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20 Crucial Non-Negotiables in a Relationship (Know What Not to Compromise On!)

by Josephine Fuller
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There’s no right answer when it comes to knowing who the right person is for us. However, non-negotiables can be helpful in determining the potential relationships you can have with a person based on what they’re willing to compromise and what you’re willing to settle for.

So, what are common non-negotiables in a relationship? These are mutual respect, no over-the-top jealousy, healthy communication, commitment, family relationships, intimacy, future plans, individuality, trust and honesty, passion, political views, finances, and many more!

If you don’t know what you can identify as non-negotiable in your current or future relationships, don’t worry! I’m here to help you with everything you need to know. Read further for more!

What are Non-negotiables in a Relationship?

These are aspects, behaviors, or traits that you expect from a partner to have or perform in order for you to be able to continue on with the relationship. Usually, these are boundaries that are not up for discussion but can ultimately be negotiated if they are deemed uncompromising for your partner.

Alternatively, non-negotiables in relationships can be viewed as little rules that make you feel safe, loved, and satisfied within the relationship. They are based on your core values, beliefs, short-term and long-term goals, and worldviews—things that essentially make who you are.

What is The Importance of Non-negotiables in a Relationship?

Although every relationship is different, non-negotiables should always be discussed so you know what behaviors, traits, and actions are deemed unacceptable by you and your partner. If you both hold what really matters to you close to your heart, it will strengthen your relationship.

Moreover, the lack of non-negotiables can lead to significant problems, breakdowns, and arguments later on. It will foster resentment, tension, pressure, and even anger, which can result in the downfall of the relationship. If your relationship matters to you, come up with and vocalize these non-negotiables.

20 Non-negotiables in a Relationship

If you haven’t come up with your personal non-negotiables yet, I have here a list of issues that commonly arise in relationships to give you a good idea of things that are important to you and your partner:

1. Mutual Respect

Without mutual respect, your relationship just doesn’t have any solid foundation, and you’re essentially sabotaging it. Respect makes way for open and honest communication, empathy, increased sense of dependability and trust, conflict resolution, positive emotional well-being, and stability in a relationship.

Although this may be considered one of the bare minimum non-negotiables in a relationship, not a lot of couples have respect for each other. Sometimes, respect is there at the beginning, but as time passes, it often gets lost due to the level of comfort a couple has in a relationship.

Some common signs of disrespect you should look out for are if your partner:

  • Overlooks your opinions, thoughts, or feelings
  • Constantly put you down
  • Actively try to hurt your feelings on purpose.

Remember: this is a form of emotional abuse and manipulation. If respect is not observed in a relationship, it’s best to correct it while it can still be fixed or consider breaking the relationship up.

2. No Over-the-Top Jealousy

Jealousy is a normal emotion to feel—we’re human, and we all have sensitivities and insecurities that we just can’t get rid of. Occasional jealousy is valid, and it serves as a reminder to make your partner feel valued and appreciated actively. It can even be a positive force that can help strengthen love.

Excessive, irrational, and intense jealousy, on the other hand, is unhealthy, and it can seriously ruin a relationship if it happens consistently. This is because some people may become so overwhelmed and overcome by their jealousy that it may lead to verbal bullying, physical abuse, and violence if left uncontrolled.

In other words, jealousy is okay when it’s occasional and can be addressed easily through talking, but potential partners that exhibit over-the-top jealousy should be avoided if possible. Save yourself from the hassle, pain, and heartbreak that might come with these types of partners!

3. Healthy Communication

In relationships, effective, open, and honest communication is essential because it’s more convenient to deal with future conflicts, address your partner’s needs and desires, and build a strong connection with them. Communication isn’t necessarily perfect all the time, but it nonetheless requires consistency and effort.

It should be non-negotiable in a relationship to be able to:

  • Allocating time to talk to your partner without interruption or distractions when there is a need for discussion
  • Be clear about the points or messages that you or your partner want to come across
  • Talk about issues that affect you or your partner, as well as things you both want, need, or feel in your relationship
  • Apply empathy all the time; put aside what you think or feel when your partner is trying to share their thoughts, opinions, or feelings.
  • Be aware of non-verbal gestures such as keeping eye contact, adjusting the tone of your voice accordingly, having an open and relaxed posture, and generally showing you’re interested and present in the conversation.

4. Commitment

From the start, you should be already clear about the kind of relationship you want. If you are monogamous, then open or polyamorous relationships should be a no-go for you. Additionally, if you are committed to a future with your partner, then make sure they also feel the same prior to or during the relationship.

