Are Ultimatums Killing Your Relationship?

Are Ultimatums Killing Your Relationship?

Men don’t like to be threatened, regardless of the circumstances. A threat is usually an act of control and manipulation. Sometimes threats are necessary to get your point across and on occasion threats are the right thing to do in order to give another person warning of what is coming next if they continue down the same path.

When Threats are Appropriate

In the cases when threats are appropriate, it allows the other person the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to continue their chosen course of action and accept the stated consequences of that action. They can choose to stop what they are doing if the consequences outweigh the benefit of the action to avoid the consequences.

An example of this would be if your partner does something, such as flirts with other people in front of you, and this bothers you to the point that you are considering ending the relationship. It’s fair to at least tell the person how you feel and let them know how bad the problem has become for you and what you plan to do if something doesn’t change.

Hopefully, before things get to this point you have already tried to address the issue but have not been able to resolve it.

At this point the threat to leave or ultimatum becomes the last straw and finally attempt at resolving the issue.

Dealing with the Consequences

Some consequences, such as resorting to physical, verbal, or emotional abuse are never acceptable and should never be an options in a relationship. Nobody, male or female, should be subjected to that sort of treatment. Other consequences such as withholding love, sex, time, attention or other things your partner may want from you need to be considered carefully because there are consequences to those consequences.

If you withhold something from your partner, especially if they feel it unjustified, they may decide to do the same and withhold something from you in response and a vicious cycle of retaliation is started.

Weapons of War

Some people have a habit of using ultimatums as a weapon. When they don’t get what they want, they threaten their partner. People who do this often not only don’t see anything wrong with threatening their partner but feel as though they have been wronged if their partner doesn’t give into their demands.

I had a friend who did exactly this. She was dating someone and she didn’t like that he spent so much time doing martial arts. They actually hung out pretty regularly but she wanted to spend more time together and the only way for this to happen would be for him to give up practicing the martial art that he loved.

I got to know him pretty well while they were together and he usually tried to accommodate her when she was unhappy in their relationship. One day she told him he had to decide between the martial art and her. He picked the martial art. She was devastated and didn’t expect this.

She thought, surely he will pick her over this martial art.

Why He Picked Martial Arts Over Her

Now, on the surface his decision seems harsh. It’s seems like he picked a martial art over a woman he claimed he loved. But when you dig deeper you see that it wasn’t about him picking the martial art over her. She had a habit of throwing the threat of breaking up at him whenever she couldn’t get her way.

For him, the fact that she was always willing to so easily throw the relationship away was a signal that she didn’t value the relationship very much to begin with. It said to him that she valued control more than love and commitment. He was tired of being controlled and actually hurt that she would constantly put their relationship on the line when she couldn’t get her way.

The Fog of War

I tried to explain to her that he was probably hurt by her threat to breakup but all she could see what that he chose a martial art over her. She wasn’t able to step back and see that she was the one who put the relationship on the line in the first place, not him. She couldn’t understand why he would be hurt by her constant threats and just kept saying “he didn’t care about what I said”. I guarantee, he did.

The problem was, she couldn’t connect what her threats were doing to the relationship and his decision to finally not give in to her demands. She couldn’t see how the threats were eroding the connection the two of them had and she felt as though she was dating a man of steel, not a man with feelings and wants and needs of his own.

Necessity VS. Manipulation

When differentiating between a potentially necessary, last resort threat and a manipulative one, it comes down to intent. Are you telling them as a warning so they have an opportunity to address the issue or are you telling them to gain control over them and the situation. There is a difference.

Last resort threats should be infrequent and truly when you are at a point where all your other options have been exhausted. These type of threats should also be over something you have as a relationship deal breaker, not a simple annoyance or inconvenience. Most importantly, you never want to make a threat you are not prepared to follow through on.

When Threats Backfire

My friend was not prepared to follow through on the threat she made. She didn’t actually intend to leave the relationship. She just saw the threat as the most effective way to get what she wanted.

If you are not prepared to following through on a threat, you are not at your breaking point and need to explore other ways to resolve whatever issue you have. The solution could be to make some sort of compromise with your partner or even to accept that aspect of their life that you find less ideal and not focus on it anymore.

The Bottom Line

If you find yourself frequently threatening your partner and giving them ultimatums, you are likely doing it out of your need to gain control over them and the relationship. This is a recipe for disaster. If this is something that you do in all your relationships it’s probably a good time to figure out what is driving this need for control.

There are so many less destructive ways to address issues in a relationship than resorting to constant threats. If you are constantly threatening your partner whenever you don’t get what you want your relationship ceases to be one founded on love, commitment, understanding, and mutual respect and becomes one of control and manipulations. A man does not want to be with someone who is constantly trying to control or manipulate him. Neither would you.