Relationship deal breakers, then and now

I recently had breakfast with a woman I dated almost 20 years ago, soon after I graduated from college. She's married now, with two beautiful kids and a husband who seems like one of those solid, true-blue, stay-at-home-dad kind of guys. I'm married now, too (though not to a stay-at-home dad), with kids who are also pretty swell, mostly because my wife is such an outstanding mother.

My former girlfriend and I dated for approximately two years, as I recall, and remained close for a while after we no longer lived in the same city. However, I can't recall us ever talking about marrying each other, largely because neither of us was sure we wanted to marry anyone. I actually was quite adamant about remaining single my entire life; she may have been more on the fence.

This got me to thinking about how priorities change for relationships as we get older. Every once in a while, I'll have a conversation with someone about “deal breakers” — the personality traits or habits that would make any relationship (whether it's romantic, professional, or platonic) pretty much impossible. If you would have asked me in my 20s for the list of deal breakers in a potential spouse, I would have listed something along the lines of the following:

  • She consumed drugs or alcohol (which I saw as the same thing). I was a very judgmental and self-righteous young man.
  • She smoked.
  • Her goal was to get married, and soon.
  • She had little to no sense of humor.
  • She wasn't Catholic. I told you I was very judgmental and self-righteous.
  • She was a couch potato.
    • She didn't like the smell of pickles. Just kidding, sorta — my sisters used to tell me I smelled like pickles. They also called me Lurch (as in the “Addams Family” butler). Don't you love siblings?

There would have been other characteristics that would have been challenging, such as hating to dance, not appreciating music, and not enjoying books (which are these pieces of paper that are glued or stitched together – you might have seen some in your grandmother's house). But they wouldn't have been insurmountable. And, of course, I'm not talking about the extreme relationship squashers – for example, being a cannibal. I'm just talking about the characteristics and habits that you'd encounter in everyday life. I'm sure you had/have your own, which would be interesting to read in the comments section below.

The Naïveté of Youth

A couple of decades later, some of those deal breakers would still be important (were I in the market for a mate again), while others, frankly, seem rather silly. I couldn't date anyone who was an addict of any kind, though casual drinking is just fine; I do it myself (though I still have never been drunk). As for being Catholic, I don't even go to church anymore, much to my mother's gnashing of teeth. A sense of humor is still good to have, but couples don't have to find the exact same things funny. Since I've become a bit of a health nut, smoking would still be tough, but perhaps not quite deal-breaker status. I'd still include “couch potato” on the list. Music and dancing have become less important as I've gotten older.

What strikes me now — after spending many years building a career, raising a family, and co-running a household — is the lack of any practical deal breakers I would have had back then. Specifically, there's nothing about the management of money. Of course, in my early 20s I was still in that “save the world” phase. I had been in a seminary, then chose a pre-med degree so I could be a doctor for underprivileged populations; but instead of going to medical school, I became a volunteer teacher in inner-city schools (though my specific school ending up not being so inner-city). To have put something about money on the deal-breaker list would have seemed shallow and materialistic.

But I've since grown up. If I were to make that list now, it would have something about the management of money. It wouldn't be as strict as “A woman with more than $10,000 in credit card debt and carries a balance” because I've known so many good people who have been in that situation. But I've also seen so much marital strife caused by financial difficulties and mismatched priorities. My wife, who's a mental-health therapist, has plenty of examples of her own, from her many years of helping people get their lives together.

It's not that two people have to be perfectly matched. When my wife and I first met, she was much more comfortable with a low bank account than I was. It was understandable, given the way she grew up. But she recognized that it wasn't ideal, and I relaxed a bit, too; we got each other to compromise. She's been fabulous about setting up various accounts for our financial goals, and I've relaxed about spending a bit more for things like family vacations.

The real deal breaker would be huge amounts of debt with no appreciation for the consequences and no real desire to change. No interest in saving for the future would also be tough. For me, money isn't about buying things; it's about security for my family, education and experiences for my kids, and enough money to not fear old age or health crises. I can't imagine being with someone who didn't understand that. Even if she didn't mind the smell of pickles.

