Ah, dealbreakers: hate the term but love the truth.
I once promised myself never to use my analytic and statistical abilities for evil, that is to say, I wasn’t going to apply any type of metrics or analysis to who I dated (and emphasis on the past tense, so who I broke up with). But, I am only human–as are many of us–and don’t we all try to figure out what we learned from who we’re no longer with?
I have dealbreakers. And they are not shocking, no, nor are they unreasonable–I just always imagined myself to be far more reasonable and easygoing than I actually am.
The truth is that we all have things which we will or won’t accept in any relationship, platonic or romantic, and that’s the right way to be. We need be judgmental. We need to determine what makes us feel good or doesn’t. We need to have dealbreakers! but the glibness, the snarkiness of that term, tossed off like this is a negotiation, like this is a zero-sum game, I can’t continence it. I can’t accept it.
I break up with a woman when:
- She has hurt me in a way so deep that while it will eventually heal (no matter what is said or done, it can and will heal) but it be in enough time for me to wait and still remain so close to her that her sweat stings my soul.
- She has shown that we can’t look forward, together, and have some overlap in what we see. We don’t have to agree all of the time–in fact, I prefer that we don’t–but it can’t be opposite corners, dueling pianos or blood on the table.
- She has shown that she hates children. She doesn’t need to want to have children but she has to accept them, even like them, if that’s in her bounds. Perhaps love them. You see, we are all children deep inside. No one ever grows up, not really. So if you hate children, you hate yourself in a way that it’s simply a matter of time before it all goes top over kettle and I won’t let someone take my happiness, my life and safety and stability with them.
- She’s uncomfortable with her sexuality. This is not about a) straight, bisexual, queer, pansexual, gay, or [fill in the blank], b) number of times a week (or a day!) to engage in sexual activity, or c) vanilla or non-vanilla-ness of sexual activity. It is about being comfortable with being a sexual being and all that comes with that self-knowledge. And, lastly, talking about self-knowledge…
- She doesn’t know herself yet. None of us is a prophet; none of us can ensure whatever plan we make actually works out and that’s okay. What’s not okay is not knowing. What’s not okay is relying on your partner (in this case me) to be your mentor, to be your teacher, to be your therapist, your coach, your career counselor, your adviser, your mum or your dad. I hate excessively skewed power dynamics in my intimate relationships. It’s not that I don’t or won’t respect you, but I need the give and the take, I need the push and the pull, and once that gets out of whack, it’s nearly impossible to bring it back near to center. I need “near to center”.
We all have them, these rules that cannot be broken, these lines that cannot be crossed and we all should figure them out before we put ourselves, and other people, in positions which they cannot get out of.
But please, for the love of humanity, stop calling it a dealbreaker! It is so much more than that.