Deal Or No Deal

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Deal Or No Deal
Michelle decides what her dating dealbreakers are.

Since I’m new to this whole “single” thing, I sometimes seek advice from my single friends. And almost all of them tell me they have deal breakers in their relationships. Whether it's something as big as never wanting to get married or as small as not liking the same music, anything can kill a relationship. According to my friends, once they learned what they can and can’t put up with, they streamlined the dating process by weeding out the bad apples quickly and efficiently.

I seem to have missed this lesson in Dating 101. The words–“deal breaker”–are part of everyone’s lexicon but my own. I have standards, of course, but the things that would kill a relationship for me are more obvious than, say, “his car is old” or “I don’t like his cat.” For example, I refuse to date a smoker, and I steer clear of men who have bad breath or scratch themselves in public. But for the most part, I consider every romantic possibility in its own right.

Now that I’ve rejoined the singles scene, however, I’m starting to think my friends might be on to something. In my deal-breaker-free romantic life, I fear I’m wasting time on men who never stood a chance in the first place. Most recently there was no-spark guy–we got along really well, but I should have paid attention to the lack of a real connection that eventually led to our demise. Before him was uber-metrosexual man, whose conversational skills revolved around the type of his watch and brand of his clothing (I’m convinced that not only did his outfit cost more than mine, he spent more time creating an ensemble than I did).

The thing is, I’m just too damn optimistic. Often times, I’ll gloss over legitimate problems in the spirit of giving each man the benefit of the doubt. I’ve turned a blind eye to everything from “he doesn’t make me laugh” to “he never wants children.” Of course these problems always catch up to me in the end, at which point I realize I’ve wasted time crossing my fingers for someone who was never right for me in the first place. An objective look at my dating history suggests I put more emphasis on a wing and a prayer than I do on actual compatibility.

To be fair, Alex never had anything remotely resembling a deal breaker. But by the end of the relationship I had collected enough red flags to mark off a construction zone. We may have made it two years, but I have to wonder that maybe if I had implemented a deal-breaker policy prior to meeting him, I would have recognized the signs earlier and been able to call it off without prolonging the process.

Now that I’m single again, I’ve been trying to see through the eyes of my friends. I attempt to look at each guy objectively and decide what role he should play in my life. Is he a one-date man? Should I see him again and see how things go? Can I make him into “just a friend”?

I worry that I’m being too picky, which is why I never had many dealbreakers to begin with. But I figure I still have enough of the old optimism to reach a decent balance between hope and realism.

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