Social Question

Unbroken's avatar

Are intimate relationships negotiations?

Asked by Unbroken (10697points) November 7th, 2013

Are intimate relationships just constant negotiations?

What I mean is as two separate people there are two separate people with needs and wants and lives. Trying to blend together. So even if a large parts of two people’s lives are in agreement there is still a shift in timing etc.

Just a rambling idea. What do you think?

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19 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I used to think so, and that was the main reason I never saw myself marrying again after my ex-husband and I divorced. To me, near constant compromise seemed to be an inherent part of marriage (or any committed relationship).

Then I met the guy who didn’t require compromise and negotiation. We are actually quite different in several ways, but we fully accept and love one another…just the way we are. When you’ve got that, neither of you has to give more than you are already happy to give. We’ve been married for 8 years now.

ETpro's avatar

Yeah, I reckon they usually are. Most things in interpersonal relations are. But this isn’t NSFW, so I really can’t probe any deeper than that.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Not just intimate relationships. ALL human interaction is a negotiation of some kind. Even something like getting in line to pay at the grocery store is a negotiation – first, tactily with the person in front of you in the line, and later with the cashier who takes your money.

The only difference between a marriage/intimate relationship and the interaction at the store is that the object of the negotiation is more personal.

zenvelo's avatar


Thinking of an intimate relationship as transactional means it is not as intimate as it could be. The truly intimate relationship is one of mutual encouragement to become wholly oneself.

JLeslie's avatar

If I felt like I was contsantly negotiating with my husband it would drive me crazy. It would be too exhausting. We do go through period where there is constant negtiation, like when we move, and it is stressful.

I really think it depends on the two people and the circumstances. I would think having young children means added negotiations. Also, if one person has a lot of demands, if the other is not submissive to the demands, there would be a lot of negotiations.

Having things in common can be a big help. Fewer opposing desires within the relationship.

Money can be a huge negotiaion for some couples. They say money breaks up a lot of relationships. Money intertwines with goals, and feeling like one cannot work towards and reach their goals feels unsoppirtive and unloving.

Usually in reationships the word compromise is used, not the word negotiation. I guess they are slightly different. With compromise I say both people aren’t getting what they really want. Enough of that and I wiuld start to feel unhappy. For the most part I do whatever I want in relation to my marriage and so does he.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yes, of course.

You can look at it the same way that we look at contracts with some of our customers in Asia, or as we sometimes imagine that they do: “Thank you for contracting with us to build this project. Now that we have agreed on the contract, this means we will negotiate only with you.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

I don’t feel like I negotiate with hubs much, we just do our thing’s and it works. If he irritates me or vice versa we talk it out, which could be negotiation. We had the most issues in the first 3 years I’d say, after that the issues were fairly well ironed out.

ibstubro's avatar

I think intimate relationships are like a dance.

Some people meld together and slow dance themselves into their golden anniversary.

Others waltz, joined firmly together and moving swiftly, yest smoothly through life.

On and on. Dances often mimic the relationships of the time or culture.

It’s not necessarily constant negotiation so much as it is knowing each others moves, and following each others lead. Negotiation sounds so cold…I think relationships are too intimate for that.


Unbroken's avatar

Some very interesting perspectives. Very different. A person of every type. Sorry I did not think to add a NSFW label @ETpro.

A follow up question for those of you it applies to. Have you ever sat down and discussed with a partner to be what you will not compromise on. Or how you would like to handle differences in desires before a relationship. Or even during one? Does that sound too cold and contract like? Would it better to stumble around in the dark guessing rather that hoping one will follow your lead and anticipate the next step?

Say for those of you that spent the first couple of years negotiating or compromising on a rocky start, why did you stick with it, how did you know things could get better between the two of you?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Unbroken My hubs and I fought rarely, but when we did it was over thing’s we held dear, like family issues, etc… For me, loving someone makes it worth it, and there are never any guarantees on life, we could all die tomorrow for all we know.

The most important lesson I learned in my marriage is that we are two seperate people who love each other for who and what we truly are, so trying to change each other is self-defeating. I laugh at the way he’s so messy and he married a clean freak, I can’t get mad because I knew it when I married him.

Humor, compassion and love help a lot. He humbles himself for me as well, saying he wouldn’t know where he’d be without me and my ‘structure’. I humble myself by letting him know I’d do anything for him at any time, and he’s a priority for me.

Oh, and when we get mad, we argue it out, even if it gets loud. We find a solution, we don’t let it fester.

augustlan's avatar

@Unbroken My husband and I laid our faults on the table by date three (maybe even sooner?), and made sure we knew what we were getting into before it was too late to comfortably back out. We each made it clear that we weren’t likely to change, and both of us accepted the faults as part of the package. We didn’t discuss in advance how we’d handle arguments, we just sort of learned each others style by having a few of them.

Honestly, I think what really helped both of us was that we were older, we each knew ourselves very well, and we’d both been married in the past.

Haleth's avatar

@augustlan It’s great to hear that a relationship like that is possible. That sounds more like a collaboration than a negotiation. That’s awesome!

augustlan's avatar

Thanks, @Haleth. It really is!

Unbroken's avatar

Sounds precious and rare. I am humbled

hearkat's avatar

My relationship is very much like @augustlan‘s – We are very accepting of each other, and also very appreciative. We met in our 40s and got to know each other as friends first. When we realized that we are incredibly compatible and have great chemistry, we talked about the nitty-gritty of relationships before our first ‘date’. Since we knew that we shared the same intention of building a lasting relationship right from the start, we’ve both had a dedicated partnership ‘us’ and ‘we’ mindset all-along.

We are always open and honest – pretty much like thinking out loud – so we function as a cohesive unit. We keep an ongoing dialog of what we’re doing and what needs to be done and who’s going to handle what. If there’s something that one of us feels the other might be better-capable of managing, we ask politely if they’ll do it and if there’s anything we can do to help or offset their effort. And we are polite and respectful and it just comes naturally because we truly do respect and appreciate each other and cherish the drama-free home we created. So it’s not like a negotiation of give-and-take, it really is a team effort.

We are the same people whether we’re alone or together, unlike previous relationships where there were control and superiority/insecurity dynamics at play in some fashion. The key is really knowing ourselves and accepting our own flaws and faults. I have found that in order to accept unconditional love from another, one has to believe that they are love able and worthy of happiness, or else they’re always second-guessing the other’s intentions or imagining that they’ll ditch us the instant “something better” comes along. Having complete trust and confidence in each other and our commitment only comes from being totally honest and real with ourselves and each other.

ibstubro's avatar

Cripes! you mean not eating dinner on paper plates because you threw all the other plates against the wall ISN’T the norm?

hearkat's avatar

@ibsturbo – Not in my current relationship. In my previous relationships, I threw food, but not plates (usually).

Unbroken's avatar

I always wanted to do that. I felt so repressed thinking what a waste it was in advance and that I’d be cleaning it up…. Just once I want a food fight.

ibstubro's avatar

Yup, me too. Thinking about clean-up would stop me cold, @Unbroken. We use Corelle, so it wouldn’t even be that satisfying. Probably end up doing $100’s in damage and a day wasted cleaning up.

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