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Get Up Close and Personal With Your Dating Deal Breakers

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:

Bicoastal Lovin’
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.”)

Christmukkah
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?

    Comments

    Comments

    1. Caroline says:

      Great post. One thing I learned while dating one guy for almost three years is that anything that seems trivial (like these) that comes between you, isn't actually about these things. If it's a big deal to him, there are other factors. Like seriously, the pet thing was actually a dealbreaker for me (or, well, it should have been, but I stuck around to take some more crap for a while). Not because he was just allergic, and he was, but because he decided that m parents hated him because of that and he then refused to do anything with them. My parents live near my college town, so I see them a lot, and this was really hurtful to me.

      And thanks for mentioning that things that may not seem like a BFD in college may actually be once you graduate, because that's definitely true, too. Anything can slide by in college, but once you're out…that's real life. And as much as "love" is great, you're going to want to be doing real life with someone whose goals and mindset are aligned with yours, not with someone who will make real life more difficult.

    2. A says:

      Nice post, I just can't date religious people and political conservatives. Like can't, it just doesn't work. We all have deal breakers, and as much as we may love the other person, if they don't match up with our must haves, it will usually lead to dissapointment long term.

    3. Tamara says:

      I've learned trough the years that some values need to be shared in order for a couple to last. I don't really care what music or sports a guy likes, or what's his major or job, or whether he likes dogs or cats: I do care about moral and political values. I can't date a guy who doesn't know the value of hard work and economic independence; a guy that does not stand for Women's Rights or Labor Rights; a guy that's religious to the point of not being able to take a critical point of view of his religion; and stuff like that. You don't wanna be arguing every day about important things like this: pets and music, after all, can be discussed.

    4. […] • What are your dating deal breakers? […]

    5. nk says:

      Great article, though i have to say that number 1 (the bi-coastal business) can be dealt with. My boyfriend and I just survived our first college summer, living on different coasts, 3000 miles away, and we managed to find work and take summer classes in the same city where our college is, for almost 3 months out of 4 so that we could stay together.

      Dont be too negative please, some people will make the effort to live together after graduation, other couples wont feel its worth it. The odds are most people at your university dont come from the same hometown as you anyways, thats no reason not to date them!:)

    6. […] CollegeCandy: The dating deal-breakers you really shouldn’t compromise on (just ask Patti — if you get… […]

    7. Black Iris says:

      I don't think living far apart in college should be a dealbreaker. If you find someone you love, it may be worth moving to be together.

    8. M says:

      I think its important to realize what things are actually important. If anyone is an incoming freshman and has not gotten lost in the land of very attractive men and hook ups yet– write these things down somewhere–your views can change but the really important stuff is likely to stick.

    9. name says:

      i dont know if that is really true,

    10. Star says:

      Really good article. It's advice we all need to think about when we get into a relationship (or at least one that might have long term potential). Just a little side note, I don't think a guy who can only speak Spanish would be taking a Spanish class :p

    11. criolle johnny says:

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    12. […] First of all, you’re not getting what you need. Even if he was a perfectly nice guy–which, frankly, it sounds like he’s NOT, but even if he was–you’re not happy. You’re looking elsewhere. You’ve already expressed your feelings to him and he’s brushed them off. This would be bad enough in a regular relationship, but in an LDR, it’s a dealbreaker. […]

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