This weekend, Patti Stanger did the unthinkable. She called off her engagement to her boyfriend of six years because she said, “You have to agree on the non-negotiables.” In their case, children were the dividing factor- she wanted them, he didn’t. But at 49, Patti’s move was both ballsy and…well, kinda smart.
Every girl has her own set of non-negotiables. Maybe you could never date someone who listened to Enya, perhaps you couldn’t commit to a vegan. Whatever your deal breakers, and whatever your reasoning behind them, it becomes hard to stick to your guns when you get caught up in an otherwise great relationship.
In college, the Land of Random Hook-Ups and Other Unplanned Physical Attractions, it’s completely impossible to predict whom you’ll find yourself dating. Friends that turn into boyfriends, one night stands that stick around for three semesters, frat bros looking to (gasp!) settle…it’s all very curious terrain. Where does this leave you? Frequently, throwing aside your “criteria” in favor that kid from Spanish class who no hablo inglés.
While I encourage you to experiment, explore, and date all the foreign exchange students you could ever want, you also need to take a note from Patti and realize that there is no middle ground on some topics. Here’s cheat sheet to romantic red flags:
Sure, it’s great when he’s living on the hall one flight up, but come summer your West Coast cutie isn’t going to be moving into your parents’ spare bedroom in Rhode Island (I hope). As a loyal CollegeCandy reader, you should be aware of the struggles of an LDR. Months apart, endlessly wondering what he’s up to, who’s he with… Really consider if that’s something you’re willing to deal with. (And don’t even get me started on graduation, because I don’t care what he says – you two won’t “just make it work.”)
If one or both of you isn’t super into your religion, you can skip this one. But if you get a girl-boner over Christmas tree shaped cookies and Easter egg hunts while he spins the dreidel like a champ, you may need to revise your relationship. In college it may seem like only a small snag- you go to Atheists Anonymous, he went on Birthright (twice) and visits his temple four days a week…who cares?
Outside the walls of higher education, though, things get a little trickier. Families become involved, holidays are shared, your shared kitchen table won’t accommodate both the Kwanzaa candles and menorah. It’s tough stuff, but another one you’ve got to be honest with yourself about.
Must Love Dogs
So you grew up watching Lassie, sleeping with ten stuffed animals, donating your allowance to the ASPCA. He hates animals. Runs them over with his SUV to make roadkill burgers. Tells puppies they’re ugly. Turns into a sneezy, sniffly, itchy Visene commercial upon being with cats. He thinks Seabiscuit should have lost. (Oh snap!)
So what to do when you’re wondering how much is that doggy in the window and he’s learning to make squirrel salad from Ted Nugent? Visit the student union and rescue a homeless PETA member, STAT.
Pull a Patti
I know we’re a bit young to be thinking of kids, but just recognize the following: Somewhere in the future, be it in five years of fifteen, you will have a serious talk about a serious issue with your potential husband (or Brangelina-style BF). Know what you want and what he wants. Know that neither one of you will likely change your mind. Know that it’s better to be 49 and single than 29 and unhappy for the rest of your life.
Be honest with yourself and be honest with your mate. It will save you a lot of heartache down the road.
What are your dating deal breakers?