Ultimatums – Why They Just Don’t Work With Men

Why Ultimatums In Relationships Don't Work With Men

As I say in Girl Gets Ring – “No good relationship ever started with an ultimatum”!

Unfortunately you wouldn’t believe how many people still think an ultimatum will get them what they want. Sometimes people use ultimatums thinking that it will build a stronger relationship or, even (Gulp!), that they should use an ultimatum to get married!

Sad but true.

Ultimatum according to Dictionary.com is defined as:

“A final, uncompromising demand or set of terms, issued by a party to a dispute, and the rejection of which may lead to a severance of relations or to the use of force”.


That doesn’t exactly spark images of warm and fuzzy romance or a happy marriage now does it?

In fact, there’s lots of verbiage there that could really be construed as a contradiction to a successful union, wouldn’t you agree?

Really think about it… who do you know that responds well to “demands” or a “use of force”? Not anyone I know that’s for sure!

I’m guessing your man won’t like it either, the same way you probably wouldn’t like it if “demands” or a “use of force” was used on you.

How to Build a Strong Relationship …

Strong relationships and marriages are built on mutual respect, trust, love and care for each other. None of those adjectives partner well with the ones used in the definition above.

This is why ultimatums are fundamentally a huge fail when trying to create a successful relationship that hopefully leads to marriage. Put simply, external motivations never last very long at all. It’s always the internal stuff that sticks.

They seem like such a good idea… so why don’t ultimatums in relationships work exactly?

That’s a fair question, so let’s dig into it a bit more deeply. Here are 6 reasons to reconsider ever using an ultimatum to get married…

Why Ultimatums In Relationships Won’t Work:

  1. You are in essence threatening the person you want to have a relationship with for an outcome you have absolutely no control over. Ultimatums are often born of desperation. You want someone to give you something, they are resisting for whatever reason and in a last-ditch attempt you issue a demand that says “Give me what I want or there will be consequences.”
  2. “My way or the highway” is what you’re ultimately saying, which doesn’t speak well in regards to your mutual respect for each other. If there is no room for negotiation or compromise, then what’s the point of the relationship? People are individuals, with differing thoughts and feelings, opposing point-of-views, and the ability to make decisions without a show of force.
  3. People are rarely REALLY prepared to follow through on threats or they wouldn’t be making them in the first place to try and force the result they want. So you issue a demand or a threat and when the other person refuses to give in you are left floundering because the response wasn’t the one you expected to receive. Now you’re have to either back-track and apologize (which doesn’t bode well for your future relationship dynamic), or you have to make good on your threat, which without a doubt is probably the opposite of what you really wanted.
  4. When you put pressure on someone to try to bring them closer, instead of working to build a stronger relationship, it usually winds up having the opposite effect and pushes them right out the door. Are you really prepared for that? I mean really, really?
  5. On the flip side, maybe your guy caves to your demand. However because the decision is made under pressure, it may not have been his true decision. A choice made under duress is really not a choice at all is it? The result of that little scenario is that he could wind up resenting you and feeling he made a mistake. That certainly doesn’t make for a happy marriage recipe!
  6. Then we have you and your well-being. When you force someone into a decision they may not have been ready for, you often wind up feeling like crap for forcing their hand. It’s not an “honest win”, so to speak. Self-doubt then enters the picture, and before you know it your insecurities overcome you and you wind up unraveling any good that may have came from issuing the ultimatum in the first dang place! Not exactly the picture perfect ending you envisioned…

So is this to say that ultimatums never work? No, of course not.

There are always exceptions to every rule.

But in my experience ultimatums are usually weapons of mass destruction that can backfire on you faster than you can say boo. Then you’re left in a heartache situation you probably weren’t really ready to be in.

A Better Alternative For a Stronger Relationship…

Calmly and clearly communicate your needs and expectations to your man. If he truly cares about you, he is going to hear you and respond to meet those needs, because deep down inside he wants to make you happy.

If he doesn’t, it may be time to consider cutting your losses and moving on (sans the dramatics), because he might not be the right guy for you after all.

So how about you? Have you ever issued an ultimatum in your relationship? Did it work out the way you’d hoped it would? Or did it backfire? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

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Leave A Reply (11 comments so far)

  1. sally
    7 years ago

    I have a very commitment phobic (ithought) boyfriend although he says we are friends.

