Ultimatums RARELY work. Why? Because the person GIVING the ultimatum uses it to control the person receiving it. They want the other person to change their behavior but not for that person’s own good. They want the other person to change their behavior for their own good. So they no longer have to suffer… So they no longer have to hurt…
Almost all of us can recall a time in our life when we gave someone an ultimatum. The problem with ultimatums is that the person giving them, is usually not capable of following through with their “threat”. “Stop this or else!” Ultimatums stem from fear. “If you don’t stop drinking I’m leaving you!” The giver hopes the other person will change but in reality they’re pushing that person away. An ultimatum is really saying, “Please change your behavior because I’m really hurting and I can’t live without you”. Although the receiver does not hear these words exactly, they know that your threats are not real at all, so they’re not motivated to change. In fact, they may be motivated to engage more in the behavior you want them to stop. And in the end, ultimatums create resentment in the person being forced to change.
Ultimatums are certainly not “unconditional love”. You’re not really accepting that other person for who they are. I’m not saying the other person may not have crossed boundaries. But there’s a CLEAR difference between setting clear boundaries and ultimatums.
I learned a sobering lesson the hard way… Do you want someone to do something you forced them to do? Or do you want someone to do something that came from their heart because they genuinely wanted to do it out of love and respect for you? I think the latter is best. Don’t you agree?