We All Gotta Grow Up Sometime

If my 23-year-old self were able to read this post written by my 43-year-old self, I think the young me would have been quite surprised, and perhaps a bit disappointed – at least until I had the chance to talk about my kids, my wife, and my job as an actual, bona fide writer (for a company with the wacky name “The Motley Fool,” no less). I just wouldn't have anticipated becoming so practical and having a job related to money; it might have felt like selling out or something.

But if my 43-year-old self could talk to my 23-year-old self, I'd try to explain that being financially responsible is the foundation for everything else, especially once you have kids. I'm not sure I would have understood, but nowadays, I couldn't have it any other way.

More about...Psychology

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Anne
Anne
7 years ago

Amen!

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

For me, I think this has developed into a requirement that I be able to work with my partner on different projects to build our financial future. That’s been a cornerstone of our marriage (it even started before we used the m-word!), and I wouldn’t want it any other way if (heaven forbid) I end up back on the dating scene.

Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
7 years ago

I still have the same “deal breakers” as I did in my 20s. Granted I’m only in my 30s, but I still look for the same qualities and avoid those deal breakers. Money management has always been on my list. I guess it’s because I’ve read a lot of books on financial independence and that is something I value highly. If the other person is not on board with that, then I don’t see the relationship going very far.

Johanna
Johanna
7 years ago

If your 23-year-old self wasn’t interested in finding someone to marry and build a life with, then screening potential girlfriends by their ability to manage money actually WOULD have been shallow and materialistic. In a dating relationship where two adults maintain independent lives while enjoying each other’s company, I’d say their finances are none of your business and vice-versa.

Holly
Holly
7 years ago
Reply to  Johanna

In hindsight I’d disagree. In my 20s I dated people who I thought were interesting without any consideration of their money management skills (or maturity.) It was a mistake. My goal to date people who took the road less travelled led me, the baby MBA, to eventually have a failed marriage with a punk rocker who had chronic money issues. He was interesting for sure, but he could have easily brought me down financially. But by the time I considered that part of the equation I was too emotionally involved to make the rational decision (end the relationship and marry… Read more »

Francine
Francine
7 years ago
Reply to  Holly

Considering the financial status of a potential mate/date makes good sense. That doesn’t mean you have to ask about credit scores on the first date as someone suggested. But if your date’s credit card gets declined on the first date, second date, third date, etc… you have to stop and wonder what’s going on and whether or not someone who doesn’t handle money well or know their credit limit is going to be the right choice for you.

Emily @ evolvingPF
Emily @ evolvingPF
7 years ago

Well maybe I’m “too young” but I thought your first list was at least half good! My husband and I met at 20 and while some of my priorities have changed (I became a Christian and I know a lot more about money management now) many of them are still the same. I think now that I’ve been married a few years I’ve moved “honesty and openness” from a high priority in a spouse to nearly the top one – I’m so happy with how my marriage is playing out in that regard and can’t imagine it any other way.… Read more »

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

And this is why teenagers call their parents uncool. It’s becuase we get practical and realistic. When I was a kid, choosing a girlfriend because she would make a good mother was not something on my mind, but when I got alittle older suddenly that started to become important. We all gotta grow up sometime!

Nick @ CreditRanker
Nick @ CreditRanker
7 years ago

I think it is important to find someone who isn’t a big spender and won’t constantly pressure you into spending money on things you don’t need. I hear of people who are trying to pay down debt, yet constantly struggling with their significant other because the other one is always wanting to eat out, go out with friends, or buy other materialistic junk. If you struggle like that for a while, maybe its time to move on as they will always be fighting against any progress you can make.

