Ridiculous Deal Breakers. Part 2 – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 35)

I actually overheard this conversation recently when I was on the Metro, and it inspired me to write another article about ridiculous deal breakers.  (In case you missed the first, feel free to read it here.)

Friend 1: I think I found a guy for you.  He’s cute, smart, tall, and has a dog.

Friend 2: What kind of dog?

Friend 1: A miniature schnauzer I think.

Friend 2: Are you serious?  What kind of guy has a small dog?  No thanks.

When it comes to dating, especially online dating, people invent lists of “deal breakers” that may sound like nothing individually, but when you add them all together, no one stands a chance of making the cut.  When Gestalt said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, who knew that he was talking about people’s dating laundry lists?

I thought back to the days when I was having four or five dates a week (I was a woman on a mission), and some of my deal breakers were:

  • Not intellectual enough
  • Didn’t pay for me on the first date
  • Not Jewish
  • Was rude to the waitstaff (or someone else)

But if you’ve ever noticed yourself saying things like those in the list below, then maybe it’s time to reassess what’s important to you:

  • “He got this gross pimple on his face that I can’t stand to look at.”
  • “I can’t believe she has a cat… she must be a cat lady.”
  • “He doesn’t like chocolate ice cream?  What is that?!”
  • “She writes love poems on the fridge with her magnetic poetry.  She must be some kind of nut.”
  • “OMG – he wore a flannel shirt on our date.  That was so 1995.”
  • “She paints her nails with sparkles and flowers.  This just won’t work.”  (It’s a good thing Jeremy didn’t have this ridiculous deal breaker because we wouldn’t have lasted.  I love a good nail flower.)

When we read them, they sound pretty silly, right?  But people say things like this every day.  These “deal breakers” are the things that make people quirky and unique.

As I mentioned last time, while I may not be as blunt as Patti Stanger (thank goodness for that), I do agree with her rationale that you should narrow your list down to five or fewer non-negotiables and stick with it.  If you really want to put, “I don’t want to date a vegetarian,” on the list, then that’s okay, but limit the others to four things so that the person you’re looking for may actually exist in real life.  Remember, chemistry is the “wild card,” so list or no list, these deal breakers may go out the window when you feel a connection with someone.

So the next time you want to nix someone because he has a small dog, or she has a fondness for sparkles, remember – if it’s not on the list, give it a chance.  That one thing you thought you didn’t want may end up being your favorite part of the person.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

1 reply
  1. J
    J says:

    I don’t disagree with you if you’re talking about judging someone before you’ve met them. But I think a lot of the time we pick up these little things about people that rub us the wrong way because it’s a reflection of our gut sense that the attraction (or some other critical element of a connection) just isn’t there. Oftentimes we find these tiny little things to be off-putting (the Jerry Seinfeld syndrome), but it’s not those actual things that bother us. Sometimes our bodies know things before our brains do, and this is one of the first signs.


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