Remember, ladies! There is a big difference between wanting the relationship to be exclusive and actually committing yourself to the relationship to make it work. The latter requires conscious effort and some prioritizing, which not a lot of men can provide you.

Moreover, commitment is having a long-term viewpoint and time horizon for a relationship. Having the same level of commitment as your partner allows you both to take actions that serve the interest of the relationship in the long run instead of the here and now.

non negotiables in a relationship

5. Family Relationships

Whether you have just started becoming exclusive or you’re in a long-term relationship with your current partner, it’s important to get along with their family as they get along with yours. Family members are huge parts of our lives, and we can’t simply pretend that they don’t exist.

Having a good relationship with your future in-laws can help create a supportive network and amicable family dynamics. It may even contribute positively to your relationship with your partner, especially if they are particularly family-oriented and think highly of their family’s opinions on various aspects of life.

Moreover, respecting your partner means extending that respect to their parents, family members, and other relatives too. Think about how awkward family gatherings would be if your or your partner’s family didn’t approve of your relationship!

6. Intimacy

Physical and emotional intimacy are essential to making a relationship last. Fostering a space where you and your partner can be vulnerable and have not just physical closeness but also a mental, emotional, and spiritual connection will enrich your overall well-being.

Without intimacy in its many forms, you or your partner may feel lonely and disconnected and may resort to resenting the other. It can also cause misunderstandings, breakdowns, and arguments down the line.

Intimacy is definitely one of the most important non-negotiables in a relationship, so help cultivate it by:

  • Physical touch (holding hands, kissing, hugging, and sexual intercourse)
  • Sharing your thoughts, experiences, feelings, and opinions with your partner while also listening to theirs
  • Connecting intellectually (sharing beliefs, morals, ideas, and values)
  • Having a common goal or passion with your partner so that you also foster a sense of purpose and meaning in your lives and enhance your spirituality

7. Future Plans

This non-negotiable goes hand-in-hand with commitment because as you acknowledge that you’re wholeheartedly committed to your relationship, all and any future plans you have must be aligned with your partner if you want the relationship to work and last long-term.

As such, it’s essential that you discuss your future together as a couple. Whether these plans and goals are big or small, they can surely strengthen your bond, create a sense of stability, and improve how much you trust each other. Additionally, it also increases your intimacy with one another.

Moreover, these plans should be agreed on by both you and your partners. For example, if you don’t want to have kids down the line but want to, this may cause some arguments. Try to strike a balance and come up with compromises, if possible, but if you truly can’t, then maybe it’s best to walk away.

8. Individuality

Acknowledging your and your partner’s individuality—that is, the concept of personal space, time, and boundaries—should be non-negotiable in a relationship. You should maintain a strong sense of autonomy and independence in order for you to grow both in and out of the relationship.

To do so, you and your partner should be able to do the following:

  • Respect each other’s unique personal goals, ambitions, and interests
  • Become aware and sensitive to your partner’s feelings, wants, needs, and desires while staying true to your own
  • Have compassion and empathy for your partner
  • Resolving any losses and traumas that have negatively affected you so that it doesn’t affect your relationship with your partner
  • Acknowledging the fact that your world or your partner’s world shouldn’t solely revolve around your relationship—there are also other aspects in life that deserve your and his attention.

Essentially, you and your partner retain your individual identities while also fostering your relationship, which serves as your third identity outside of yourself. If you do so, you fulfill the basic human necessity of personal development and growth.

non negotiables in a relationship

9. Trust and Honesty

Even the strongest relationships can fall apart under the weight of doubt, uncertainty, and lies, which is why trust and honesty are must-haves for any couple. Moreover, this also means that you or your partner should not be inclined to cheat nor have any past experiences of cheating.

You want your partner to be someone you can depend on, even with your eyes closed or your hands placed at your back, trusting them to catch you whenever you fall and not hurt you. And what is trust without the consistency of honest behavior?

With trust and honesty, your relationship becomes stronger; you’re able to survive disagreements, heal and forgive each other when necessary, love even harder, grow as individuals, overcome obstacles, and respect personal space, boundaries, and time.

10. Passion

Passion is one of the pillars that make relationships last because it requires constant building, rebuilding, and maintaining throughout the length of the entire time you’re together. It requires commitment, understanding, and connection from you and your partner.

Realistically speaking, passion fades when you become all too familiar and comfortable with your partner. It may feel like you lost the spark you once had, but it can always be reignited if both of you actively and consciously put in the same amount of effort.

