The Ultimatum Marry or Move On | Netflix

Is there ever a good time for an ultimatum in a relationship?

The Netflix show ‘The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On’ first graced our screens in April 2022, and many people were quickly hooked. In its second week alone, it racked up a staggering 1.1 billion minutes of viewing: it’s clear that people love the drama.

If you haven’t yet binge-watched the show, it follows several couples who are debating tying the knot; but while one person in the relationship is ready for the next step, the other is feeling apprehensive – the only answer is to present an ultimatum. Of course, Netflix had to throw some chaos in the mix, by having each couple split up and be paired with a new partner for a short period. What could possibly go wrong?

However, ultimatums don’t just occur on the popular Netflix show – and while some can be toxic, there are ways that they can lead to a healthy relationship.

Elaine Parker, CEO and Founder of Safer Date, the world’s safest dating app that prioritises user protection, comments: “Ultimatums can be a tricky area – and it totally depends on the relationship.”

“If a person issues an ultimatum on a partner early on without discussing the issue and trying to reach a compromise, this can be a sign of controlling behaviour and an indication of how the relationship will be.

If you have talked to your partner, explored all options, and failed to reach a compromise on a deal-breaker for you, an ultimatum may be your only option.”

Is there ever a good time for an ultimatum in a relationship?

Understanding controlling demands

Different relationships have different circumstances, that’s a given. But there are some types of ultimatums that are simply unfair for your partner to give you, and are, in fact, signs of manipulative behaviour to gain power.

If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of an ultimatum where your partner insists that you would agree to their request if you truly loved them, it’s important to understand that this is an example of manipulation. Whether it’s a request for a proposal or to move in together, it is unfair to push such a monumental decision upon somebody else.

Sometimes love isn’t enough, and there are other factors that can affect decisions, like financial problems. Callisto Adams, relationship expert for dating advice platform HeTexted, has given insight into ultimatums based on real-life experiences and has found that ultimatums centred around marriage tend to have the worst outcomes. It creates a sense of emergency and can lead to further problems generated by feelings of powerlessness and insignificance.

Being told to choose between your partner or a friend, or even a family member, is not only going to be ineffective, but it’s also a very controlling ultimatum. Your partner should enrich your life; they don’t need to be the sole cause of happiness. It is a common ultimatum, and while it’s likely that problems can occur between the friends and family of a partner, these should be worked through instead of resorting to such a drastic request. If your partner tries to force you to sacrifice such an important part of your life for them, it’s a huge red flag.

Can there ever be a positive outcome to an ultimatum?

Both giving and receiving an ultimatum is an uncomfortable experience, and due to the pressure, it can be tricky to tackle in a way that has a positive outcome.

Communication with your partner is a vital part of a relationship, and, in some cases, an ultimatum is the only way to reach a solution for a problem. However, there are some ultimatums that, when handled properly, allow the relationship to get back on track.

Ultimatums that seek to eradicate toxic habits, like alcohol or drug abuse, are typically the type that can benefit a relationship. These allow a partner who is suffering to receive the help that they require – but it’s important that it is communicated in a healthy way.

Alcohol addiction in relationship | Ultimatum

Addictions can cause feelings of shame and guilt, leading to secrecy and lies, which can contribute towards problems in the relationship. There comes a point where you have experienced too much pain and an ultimatum is going to make or break the relationship. In this case, it’s fair to make your partner aware that although you love them, you will leave if nothing changes, but you are willing to do whatever it takes to help them.

Substance abuse is an issue that is quite severe and reasonable when it comes to ultimatums as the change will, in the long run, be beneficial for both parties, not just one.

Approaching and receiving an ultimatum

If you find yourself with no choice but to give an ultimatum, it can be difficult trying to work your way around it to stay respectful towards your partner. When the well-being of both partners is at the core of the ultimatum, it’s probable that it will be a light situation. But it’s important to have genuine reasoning behind it and to handle it calmly, rather than in a threatening way that can lead to resentment.

Sometimes, boundaries need to be set, and this is healthy for the giver. If your significant other is doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, a conversation needs to be had. If nothing changes, an ultimatum could be your only option – but remaining calm will allow you to express the problem clearly.

Alternatively, receiving an ultimatum can leave you questioning the relationship. Taking your time to think about your decision is important, but it’s best to consider how it will affect your well-being and how you can picture the relationship in the future if you agree to your partner’s request. It’s essential to consider the implications of the ultimatum too – is it controlling? Will you be sacrificing a huge part of your life for the relationship? Or is it perhaps something reasonable to consider? Is your partner coming from a place of love and support? Thinking from this perspective can help you understand whether this is a decision that will only benefit your partner or if it will improve your relationship in the long run.

Ultimatums can certainly put a strain on a relationship, and it’s crucial for your well-being to recognise when it’s a power play. Sometimes it’s a necessary step when discussions have occurred with no success, but it’s something that needs to be handled carefully.

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