You Go First

The poet Alta once wrote, “Let’s stop hurting each other. You go first.” Somebody has to go first if things are going to change for the better.

Time for Exercise: 15 minutes to one hour

Properties Required: none


  1. Identify a contentious issue that repeatedly leads to unfriendly disagreements, disrespectful arguments, or violent fights. Work with only one issue at a time.
  2. As objectively as you can, try to come to agreement on what the nature of the issue is, for example, what happens first (how things get started), then what happens next, such as “I do this, then you do that, then this happens….” Try to do this without blaming, or judging, or attacking each other about what usually happens. Try to avoid insisting one or the other is at fault and must change or else. In this step, you are objectively describing the process not getting caught up in the specifics of your issue.
  3. Draw straws to see who will go first. The partner with the short straw leads, offering a change in attitude and, most importantly, a specific behavior change to kick-start the resolution process. Important: When you go first, you cannot require any reciprocal change from your partner. You are offering a change as a way to initiate a peace process.


This exercise is designed to get the ball rolling; it is not an attempt to completely resolve the issue immediately. We are assuming there is goodwill between you, that you really do love one another and want the relationship to work. Just getting things moving in a new direction with a new dynamic is often all that is needed to clear the way for a completely satisfactory solution to emerge naturally. The next time you use the process, the other person goes first, or you can draw straws to see who goes first each time.

Author's Bio: 

Al Link and Pala Copeland own and operate 4 Freedoms Relationship Tantra. They regularly host lover’s romantic weekends near Ottawa Canada, and weeklong retreats in exotic locations. For more information call toll free from Canada or USA: 1-800-684-5308 International long distance: 1-819-689-5308. Visit their website and their blog or send email: They have four books published including Soul Sex: Tantra for Two, New Page, 2003; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Supercharged Kama Sutra, Penguin, 2007; Sensual Love Secrets for Couples: The Four Freedoms Body, Heart, Mind and Soul, Llewellyn 2007; Tantra Step by Step: 28 Days to Ecstasy, Llewellyn 2007.

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