Relationship Agreement / Breakup Letter


A. Relationship Agreement

 

What is a relationship agreement?

 

A relationship contract is a document signed by two (or more) close people to document the rules agreed to govern the relationship. Rules exist in all types of relationships, with or without relationship agreements in any case. By documenting these rules in writing, the parties to the agreement can have a very frank dialogue on what their needs are and what are the acceptable behaviours in a relationship. This helps to translate unwritten rules of the relationship into something that is acceptable and clearly understood by the parties.

 

Relationship agreement maybe helpful whether you are in a long-term monogamous relationship, short term friends with benefits relationship, open relationship, platonic relationship or even one off sexual relationship. The parties can agree on what is fair and reasonable, how each party will be treated and whether there are any personal deal breakers etc. These are purely based on the personal values of each party and no judgement should be placed on these preferences.

 

A relationship agreement is a “social contract” and is not intended to be legally binding. In fact, for relationship agreements with explicit sexual context, they may be regarded as unenforceable, immoral or even illegal in certain common law jurisdictions. Nevertheless, a relationship agreement can be seen as clear evidence on the willingness of the parties to engage in certain activities or be treated in a certain way.

 

On the forms of the relationship agreement, they can be very different depending on the types of relationship the people are in. The following are the main ones:

 

1. Long Term Monogamous Relationship Agreement

 

A long term monogamous relationship agreement is essentially a love contract between the couple (assuming “or more” does not apply here). Essentially, the couple may include almost anything under the sun (also under the moon in many instances) in the relationship agreement. Think about what you (and your partner) most want to gain by writing down your relationship agreement? How would you like to be treated? Is there anything that you are currently unhappy about?

 

Some of the most common things people in a long term relationship would include in a relationship agreement:

 

Respective Responsibilities - how the partners will be responsible for themselves and each other about things like health, happiness, professional development, emotional growth and personal development.

 

Treatment – How to treat each other with respect. Be clear on how you would or would not like to be treated.

 

Independence – This is a hot topic as it is always difficult to fine the right balance between independence, care and intimacy. How much time to spend with their respective friends or alone, whether they can go on separate vacations.

 

Privacy – This is related to independence. How much personal space or privacy should each person have? Do you agree not to keep from each other? Do you give the passwords of your devices to your spouse? Do you enable the GPS tracker on your phone?

 

Honesty – This is related but slightly different from privacy. How to be transparent and honest about what matters in your relationship yet respect each other privacy. Being honest will help to avoid quarrels, frustrations, and unnecessary internal resentment.

 

Disputes Resolution – How to minimise or resolve disputes in a relationship. Never shout at each other, never go to bed angrily, treating each other with respect. If necessary, go to a third party to mediate or even marriage counseling.

 

Everyday Tasks / Household Chores – Agree on who should do what. Frequency of each chore that needs to be done. Whether to do it on a rotational basis.

 

Children (if any) - Who to look after the children (if any) and help them with homework. You can agree to hire a domestic helper or nanny if necessary.

 

Celebrations - Set parameters for how to celebrate birthdays / anniversaries / significant milestones. Rough budget for each type of event, whether to go to expensive restaurants or invite friends etc.

 

Date Night – Set a regular date night (weekly or bi-weekly etc.). What to do and who to arrange it.  Stay home vs. going out for a movie etc.

 

Holiday – Frequency of holiday, where to go, types of accommodation (5 stars hotel or AirBnB), what to look at (e.g. 20% museums, 20% shopping, 20% relax), expectations from travel.

 

Money – This is one of the most sensitive issues. Whether to have a joint account, if so how much to contribute by each party. Who shall pay for what? If a single income family, how much does one spouse give to another for household expenses.

 

Sex – Many long term relationships turn from passionate initially to platonic and sexless. It would be good to agree on a regular schedule to keep the romance on.

 

Penalties – Agree on the consequences and penalties on breach of the relationship agreement despite not being legally enforceable.

 

As long term relationship develops, the parties may have new needs and requirements. Don't be too rigid on your relationship agreement and make sure it takes into account the importance of flexibility, leaving room for growth, mistakes and exceptions for everyone's needs.

 

2. Short Term / Friends with Benefits / Open Relationship Agreement

 

The goal of a Short term / Friends with Benefits / Open Relationship Agreement is the polar opposite of a Long Term Relationship Agreement. It is an agreement to have a casual sex / relationship without any emotional connection. The parties can agree on a series of issues in advance and set very clear boundaries on what can and cannot be done. Although it can be a little awkward, the parties should express frankly their needs and desires from the beginning without getting into the muddy waters of a real relationship.

 

Here are some items that people generally put into a Short Term relationship agreement:

 

Exclusivity – Is the relationship meant to be exclusive or an open relationship? If exclusive you will need to define “exclusivity”. Does “exclusivity” mean that the parties are free to date but cannot sleep with other people? Obviously being “exclusive” means that you are more likely to get emotionally attached to one another. The advantage of an exclusive relationship is safety, as per outline below.

 

Safety – Safety is paramount especially in an open relationship. It is a good idea for both parties to check for any sexually transmitted disease (“STD”) before entering into the relationship and regularly after the relationship commenced. Protection is recommended even in an exclusive relationship to avoid the risk of STD and pregnancy.

 

Confidentiality - If you have common friends, do you want a third party to know about this? People are very gossipy and it is better not to disclose such a relationship to anyone. In addition, people with another half / spouse / partner would almost certainly want the relationship to be kept confidential.

 

Location – Where would the meetings take place? One party’s home or by rotation? Hotels? If hotels, who will pay for the hotel?  Go Dutch or take turns?

