What's Your Dating Deal-Breaker? And Is it Full Of Crap?

On Twitter last week, lots of people contributed their dating deal-breakers. Judging by that, most deal-breakers are pretty shallow.

Jul 3, 2012 at 11:00am | Leave a comment

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Oh, you DIDN'T want to bone in my futon-nest of overalls and comic books? I must have been mistaken.

As a young single thing living in a big ol’ city, I figure it’s kind of my duty to start personifying every one of those Hip Hot Media Professional clichés that I internalized as a tiny suburban pre-teen. I’m pretty much hopeless at fashion and I don’t have a pack of uber-glam single friends to drink expensive champagne with, but I can have a whole slew of dating montages! 

Because here’s the thing: I. Love. Dating. I’m both super nosy and incredibly self-involved, and first dates provide me with the perfect opportunity to humble-brag while fishing around about my prospective partner’s food allergies and/or daddy issues. I genuinely like talking to people about their lives, particularly if they do things that are more interesting than most of my hobbies (read: writing, Internet, writing about Internet, eating cough drops). And if it ends in porch makeouts, well, all the better. 

The problem, of course, lies in the fact that I’m non-monogamous, dating a few people already, and in deeply passionate friend-love with a slew of ruffians all over the globe. I have a tendency to over-commit to things, which means that I’ll show up very slightly late and wild-eyed to my third event of two hours that I forgot to say no to. Also, I am one of those obnoxious people who has to schedule her friend-time in very specific blocks, lest I be distracted from my hobbies (see above). 

This, in addition to the fact that I basically sleep in my own closet, haven’t put sheets on my futon mattress in seven weeks, and tend to drink a little too much and make out with a few too many strangers, probably makes me less than an ideal partner.

I can’t imagine anyone putting up with all of that for the long haul. And at this point in my life, I am mostly at peace with that. I guess you could say that in that respect, I'm my own deal-breaker.

Interestingly, though, stuff like "You might be a human disaster" is rarely what comes up when people talk about their own “dating deal-breakers.” On Thursday of last week, #ICantDateYou started to trend on Twitter, offering a crowd-sourced view into the relationship drama of thousands of randos. 

Most of the people seemed to be participating in earnest. “#ICantDateYou if your [sic] not my type,” one user mused insightfully.  Some of the comments were about certain traits each user found attractive: “If your [sic] shorter than me,” came up a whole lot, as did, for some reason, a hell of a lot of hating on Crocs. And some were…just plain different.

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He's got a point.

In all likelihood, most of the people participating in this trend were probably hoping that their crush was reading their feed. This would explain all the melodramatic ones: “#ICantDateYou if you don’t pay attention to me” and “If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friends about me.” I’m gonna chalk this category up to the sort of passive-aggression that the average 17-year-old finds perfectly reasonable and everyone else nervously edges away from. In my day, we’d create fake AIM accounts to harass our mean ex-boyfriends, but if Tweeting “#ICantDateYou if you keep smoking pot in your van with Tracie, KEVIN” is your jam, more power to you.

What I find most interesting are the Tweets about people’s conflicting interests. There were tons of users saying things like “#Icantdateyou if you don’t like One Direction” or “If you think cheer isn’t a sport.” This seems to be a delusion that a lot of people, including various hipster stars of insufferable indie rom-coms, suffer from: the hope that if you can just find one doe-eyed nymph who loves The Mountain Goats as much as you do, you’ll be set for life. 

While I’m definitely a fan of sharing a few superficial interests, in case the table conversation dwindles into nothing but anxious ice-chewing and my inevitable descent into recreating sketches from "Portlandia," I think singles tend to forget that matching iTunes accounts does not equal true love. I hate to say it, guys, but someone can adore Terry Pratchett and still be kind of a skeezball. Rough, but true. 

Similarly, if you loooove "Twilight" and you meet someone who thinks it’s a steaming heap of reductive bullshit, I don’t think that fact alone is enough to drive a stake through the heart of your nascent relationship. If your date presents her hatred in a reasonable, kind way, there's no reason for Stephenie Meyer to ruin yet another perfectly delightful potential couple. I know this is shocking, but people’s interests can change. Their weird love for Edward Cullen might be temporary, while their wicked senses of humor and great smiles will probably endure.

This idea that people have an automatic kill-switch is kind of baffling to me. I’m not talking about figuring out that your date is a racist, or a that they’re a homophobe. Of course, no one wants to end up accidentally being Mrs. Hitler. But the few times I’ve ended up on a date with someone who is racist, sexist, or homophobic, I’ve figured it out pretty goddamn quickly. It’s not really a “deal-breaker” if you fake an allergy to restaurant water the minute someone says they’re against abortions, right? 

Even nixing someone based on their life plans seems a little shallow to me. If a 23-year-old woman doesn’t want kids and you do, for example, but all other systems are go, is that really a reason to flake on calling her back for a third date? I don’t think so.

When my friends tell me that they could “never date a guy who smokes,” or only “want a girl whose boobs are smaller than C-cups,” I can’t help but think of all the perfectly nice tobacco-mouthed D-cups stuck singing “Somewhere Out There” up at the lonely moon instead of having awesome dating times. And also, I don’t believe them. If you meet a Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalike who insists that he’s going to lead the ukulele revolution, you’re not gonna kick him to the curb just because he played you a few four-stringed covers of “Halo.” It just becomes convenient for you to use that as your excuse when his less-attractive estranged brother comes a-knocking.

To me, relying on deal-breakers to end your blooming relationships is actually kind of cowardly. A “deal-breaker” seems to be shorthand for “This person isn’t working out, and rather than actually tell them why, it’s easier for me to distill their issues into one easy-to-parse package.” 

Admittedly, sometimes the deal-breaker becomes symbolic of the greater issue at hand. Someone’s disgusting refrigerator may be the last straw, but anyone who has let a dozen eggs slowly blacken clearly has more going on with his life than you maybe want to deal with. But just writing it off as the fridge alone does you both a disservice: it robs the dude of the honesty he probably deserves, and you don’t actually practice talking things out with people like an adult.

Or maybe I’m just trying to justify my own crusty singlehood. What are your deal-breakers? Are they all about grand life decisions, or have you just dated one too many dudes with Feelings on Dave Eggers to deal with another? 

Kate will probably never participate in any trending topics, but you should follow her at @katchatters anyway!