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How to Give an Ultimatum

The key to giving someone an ultimatum is maintaining the ability to walk away if they turn you down. Stand by your convictions by following these tips.


  • Step 1: Consider your motivation Ask yourself if you really want to move forward with the relationship if your partner accepts your ultimatum. Don't deliver ultimatums out of insecurity, anger, or frustration.
  • Step 2: Weigh likelihood of success Offer an ultimatum when you feel that there's a good chance the person will choose you. If you think the person loves you but just needs a little push, an ultimatum may work.
  • TIP: Don't waste your time with ultimatums if the person is not committed to you.
  • Step 3: Find the right time Give an air of seriousness to the ultimatum by waiting until you have the full attention of a sober individual and you are calm and collected.
  • Step 4: Present reasonable requests Don't use an ultimatum to try to force your partner to do irrational things or to go against their heart.
  • Step 5: Be clear about the consequences Tell the person clearly and briefly what will happen if they do not accept your ultimatum. For instance: "If you do not stop using drugs, I will end this relationship and move out immediately."
  • TIP: Be aware that your ultimatum may inspire resentment in the person receiving it and cause them to want to end your relationship.
  • Step 6: Walk if they call your bluff Follow through. Make sure you're prepared to walk if the person does not comply. For an ultimatum to be successful, you must be ready to do what you say.
  • FACT: Canadian author Richard Rohmer foreshadowed an energy crisis with his 1974 novel Ultimatum.

You Will Need

  • Attention of the recipient
  • Reasonable request
  • Clear consequences
  • Conviction to walk

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