4 min read

Make Room For Non-Negotiables

Make Room For Non-Negotiables
Midjourney: a 1950s advertising Mad Man without glasses holding a list of mandatory items in a contract negotiation. pop art. --ar 16:9

Six years ago, I went on a few dates with someone from Los Angeles. The long distance from New York to LA didn't seem quite the stretch I originally thought it would be. My work was taking me to Los Angeles, and hers was taking her to New York with a good amount of frequency.

As December rolled around, I knew it would be my last visit to LA for the year and planned a special date: a nice dinner, a Broadway show, and then after-show drinks.

As we walked to the after-show drinks, I noticed all of the Christmas decorations in a department store window and pointed out ones similar to my grandparents or some my parents had had.

And you might say I was gushing about how much I love Christmas.

The date finished and we said our goodbyes, wishing each other happy holidays. The next day, as I got to the airport, I received a phone call from her. She said it had been as much fun as dating for the past few months; she needed someone who loved Hanukkah as much as I loved Christmas.

She went on to say that while her future husband didn't have to be Jewish, they would need to be an active part of a household that would ultimately raise their children Jewish. This was a non-negotiable for her, and she didn't want to take away my love of Christmas or have to diminish her love of Hanukkah.

As I flew home on the red eye that night, I thought about the fact that of the people whom I dated over the few years that I was single, a lot had been opportunities that just arose situationally as opposed to people with specific character qualities that I was in pursuit of.

Religion is obviously a very personal subject for a lot of people, so I wasn't actively screening for or against it, at the time, it was something interesting to learn along the way to getting to know someone.

But my love of Christmas caused this woman and me to stop seeing each other. My love of Christmas helped me realize how much I wanted a future partner who wanted to celebrate the Christmas season and everything it means to me as much as I did.

And so I came up with my list of non-negotiables for that holiday season.

They weren't crazy or super intense, but I landed on four very specific nonnegotiables. These streamlined many other conversations that I would have over the next few months to help me understand what was really important and what wasn't.

They also helped me see when I met Maddie, my now wife, and we went on our first date (see that story below) how amazing it was when all four non-negotiables were present in one person. And I knew that within the first date.

Often, we think of nonnegotiables as limiting our purview, as things that will kill deals, as opposed to options, which are about keeping things open and seeing what can be worked out.

But at a certain point, constraints actually give us more confidence than the openness and fluidity of options.

So the question I'm asking today is, what if you made room for more non-negotiables in your life? What if you were willing to put your foot down and say, "Enough's enough. That's not for me, and I will miss out on the opportunity ahead to make room for the things I do want to attract."

Because everything is permissible for us in the world we live in today, we are hesitant to ever eliminate things from our option set and in the chance of someday working out down the line.

But it is in removing things from our lives that we become more and more clear on when the right option presents itself.

And when we find it, we can lean into it and say wholeheartedly and quickly say, "Hell yes!"

This post is for subscribers only