Do ultimatums in relationships actually work? Could you get things your way by making that final demand? Or is it too much to ask for?
At one point in a relationship, we hit a dead end. We come to the point where it’s either this or that.
It means that, most likely, you or your partner have given an ultimatum to each other in an attempt to solve a situation that’s caused a lot of issues.
But is this the healthy way to look for a solution? Is there another way to get your relationship out of a dead-end or is giving ultimatums the only way to go?
These are questions many of us have wondered about. Do ultimatums in relationships come with a risk and how often could you use them to get things done the way you want?
You’ll find your answers if you keep on reading!
How do ultimatums in relationships work?
Ultimatums in relationships are usually based on one idea – you either do (or stop doing) something or I will leave you.
That’s the main point that stands behind each and every ultimatum you give to your partner.
So, it doesn’t surprise us that ultimatums have a reputation of being unfair and unhealthy because, to be honest, that’s what they actually are.
Sometimes, you might get the idea that giving an ultimatum is the right way to go.
You’re standing up for yourself and setting your boundaries. You know what you want and you’re not afraid to ask for it.
But the problem with ultimatums in relationships is that they make your partner feel like he’s being threatened.
You’re pressuring your significant other into making decisions he’s not ready to make.
You’re putting him in a cage where he’s expected to do something, and if he doesn’t, you’re leaving.
The main issue with this is that you take away from him the freedom of free will. You’re literally pressuring him into doing something.
As time goes by, this results in various consequences that you may not recognize at first.
That’s why it’s always better to use other alternatives than to base the future of your relationship on giving ultimatums.
Sooner or later, it will backfire on you and make you regret your decisions.
But before we dig deeper into alternatives to ultimatums in relationships, let’s first look at the actual dangers of using them.
Why is everyone going on about ultimatums being manipulative behavior that should be brought to an end?
Let’s find out!
Dangers of ultimatums in relationships!
When you give an ultimatum to your partner, you risk making him feel a certain way that may not be the best for your relationship.
There are high chances that your actions will hurt him and make him feel like he’s being controlled.
Those feelings have consequences that could put your relationship in danger.
Let’s see what can happen as a result of ultimatums in relationships.
Is it worth taking the risk and making your partner feel the following? It’s up to you to make that decision!
1. Your partner gives in but starts resenting you
When giving ultimatums in relationships, you need to be aware of one thing: Your partner may start resenting you.
Sometimes, getting your way with a help of an ultimatum doesn’t mean that you actually won the game.
If anything, it could mean that you made your partner change his feelings about you.
Giving ultimatums in a relationship means that you make your partner do something for you.
But the problem with this is that he actually didn’t want to do it in the first place.
The only reason why he chose to listen to you is that, at that moment, he didn’t want to lose you.
In a way, your partner was pressured to make a decision that wasn’t a part of his initial plan.
Because he was made to do something, it means that he won’t feel at peace with you.
When he looks at you, he’ll remember how you pressured him into something he wasn’t ready for.
That’s when we come to the tricky part.
Instead of moving on with your relationship, your partner will probably start to feel resentment toward you.
The idea that you made him do something that was against his wishes will go dwell in his thoughts, and he’ll have a hard time trying to stop thinking about it.
In the long run, this could have negative repercussions on your relationship.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to forget those times where someone made you do something against your will.
We hold on to those moments in our heads, looking for the day we’ll get our revenge.
And you don’t want your relationship to turn into a battlefield and to spend time waiting for your partner to even the score with you.
2. It makes your partner unhappy
Ultimatums in relationships have nothing to do with compromises. With them, one side wins, and the other conforms to the ultimatum-giver’s wishes.
That’s why it comes as no surprise that this action can make your partner feel unhappy.
Want to hear it or not, it’s you who made him do something he didn’t want to in the first place.
As a result, he gets the feeling that you’re controlling and manipulating him into having things your way.
When you tell your partner that he has to marry you in a month’s time or you will leave him, you’re actually putting him in a trap and forcing him to make a decision that wasn’t his own.
In a year’s time, he might feel unhappy and blame it all on you because it was you who pressured him.
Maybe at the time, he wasn’t ready to make such a big step, but because you gave him an ultimatum, he felt the need to do it because he didn’t want to lose you.
This makes his unhappiness grow.
Especially if you don’t stop after the first one but continue getting your way with the help of ultimatums.