 

Boundaries – It is important to set boundaries in such a relationship, both inside the bedroom and outside:

  • Inside the Bedroom – What does non-emotional sex consist of? If one party is into kinky things (e.g. Fifty Grey scenario), is it acceptable to the other party? What about oral, vaginal or anal sex? You can have well-behaved sex with your special friend or be more selfish and do what is satisfying for you, so long as it is clear what you and your partner’s bottom lines are. Would either party think "embracing" is too emotional? What about kissing, sleeping, or sexual praises? Can one party sleepover?
  • Outside the Bedroom – Would you be meeting outside of the bedroom or avoid seeing each other? One may want to agree on not to visit each other’s home or workplace without the permission of the other party. Will you be seeing common friends together? Social distancing is a good idea in order not to avoid any unnecessary romance.

Term – How long will the relationship last? You should probably set a fixed period to avoid being too attached for too long. Would the agreement automatically terminate if one party start seeing someone? Is there a notice period (or a goodbye sex) before termination? If neither party found someone else by the end of the term, would the agreement be automatically renewed?

 

Frequency – Do you want to agree on how regular you meet (e.g. once a week)? Obviously this is not set in stone, but it is a frequency that you should both strive for otherwise the relationship may be meaningless .

 

Support – Would one party be providing financial support to another? For example, a sugar daddy or mommy relationship.

 

Emergency – You will need to agree and prepared for any emergency, as there is no guarantee even with safe sex practices. What if she becomes pregnant? Or what if one of you finds you have a sexually transmitted disease? For those who have a fixed relationship, these problems are especially difficult to deal with. If you are just ordinary friends with no attachments, would you get into a real relationship?

 

Emotional Attachment – Having “no strings attached” may sound easy at first, but once you start making love, the empathy centre in your brain comes into play, and people may start developing emotions for one another. What happened in the awkward situation when one party start to have feeling for the other? Does the relationship terminate? You need to discuss what happened and the big rules are broken. Does this mean you won't see each other again or can you go back to being friends? Good friends are hard to come by and it would be a shame to lose the long time friendship this way.

 

3. One-off Relationship Agreement

 

One might think it is a bit over the top to require the parties to sign an agreement for a one-off relationship (whether it is a one night stand or a paid relationship). There are several purposes for signing a one-off relationship agreement:

 

Set Boundaries for the activities - The good thing about this type of relationship is that you can be completely selfish and do what is satisfying for you (since it is one-off). You just need to agree on what the bottom lines are and stick to it.

 

Evidence of Consent - Protect you and your partner in this era of “me-too”. As mentioned previously, this agreement is not legally enforceable or maybe even illegal in certain jurisdictions, but it is good evidence to show that both parties consented to the act should any dispute arises.

 

Confidentiality - Most people would want to keep their one-off relationships confidential, in particular, if you are famous. One certainly would not want a repeat of the "Stormy Daniel" situation or be blackmailed by a one-off sex partner for money. 

 

4. Workplace Relationship Agreement

 

This is different from the agreements mentioned above and is designed for two people in a romantic relationship that are working together. This is principally used to demonstrate to the employer how to adhere to the company’s employment policy, avoid any conflict of interest and favoritism in the workplace. It will be provided to the employer to give some comfort in relation to potential sexual harassment or unfair dismissal claims.

 

 

B. Breakup Letter

 

1. What is a Breakup Letter?

 

The purpose of a breakup letter is to communicate to your partner the end of a relationship. It is always best to break up with someone face to face. However, it is often a difficult and emotional conversation that many people would try to avoid. Most people may find it awkward or uncomfortable to convey the message in person, or there may be physically constrained to do so because of a long-distance relationship, or you know your partner may react in a hostile or dangerous manner. Writing a breakup letter may be the best alternative to convey your message in a calm, direct and civilised way.

 

2. How to write a Breakup Letter?

 

Even if you are not breaking up with your partner face-to-face, it is always good courtesy to send a handwritten breakup letter instead of sending a text, e-mail or Facebook notification of the breakup. Obviously it is better to draft the letter on a computer first (see samples on DocPro) and copy it in neat handwriting after you finalise it. This shows your sincerity and help your partner grieve. He / She can choose to keep and read the letter over, throw away or even burn the letter. This allows your partner to let out the emotions and hopefully will lead to a cleaner breakup. It is also let likely for you to be called a “jerk” or a “bitch” by your partner to your common friends after the breakup.

 

The following are some tips on how to write a clean breakup letter:

 

Express Sincerity and Regret – Heartfelt sincerity in a breakup letter is a powerful way to convey regret if you want to maintain a good relationship and reconcile with the person you are breaking up with. You can apologise upfront if it is your fault, but do not couch on your apology in language intended to put the blame on your partner or someone else. You don’t have to apologise if you are not apologetic, but it is always easier and better to say “it is not your fault, it is mine”.

 

Be Friendly - You should be kind and friendly in your tone of your breakup letter. There is no need to be malicious or aggressive in doing so. Even if you do feel resentful, you would want to avoid having your partner to retaliate with an angry phone call, badmouthing you to your friends, or even stalk you at your workplace.

 

Be Clean and Clear – Be clear and decisive in your language in your breakup letter when breaking up. Do not be too soft or leave any hint that you might get back together. Better not give any false hope.  

 

Provide Reasons – Give (hopefully genuine) reasons in your breakup letter why you are breaking up. Explain briefly what happened and what has led you to the decision. Try not to infuriate your partner by finger-pointing or placing blames.

 

Plan Ahead  – Things will be more complicated if you are living together. Do you have children or pets together? Do you co-own any property or assets? Propose how you would want to split up the assets and liabilities (if any) that you have together.

 

Thank You – Try to end the breakup letter in a positive note. You can thank your partner for the memories (you don’t have to say it is good or bad). Thank him / her for the love, happiness, emotional growth and personal development you had together in the past and you will always cherish it as part of your life.

 

 

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