You can keep the passion alive in relationships by doing one or more of the following:

  • Clear, open, and honest communication
  • Allowing each other to grow outside of the relationship
  • Setting aside time for each other to nurture both physical and emotional connection
  • Consistently showing affection and appreciation for your partner, even with just little romantic gestures
  • Maintaining physical intimacy (all kinds of touch that convey your love for your partner, not just through sex)
  • Fostering a sense of unity and belongingness, which means you work together on shared ambitions, goals, and plans

11. Political Views

You might not believe me, but political differences in relationships matter, especially with what we’ve been facing in recent years. Political views can reflect one’s beliefs, morals, and values, and having differences in these aspects may contribute to disharmony and incompatibility in a relationship.

This is why it comes as no shock that this could be a part of non-negotiables in a relationship. Preferably, it should be discussed before the beginning of a relationship. However, it’s possible that your partner’s view may change over time in a way that doesn’t align with what you believe in.

Do take note that this is not the end! Finding common ground with your partner is a challenge you must be willing to accept if you want your relationship to last—you may not actually be that different than you think you are. There are many ways in which you both can talk about your values with mutual respect.

12. Finances

How you value, spend, and save money can directly affect your future together and can cause significant stress, breakdowns, and disagreements if you’re not on the same page, which is why having financial compatibility with your partner can be non-negotiable in a relationship.

Although it may be uncomfortable and difficult to talk about it during the dating period, it is nonetheless crucial because discussions about budgeting, spending, and money, in general, can lay the foundation for a financially secure and harmonious relationship in the future.

Do take note that being financially compatible with your partner doesn’t mean one of you is supposed to earn a high salary or have large savings in your accounts; it’s rather about sharing an approach when it comes to managing finances and having commitments on investments, savings, and paying off debts.

13. Support

Support, along with mutual validation and having a reliable partner who’s always there for you through the good, the bad, and the ugly, should be non-negotiable. You deserve a partner you can count on, someone who can listen to your concerns and feelings with compassion and can support your life decisions.

Moreover, you also deserve a partner who can recognize and celebrate every win, be it small or large accomplishments, as well as contributions and milestones, and still be there with you holding your hand through your setbacks, disappointments, and failures.

Your partner should also be able to have your back in front of others. In other words, it’s a big red flag if they belittle your success or make fun of your failures in front of family or friends. A relationship with a lack of support can lead to low self-esteem and resentment for your partner, and who would want that?

14. Sense of Humor

Sharing the same sense of humor with your partner can indicate a healthy relationship, which makes it a good contender for non-negotiables in a relationship. It helps deepen the bond couples have, handle difficult situations, and foster an overall positive bubble for both of you.

In fact, a study conducted by a University of Kansas associate professor concludes that relationship satisfaction is strongly associated with whether you and your partner share the same humor. Shared laughter and playfulness were also concluded to be important indicators of romantic attraction.

However, keep in mind that having an aggressive sense of humor is a major red flag. If your partner tells mean or degrading jokes, especially those that are directed at you, it means that they enjoy hurting your feelings. This can be considered as verbal abuse that is merely disguised as jokes, so watch out!

15. Alcohol, Drugs, and Other Vices

Seeing eye-to-eye with your partner concerning vices is absolutely non-negotiable. If you’re against excessive alcohol drinking, smoking weed or cigarettes, and other vices, but your partner isn’t, then it is likely that the relationship won’t work out in the long run.

You don’t have to tolerate your partner’s unhealthy vices if you can’t, and you shouldn’t force them to change for you if they can’t. If it doesn’t make you happy, reevaluate your choices and decisions. However, if they are willing to compromise with you, then the relationship is worth continuing or saving.

Additionally, vices can also come in the form of other negative habits or behaviors such as gambling, compulsiveness, recklessness, manipulation, bigotry, imposed control, being quick to anger, and pursuing sexual gratification through infidelity, among others.

16. Abuse and Toxic Behavior

It is non-negotiable to feel safe in your relationship, which means if your partner exhibits any kind of abuse or toxic behavior, you should see this as the ultimate deal-breaker. Don’t tolerate it because it will lead to dangerous consequences down the line.

