Deal or No Deal?

It’s time to make a deal. Not because it’s a new year but because you owe it to yourself to take a hard look at your life and determine if you’re getting out of life what you really, truly want. Some of you who know me personally might be thinking something along the lines of “try looking in the mirror.” Well, this post is just as much for me as it is for anyone who takes the time to read it. I’ve been forced to do a lot of thinking this past week, including a night of sobbing so loudly I scared the dog a little, and that thinking reminded me of something relationship-related that I hadn’t thought about in nearly a year: deal breakers.

Whether you consciously know what yours are or not, everyone has deal breakers for relationships. They vary from person to person depending on what they value, believe, and want, which means some things may be deal breakers for some people but aren’t for others. This post from the Datingish blog provides a great example of what I mean.

My exploration of deal breakers began about a year ago, during a time when I was in a bad emotional place. I didn’t see any hope for myself in the relationship department, and after enduring multiple abusive relationships, I didn’t even know where to begin when it came to dating. In short, I was terrified to date again. Someone close to me recommended I read the book Conscious Dating, and after several months of ignoring her advice, I finally picked it up and read it in its entirety.

The book dedicates a lot of time to relationship deal breakers because they’re often things we don’t consider when we first start dating people. This is a colossal mistake because, by the time you realize, for example, they don’t want to have kids and you do, you’re too hooked to extract yourself from the relationship. Now obviously sometimes people change their minds, but more often than not, a deal breaker like the kid issue leaves one partner feeling angry, resentful, and maybe even betrayed.

Now, I’m not saying you should quiz your potential significant other during your first few dates, but I do recommend slowly bringing up some of your deal breakers during casual conversation to gauge your date’s reaction. But before you can do that, you need to know what your deal breakers are. Conscious Dating is all about being a smart dater who isn’t blinded by emotion. That means thinking about what your deal breakers are before you even go on a first date. It’s a tough thing to do, especially since sometimes you don’t even realize something is a deal breaker until it happens (like the post from the Datingish blog linked above). Despite this challenge, I sat down a year ago and started my list of deal breakers, and I’ve been altering it by adding and deleting things ever since. Here it is:

My potential significant other ….

1. Wants to get married
2. Must be drug-free, and drinking must be social only, with inebriation occurring rarely
3. Values family and having a relationship with my friends and family
4. Values trust and is trustworthy
5. Must provide stability, which for me means I can rely on him and know he’ll follow through
6. Is not super religious OR accepts the fact that I am not religious
7. Is willing to communicate for the benefit of the relationship, including those hard conversations you don’t really like having

Now, according to the book, these aren’t the greatest deal breakers because some of them are too general. For example, I should really be asking myself what it means to be trustworthy because that might mean something different to me than it does to someone else. It’s important to note, however, that none of the deal breakers I listed were overly specific, like “likes to play video games” or “is a musician” or “loves my jokes.” Stuff like that doesn’t speak to the core of who a person is, and they will more than likely change over time.

I challenge you to take a moment to be painfully honest with yourself and write out your own list of deal breakers. Then take a look at your current significant other or the type of people you’ve been dating and see how they compare. If you’re currently dating someone, will you still stay with them if they have exhibited one or more of your deal breakers? If you’re single, will your list of deal breakers change your dating strategy?

When you’re done, share your thoughts here. I’d love to hear them.

Love and the chance for lifetime riches,



~ by Mika Doyle on January 7, 2011.

6 Responses to “Deal or No Deal?”

  1. Such a great post, Mika!! Deal breakers are really hard… and a topic on my mind a lot lately. Good idea to write them down. I’ve got a mental list in my head, but it’s always better to have it solid and were you can see it!!


    • I found that writing them down made me really think them through, and it also made them more real, which is the scary part. Recently having to revisit them was like having to look myself in the eye and ask myself what I was really doing. Based on the criteria on how to determine your deal breakers from that book, it’s difficult to do, and I still don’t have it quite right, but it’s better than not having any conscious knowledge at all of what they are.

  2. I know all too well the risk of not looking at deal breakers before going in. I am also far too likely to excuse behaviors that I don’t like. My favorite was “no… he likes sports, but they’re not his life.” or “he only drinks like that with the Rugby guys.” “He just needs time to know what my expectations are” (after YEARS of being in the relationship). I think I was a pathological liar to myself when it came to these things because I spent my high school years being too critical of people. I think what I failed to realize was I went from “I don’t have time or the emotional uumph to devote to a relationship that isn’t really fulfilling.” To “Oh god, who’s going to put up with me and my shenanigans, maybe he’s not so bad.” I agree having a list like this is sooooo important. It makes you really look at what you’re doing and ask if you’re in it because you should be or because you don’t want to be “alone.” Either way, here goes a list I came up with:
    *Must love dogs. Can’t like, can’t live with, must love. I’ve dealt with too many people who like the idea of dogs, but are not okay with the actual demands of pet-ownership.
    *Must have a reasonable clue where he’s going professionally. Established would be AWESOME, on the road is doable provided there is a clearly defined end.
    * Drinking is moderated and thought through. There is a clear point where keys are handed over (without judgement). I know sometimes people over do it. So long as it’s not a habitual thing and he has the gumption to let me drive if he has or to call me for a ride, I’m way more forgiving.
    *They see the relationship as a PARTNERSHIP. No one is stronger or weaker, dominant or submissive; both have a clear voice that is worth listening to. Mostly, I’m not in charge. I’m used to having too much of a voice. I need someone who’ll stand up to me, bounce ideas off of me, and help me sort through things.
    *Is understanding of limitations and helps me see that there’s nothing wrong with having them. Sometimes I push myself too hard (as we all do) and I need someone who will (gently and kindly) help me realize there are some nights I need to just turn in early, sometimes I have to tell a coworker no, or times I just shouldn’t answer my phone.
    …. I could go on a bit longer, but those are some I’ve come across. The great thing is I think I’ve found someone who (so far) passes the list. Don’t want to jinx it, though.

    • What a fantastic list!! Congrats on figuring out what is important to you and even more so for committing yourself to it. Thanks for posting!! – Caitlin

    • I’m right with you on the pathological lying to oneself, that’s for sure. No matter how much I try to let my brain lead when I start letting my heart convince myself that … well, maybe a year or two from now he will actually fall in love with me and change his mind about marriage ….well, let’s just say the heart typically wins out. You listed some really great deal breakers here — some that I think are actually the same as mine but said in a different way, which is why it’s so important to really get to the nitty gritty of what your deal breakers are because everyone has a different perspective on these things. Some of your deal breakers I hadn’t thought of before, but the “must love dogs” one would be a deal breaker for me, too, because I’ve always said my doggie and I are a package deal. Thanks for putting yourself out there by sharing yours!

  3. […] stages, give you an emotional high, making it really easy to ignore red flags and even potential deal breakers. And who can blame us? Connecting with someone and enjoying a time of infinite possibilities for […]

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