The No-Demands Relationship

I’ve had one of these.

It’s been quite rare in my life.

I associate “relationship” with having to do a lot of things you don’t want to do. In exchange for this hard work, your partner has to do a lot of things she doesn’t want to do. You get to make demands on each. If you don’t want out, you can get fused and lose your own integrity.

That’s what I was used to.

Then along came a no-demands relationship. “I want you to come to shul with me,” I said.

“Why would you want me to do something I don’t want to do?” she said.

“Because that’s how I understand relationships,” I said.

And then I racked my brain for examples of when she had asked me to do things I didn’t want to do. And in a year together, I could not come up with a single example. For instance, even though she hated the beard, she never asked me to shave it.

She said she couldn’t even conceive of asking me to do anything I didn’t want to do.

So this was all very new to me.

We didn’t really develop a bank account with each other whereby if I do these things for you, I develop chits in my account and I can trade them in to get you to do things you don’t want to do.

A no-demands relationship was not easy. We each had to earn our way every time we got together. When we were apart, we felt insecure. Was the other partner looking for someone else? On the other hand, we stayed on our best behavior with each other every time we got together because we realized things could end any day.

We never got sloppy. We never took the other person for granted. We never surrendered our integrity and our goals. We didn’t dissolve ourselves into the relationship. We were just two adults who got together, on average, two nights a week and were really nice to each other.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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