Sooner or later, your partner will have had enough and not be able to take it anymore.
So, from the first time you use this method of getting things your way, you guarantee to make your partner unhappy.
From that point on, his resentment and negative feelings for you can only grow.
Just because you think that you know what’s best for someone, it doesn’t mean that’s the case.
There might be different reasons why your partner isn’t ready to take the step you want him to.
It would be better for you to get to the bottom of the issue than to keep trying to get your way through manipulation.
Trust me, it’ll help the both of you.
3. Your partner starts giving ultimatums as well
If you’re the one using ultimatums in your relationship, you can’t expect your partner not to do the same thing.
At one point, when he sees that you keep getting things your way, he’ll want to get a taste of the same cake.
A relationship is a two-way street in which all of the time you’re aware of your partner’s doing.
Once you realize that your partner keeps playing dirty, you’ll want to try it yourself to see how it feels.
If you’ve been giving him ultimatums, your partner will reach for the same tactic.
And why wouldn’t he? You set an example and now he wants to follow it.
But the issue is that now, you’ll be on the other side and won’t hold the strings in your hands.
And because you’ve already played this game on him, you won’t be able to blame him for taking this step.
If you could do it, then you shouldn’t have double standards that prevent him from doing the same thing. That’s unfair play.
At this point, the only thing you can do is stick with it. Or you could double-check if you’re ready to go down the ultimatum road. Better safe than sorry!
4. Your partner loses trust in you
Be honest with yourself. Admit the truth: An ultimatum is a game of power. Whoever has more power, wins.
When your partner feels that you’re the one who’s in control, he starts doubting his trust in you.
He sees that you’ve been manipulating him into getting your way and feels like the foundation of your relationship is shaking.
The moment you stop communicating things with him and trying to understand where he’s coming from, you lose the trust that you’ve been building with your partner throughout your whole relationship.
And we all know that relationships without trust have zero chances of succeeding.
When your partner notices that you’ve been manipulating him, he’ll start to question if the two of you are even meant to be.
Why should he plan his future with someone who knows how to get her way by pressuring others into things they aren’t ready for?
Sooner or later, he’ll realize that you’ll come to the point where you’ll forget about compromising and start using ultimatums as the only way of solving disagreements.
At this point, he’ll lose trust in you and doubt the possibility of spending a lifetime with you.
This is one of the dangers of giving ultimatums in relationships. Sooner or later, it’ll come back to hit you like a boomerang.
So make sure to know what you’re doing before you start playing this game.
5. Your partner starts testing you
If you feel the need to give your partner an ultimatum, you have to be prepared to stand behind your words.
This means that you have to be ready to do as if you said or you’ll end up being the boy who cried wolf – a manipulator who says things only to invoke fear.
If you tell your partner that you’ll leave him if he doesn’t stop talking with his female coworker, you have to be ready to take that step for real.
You shouldn’t be giving him an ultimatum if you aren’t prepared to stand behind your words.
This makes you a manipulator who only wants to make a partner afraid of losing you.
In this case, instead of playing the card of honesty, you’re actually playing the card of fear.
Because what would you do if your partner actually says no? What if he refuses your ultimatum?
You can’t just give up on it and move on with your relationship. That would only show that you’re not trustworthy and honest.
So, when you want to use ultimatums in relationships, make sure to be prepared to take the consequences.
Once you decide to say something, be ready to follow through on it.
Otherwise, you better not say anything at all.
What alternative is there to ultimatums in relationships?
An ultimatum is a threat that a certain action needs to be done in a stipulated period of time.
If your partner doesn’t do it, there are consequences to the paid.
So, it’s pressurizing because there are no compromises when it comes to ultimatums. You either do something or you don’t – there’s no in-between.
The main problem is that once you twist your partner’s arm into doing something, you immediately stop treating him as an adult and equal to yourself.
Instead, you force him to take an action. And that isn’t what we should be doing to people, especially those who are supposed to be our partners.
And how do you think your partner feels when you tell him that you require him to do something or you’ll leave him? Or if I paraphrase the question, how would that make you feel if you were in his shoes?
Would you be willing to go against your wishes only because your partner threatened you that he would leave you?
Or would that make you feel like you’re a child who’s been overridden by the parent?
That’s why ultimatums in relationships are destructive.
