Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ultimatums and Requests

I have really held off in giving many ultimatums in my relationships in the past.  I finally gave my ex an ultimatum of "get involved with me and our marriage or I'm done here" after the train had gone off the rails months and months before. I don't generally think that people (myself included) respond well to a "do this or else" scenario.  That said, there are times when necessity requires a hard stop to evaluate, then a decision is made.

Dan Savage refers to some ultimatums as the "price of admission".  If the person you are dating says once a month they want the freedom to go sleep with someone else, that's their price of admission.  You can decide that is a price you are willing to pay, or not. If the person is worth the trouble, the compromise, the hassle, then you'll probably pay the price . . .of admission.  If not, it's a good signal to go your separate ways.  I believer everyone has these prices, some come cheap, others are very costly.

I've realized that as I get pickier about who I date and what I want in a relationship, I have these lines-in-the-sand. There are few things that I'm really strict about, but those are absolutes. A few examples: accepting of all sexualities, races, religions and creeds, not a video gamer, active/non-couch potato. Most of my requirements are fairly broad and can be open to interpretation (by me of course) as need dictates. Dating is a process to filter out the men who don't meet my requirements and hopefully find one who does. 

I do think that having requirements is slightly different than ultimatums.  To me, an ultimatum is like a cease and desist order.  You've been doing A.  I find A to be unacceptable.  Please cease and desist. At what point in a relationship do you give an ultimatum?  That being said, what makes an ultimatum inherently different than a request?  I've been involved with a person or two that making requests, both on his part and mine, were the opposite of the high drama, be-all-end-all of an ultimatum. I asked if he wouldn't mind now smoking around me, or he asked if I would limit my snarky comments to ten a day.  Neither request was met with any hostility.  Part of a good relationship is being able to ask for what you want/need without the other person overreacting.  Relationships are always a give and take. 

The difference must be that an ultimatum means "if you say no, we're over" where any other request is still open for debate and compromise. The timeline of what you can/should ask for and when or how often . . . That is in need of a much finer comb to untangle.

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