Feeling safe in a relationship looks like these:

  • You feel a general sense of peace, calm, and serenity when you’re with your partner
  • You can freely discuss your past trauma or pain and how you feel about them; you can be openly vulnerable with your partner.
  • You feel like you can be your authentic self without feeling the fear of being shamed or judged by your partner.
  • Your partner asks for your consent, stops when you say “no,” and takes any other form of non-verbal dissent as “no.”
  • Your partner doesn’t push or force you as well as complain if you don’t want to do or say something they ask you to

If you feel unsafe with your partner and your relationship, it’s best to walk away before any of them could hurt you further. Listen to what your mind, body, and intuition are telling you.

17. Equality

We live in the 21st century, and we should no longer be caged by traditional gendered societal norms and roles. Equality should be non-negotiable in a relationship because unfair and imbalanced relationships still exist today. This is manifested in power dynamics, mutual respect, and discrimination between a couple.

If you’re experiencing any of these, then there’s a high chance that there’s inequality that needs to be addressed in your relationship:

  • Your partner doesn’t consult you when it comes to decisions that could potentially affect both of you
  • The weight of the relationship falls back on only one of you instead of sharing it (e.g., finances, chores, etc.)
  • Your partner is not willing to compromise or make sacrifices for the good of your relationship and always puts their self-interest first.
  • Your partner is dominant and controlling and would enforce his opinions through physical or verbal abuse.

When there is equality in the relationship, you will have a healthy dependency on each other, foster more empathy, become more participative in situations both in and out of the relationship, and meet relationship satisfaction.

18. Priority

Everyone deserves a partner who wouldn’t put you on the back burner. Being a priority should be a non-negotiable when it comes to relationships. Your partner should be able to make time for you, provide for your needs (in the relationship), care for your overall well-being, and consider you when making decisions.

Equally, you should also be able to do the same for your partner. In doing so, you both are strengthening your commitment to each other and demonstrating your love and respect. As a result, your relationship will thrive in the long run and will be indestructible against life’s obstacles.

19. Ambition

If you’re a particularly goal-oriented person, it should be non-negotiable for you to have a partner who behaves the same. You would want your partner to be a source of inspiration and motivation—someone who could challenge you and have great aspirations for themselves, not someone who could bring you down.

Lack of ambition will cause a rift between you and your partner, especially if one of you wants to be more successful in life while the other wants to stick with what they have—a glaringly obvious sign of incompatibility. Moreover, this also affects the passion you have for each other later on in the relationship.

20. Acceptance

You should be able to feel like you’re your authentic self without the need to hide parts of the real you. It is non-negotiable for your partner to accept you and vice versa, flaws and all; unless these differences are negatively impacting your relationship, then you should open a healthy discussion regarding it.

Moreover, you should be critical of a person before starting a relationship. You have to determine the real them before committing. For example, they may be showering you with gifts and words of affirmation for now, but later on, they turn out to be quite abusive. Try your best to be a good judge of character.

On the other hand, it is also crucial that you can call out your partner and that they are also able to do the same with you when some aspects of your personality are hurting others or if your actions have done something wrong to someone.

non negotiables in a relationship

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to determine personal non-negotiables?

First, identify your core values, priorities, and goals in life and, if possible, rank them from most to least important. Next, separate them by association: personal aspirations, romantic relationships, and other categories that may apply. Then, define what is non-negotiable about each of your values, priorities, and goals.

Ask yourself what aspects you consider are not open for debate, discussion, or change—aspects you’re not willing to compromise on. Finally, check and recheck your list for anything you want to remove, revise, or add.

2. How do you achieve results with non-negotiables in a relationship?

Communicate your expectations clearly and consistently to your partner before starting the relationship and also during the length of it. Be open to compromise—it’s normal for couples to want different things, which is why it’s important to find a middle ground.

Moreover, don’t blame your partner if your non-negotiables couldn’t be met. Life just doesn’t work the way we want and expect it to, and it’s wrong to control other people’s behaviors and feelings. Be open to feedback and be understanding so that you can have a harmonious relationship.

3. When to modify your non-negotiables?

If your partner doesn’t find your non-negotiables reasonable or it comes off as uncompromising to them, then maybe it’s time to modify your non-negotiables. There are also life events that may change these aspects and prompt you to reevaluate your core values, goals, and priorities—this is completely normal!

Final Thoughts

Coming up with non-negotiables in a relationship and discussing it thoroughly with your partner helps you avoid experiencing toxicity and unhealthy experiences down the line. It also helps you determine if your partner is truly the right one for you.

Every relationship works differently, so come up with non-negotiables that stay true to what you believe in life. Alternatively, make sure you’re also open to feedback and compromise with your partner if you really want to work it out with them.

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