Non-negotiables in Relationships

When dating or in any other relationship, whether it be your boss, friend, or relative, there should be some non-negotiables, boundaries, and standards that you set and enforce. Recently, I was listening to a new podcast Around The Way Curls, and they inspired me to think about my own non-negotiables. They created the list below as an entryway into someone's thought process:

  • Malcolm vs. Martin

  • Generational wealth or Familial happiness

  • Jay vs. Nas

  • MAC or Sephora

  • Palestine or Israel

  • In the light or In the Dark

  • Prince or Michael

  • Sweet or Savory

  • Marriage or Long-Term Commitment

  • Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods

  • Family or Career

  • Evolution or Creationism

  • Nicki vs. Cardi

  • Missionary or Doggy Style

  • Protection or Pull out and prayer

  • Pro-Life or Pro-Choice

  • Love Jones or Jason’s Lyric

  • Sir or Rumi

  • Make your man a plate or Let him get his own

  • Knuck if You Buck or Ante Up

  • 9-11: An inside job or Terrorism

  • Rihanna or Beyoncé

  • Biggie or Pac

  • The philosophy of Killmonger or The Black Panther

  • Money and dicks or Love and light

While this may be a fun and quick list, it’s important to ask the critical questions early in a relationship, rather than sticking around only to find out that your partner doesn’t value the same ideals as you do. When I think about my non-negotiables, I’ve realized that I’ve been selling myself short and tolerating less than stellar behavior. For example, regardless of the relationship---friendship, familial, or romantic---when someone disrespects me or has vastly different values, I’ve learned to speak up and stand firm in my beliefs, despite possible backlash.

I’m almost 27 years old, and I refuse to bend over backwards for anyone who’s undeserving. Here are my non-negotiables, so far:

  • Anyone who doesn’t believe that Black Lives Matter

  • Anyone who doesn’t believe in human rights

  • Anyone who believes that they have ownership over women

  • Anyone who’s emotionally insecure

  • Anyone that doesn’t understand or aren’t willing to understand how to handle money

  • Anyone that I don’t have chemistry with

  • Those who aren’t self-motivated

  • Anyone that isn’t open to therapy or dealing with their past trauma

  • Anyone who isn’t spiritually grounded

  • Anyone who doesn’t take care of themselves physically, mentally or emotionally

I am not a rehabilitation center for damaged beings. We can support and uplift each other, but I will not raise a grown individual, and they will not dump their unprocessed issues onto me.


I am learning that I am not going to change myself to make you like me. Because, what’s the point? I deserve more than a man that doesn’t make time to learn who I am at my core. Looking back on my twenties, I feel for the woman that allowed others to dim my light. It’s important to not shrink yourself, and not to have your boundaries shattered at the expense of someone else’s comfort.

Always listen to your intuition. If you feel something is off, something is probably off. Quit rationalizing or making excuses for someone’s behavior. It’s not petty to have high standards and non-negotiables. There’s someone for everybody, and that person whose behavior you're rationalizing is probably not for you.

I’ve had friendships that have deteriorated because we’ve had different values, rather than just differing opinions. It’s essential to have people around you that may not think like you do, but differing values are non-negotiables, for me. For example, victim-blaming women for being sexually assaulted and supporting abusive men is a difference in values. I’m teaching my daughter to stand up for herself and what she believes in.


What are your top 3 non-negotiables in a relationship?