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Please (And I Really Do Mean This), Do NOT Give That Man An Ultimatum
Love & Relationships

Please (And I Really Do Mean This), Do NOT Give That Man An Ultimatum

Although there are many times when Dr. Phil will say something and I will find myself rolling my eyes all the way to the back of my head, when it comes to the topic of ultimatums in relationships, there is something he once said that I will give him a standing ovation for: “Relationships are negotiated, and if you deal with ultimatums and authority all the time, then you're not going to get anywhere.”


It really is kinda wild how, let’s go with the word “aggressive” for now, ultimatums are, and yet — I’ve been working with couples and writing on relationships long enough to say that it remains to be a steady go-to for so many people whenever they want to get their way. Even though, usually, it backfires on some level (I’ll explain in a sec), even though it really is a low-key threat, even though one definition of ultimatum is “a final, uncompromising demand” — people are still out here acting like, if they want to get what they want, issuing an ultimatum is the best way to go.

WRONG. People who have worked with me know that something that I will say, pretty much on loop, is just because something is familiar that doesn’t make it right. And when it comes to ultimatums, specifically, just because that’s what is popular, that doesn’t make it healthy. If you don’t agree, think about the last time someone issued you an ultimatum and how it made you feel (more on that in a sec, too). Yeah…exactly.

And yet, since it is such a widespread issue when it comes to romantic relationships, I’m gonna do my part to at least help folks to consider rewiring their approach whenever they are tempted to use an ultimatum to “move the needle” with someone. Because, believe you me, it will be better for you, your man, and your relationship in the long run if you intentionally decide to put ultimatums to the side.

Here’s why I say that.

Ultimatums Are Pretty Controlling in Nature. No One Likes to Be Controlled.

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It’s no secret that I’m a life coach (with a niche in marriage), that I became a PCC (Professional Certified Coach) this year, that I am currently getting certified to deal with trauma, and that penning my third book is all causing me to get that, more and more, people do things oftentimes simply because that’s how they were raised. They don’t even really stop to think if it’s beneficial or not — it’s simply all that they know…until another option is introduced into their psyche. And so, since so many of us were given ultimatums as children — you know, “Do this…or else” or “If you do that one more time, this is gonna happen” — and we were pretty much powerless to push back on the ultimatums (because we relied on those individuals for our basic needs to be met) since the people giving them to us professed to love us, we think that’s what love looks and acts like.

No time to get into all of the childhood layers of that (like the fact that a parent/child dynamic is very different than two grown adults or that even some parents weaponized their love in order to control their kids) — I’m just sharing that as a foundation for my overall point. And my point is, if you’re used to ultimatums coming with love, you will think that’s what you need to do when you love someone…and that simply isn’t the case.

When two adults truly care for and about each other, there shouldn’t be a lot of demanding going on. Demands are stressful. Demands are pressuring. Demands tend to have a super controlling tone to them. Not to mention the fact that demanding people are pretty difficult to deal with. They’re usually impatient. They don’t tend to compromise well. They typically refuse to see the other person’s point of view. They are inflexible. In short, they are triggering, draining, and annoying…overall.

What does that matter so long as your overall mission in making your demands gets accomplished? If that’s what you’re actually thinking, that’s your first flag that you need to do some serious internal pondering because, if you truly believe that you have to use some level of force in order to get what you want…are you really getting what you wantin the way that you truly want it? In other words, wouldn’t you prefer someone to do something because they choose to — not because you had to “take matters into your own hands,” make demands or control them, damn near like they were your own kids? If you’re still Elmo shrugging, I don’t know what else to tell you other than good luck with your struggle. Dealing with you is always gonna be a struggle.

Next point.

Here's Why Ultimatums Are Rooted in Either Control or Fear

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If while reading this, you’re already on some, “Shellie, that’s your opinion” — yeah, that’s not accurate either. Many mental health professionals frown upon people using ultimatums in order to get what they want from their partner.

