In a New Relationship, Negotiate. In An Old Relationship, Renegotiate.
Me and a very good friend had a discussion last night about people who have been in really long relationships, where there may have been cheating involved and numerous make ups and break ups.
The unfortunate thing for the girl involved is that she fell in love with this guy in high school and knew nothing else.
She had not yet developed the skills to negotiate her romantic relationships. And it’s cost her. Dearly.
Yes, I said it.
Whether you think so or not, when you enter into a relationship with someone the tone of that relationship is set by what you demand, ask for or don’t ask for. Together, whether you spell it out or not, you have set up and agreed to the terms of your relationship.
I’ve been thinking about the demands I’ve given said and unsaid, and I’ve thought about terms I’ve accepted in the past.
The negotiation factor is so important, because as I pointed out to my friend, even if the couple I mentioned do get married, something very dangerous can happen.
Nothing is going to change and the same dysfunctional shit that dictated the relationship will still guide it.
Worst of all, the woman, will think because she’s his wife, NOW she can make demands that she wanted before and was afraid to ask for, feel she has every right to express it, and it’s his duty to do it. Period.
The man, he’ll be shocked because he thought by finally marrying her, he finally gave her what she wanted, so why is she still trippin? Why is she worse?
This is the metaphor I gave to my friend about the poor young lady being in this relationship for so long, and not really having the ability to get out there, get experience and learn the game.
Say you’ve been working at McDonald’s for twenty years. Say you started out at 15 making minimum wage.
Let’s say, you have been promoted several times and now you are a manager. And instead of making $4.00 an hour, you were told, hey managers make $10 an hour that’s what they make.
You accept those terms because you like being called a manager. You don’t go to salary.com. You have a suspicion that you may be underpaid, but no, you trust the company you’ve been working for. You’ve been loyal. You are there early and you stay late.
You trust they are giving you a fair shake because you’ve done everything right and you’ve been with them for so long.
Then you hear the loud new girl on fries got a raise and she makes $12 an hour. She comes in late. She’s rude to the customers. She never volunteers to stay late. She leaves early.
You mumble and grumble, how is this possible? She even hooks the homies up with free food.
Then you find out, when she took the job– a job that doesn’t even require the same amount of responsibility– she wasn’t going to take it, unless she got $12 an hour.
And they agreed.
You are salty because you realize you never asked for what you wanted, or made people think twice that maybe they’d have to live without you and your services one day. You never demanded anything, so in return, they gave you what they thought you should have. You played no role in it whatsoever.
And once people start deciding what they think you should have, without you setting boundaries, even when they give you less, in their mind they think it’s more than fair. What’s the difference to you anyway? You never established your value.
Now I’m not saying in relationships women need to throw around ultimatums, or threaten to leave. You can’t play that card willy nilly at work, and you can’t do it in relationships. But we tend to get mad when we see young women, playing by different rules looking like they are winning, looking like they got what they want.
“Good girls,” who don’t ask for anything at all, waiting for that man to finally “see” them, and see how loyal and loving and supportive they are, need to learn a thing or two in negotiation from the “Bad girls” that these men tend to cheat on them with.
I’ve been the girl, in college who tried very hard to get men who only wanted to have sex with me to see me for the smart, talented, pretty, funny young lady I felt I was.
I think they did think I was all of those things. It wasn’t personal, they just wanted sex. And because I wanted them to “see” me, I was available at 2 a.m. I’d answer my phone, I’d open the door, I’d open my legs. I’d drive out in the rain in the middle of the night to give them what they wanted.
How can they not see how great I am? Surely, they’d want to date me, exclusively.
And even if they slept with other women that I knew and took classes with, or lived down the hall from, I still thought, I had the magic lady parts and the heart to win him over.
I wondered about the people in the relationship that started the whole convo. They’d been together on an off for more than a decade. The man, no closer to marriage, because of his own struggles with settling down; the girl, hoping that after all of her years of service aching for the title of wife, not realizing, if she gets it, her benefits and raise may be way below average, because she didn’t negotiate from the start.
As for people already in relationships, you are going to change. You are going to grow.
You better sit down from time to time and review your situation.
You need to find out what that person needs and wants from you, and you need to express your needs and wants. You should praise them for the great things they do, and respectfully explain the not so nice things you don’t like, and let that person do the same.
And if things are changing, say so. If things are going in a weird direction you don’t like, say so.
There should be no fear in speaking your mind respectfully in your relationship. You want that person to be happy and they should want you to be happy. Everyone needs updated information to do their jobs properly.
If your man or woman is putting in that work, give em a raise. Give em a bonus. Go out of your way to show your gratitude.
If they are slacking on the job, you can’t keep quiet then fire them with no warning.
Give people chances to improve. Be clear on your expectations and don’t back down.
You don’t want to be that disgruntled “manager.”