You'll be surprised to hear how your dealbreakers are actually breaking your own dating life!
Dating can be a lot like picking out a nice pair of fall boots. Lots of options, but you want to invest in the quality pair that you can wear with pride through the season. Buckles or a zipper? Brown leather or black? High heel or low heel? You know what you like because you've worn different styles in the past, and you've envisioned the ideal pair in your mind.
But maybe you've spent so much time focusing on the black leather knee-highs, and you've ignored all the beautiful grey tall riding boots that could have made you deliriously happy. However many dating tips we read, sometimes we're better at choosing boots than dates. With dating, maybe you have a picture of your ideal partner in your mind, but the truth is, no one is perfect, so you'll have to decide what qualities you can deal with and what you can't.
As a matchmaker, I always ask my clients what their absolute dealbreakers are. I've heard it all, from singles who refuse to date smokers, or people with children, or girls with crooked teeth, or guys with bald spots. It's my job as a matchmaker to find potential dates who don't have any of the dealbreaking qualities. But before I do that, I encourage singles to distinguish between preferences and dealbreakers in relationships. Just like you may prefer brown leather, but opt for the black pair because they're more comfortable, you may prefer to date someone who has never been married before, but might overlook it if Bradley Cooper came knocking on your door. Incorrectly characterizing your preferences as dealbreakers could hurt you in the dating world by closing you out of great opportunities.
So, before you jump into the dating pool, ask yourself these questions about each of your dealbreakers, and identify what really will destroy a deal:
- Is it a judgment or a generalization? If yes, it's a preference. I met with a client who showed up with a type-written list—107 deep—of dealbreakers. One of his dealbreakers: he absolutely refused to date a woman without a college education. Right off the top, he eliminated a giant portion of the Las Vegas population and refused to be set up with non-college educated women. But at a mixer, he met a beautiful paralegal without a university degree, who he is still currently happily dating. She was intelligent, which is what his actual dealbreaker should have been. Had he continued to be steadfast in that dealbreaker, he might have missed her altogether. This client generalized college-educated people with intelligence, and associated the lack of a 4-year college degree with a lack of intelligence. Not only is this an untrue generalization, but it almost prevented him from meeting someone who was an intellectual equal.
- Is it absolutely impossible to get over? If you answered no, then it's a preference. My litmus test is always: if Ryan Gosling had blank, would you still go out with him? "Hairy men disgust me," one woman in our network informed me. "I don’t care how charming he is, if he has a hairy chest, no deal." I reminded her that Hugh Jackman has hair on his chest, and has the resources to wax if his partner prefers a hairless chest. We agreed that was a preference, not a dealbreaker.
- Does it reflect your core values? If no, then it's a preference. If your dealbreakers focus on the physical, then you aren't putting personality high on your list of values. If you are looking for a kind and compatible partner to start a family with, demand someone who is open to having children with you. Don't demand someone who is at least 4 inches taller than you. Think about what you actually value in yourself and other human beings without being bogged down by preferences.
Once you've asked yourself these questions, commit to your dealbreakers and be aware of your preferences. Be open to those who may not have all the preferences—try new things on for size, and don't close yourself off to fabulous opportunities. Find that perfect pair of boots for you, and find that imperfect partner who is perfect for you.