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Simon says, “Do not make demands of your significant other or set one-sided conditions on your relationship.”

Simon is at it again. He makes it nearly impossible to resist sharing an old saying or two. “It’s my way or the highway.” “Do it or else.” Oh well, the temptation is just too much. “If you don’t, you’ll be sorry.” “You are going to get exactly what you deserve.” Maybe Simon should have just cut to the chase with, “Don’t threaten.” After all, making threats is what demands and one-sided conditions really are.

“But Simon,” you ask, “What about give-and-take, compromise, and negotiation? Don’t those interpersonal strategies have their places in quality, long-term relationships?”

Simon certainly did not just come into town on a load of logs. He has been there too. Long-term relationships that really are a quality experience for both people are based on creative give-and-take, compromise, and negotiation. The people in the relationship have, in fact, carefully perfected their use of all three. Their skills with these essential strategies are, in part, why their relationship has survived long-term.

Here is another way of thinking about Simon’s point. You want your relationship and your significant other to continue as important ingredients in your life. You value the person and your relationship. Suppose your demand or one-sided condition is met. That causes a change in the relationship, even if slight. It also changes how you are perceived. Your relationship is now, to some extent, more one-sided. Even more importantly, you are less equal than before. The two of you are also now less close than prior to your having your demand or one-sided condition met. As you see, demands and one-sided conditions are destructive and chip away at your relationship. What you want to strengthen is weakened.

There is a hidden conclusion here. You, of course, should not make demands or set one-sided conditions. That is clear. You also should not capitulate to demands or go along with one-sided conditions either. The damage to your relationship is the same no matter which of you caves-in. Simply say, “I won’t go along with your demand or condition, even though I may be tempted. I won’t do that kind of damage to our relationship. What’s more, I sincerely hope you won’t either.”

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