Compromise is necessary for any successful relationship.
Both parties must be willing occasionally to bend when it comes to simple, relatively insignificant things like home decor, how firm your mattress is, or where you buy your groceries.
But everyone has core values and beliefs that they shouldn’t compromise – things that make them who they are.
It’s crucial to discuss non-negotiables in a relationship upfront to avoid unhealthy relationships and wasting time with someone who isn’t right for you.
11 Non-Negotiables in a Relationship You Need to Know
Every relationship is different. What one couple thrives on might be completely unacceptable in another relationship.
While specific situations vary, there are some general areas that all couples should address.
However, it’s up to you both to outline the boundaries of your non-negotiables.
Work together to determine what you want your relationship to look like and how you want it to function.
Some common relationship non-negotiables regardless of who or where you are in life include:
1. Honesty and Trust
Honesty and trust, two core components of healthy relationships, can mean many different things.
They’re used broadly here to include truthfulness related to lying or deceiving the other, faithfulness regarding fidelity, loyalty in connection with having each other’s back, and reliability concerning keeping promises and doing as you say you will.
Have an open discussion about what honesty and trust look like in your relationship to avoid confusion and disagreements in the future. Outline what dishonesty and a breach of trust look like, so there’s no question on either end.
Openly conveying your needs, thoughts, and even grievances in a healthy manner is another critical aspect of honesty in relationships.
2. Mutual Respect
Another crucial element of successful relationships is respect, although what that looks like can mean different things to different people.
Establish boundaries in your relationship and discuss what you both are and aren’t okay with. You and your partner must respect each other’s differences, space, privacy, individuality, and time. Take care to meet each other’s needs and respect each other’s beliefs, values, and preferences.
Respect for others is essential. Putting people down or judging them based on their beliefs, income, home, car, or appearance has no place in relationships.
It’s okay to hold different opinions, but it is unnecessary to treat someone else poorly because of differences. Our differences are what make us thrive.
3. Open Communication
Arguably one of the most important aspects of a solid relationship foundation, open communication is key to a happy, healthy union.
Expressing yourself openly and honestly during the good times is easy, but doing so during tough times is often trickier. It’s only a matter of time before you have a disagreement or a full-on fight.
Make a habit of discussing your problems openly and rationally, without slinging insults or getting into the kind of screaming match that has the neighbors pressing their ears to the wall.
Own your mistakes, admit when you’re wrong, and take responsibility for your actions.
4. Being Your Authentic Selves
One of the most important things you can do in a relationship is to stay true to who you are.
You should both feel free to openly express your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, goals, and dreams without fear of judgment or ridicule from the other. Don’t try to force your views or change each other. Accept each other as is, flaws, emotional baggage, complicated past, etc.
Also, while it’s good to spend time together, it’s equally important to spend time apart without jealousy or guilt. It’s normal to merge certain aspects of your lives, but be sure to maintain your identities by keeping up with your hobbies and interests, preserving other relationships, and continuing with personal habits and self-care.
5. Financial Values and Expectations
Money can be one of the most challenging, uncomfortable topics to discuss. But that doesn’t negate its importance.
You and your partner should hold the same general views on how to handle your money and your finances. Discuss your thoughts on spending vs. saving, the importance of good credit, and expectations on who pays what.
You should both be able to manage your personal finances responsibly and pull your own weight as agreed upon. While financial difficulties are sometimes an unavoidable part of life, it’s not fair for one of you to expect the other always to pick up the slack.
6. Shared Goals for the Future
It doesn’t need to match exactly or be all planned out, but holding a similar vision of your future together is essential to a happy, long-lasting relationship.
- What are your views on marriage?
- How about your thoughts about having children?
- What does your life look like?
- Do you travel a lot?
- Do you live in a busy city or a country setting?
- Are weekends spent quietly at home or out on the town?
Suppose one of you dreams of traditional family life with a mortgage, kids, and ties to a specific city while the other never plans on settling down. In that case, you might consider going your separate ways now before you get in any deeper.
7. Mutual Validation and Support
Everyone wants a romantic partner they can count on—someone who is always there, in good times and in bad.
You want and deserve a partner who encourages you and supports your dreams, goals, and anything else that’s important to you, whether that’s your career choice, volunteer efforts, or a decision to go back to school. Someone who listens to you and makes you feel validated.
Your partner should be excited for and celebrate your accomplishments and empathetic and compassionate about your failures or setbacks.
After all, if you can’t count on your romantic partner to be there for you, who can you count on?
