“The only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place
that you go to give and not a place that you go to take.” Tony Robbins
If I asked you what kind of qualities you seek in your future husband, I bet you’d have a list. Well, I hope you have something to keep you accountable. As a dating coach, I have found that although you may have a list, it goes out the window when a handsome, charming man sweeps you off your feet into la-la land and makes you forget about the qualities you seek in your significant other. At some point when things aren’t going well, you will keep trying to “fix” it or him and wonder whether you should be trying harder, only to waste unnecessary time, end the relationship, and start over again.
Let me introduce you to the concept of deal breakers. As I say time and again, it is impossible to attract what you don’t radiate. And that starts with having clarity on who you are and what you desire in your mate. Most people’s lists are pretty common: you want someone who is kind, smart, driven and has good values. Sound familiar? This list is kind of generic, if you ask me. You have to really drill down to get to the truth - your truth.
So what are deal breakers? These are qualities that will either break the relationship or are non-starters. By “break” I mean if these qualities surface, you will end the relationship. By “non-starter” I mean if someone has your deal breaker qualities, you do not go out with him, ever, period. Deal breakers are not inconveniences. Rather, these are qualities whose presence means the relationship is simply not going to work.
Why is it important to know your deal breakers in advance of getting into a relationship? Because human beings are driven by emotions – even the smartest ones – and when you are emotionally vested in someone else, your judgment becomes clouded. We have perfected the art of rationalization. We will find excuses and forgive time and again over the same indiscretions to no end.
What deal breakers are not is obvious. For instance, I don’t want someone who is an alcoholic, drug user and an abusive person. No one (who is healthy) wants an abusive, non-functioning, emotionally unhealthy person. Let’s assume that’s a given for you and the people you associate with – your circle of friends.
Here are some good examples of deal breakers. You have to come up with your own list that makes sense for you. Know them and why they are important to you and not because your friend is going through a hard time with her alcoholic man. It has to mean something to you because you know you, right? Be honest with yourself.
Priorities: Will he make time for you and the relationship? What are his priorities? It could be work, as it is for many people in NYC. It could be sports, his family or another hobby. What is most important to him in this moment and period of his life? Are his true priorities cultivating and sustaining a meaningful long-term relationship? If so, that is great. Will he make time for you consistently? Of course, the amount of time you spend together should be in correlation to the state of your relationship. As the relationship grows, it’s natural to want to spend more time together.
However, as an aside, I highly recommend that you don’t spend too much time with him in the beginning of a relationship. Once a week at most is the recommended and effective rate. Really get to know him as a person and a friend before you get too attached. Got it?
Anyway, if he is willing to make time for a relationship, then the second question is this: does he have the emotional capacity? There are men who want to be in a relationship and are very good at it but are not truly emotionally available. Do you think just because a guy is commitment phobic, let’s say, that he’s not going to be in a relationship? I beg to differ. He may not want to settle down any time soon but he may still want to be with someone for now. Also, if you are with a commitment shy person, don’t think you will be the one to convince him otherwise. As special as you are, you cannot change a man.
Acceptance: Does he like you as you are? Do you like him as he is? Or are you dating him for his potential? Dating for the potential of someone is a bad idea. We talked about this before. It’s unloving to ask someone to change for you. If you don’t like him as he is, without having to make him over, or having him lose weight or read more or whatever it may be for you; if you can’t accept him for who he is today and vice versa, then I wonder why you’re with him. You have to feel loved, cherished, and supported as you are and so does he. Now, we all have areas of improvement. We should aim for continual growth and learning. No matter who you are, how successful you think you are, how smart you think you are, you have more to learn. Can we agree on that? So yes, you should constantly be striving to become the best version of you but that’s on you.
Integrity: Trust is the foundation of a real, loving relationship. Trust is built over time with honesty, consistency, and transparency. If you’re not honest then it is hard to build trust. There isn’t a set amount of trust or a level to reach that means you’re good to go. It doesn’t work that way. Trust is a continual, mutual, life-long endeavor. I don’t mean being honest with just the “important” stuff; I mean every little thing. When he shows up late, does he lie about why he showed up late or is he honest? On the flip side, if you want him to keep being open and honest with you, don’t bitch him out when he does tell you the truth. Instead, say something like, “I felt like you didn’t respect my time when you showed up late but I appreciate your honesty.” If he fibs about the little things, I would take that as a warning, a red flag. Be forewarned. It goes without saying, if you fib about the little things, you can’t expect him to be honest with you. It’s a two way street. Integrity matters. Honesty matters a lot. There’s no stronger currency in a relationship than being who we say we are and being consistent with what we say and what we do. That goes both ways. Don’t hide your whole self just to hook a man and then start to show the rest of yourself later, when you think you’ve got him. You have to be your most authentic and honest self in order to attract the same.
Children: If you want children and he doesn’t, that’s a deal breaker, ladies. Don’t think once he falls in loves with you, he will change his mind. Even if he does change his mind, eventually, he will become resentful. It’s no way for a relationship. On the flip side, if he wants children right away but you want to wait five or seven years until your career is more established, don’t lie about this. Be honest from day one. If you don’t care that he has been married before and he has children from a previous relationship then be clear about that. If it’s okay that he was married before but you don’t want to deal with his children and his ex, and you don’t want to date men with children, then be clear about that also. Find this out before you go out with him or on the first date. I mean it.
Know your deal breakers. You have to come up with your own. And if you don’t have one, I worry for you. Everyone has deal breakers. Give it some more thought. Get to know yourself better. If you don’t have deal breakers, what that means for me, as a dating and relationship coach, is that you’re still getting to know yourself.
I have a client who said she wanted someone really smart, who could communicate well, was well versed in current events and politics and fluid in all social situations. As we unpacked what “smart” meant to her – because no one has the same definition – she wasn’t clear. She kept using examples but couldn’t nail it down. YOU MUST BE VERY CLEAR about the qualities you seek or want to avoid. After much discussion and more leading questions from me, whose answers required honest reflection on her part, what she meant by smart was Ivy League educated. It’s not my place to judge. My work is a judgment free zone. Now, imagine if she didn’t get real about it and drill down to the core of what she was looking for – how much time she would have wasted dating smart but not Ivy League educated men? See where I am going with this? Give it some thought. Be reflective and radically honest with yourself. Get real and drill down to the core of what you seek. Only with that level of clarity will you be able to attract what you seek.