Why Do You Have So Many “Deal Breakers”? 

One of my clients, Leslie, has been divorced for five years and dating for two. She hasn’t been very successful with men so far, so she came to me.

She’s a beautiful redhead with blue eyes that twinkle and a killer sense of humor. She’s smart, together, and a great conversationalist.

But she rarely dates a man more than once.

Why, you may ask?

Leslie does not want a man with children (even if they’re grown), one who’s been married more than twice, or one who hasn’t been married before. She has dumped some good guys because of her standards. She’s inflexible and won’t discuss changing her mind.

Her reasoning? 

She feels the kids would always come first, a man with two divorces under his belt can’t make a relationship work, and a never-married man doesn’t know how to commit.

So how many available men has she excluded with these ridiculous deal breakers?

90%?

95%?

Is Leslie using these conditions as a buffer to keep from getting hurt or a way to avoid intimacy? I think so. If she sets impossible standards that men cannot possibly meet, then she doesn’t have to worry about a relationship developing, and she doesn’t have to worry about a relationship ending and getting hurt.

Her ex was the love of her life, she says, and no one can measure up to him. So she makes sure no one does.

As a dating coach, I’ve talked with many women who have the most incredibly silly deal breakers. Here are just a few reasons I’ve heard for dumping men (and no, I’m not kidding).

  • He’s under six feet tall.
  • He wears a ring on his pinky.
  • He doesn’t make six figures.
  • His glasses are from the ‘80s.
  • He eats spinach, and it gets stuck in his teeth.
  • I don’t like the car he drives.
  • He lives with his mother (because he takes care of her).

Did you notice how none of these “deal breakers” has anything to do with these men’s personalities or how they treat women? These are purely superficial things that DO NOT MATTER ONE BIT in the long run. If these men were abusive, dismissive, cold, or distant, then these women would have good reason to dump them.

… But not liking a man’s CAR?

… Or being upset that a man takes care of his mother and lives with her, probably because that makes things easier for both of them?

These are not deal breakers. They’re avoidance tactics. These women are picky so they don’t have to really, truly get involved.

They tell themselves that they’re “not settling,” but that’s not what not settling means. It means staying with a man who’s not good for you or a man who isn’t what you want as a mate. Which means his personality and behavior are bad, not his choice of jewelry.

And I get it. I’ve been hurt several times, as all of us have, and we need to protect ourselves to some degree from partners who may not be good for us. I understand the fears that women have about men. But if you’re going to nitpick every man you date, you’re going to be single for a long time, and I don’t want that for you.

Neither do you, right?

So here’s what you do:

  1. Make a list of your deal breakers.
  2. Delete every single one that has nothing to do with a man’s behavior or personality.
  3. Look at those you have left and decide if you really would get rid of a good guy based on just that one thing.

I’m not saying deal breakers are a bad thing, but I am saying deal breakers need to truly be deal breakers. Here are a few that are legitimate no-go conditions:

  • Abusive or neglectful.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Financial irresponsibility.
  • Adamant about not wanting kids if you want them—and no, you aren’t going to change his mind 98.649% of the time.
  • Prioritizes his buddies over you.

Do you see the difference? These deal breakers show up as character flaws. The first ones do not.

Protect your heart from the truly bad guys, but give the spinach-in-teeth guy a second chance. He just might be everything you ever wanted, and you can always give him the high sign if you see some green where it shouldn’t be.