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8. Political Views Are Aligned
People care about politics to varying degrees. Some don’t care at all, some are mildly informed, and it’s a serious topic for others. Additionally, some are more open to opposing views than others.
While often a sensitive topic, your political views are important to discuss at some point in your relationship (preferably before it gets too serious.) That’s not to say you have to agree on everything or even necessarily belong to the same political party. Still, you need to be open about your differences and how much of a difference you can tolerate.
Be honest about your hot-button issues and determine whether or not you can handle being with somebody who doesn’t see those things the same way you do.
9. Similar Religious Beliefs
Like political views, religion is often a sensitive area, and it may be necessary that you and your partner to hold the same beliefs.
You might require a partner to share the same faith or be okay if your views are completely opposite. Neither of you should compromise your religion to please the other (unless it’s something you truly want to do, of course), and you should be honest about your beliefs and level of comfort with different faiths.
It’s also valuable to consider familial preferences like how you would raise your kids or acceptance from your families.
With things changing faster and more drastically than ever over the past few years, open-mindedness is becoming increasingly important in life and relationships of all types.
You and your partner must be willing to adapt to change and to experience new things both alone and together. Nobody wants to be with someone who constantly complains or is stuck in the past. Expect change within you, from your partner, and in the world around you.
If you want a healthy, thriving relationship, be willing to grow as a person and in your relationship, and be open to compromise in less significant areas.
11. Ambitious and Goal-Oriented
If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. A desire to learn and grow is a necessary part of life, as is having dreams and goals.
We all want to be with someone who is goal-oriented, takes advantage of opportunities, and finds ways to make things happen.
That’s not to say that you need to be doing something constantly, but chronic laziness, procrastination, and lack of interest in personal growth are often deal-breakers.
Don’t go through the motions. Find your purpose in life. Find activities to care about that you love. Do things that bring joy, make you feel alive, and confirm your awesomeness as a person.
Unexpected Non-Negotiables Men Have for Women
Sometimes, the factors that can make or break a relationship aren’t as obvious as you might think. Men have a list of surprising deal-breakers, too, that often go unspoken but are incredibly significant in sustaining a relationship.
Let’s shed some light on a few of these lesser-known relationship essentials:
- An Active Lifestyle: For many men, a partner who values physical fitness and health is a top priority. This doesn’t mean she needs to be a triathlete, but an active lifestyle signifies energy, vitality, and a shared interest in wellness.
- Independence: Many men appreciate a woman who has her own life, interests, and passions. This balance can offer a refreshing dynamic and keep things intriguing in a relationship.
- Kindness: It might sound cliché, but a compassionate and empathetic nature is highly valued. Small acts of kindness speak volumes about a person’s character.
- Low Drama Tolerance: Men often gravitate towards women who avoid unnecessary drama and handle conflicts with maturity and reason.
Unexpected Non-Negotiables Women Have for Men
Just as men have their unexpected must-haves, women also have a set of lesser-known deal-breakers that are often essential to the longevity and health of a relationship. They aren’t always explicitly spelled out, but their significance cannot be understated. Let’s explore a few:
- Emotional Availability: Women appreciate a man who isn’t afraid to express his feelings and connect on a deeper level. This shows that he is comfortable with vulnerability, which can build stronger bonds.
- A Good Listener: While this may not sound surprising, many women find it essential. A man who genuinely listens signals respect and interest in their thoughts and feelings.
- Consistency: A man who is consistent in his actions, showing up when he says he will, brings a sense of security and trust.
- Patience: Life is full of challenges, so a man who displays patience, especially during times of stress, can be incredibly attractive to women.
The beauty of these non-negotiables lies in their subtlety. While they may not always be at the forefront of the mind, they play an enormous role in creating harmony and fulfillment in a relationship.
Examples of Negotiables and Non-Negotiables in a Relationship
Some issues carry more significant weight than others in relationships. While the definitions of some negotiables and non-negotiables vary, some more or less apply across the board.
- Changing opinions over time due to natural growth
- Differences in personal opinions and preferences in simple things like music, food, entertainment, etc
- Basic responsibilities in family/relationship
- Who gets to choose the restaurant, TV show, or vacation spot
- Forcing change or demanding a particular point of view
- Discrimination against anyone based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability
- Basic human rights beliefs
- Physical, mental, emotional abuse, or abuse of any kind
Every relationship is as unique as the people in it. It’s up to you and your partner to determine where you’re willing to compromise and your deal-breakers.
Overlooking even one non-negotiable can lead to significant problems in the relationship, so it’s best to be open and honest about them from the start.