you and your reaction was to stick your tongue in my boyfriend’s throat? Hard to see the connection, hun.
*he would later go on to have sex with my gay male friend so I probably should have left him behind at this point, whoops
The Smoke Screener. This person can’t really make their point, perhaps because they are too insecure to assert themselves, because they are having a hard time articulating it, or perhaps there is just no point at all. I am particularly guilty of this when I am in a bad, wallowing mood and I might not actually have any good reason for feeling that way so I’ll just scour my brain for the nearest thing that could count as a justification and then I’ll stew on it until I actually am upset and then I will typically explode in tears and kind of just fire off a string of out-of-nowhere, groundless sound bites that make the other person just really primarily interested in getting me to stop the shrieking one way or the other as soon as possible. Yes, sometimes I am super fun to be around.
The Voice Raiser. I don’t know about any of you but if someone raises their voice to me it’s conversation over. “Good” arguments should be deliberative and calm and respectful; the second I feel like I’m getting yelled at I completely lose my ability to open up whatsoever. Maybe I just have sensitive ears or latent daddy issues or something but just being louder and meaner doesn’t make your point any better.
The Ideologist. This is possibly the worst kind of person to argue with. I’ve mostly encountered this when having politics-based conversations with very religious people, but I suppose it could happen in other scenarios as well. This is when the person you are arguing with holds some kind of ideology or metaphysic so strongly that they are literally incapable of considering other viewpoints (if only to refute them) and all of the evidence they put forth is based on that ideology. For example, I follow this terribly—embarrassingly, really—misogynist Christian dating blog run by a schoolmate of mine (because I mean how can you really look away from something like that) and I want to call him out so badly but I just know it’s not worth it. What I want to say is, “Oh really, male human person, how exactly do you know that all women want to be subservient to their husband and allow him to make all decisions for their relationship,” but I know that the answer would be something like, “well if you flip over to Romans chapter 5…” It’s like… ok, but I don’t accept the fact that the Bible is legit fact, so now were can we go with this conversation? Can you give me a reason that doesn’t relate to a text I don’t hold as objective authority? Ugh.