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Ultimatums in a Relationship: When and How to Use Them

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Relationships are a balancing act. We want to maintain our independence, support our partner, and live our lives together in a way that is mutually beneficial for both parties. Achieving balance isn’t easy; humans are inherently flawed, and we don’t always treat ourselves or each other the right way.

Ultimatums can be an unpleasant but necessary part of a relationship. If you have different life goals or relationship styles, you need to have boundaries in your relationship to keep you from investing too much in a relationship that isn’t going to meet your needs. If your partner isn’t living up to your expectations, you need them to step up or to get out.

Here are a few situations you might find yourself in that require you to issue ultimatums to your partner. These should always be used to better your relationship, not back your significant other into a corner.

  1. images (20)If you don’t see yourself with this person in the long term, you might want to reconsider the relationship. If you want certain things like a stable career, a house, or kids, and they don’t share those same goals, you’ll either need to compromise or consider the alternatives.

Ask your partner what their vision of the future is and if they see you in it. Being honest with one another can help you both find happiness and contentment. If you or your partner don’t envision a future together, another conversation needs to be had about what to do next.

  1. If you and your partner have stopped communicating with one another, this can be a major red flag. If you aren’t talking, you aren’t engaging with one another or investing in your partner. If one of you feels like they are communicating more than the other or communication between the two of you had slowed down considerably, you may need to consider making a relationship ultimatum or discussing your options with your partner.
  2. Make short-term goals. All relationships have highs and lows and having short-term check ins on the state of your relationship can help you keep tabs on the health of your romantic situation. Think about your relationship and where you want to be three months, six months, a year, or five years from now. If you and your partner are struggling, make a timeline for change. If your relationship hasn’t improved in that time period, consider breaking up.
  3. images (19)There are some indicators that your relationship isn’t going in the right direction. If you blame each other for your problems and often find yourself arguing and fighting, you might not be in a stable, functioning relationship. You might hesitate to break up because you feel like you won’t find someone else, you don’t want to start over, or a variety of other reasons. However, a relationship where you consistently hurt one another with your words and actions isn’t a relationship either of you should be in.
  4. Use ultimatums wisely. Like the boy who cried wolf, your partner might not listen to you or take you seriously if you misuse ultimatums in your relationship. Learn how to make realistic boundaries in your relationship, end it when or if you need to, and hold yourself to the expiration date you’ve given your relationship if things aren’t working out.

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