People aren’t really used to the idea of negotiation for romantic relationships but I think it’s super important.
I know I know it sounds like a pain in the ****. Many people reading this are going to be all like “oh, so we’re going to just sit down and negotiate what we want from the relationship Bish? Do me a favour.”
Thing is, so many people have relationships that aren’t really giving them what they want. If you could negotiate your relationship from the outset and talk about it during then maybe you could have happier relationships?
If you’re looking for a bit more general advice about relationships check out my Brief Guide to Relationships article.
Why is relationship negotiation hard?
The story of romantic relationships is that you aren’t supposed to really work at them at all. They are meant to be magical and just happen. They survive on clouds and glitter and soppy background music. They involve one person who is telepathic and can meet all of the needs of another person without being told. All you need is for someone to say they love you and for you to say it back and then you’re happy for ever.
What total rubbish. All relationships take work, communication and effort. Stop believing in silly love stories and get real!
What kind of things can we negotiate?
Have a look at this
Imagine being in a relationship with someone and you disagreed on a lot of this stuff! It would be really hard (I think) to be happy in a relationship if you didn’t agree on a lot of this stuff. So, if you can, share this with someone you’re in a relationship with and see how you feel about it. It might help you!
But Bish can’t we just go with the flow?
Yes! It’s not easy to go from just believing in the silly love stories, that don’t work, to negotiating everything about a relationship. But you can find a middle ground. Rather than having one big conversation about it you can keep having little chats about it. Clarify things as they come up. Notice how you react to stuff, notice how they react to stuff. Try to get an idea of what they think by talking about other relationships or celebs.
It’s also actually good to go with the flow even if you are able to talk about this stuff quite a lot. Remember that things change over time in relationships, so you can never be totally sure that you both still think the same. Also remember that it’s harder for some people to say what they want in a relationship because there are always differences in power in relationships. To read more about that you should probably read this
For more help with your relationships try this Relationship Graph
(This is adapted from the Make Your Own Relationship User Guide zine that me and Meg-John Barker wrote. It’s for adults – more details here.)
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© Justin Hancock, 2022
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Justin Hancock has been a trained sex and relationships educator since 1999. In that time he’s taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. He’s a member of the World Association for Sexual Health.