    I get annoyed when he changes arrangements because of work as i feel im always at the bottom of the pile, i say things like ‘well as we are just friends I guess u wont mind if i date other people’
    to which he says


    he is just impossible, I am banging my head against a brick wall, really hope your publications help me!!

  2. Shelby
    7 years ago

    I told my boyfriend to stop talking to his ex’s or I will stop dating him.

  3. Valarie
    7 years ago

    Lol Sally, he is definitely not your boyfriend, especially if he flat out says you’re just friends.. Where do you even get the idea that you’re in a relationship!?

  4. Nicole
    7 years ago

    there have been times when I just am so anxious about how I really believe in him and the part where passion is involved sets the time together. Aside the romance he is really bold and straight-foward with what he says. He encourages with his words and has good moral beliefs from the way he was brought up. I wanted so much at the time and me asking or brushing the surface about more that just friends was just not in his mind at the time. But I know I made him feel pressured and it took him away from me and I felt like a screw up. Well I just want to say that I am allowing him his space due to issues I cannot explain at this time. But he is back and he really never left me alone or listened to what others said. He is getting stronger and we are both growing more to this day. from 2002-2012 we have been through so much good and bad that it would be a mistake not to be together and of course he has been a good role model and loving male figure towards my kids. I have to let him come to me and stop herding him into that fence sorta speak and I am seeing more in this relationship working out without putting pressure on him.

  5. J
    7 years ago

    For 7 years my commitmentphobic man has strung me along… he loves me, cares about me, I’m the greatest of all time, I bring sunshine to his life and light up his world, no one compares to me, I’m his best friend, best sex he’s every had, blah, blah blah… until I start to believe we might actually be in a real relationship. Then he brings out the “just really, really good friends” crap. It’s a constant push-pull, mixed messages, come close, now go away scenario. I finally put my foot down and told him I’m tired of the roller coaster and wallowing in this undefined “gray area.” I deserve clarity and direction, so I told him to choose… be in or be out but no more middle ground. Was it an ultimatum, yes. No matter what he says/does, I’m prepared to move forward alone, content with finally having clarity and the emotional freedom to pursue real love.

  6. Toe
    6 years ago

    Been with my man for almost 6yrs been engaged over a year..we still have not set a date..all he keeps saying is im not in a rush to get married…but im the one the only one..he loves me needs me he dont want to live without me..im at a point that i deserve to be his wife. And i told him by the end of this year we need to be making plans to get married or im making plans to move on. I dont understand what the hold up is…i felt as if i had no choice but to give him an ultimatum. I cant keep playing wife without having the official title…

  7. kay
    5 years ago

    Well, this is tough, if the ultimatum is given as a result of the need to convince someone that they must stop an addiction or harmful behavior as it harms the relationship, it may be the only way. I gave such an ultimatum and had to follow through. Regardless of whether you would have wanted the relationship to end or not, the other person must make a choice. If they will not change or address the problem in order to retain the relationship, that is a choice. Painful as this is, it is necessary to allow both parties to move on.

  8. Mai
    4 years ago

    Hello,,, it certainly backfired !!! I didn’t even realise what was wrong in my relationship with my husband, until we decided to separate, and I read this article!! So thank you for this post!

    Any advise on how can I make amends? I am already following the Magic of Making up technique, and it is working.. Since it is early in our separation, I still fear of losing him… I fear that he might never feel the same way about me again as he did when we first met.

    any advise to remove the effects of my stupid ultimatums?

  9. Mike
    3 years ago

    A marriage ultimatum is an absolutely horrible idea. My great relationship was just destroyed because of it. I bought the ring and everything and just needed more time to make sure our foundation was solid for marriage. She left because she did not get the ring by her deadline. Its pure selfishness ladies and if your man caves in to your demands, he is weak and spineless. And you are selfish and want the wedding more than a solid relationship.

  10. m
    1 week ago

    Il a également ajouté qu’ils ont des craintes que M.

  11. g
    1 day ago

    L’entra?neur-chef Marvin Lewis est un spécialiste de la défensive, donc ceci est un grand choc pour Cincinnati fans.