July 27, 2010
Tip of the Week: March 20th, 2009

Relationship Red Flags
5 Tips for Identifying Your Negotiables and Non-Negotiables
By Sharon Rivkin

You're in a new relationship, and you're starting to see some redflags, warning you that the relationship may not be a good bet, butdoes that mean you should leave? How many red flags does it take tomake that decision? How do you know if the red flags mean futuredisaster, or are just a warning?

These are tough questions to answer. But if you've identified your redflags, you can begin to get clear about staying or leaving by lookingat your negotiables and non-negotiables. These are the patterns ofbehavior in the relationship that either you can deal with (negotiable)or you can't (non-negotiable). A negotiable item does not go againstyour integrity, but a non-negotiable does. For example, if you valuehonesty in your relationships, and your partner is continually lying toyou, that is a non-negotiable. How could you really have a healthyrelationship with someone whose very behavior goes against the essenceof who you are? If you compromise on this behavior by deciding thatsometimes lying is okay, you are cutting into the deepest part of yourpsyche. Non-negotiables are those issues that you will not compromiseon because it goes deeply against your values.

Negotiables are not deal breakers and are those issues that don't cutas deeply. For instance, maybe your partner is messy and you valueneatness. However, messiness doesn't cut into your integrity andalthough it may never change, you could live with it and not feel asthough you've compromised your very essence.

It is important to know your negotiables and non-negotiables. That way,you can decipher which of these two categories the red flags fall into.If in your current relationship most of the red flags arenon-negotiables, it will be nearly impossible to have a lovingrelationship for more than two or three months. Our integrity can onlybe compromised for a short period of time#151;the honeymoon phase#151;before weget angry and resentful of our partner. If your negotiables outweighyour non-negotiables, it makes sense to continue the relationship.

Use these five tips to help you identify your negotiables andnon-negotiables:
  1. Make a list of issues youknow you can compromise on that your partner is displaying. "She's lateall the time, but I can live with that."
  2. Make a list of issues thatyou know you can't compromise on. "He says he's going to call me andeither doesn't or calls much later than planned. He always has anexcuse, and I want someone who keeps his word 99% of the time. I can'tsee living with this much inconsistency."
  3. Make a list of issues youwould compromise on within yourself for another person. "I know I'mmessy, so I'd either get an organizer to help me with this or bewilling to hire a housekeeper."
  4. Make a list of issues youcould not and would not compromise on. "I am an independent woman, andcould not be with a partner who wanted me to give up my work or myfriends for him."
  5. If you're not sure whichcategory your red flags falls under, ask yourself this question: If this behavior never changed, could Ilive with it? You have to assume it may never change and thatalone should help you determine if it's a negotiable or non-negotiable.
If you know your non-negotiables,theres still the issue of infatuation/love/passion/fantasy that cloudsour judgment and overrides our good senses. Sometimes we ignore thesigns of disaster and plunge forward anyway. That's just called beinghuman, so don't beat yourself up if this happens. Nevertheless, knowingyour negotiables and non-negotiables is important because when thefantasy dies down and you're wondering what happened, you can look atyour list as a reminder. This will help you pull back, reevaluate, andhave a clearer sense of what to do. The negotiables and non-negotiablesare exactly the framework and boundaries needed when trying to decideto stay or leave. It doesn't matter how long you've been involved, thenegotiables and non-negotiables are always there to remind us of who weare, what we want, and what we don't want.

Relationship and Conflict Resolution Expert, Sharon M. Rivkin, M.A., M.F.T.,author of The First Argument: Cuttingto the Root of Intimate Conflict, helps hundreds of couplesbreak the argument cycle with her proven, groundbreaking technique thatresolves the most painful issues, stops repetitive conflict, savesrelationships, and puts the love back in your marriage. Sharonhas been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Reader's Digest, and majorwebsites such as YahooPersonals, DrLaura.com, Hitchedmag.com,SheKnow.com, and many others. Visit Sharon at
www.sharonrivkin.com. Permission granted for use onDrLaura.com.

Posted by Staff at 7:22 PM