Even when the main goal is achieved, what’s left behind is a lot of resentment and hate toward the ultimatum-giver.
Over time, as this accumulates, your partner becomes increasingly unhappy and starts looking for a way to avenge.
That’s why there’s something better you should use instead of ultimatums. It gets the message across and strays away from the manipulative part.
The alternative is communication.
Open and honest communication can solve every single issue that you may face in a relationship.
Even when you don’t find the solution, you can always walk away from your partner the same way you would after a failed ultimatum.
The main difference is that with communication, you never pressure your partner to do something he doesn’t want to.
You don’t make him listen to you just because he’s afraid that he might lose you.
Instead, you give him the possibility to think about what you said and to understand where you’re coming from.
If he doesn’t agree with you, he can always let you know that, and you can keep the conversation going until you find the solution.
If your partner has been texting his ex from time to time and it doesn’t sit well with you, instead of giving him an ultimatum – telling him that he should stop acting that way or you’ll leave him – rather opt for a heart-to-heart.
Let him know how it makes you feel when he reaches out to her.
Let him see that your feelings are hurt and that it’s one of the things in a relationship that makes you uncomfortable.
Set your boundary this way, not by setting conditions he has to obey.
Sometimes, all you need is a good chat to get all of your issues solved.
As long as you keep open communication with your partner, it’ll be easier to solve any disagreements that you run into.
In this case, even if your partner decides to keep on with his texting and doesn’t try to understand your feelings, at least you’ll know that he isn’t the one for you.
It means that you shouldn’t be wasting your time anymore on him.
It’s always better to look the truth in the eyes than to give him an ultimatum that will get things your way, but not because he honestly wanted to do that.
At least with a conversation, you’ll always know that your partner has decided to do something because he genuinely wanted to and not because you made him do it.
Reasonable ultimatums in relationships
Same with everything, there always must be some exceptions. Ultimatums are no different.
Even though it’s generally a bad idea to give an ultimatum to your partner, sometimes it’s the only option you have.
In some cases, they can lead to a healthier relationship or they can solve an otherwise unsolvable dilemma.
First of all, if you want to give an ultimatum to your partner, you should first try out all of the other options.
You should first try having an open conversation with him.
If he ignores you or makes excuses just to give himself some time, you should move on to the next step.
In this case, because your words aren’t being heard, the only thing left to do is let him know your final words, because you’re no longer willing to play games with him.
That’s the main idea that stands behind giving your partner a reasonable and healthy ultimatum.
But, before you start, make sure you’re calm and collected. Don’t let the previous argument affect you.
Now, here are the things you should give him an ultimatum on if you feel that nothing else is working.
Either we’re exclusive or I’ll have to walk away from this.
At the very beginning of your relationship, you told the guy that you want a serious relationship and he said that he’s up for it.
Now, when you want him to label things, he tells you that he’s not sure if he can do it.
Suddenly, he’s a commitment-phobe and doesn’t know if he could be serious with anyone.
Because you love him, you’ve given him enough time to think about it and you’ve tried having a conversation about it on multiple occasions.
Every time he asked you for more time and gave you a list of excuses.
At this point, you can’t take it anymore and you truly feel like walking away from him if he doesn’t take the next step.
What should you do?
Because you’ve given him a chance and explained your feelings to him, and because he was aware of your opinion on open relationships from the very beginning, the only thing you can do now is to give him an ultimatum.
You have your boundaries and he’s crossing them more than you like. Now he needs to do something about it or you’ll walk away from him.
You shouldn’t let him play with you anymore.
You’ve given him enough time to figure out his next step. But once enough is enough, the only thing you can do is leave.
Your addiction has to stop or I’ll walk away from this relationship.
Sometimes, your partner’s addiction can be a serious threat to your relationship. Especially when you see him losing himself to it.
When you’ve tried having a serious conversation with him but he hasn’t made an effort to do something about it, it feels like you’ve lost all hope.
At this point, there’s only one thing left to do: Give him an ultimatum.
Let him know that you’ll be with him every step of the way and he won’t have to fight his addiction alone. If he refuses, then you have to do what’s best for you and leave.
Especially if his addiction is affecting you and your relationship negatively.
If he chooses not to change, there’s a chance he could turn to emotional or physical abuse. In that case, he doesn’t deserve an ultimatum.
You better leave him immediately, without looking for a way to save your relationship.
You deserve far better things from life!