What are your deal breakers?

San José Mercury NewsI was interviewed the other day by an engaging reporter from the San José Mercury News who was doing a piece on deal breakers. After over an hour on the phone, we’d explored this topic from nearly every angle.

He wanted to know if deal breakers are a good thing, or do we perhaps need to set them aside so that we don’t miss out on someone who has potential?

I told him I think some deal breakers are important (e.g., you’re very religious and want to have someone who shares your views) while others can be set aside (he needs to make $X, or be X height or have all his hair!).

I’ve heard of some common deal breakers:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Bad teeth
  • Personal hygiene
  • Bad dresser
  • Too talkative
  • Too self-absorbed
  • Too shy
  • Negative
  • Mean
  • Rude
  • Excessive cursing
  • Table manners (chews with mouth open, eats salad with fingers, bends head to plate to eat)
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Intelligence (too much or not enough)
  • Education
  • Finances
  • Kids (you have them and he doesn’t like kids, he has them and you don’t like kids or feel he won’t have any time for you, or one of you wants kids and the other doesn’t)

I talked about a few more that are apparent on the first date in “Women’s first-date blunders” and “First-date red flags that this guy isn’t for you.”

Some of the ones I’m surprised by are the ones I think are sort of minor:

  • A woman jettisons a man the first time he doesn’t call when he says he will, without giving Birkenstockshim a chance to explain, and even though he’s called on time every other time.
  • He wears Birkenstocks and she’s a wingtip kind of gal.
  • She puts lipstick on at the restaurant table.
  • He won’t buy her expensive jewelry even through they’ve only dated a month.
  • He doesn’t drive an expensive car.

The reporter asked if I had deal breakers in my own dating life. Yes. They mostly have to do with how someone treats me.

  • If he is mean or inconsiderate, I won’t tolerate that — at least after I give him some grace for the first time in case there was some unusual cause. I give people a lot of slack, but meanness is inexcusable.
  • I’m not very tolerant of someone who takes me for granted.
  • I have no patience for someone who doesn’t act with integrity.
  • Since I’m 5’10” I’m afraid I’m not keen on going out with someone who’s shorter. I know this isn’t an issue for many women (like Katie Holmes or Nicole Kidman), but it is for me.

What are your deal breakers? Any that you know are perhaps a bit frivolous, but are important to you?

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7 responses to “What are your deal breakers?”

  1. […] but I?m not so sure what?s in her hair. Are those stones? Source Tags: tomkat, tom cruise, …What are your deal breakers? I know this isn?t an issue for many women (Like Katie Holmes or Nicole Kidman), but it is for me. […]

  2. Aggressively Single Avatar
    Aggressively Single

    Deal breakers: A couch potato, a bad temper. And call me shallow, but after 15 years with an out-of-shape overweight guy, I wouldn’t date anyone who is at all heavy. DG, I’m 5’10” and like them tall too, but one of my favorite guys is a little shorter, and I compromised.

  3. Gatti Avatar

    My deal breakers:

    Alcohol abuse
    Lying about anything, age, situation, work, current relationships, etc.
    Smoking (anyway, but especially when they said they didn’t)
    Devious actions – not showing up, continuous excuses, elusiveness, etc.
    Verbal abuse or bullying
    Put downs, name calling, etc.
    Expecting me to get involved in their finances (before there is a long term, exclusive relationship, and probably even not then…)
    Lack of kindness.
    Personal hygiene.

    Many other things are more go with the flow, for example I do like beards (which many women don’t) and baldness is OK too. I’m not fussy about clothes or getting gifts, but I would like to see some sort of maturity in home decor (i.e. at least a few “grown up” paintings/prints amongst the boys toys, reasonably tidy, real furniture). I’m short, so height is not an issue.

    I don’t think I could look at bad teeth, and I just couldn’t love a man who couldn’t punctuate!

  4. Mitsy Avatar

    I like Gatti’s list. Only thing I can add is a guy who STILL lives with his parents. And I have met 2, in the last 7 years, who were either still living with their parents or were temporarily back living with them. I don’t mind a guy who is close to his family, but I think he needs to have his own place if he wants to date and be an “adult”.

  5. Gatti Avatar

    That’s a good one, Mitsy, I hadn’t thought of that, though it would set off my warning bells.

  6. Janet Avatar

    These four are on top of my list:
    – Being able and open to any types of food – at least try it once.
    – A healthy man without needing to go to bathroom for No. 2 every hour or so and not wanting to go somewhere with me due to the fear of not being able to find bathroom when he needed to go
    – Not a self conscious person and do not care what public think of him as long as he is not doing anything too crazy or illegal
    – Good and spontaneous in bed

    My soon to be ex is none of the above and those are a HUGE deal breakers for me. He is the exact total opposite of what I listed above and I told myself that given a second chance, I will not settle for less this time. If I can’t find a man with all of the above, I would rather be single.

  7. Coach Amy Schoen Avatar

    Everyone needs to have a good sense of what I call their “Must Haves” and their boundaries. First, you have to have enough sense to know how you want to be treated. Most people, especially those I coach, have a value around kindness and consideration. So it’s not okay to stand someone up or keep them waiting at a resturant for an hour or two without calling and having a good reason. Also, how someone treats others can be a “deal breaker” if someone is rude or obnoxious to another, such as the waitstaff.

    Boundaries are how you want to be treated and respected. So if someone is overly physical too soon, that can be a “deal breaker”. It’s a good idea to make a list of how you expect someone to treat you. Practice what to say so you are ready when someone oversteps those boundaries.

    Last, there are things and situations we want to have in our lives that we have decided that we will not live without. One of my clients was dating a nice man who had no retirement savings. She scrimpted and saved and had a hard time with the fact he did not have any savings and was not doing anything to assure his financial future. In the end, she broke it off because she needed to be with someone who shared here secure financial life value.

    Coach Amy Schoen