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How to Respond to an Ultimatum

by Danielle Wright

When it comes to relationships things can take a turn for the worst if and when you find yourself longing for a specific type of commitment, but it seems nowhere in sight. Some women by the age of 30 are hoping to settle down and get married. But, depending on their significant other, it may not happen right away, or at all. In most cases, when a man decides to himself that marriage is not on the table, he will convince his significant other that marriage is just a piece of paper and unnecessary for the growth of their relationship.

A friend of mine when we began hanging out told me she was in a relationship and was with her partner for one-year. She was very adamant about wanting to be married and settle down. My friend exclaimed to me how important marriage was to her and the security it provides. However, after two years of being with her partner she now says, marriage is not important because she does not wish to ruin her relationship by giving her partner an ultimatum.

Unfortunately, this happens more often than not. Women will settle with a man who does not plan on marrying them in fear of losing that man to an ultimatum.


An ultimatum is a final demand or statement of terms; the rejection of which results in retaliation or a breakdown in relations. Men know within the first 3 months of dating whether or not they want a relationship with you, and know within 7 months whether or not they will marry you. If you give your partner an ultimatum chances are you are prepared to leave if things do not go your way.

Presenting your partner with an ultimatum may lead to an unfavorable response, but luckily for you, we’re going to provide you with some of the responses you can look out for or give:

Reverse Ultimatum: An ultimatum does not have to be the end of your relationship. A healthy relationship consists of give and take. If your partner counters your ultimatum with one of their own, then it’s okay to give that a shot. You want to know that the person you’re with is not easily intimidated and that your partner is not granting your request due to coercion. Forcing a man into marriage will lead to a tumultuous one. He will resent you and perhaps look for ways to humiliate or humble you during your time together.

Related articles: Rebound Relationship Stages

Intentions and Motives: What are their intentions for you and the relationship? If a man gives a woman an ultimatum such as: if we don’t have sex soon I will have to give up on this relationship. It’s either we have sex or call it quits. In a scenario like this, the intention is to get what they want.

“Reaching a point in your relationship where you have to threaten your partner with an ultimatum is a sign that the relationship is over. Man or woman, when we want to do something, we will.” – Lisa K. Stephenson, Author and Relationship Coach.

Staying Calm: Ultimatums are never nice to receive, but the best thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to remain calm. Respond with logic over emotion and consider the fact that your partner may have tried to communicate their wants to you beforehand, but you were probably dismissive and overlooked their efforts. Whether intentional or not, this can hurt anyone's feelings. So, consider why it came down to an ultimatum in the first place.

Negotiating: Similar to the reverse ultimatum, negotiation is a good response. When you choose to take this route, or your partner does, it means they are open to your request, but perhaps would like to tweak it a bit. Be open-minded if this happens—see if there is a middle ground that you can both agree on. But like everything else, this all depends on what the ultimatum is for or about.

For example, upon meeting your partner you made it clear that you did not wish to be married and your partner agreed. However, later on down the line you’ve changed your mind and want to be married. You then give your partner an ultimatum. This is unfair and you should consider finding a middle ground.

You are uprooting their expectations of the relationship and then threatening to take it away…the fault is on you. But love can sometimes conquer all, so this does not have to mean the end of the relationship. Talk things out, be fair, and get into the habit of avoiding similar habits.

Be Honest: Overall, it’s important to be honest with your partner—whether you’re issuing the ultimatum or on the receiving end of one. If what is being asked is not within your realm of capabilities it’s best to tell it as it is and if you need to exit the relationship, then do so. Do not stay out of pity or guilt. Be sure to explain your stance and why you may need to take a moment.

Ultimatums are never easy, but handling them with care and consideration can help you to do what is best for you.


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