One article I once read shares this:

“When someone hands out ultimatums, it’s a major sign that they are controlling and less concerned about your welfare than their own. This is a tell-tale sign of emotional abuse. Ultimatums go beyond the minor disagreements that couples normally experience. Forcing you to jump through hoops or do things that make you uncomfortable to ‘prove’ your love is unacceptable.”

Another says this:

“Ultimatums can be unhealthy if they are used frequently in a relationship to control the bounds of a partner's behavior… This can drastically undermine a partner's feeling of safety and security in a relationship, which leads to an unhealthy dynamic.”

Still another shares this:

“Ultimatums are a shortcut to getting what you need, without actually asking for what you need. This is why they don’t work–the receiver doesn’t know what you really want, they just know what behavior you want them to stop without knowing why. This information alone is rarely enough motivation to change our behavior.”

And believe you me, there is PLENTY more where all of this insight comes from. For now, I’ll say that my biggest takeaway is that ultimatums are usually rooted in manipulation and/or fear — and if you’re trying to manipulate a person, you honestly shouldn’t be in a relationship because that is based on very toxic energy (check out “Are You Being Manipulated? Are You Manipulative? Here's The Breakdown.”) and if it’s fear, well, the first thing that comes to my mind is a Scripture: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.(I John 4:18 — NKJV)

If you’re giving someone an ultimatum because you’re scared of what will happen if you don’t…do you actually love them as well or even as much as you think that you do? Bigger still, do you LOVE YOURSELF as well or as much as you should?

Listen, you can spend even 15 minutes on TikTok listening to some of those so-called life coaches and get all kinds of cosigns that control and fear-based decisions are the way to go. However, if you want a healthy relationship instead of an immediate approach to getting your way, you really need to avoid ultimatums because, one way or another, you’ll regret relying on them.

This brings me to my next point.

Whether Immediately or Eventually, Ultimatums in Relationships Backfire

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Just yesterday, a life coach friend of mine and I were discussing ultimatums as it relates to marriage. When he asked me if I knew many men who got married under the guise of an ultimatum, he was surprised by my response: “Easily half of the men that I know proposed because they were given an ultimatum. Something like, ‘If you don’t propose to me this year, I’m leaving you.’”

After he said, “Wow,” I went on to explain that what’s crazy is, that a lot of the women who made that demand — or issued that threat — did end up getting married to the guy. Problem is, over time, it has put a wedge between them and their partner because he became low-key resentful as she ended up low-key not fully trusting that he loves her for her. Why? It’s simple: she had to issue a demand in order to get him to show it (at the time and level that she wanted it). Demanding love? Lawd.

See what I mean? I mean, if you’ve got to pressure a man to commit, how can you fully rest and relax in that commitment? Unfortunately, a lot of people are either so controlling or so scared that they don’t look into the future — right now is all that they care about. And because of that, the same mindset that got them what they wanted (or what they thought they wanted) starts to feed into insecurities, which can make people paranoid, which can cause folks to overthink, which almost always creates problems that don’t actually exist.

Ultimatums either play out that way OR the person who gives them keeps on doing it until the person on the receiving end gets so sick and tired of their ish that they tap out — if not literally, mentally, and emotionally.

Yeah, there are a whole lot of ways for ultimatums to totally backfire because, as my favorite character from Insecure (Chad) once said to Lawrence: “Pressure busts pipes.” Indeed. Far more than they ever create diamonds…if ultimatums are the driving force. SMDH.

So, what are you saying, Shellie? We should just sit around and hope that someday our man will give us what we want from them? That we should just gamble our time away?

Nope. And that brings me to my final point because there is certainly another approach, not just that you can take, but you absolutely should.

Remember, If You Have to Make an Ultimatum…WELL…

Hands down, one of my favorite wedding videography companies (and IG pages) is Iris Films — and hands down, one of my all-time favorite grooms that is featured by them is this guy (above). The confidence. The tailoring (LOL). The way he looks at his bride and the sheer excitement that she has to become his wife.

