It didn’t take too long for me to realize that having that kind of list was silly. I didn’t want to date my own clone! In my early 20s, I decided to get rid of all my deal-breakers. I dated guys who smoked, who did drugs, who were not nice to me or my friends, even some who wore ratty clothes! I also have dated some wonderful guys along the way, at least one with Old Navy polo shirts in his closet. (That’s not what ended the relationship, by the way.)
Going from too many deal-breakers to none didn’t work either. Now that I’m 40, I’ve come to realize that deal-breakers are not a bad idea. My list now might include: not financially stable; doesn’t take care of his health; has hooked up with or dated a bunch of my friends; lives too far away; isn’t close with his family; can’t stand my fat, lazy cat.
The problem with any kind of rule, though, is that there are always exceptions.
My current list is a lot more flexible, as I think I have become with age. Taking care of one’s health, for example, can mean anything from “not wallowing in his own filth” to “goes to the gym a couple of times a week.” He doesn’t need to live on my Metro line, per se; I’m okay with driving for about an hour to see someone.
That calculus changes with the individual, obviously, and the connection we have. Maybe the guy who lives a couple of blocks away doesn’t stir me like the one who lives in Herndon, or maybe the guy with the toned body doesn’t make me laugh like the man with a couple of extra pounds. For me, a deal-breaker has become a lot like pornography: I know it when I see it.
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