These Are the Relationship Dealbreakers You Need to Get Over
Your relationship red flags might actually be a form of self-sabotage.
If you're staring down a list of nonstarters when pondering a mate—whether finding one or staying with one—you might think you're setting the bar at the right level for a self-respecting person with standards. But is that what it really is? Or is your long list of relationship dealbreakers actually a form of self-sabotage keeping you apart from a high-quality partner?
Whether your personal dealbreakers are related to physical traits, lifestyle choices, or finances, it might be time to actively reconsider. Here, relationship experts and matchmakers break down the obstacles that could be holding you back from a healthy relationship—and why it will serve you well to just get over them already.
They're too short (or too tall).
If you're completely inflexible on your minimum height requirement, you might be missing the magic standing right in front of you.
"There may be an ideal but there should not be an absolute," suggests relationship expert and LGBTQ matchmaker Tammy Shaklee, who advises widening (er, lowering) your search, even while acknowledging the human instinct behind a height preference. "Better to consider what range of heights makes you feel most comfortable when it comes to intimacy and attachment. Focus on the person, not the height, especially if they are living their best life at that size." And truly, what's hotter than someone living their best life?
They're too old for you.
Age isn't just a number, but it's less important now than ever before. Turning 50, 60, or 70 no longer means what it did a few decades ago.
"If you're bothered by the number, your focus is misguided. You should be measuring the vibrancy, health, and wellness of a partner—not the age," Shaklee notes. "And are you living up to your own maximum lifestyle potential? Perhaps if you both make slight changes, you can live the fullest life together for many more years to come."
Their libido differs from yours.
Sure, sex is a big deal for many people when seeking a mate. But it's important to keep in mind that one's libido is constantly in flux—and you should remember its fleeting nature when making your determination about a potential mate.
"Libidos are high in the beginning of the relationship," says relationship expert and TuffLove podcast host Robert Kandell. "It's fun, hot, exciting, and both people tend to feed off the NRE—new relationship energy. However, as the months pass, what was once new can morph into habitual play and a decrease in desire in one partner. Increasing communication around each's desires and how to mitigate disappointment is important for keeping the love growing."
They have pets.
For one thing, humans tend to outlive their pets—and you're playing the long game here. Beyond that, you might actually get something you weren't expecting out of a new relationship with a pet.
"Not a dog person? Then plan some dates to visit a dog park, breed meetups, or Facebook groups," Shakless advises. "Or better yet, buy tickets to the Westminster Dog show like my now-husband did. One visit and I was converted and ready to discuss the right breed for our lifestyle."
They have a different tolerance for clutter.
Everyone has a different acceptability standard when it comes to cleanliness and clutter in the home—and yes, it can be a stressful proposition. But open communication and expectation setting can help bridge that gap and keep it from being a dealbreaker.
"If a couple can't talk about how they want to keep the home, it can quickly destroy a relationship," Kandell says. "Finding the common expectation of what level of clutter can exist, dishes in the sink, and where the dirty laundry goes, is very important for each person's sanity."
They have debt.
Sure, you want a financially responsible partner. But if a single cent of debt makes you run from a mate, you might be gone before you get the full—and totally defensible—picture.
"Whether it's student loans or credit card debt, it's important to consider the context around the debt before deciding whether or not it's a dealbreaker," says personal finance author Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez. "For example, an unexpected illness, accident, or layoff can contribute to debt that might seem bad on paper, but may not be as dire or long-lasting as it appears."
To determine whether the debt is a dealbreaker, it's important to hear the full story, she advises. "How was it acquired and what is your partner doing to address it now? The real dealbreaker would be an unwillingness to talk about or address the debt and the behaviors that contributed to it, not necessarily the debt itself."
You prefer differing amounts of solo time.
You might think you're automatically incompatible with a potential partner whose comfort level with alone time varies from yours—but it doesn't have to be a nonstarter if you're both open to effective communication about the matter.
"Each person has a different relationship with alone time," Kandell notes. "For one, it might mean a few hours a week. To another, it can be two or three days. The ability to create solid agreements about solo time can ease the angst that arises."
You have different hobbies.
It's much wiser to think of a partner with different interests not as a drawback but as a potential opportunity for you to try new things.
"He's a surfer, sailor, and climbs mountains, and you can barely swim with a slight fear of heights? What an opportunity for each of you to broaden the scope of your own life experiences, interests, or adventures," Shaklee says. "And now you have the opportunity to introduce your partner to the tango or perhaps salsa lessons, watching those who do it best. You do not have to enjoy or do everything the same."
Your tastes or experiences are mismatched.
You already love yourself—so don't get so hung up on trying to find a partner to love who is exactly like you.
"Love can work even when you have different interests, tastes, and experiences, as long as you align where it's the most key: values, vision, and standards," suggests author and life coach Malena Crawford. "Having a partner who is different from you can open up opportunities to learn from one another while you celebrate what makes you each special individuals." Indeed, you are amazing—but you don't need a carbon copy of yourself as a mate to be happy in a relationship.