Y’all, I’ve been in this marriage life coaching and relationship writing game long enough to know that when a man is READY to be with a woman, NO ULTIMATUM IS NEEDED. He is coming strong, consistent, purpose-filled, clear, and prepared. He doesn’t need pressure. He doesn’t need control. He doesn’t need a list of demands. HE’S GOT IT COVERED. Ask any man who got married without an ultimatum, and I am confident that he will totally vouch for my point.

So, what’s the hold up with all of the rest of the brothas? I mean, what’s the opposite of not being ready? And next sentence — whatever the answer is, why is that your fault or even your problem? Are relationships about compromise and flexibility? 100 and 10 percent. Yet until you are married, you are responsible for you, not him and that means the main focus needs to be what you want, IF YOU ARE ACTUALLY READY FOR WHAT YOU WANT and what you’re willing to do, for yourself, if you’re not getting it.

Well, let me back up a bit — first, think about why you want what you want. For instance, shortly, I will be writing an article about the fact that a lot of women don’t actually want to be a wife…nah, what they want is a wedding. That’s why, six months in, so many of them are freaking out; it’s because they were so consumed by a diamond and a white party that they didn’t factor in all of the responsibilities that come with maintaining such a serious and long-term union.

Okay, yet if you think you are truly prepared and your partner either isn’t or doesn’t want what you want (which doesn’t make him the devil by the way; it’s also hella controlling to think that someone should want what you do simply because you want them to…again, think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed), making demands isn’t the way to go.

Express your feelings? Yes. Share your expectations? Sure. Then give him the respect of allowing him to do the same — and if the two of you aren’t on the same page, your job isn’t to “mother him into your will”…your job is to decide if you want to wait it out (the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing) or if it’s time to go. Not “go” in the sense of, “Give me what I want or I’m leaving!” — more like, “I love both of us enough that we should get what we both want, and this simply isn’t it for me…anymore.”

AND THEN MEAN IT. Because I promise you, taking any other approach, 8.5 times outta 10, is going to leave you always wondering if he decided to be with you for all of the reasons that you truly deserve — starting with, simply because he wants to and is ready to be.

___

Yeah, I really do hate ultimatums. Can you tell? More than anything, if you have to demand or threaten someone to get something, isn’t that your first sign that something is way off and that you should do some serious reevaluating? Isn’t that a huge indicator that you’re probably way more focused on achieving a goal than being with an actual person? Isn’t that a glaring reminder that love shouldn’t be so stressing or stressful?

Listen, I get why so many people go the ultimatum route; we live in a world that is filled to capacity with controlling, manipulative, and/or fear-filled individuals. All I’m saying is you don’t have to be one of them. Have faith that your love and all that comes with it is blessed enough that you don’t damn near have to bludgeon someone to death for them to get the memo about it.

State your needs. If “he” is not ready to meet it, that’s not universal rejection nor is it anything to fear. His not being ready for all that you have to offer is on him. Let him work that out for himself. Take the ultimatum off of the table and simply decide what you’re willing to provide based on what he is or isn’t ready for.

And then trust the Rumi quote — one of my favorites — that is oh so very true: “What you seek is seeking you.” And hear me, sis, what’s looking for you is ready…and it won’t need an ultimatum, and it won’t give YOU one either.

So please, clear the path for that instead of threatening other people. You clear the path by chilling out, ramping up self-care, and accepting that just like you want the freedom to make choices in your own time, others have the same right. And if you two are not choosing each other…that’s not an insult; it’s your reality. The season is shifting. Welcome it instead of fighting it. WHAT YOU SEEK IS SEEKING YOU. Be available for it to find you.

Then watch…when love is at the helm instead of fear…JUST. YOU. WATCH.

(...and then report back!) #wink

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