Posted by: Andrea | June 16, 2008

How to get a dealbreaker to break the deal

I know a lot of people get over a breakup by going on endlessly about their ex’s bad points.  They list out the annoying little habits they had or the mean things they said or point out all the reasons why the relationship was doomed to fail.  I don’t want to do that, not because I couldn’t, because I could.  I don’t want to list all of the ex’s faults because I still like and respect him as a person and I don’t think that’s particularly fair to him, to present such a one sided view.  Plus, I’m sure if he made a list of all of MY bad points, it’d be a pretty long list.  I’m a very nice person but I sometimes think I’m not the best girlfriend.  I’ve been single a bit too much in my lifetime and I’m quite used to my own space and doing what I want.  Plus I’m stubborn and tend to argue.  And I hate holidays.  Especially Valentine’s Day.  And I always think I’m right, which is one of my worse faults.

SO.  Let’s not focus on the bad things, shall we?  Though to be fair, I am repeating them over and over in my head so that I can keep reminding myself why it WAS a good thing that we broke up.  It still hurts, but it’s getting better each day.  It also helps that all my friends agreed with me that it was a good thing that we broke up and that, as much as they like the ex, if they were in my position they’d have done the same thing.  So at least there’s that.

I’m trying to look at this relationship as a learning experience (as all relationships are).  What did I learn this time around?  What can I do better next time?  If there’s something I’ve really had to face up to, it’s that I’m not so good at reinforcing my deal breakers.  Everybody knows what those are, they’re those relationship things that you just can’t live without.  Or can’t live WITH, as circumstances dictate.  They could include manky toes, a love of cats, or the inability to take out the garbage.  But usually they’re significant, important things.  Must Love Dogs.  Must Adore Me and Vice Versa.  Must Agree With My Politics.  Must Not Be Crazy (well some are just self-explanatory).  

One thing that is a dealbreaker for me is that I have to agree with my partner on politics and values.  It’s just a must for me.  I can’t be with someone long term that’s conservative.  I’m probably more liberal and ‘politically correct’ than most, but you can blame my social work training for that.  I know this isn’t the case for some, but for me I have to be able to see eye to eye on certain things.  Probably a lot of things, if I’m completely honest.  Everybody has their list in their head and I have mine.  I knew it as it was going on, but the big problem was that I came up against a deal breaker, but I didn’t let it break the deal.  The ex made a few comments and I let them go.  I challenged him on a few things and he seemed to see my point so I let that go too.  I think I knew in my heart even then that it just wasn’t going to work.  But see, I liked him!  He was a good person, I found him extremely attractive and we had a lot of similar interests.  I convinced myself it was enough.  Well, as everyone knows, it’s not.  I grew to love him very much but the deal breaker was still there.  Eventually, I had to face it.  I probably should have faced it sooner, but that’s my issue to regret.

There’s a website I love, Strongly Worded, and I particularly love reading Dori’s upDATEs.  One thing I respect so much about Dori is that she knows what she wants and when she comes up against a dealbreaker, she’s doesn’t hesitate to end a relationship that’s not right.  I envy her that ability to say ‘this isn’t right’ without apologizing for that.  I still have a lot to learn in that respect, but I know now that if it’s not right, it’s just not right.  And it’s never going to become right, no matter how much in common you both might have.  

And since I’m supposed to actually let my deal breakers break the deal, I’ve been thinking lately about what mine actually are.  You know, other than politics.  So far I have these few:

–  Must like dogs AND cats.  Because I do.  And I’ll probably want both at some point in my life.

–  Must like his family and know how to get along with them, most of the time.

–  Must be kind.  

–  Must have his shit together.

–  Must have his own separate interests and allow me to have mine.  MUST NOT be needy.  

–  Must accept and love a child even if it’s born disabled (this one based on a ex who said he wouldn’t ever want a child with a disability.  He’d want an abortion before a disabled child.  Not too much of a stretch to understand why he’s now an EX)

–  Must stand up to me.

–  Must challenge me.

–  Must like books and subtitled films.

–  Must be open minded.  Not homophobic, racist or only eat in chain restaurants.  Must respect other cultures.

–  Must be the kind of man that if my son turns out just like him, I’d be proud.  


I’m sure there are others, but those are the basics.  Am I asking too much?  Now I just have to actually learn how to say NO to a guy if he’s not one of these things.  I may just get more practice on that breaking up thing I hate so much.  

So did I miss any?  I know this is a fairly common topic, but what are YOUR dealbreakers?


Update: OH!  I forgot one.  Must weigh more than I do.  Sorry, but you do.  You just do.  



  1. My Dealbreakers:

    1) Must be proximal to my viewpoint. Even if she’s not as Liberal as I am, she must understand WHY I feel the way I do about liberal things like universal rights (including family/marriage, social, education, healthcare, employment, etc.), environmental conscientiousness, respect for divergent religious views, etc.

    Even if she doesn’t hold precisely the same opinions, she needs to be able to understand my viewpoint and WHY I hold those opinions. I’ve met some very centrist women who I could be happily compatible with because they still understood and respected my beliefs and why I held them.

    2) Must accept a large family. I come from a family that gets more than 300 people together every other year for family reunions. 300’s an off year. She needs to at least be able to accept that my family is large and loving and put up with it for one weekend every other year. And the occasional holiday once in a while.

    3) MUST be willing and able to engage herself with life. I don’t care if it’s a job, or school or scrapbooking…she has to have some kind of external interest beyond waiting for me to come home at night. This is a recent discovery for me.

    4) Must have some kind of religious orientation, and UNDERSTAND why she holds it. Even if it’s Atheism, at least have some kind of compelling system of belief (or scientific evaluation of the universe). Even a compelling faith in the invisible pink unicorn is better than “oh, I go to a church, somewhere, occasionally, I think…”

    5) Must accept that sometimes babies are born sick and die, and it’s not part of a greater morality play between God and Satan or a “Faithfulness” test for the parents. This has actually broken the deal for me once already… ‘nough said.

    6) Must read. Preferably more than she watches television, but that’s flexible.

    7) Must accept Sci-Fi and Fantasy as legitimate fiction. Yes, I take this personally.

    Some dealbreakers that I’m no longer quite so tied to:

    8) Must listen to NPR.

    9) Must have at least a functional understanding of history. MUST be able to put the major American and World conflicts in chronological order. If she believes that Napoleon fought Hitler in the Civil War…I’m just not gonna be attracted to her. She could look like Kiera Knightly and sound like Fiona Apple, I still wouldn’t find her attractive.

    10) Must have at least SOME musical interests in common. Must AT LEAST be able to tolerate the music of Sting and/or The Police.

    I’ve had to give up on eight, nine and ten. I’m just too picky.

  2. So does the fact that you’ve given up on 8, 9 and 10 mean that you’ve met someone who knew nothing about history that you WERE attracted to? Sometimes those dealbreakers actually aren’t that important, if you meet the right person 😉

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