Making deals and staying in love

How and Why You Should Negotiate Your Romantic Relationship

Have you ever seen that couple who is still bickering and fighting over the same issues year after year?  They swear they love each other but you keep wondering how they even like each other.  Why haven’t they moved on to bigger, better, and more peaceful things?  Chances are they each are making demands but no one is really negotiating a better way.

The word negotiate is probably the least romantic word in the dictionary.  It doesn’t usually pop up in conversation when you are talking infatuation and love in your life.  Surprisingly, it is the best way to navigate this sort of relationship. Everyone does it to some extent or another.  The better you are at it, the better your relationship becomes. Negotiation is just a means of achieving a solution that leaves each party getting the most out of a situation.

Why You Should Negotiate

**It helps you evaluate whether you want to go to the next step.

When romance is new you are just getting to know the person.  They have values, priorities, likes, dislikes, personality quirks.  We are trying to see if they match up to ours or if they have enough positives to keep getting to know them.  If there are no apparent and immediate deal breakers we start moving on to expectations.

You may both like spending time together dancing.  One of you may feel that a couple times a month is good and one might expect a couple times a week.  Or you may find that one of you needs more alone time than the other one.  If you can negotiate a happy medium that is acceptable to both of you, it enables you to keep happily moving on in your relationship.  If you can’t then it may mean to stop right where you are and end it.

The farther you get into your relationship the more important the issues and expectations become.  If the relationship becomes very serious you will find yourself discussing life issues such as money, living situations, marriage, and children.  Each step of the way is an opportunity to either negotiate a situation that works for both of you or decide that this is the exit point.

**You teach people how to treat you.

I am not sure who first said this but I think it has become a universal truth.  This is true in every area of our lives but it is most imperative to our well-being in those closest to us.  If someone is doing something that we feel is not in our best interest or is hurting us we have every right to stand up for ourselves and say ‘this is not acceptable to me’.  This is basically building the terms of your relationship.

This is a two-way street, however.  You don’t get to rattle off a bunch of demands and call it a day.  You also need to find out what is important to them.  During this process, you will also find out the level of importance of different situations.  At that point, you can see if it is important enough to you to acquiesce. For instance, he may very much value getting together with his family once a week and it’s just not that important to you.  Since it isn’t that important, you agree to going on a regular basis as long as he understands that it is ok for you to skip occasionally if something comes up.

If the other person is just making demands and always trying to trump what is important in your life, it is a sign.  A sign that they are not interested in a give and take relationship, which is not really a relationship. It would probably be better characterized as servitude. And unless your goal in a relationship is servitude, it would be time to leave.

**It leaves more time for fun and less time for arguing.

Once you have negotiated a sticking point, as long as both of you are living up to your end of the bargain, it is out of the way.  That issue is resolved so you can get on to bigger and better things.

**It creates trust and respect.

Every time you make a deal with someone and you have the integrity to follow through on your word, it builds trust and respect in the other person.  They know that they can believe what you say and that you can be counted on.  If there is any doubt on why that is, think about someone who has let you down by making promises and not keeping them.

The longer and more committed the relationship becomes the bigger the role that trust and respect plays in it.

How to Negotiate

**Listen.

Actively listen to what the other person is saying. Make sure you understand what they mean.  Explain to them what you have heard in your own words.  Do not jump to conclusions.  Make sure that you fully comprehend what the other wants before moving on in the negotiation.

**Triage the issue.

Find out exactly how important the issue is to each individual. One way to do this is to develop and calibrate a number scale.  It is easy to ask, “How do you feel about this on a scale of 1 -10?” but before that approach can be effective it needs to be understood what a 1 and a 5 and a 10 is for each person.

If a number scale doesn’t work for you find the correct wording that works for you, all the time remembering that you have to be on the same page.  ‘Very’, ‘extremely’, and ‘really’ are all very subjective.  Both parties need to understand definitions and the boundries of each.

This step is important because it is like a barometer.  It can even bring faster resolve is one of you is at an eight and the other a three.  The person with the three may feel it isn’t important enough to haggle about. However, it doesn’t mean that you have an automatic ‘winner’ or ‘ loser’.  It means you have more to negotiate.

**Be Respectful.

This is not the time for name-calling, yelling or the counting of past wrongs.  You love (or should at least have a high regard) this other person and you should treat them accordingly even if you aren’t in agreement at the moment.

This is time to be kind, patient, and gentle.

It still holds true: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Click To Tweet

Even if you take love out of the equation, you should always remember that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

**Be on the same team.

During your negotiations, remember that you are in the same relationship and you are trying to make that relationship work. You are trying to make your partner happy without making yourself miserable. You are not enemies.  Negotiations should never be a winner/loser scenario.  They should be approached with the idea of each of you getting the most out of the deal as they can.

When to Renegotiate

Just because you have come to a consensus does not mean it is forever written in stone.  What works for you right now may not work forever.  The time for renegotiating is when it no longer works for one or both of you.

If you get to that point where you need something different, then you just have to bring some truth back to the table and start the negotiation all over again.

The Business of Romance

Once you get the details hammered out, it leaves room for all the fun.  Get the business taken care of and focus on the romance!

Photo Credit: Don’t-die-get-married

What do you negotiate in your relationship?

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