Do you believe in dealbreakers? Like, things about a person that as soon as you find out about them, you decide it’s never going to work between you? If so, how small a thing can a dealbreaker reasonably be?
Why, of course! Every potential relationship should have dealbreakers so that we have good boundaries and aren’t compromising principles or getting hurt. However, the dealbreakers can range from the universal to the micro-annoyances.
A dealbreaker for every relationship should be situations that are damaging, e.g. if the potential mate is violent (whether with you or with your furniture—it’s all abuse). If the person is verbally abusive, and it erodes your psyche or feelings of self-esteem, you should run. (Though that can be more subtle and insidious over time, so you have to be aware and not be afraid to seek help to identify the situation and gather strength to get out—this goes for men as well as women).
Okay, those things are rather obvious dealbreakers. There are issues such as addiction, alcohol or whatever. If the person knows they are and are dealing with it, you might consider still going down the rocky road with them. They may be worth sticking with for the long term, but don’t let yourself become caught in the quagmire.
Some people have dealbreakers such as: won’t date a smoker, someone who wants/has kids, a deadhead, someone who dances on the bar when the urge strikes them, or someone who has to go live in a cave for three months out of the year. At this point it’s really all about personal preference at this point. But also at this point, you might want to really evaluate the individual—don’t judge them only because they’re a smoker, maybe, but give them a chance because real connections are getting harder and harder to find. And in these rough economic times, some people have to hang onto and do things that bring them comfort. Even if it’s potentially harmful for them (in the case of smoking), if you adore everything else, you might find a way to compromise. However if you’re not a fan of the Grateful Dead, for example, and they’re going to play it incessantly, that could drive you to smash records or leap out a window, and that wouldn’t be so good.
How small can a dealbreaker be? Hmm. If they have annoying habits, like popping their fingers, chewing their hair or have dirty toenails or sing terribly in the shower…I would say, again, it’s up to you. But yeah, I think dealbreakers such as these can be too small. You can just walk out of the room, or develop patience and a zen attitude toward the small stuff.
So overall, as you’re dating, you might want to make a prioritized list, look for those who don’t have the things going on in the top ranked dealbreakers, and consider compromise if you meet a wonderful person who has some of the lesser dealbreakers going on. But don’t settle if it will significantly compromise you and your way of living. Only you can know what those levels are.