Originally Posted by jkelly
On the other hand, if you notice that you have a tendency to agree to weird relationship agreements, you might in the future use a lack of symmetry as a warning sign for you.
I think that that totally depends on how you feel about unusual asymmetrical agreements - if they make you happy, then why focus on some undesirable goal like symmetry?
Let me give you another way of approaching this...
Instead of the one person putting rules in place that the other can agree to, how about the person saying "this is what I am afraid of" or "this is what makes me uncomfortable" - explore a little what aspect of it makes them uncomfortable (and it may not be logical but there may be some sort of reason).
Then work together to come up with rules that would satisfy that insecurity/fear/whatever. Work on addressing the underlying issue, rather than debating specific rules.
Maybe I can try a hypothetical example.
Proposed Rule: "I don't want to sleep in the same bed with you after you've been on a date with him."
When proposed like this you can accept or reject - not really a lot of choice otherwise.
But let's say we dig down a little.
You: "What aspect of us sleeping together after a date don't you like?"
Him: "I hate the idea of you coming to bed after you've had sex with him!"
OK, we've got further - it's not about a "date", it's about sex, specifically. Ask a confirming question:
You: "So if I went out with him to the movies and then came home without having sex with him, would that be ok?"
Him: "Yes, it would. But if you had sex with him and didn't tell me I would still know, so you can't just say that you haven't had sex and lie to me."
OK, so it's been confirmed that this is about sex, but there is also another tidbit in there... dig deeper:
You: "So you know whether or not I have had sex with him when I come home from being with him?"
Him: "Yes, absolutely, and I hate that"
You: "How do you know?"
Him: "You smell like him and sex - I can't stand that."
another confirming question:
You: "So the fact that I smell like him and sex is what really upsets you?"
Me: "yes, it just reminds me that you were with him."
another piece of information.
You: "So if I came home and didn't smell like him or sex, you wouldn't be concerned or feel put off?"
Me: "It wouldn't bother me anywhere near as much, no."
At this point you propose a rule that you feel you can live with and which would address the real issue that he had:
You: "So if I promised you that I would shower right before leaving his place to come home, would that be an improvement?"
Him: "I suppose so."
You: "And if I didn't smell like "him" would you be ok with sleeping in the same bed as me that night."
Him: "Yes I would."
And this you have a rule in place that you have bother agreed upon that addresses his needs and is something that you can do without major inconvenience.
Please note that this is over-simplified, since discussions like this can go on for a LONG time. The important point it to find out what underlies the imposition of a rule, and find out if there is another way to get the concern addressed.
Not only that, but you have worked on this together, have respected the fears and insecurities that the other person has (which is vital, in my mind) and found a solution that can work. It won't always come up with a better solution but as a consequence you will better understand why the rule has been proposed.
Hope this helps the thought process.