Phoebe @ www.allyouneedisenough.com
Phoebe @ www.allyouneedisenough.com
7 years ago

I personally don’t believe in having “deal breakers” in mind that knock out certain people in the dating quest. When I met my now husband he didn’t have a car, had failed out of two colleges, had no money to speak of, and $1000 in CC debt with no desire to change. I went to a top 10 school, was focusing on my career and building financial security, was very religious and had my life basically together. If I had had deal breakers, I wouldn’t have even gone out wwith him. But I liked him, and got to know him… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

I don’t think it’s shallow to have certain deal breakers — sometimes they’re a way of articulating what values and lifestyle habits work for us. For example, I couldn’t form a long-term relationship with someone who breaks the law — like dealing drugs, stealing or cheating someone in business. That’s a deal breaker for me, yet it hasn’t bothered some of my friends in the past. I’ve seen couples who had rough beginnings grow and change together for the better, and couples who thought they had everything going for them end in debt and divorce. I try to keep an… Read more »

Phoebe @ www.allyouneedisenough.com
Phoebe @ www.allyouneedisenough.com
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I guess I think of deal breakers as rules you set for yourself to keep you from dating someone that you would otherwise be attracted to. If my husband had been doing something I find grotesque like dealing drugs, I doubt I would have been attracted to him, and thus wouldn’t need a rule to keep me from him. I’m just glad I followed my heart and didn’t worry about how my husband looked on paper or stacked up to the man I thought I would marry because it turns out that as much as I thought I had it… Read more »

superbien
superbien
7 years ago

Aww, that’s a really sweet story! He sounds like a gem. You also sound like you have your head on your shoulders and had a lot of empathy, patience, and ability to see to the heart of the matter. I know for myself, I need rules because I can get sucked into a place emotionally where my logic doesn’t work as well, so having rules keeps me from making big mistakes. Interestingly, it was a book called “Deal Breakers” that helped me get out of a toxic marriage, I had to step back from all of the whirlwind of emotions… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

@Phoebe – I enjoyed your story because it reminded me of friends who are happily married to people their friends and family didn’t think “looked good on paper”. Life has a funny way of surprising us 🙂

I worry that in this era of online dating, it’s getting easier for people to approach potential relationships with a shopping list. Some of the “must haves” on people’s profiles are quite daunting.

Susan
Susan
7 years ago

Good comment. People are always changing and because of that “dealbreakers” point to only one specific point in time. I never thought to have dealbreakers per se and I’m glad because then I would have missed out of a lot of the cool guys I got to know and learn about myself from. I realized that I’d rather have someone whose nature was want to improve and enjoy learning about new things rather than someone who seemed to be paper perfect at the time I met him, but later realize he had tendencies I didn’t agree with.

Janice
Janice
7 years ago

It feels like the problem today is everything has become a commodity, including the “right” relationship. Instead of worrying about creating wonderful credit scores and having an advanced degree(s), how about having the self-esteem and respect for your instincts and feelings to just love someone. The power of love can be very transforming to those who might need it, even if they think they don’t. It seems to me at 65 years old, that Phoebe has the right idea. She let herself feel the love and receive it and trust that her instincts were right. Because when all is said… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Janice

“It feels like the problem today is everything has become a commodity, including the “right” relationship.”

I totally agree. And *some* people wonder why they are still single (when they don’t want to be).

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

And perhaps why there are so many divorces? IMHO, the never-been-married aren’t the only ones who have high standards. Having seen a few divorces now among my peers has changed my perspective.

And not all of people who are single have high standards or treat relationships as commodities, though I know that’s not what Carla is saying.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

That’s why I made sure to add the word “some” because its definitely not everyone. I’m single myself (as in unmarried, but I am in a relationship), and I’m also divorced. I learned so much along the way. Since my divorce 10 years ago I’ve seen so many couples come and go – I’ve been learning a lot from them.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

lol. I did notice your use of the word “some” — it sounded to me like you understand both sides of this issue.

Anne
Anne
7 years ago
Reply to  Janice

I kind of have to respectfully disagree. My first husband (met at 19) seemed like a great guy in every way, but after marriage I realized he was the star of the show in that all money earned went to his indulgences, and I was only the stage hand.

Clearly, when you’re young, your instincts can be dead wrong.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

Finances are such an important part of a relationship. But even if you are not exactly the same when it comes to finances I think you can still work things out if you are on board with the big picture. For us we’ve been upfront and clear when it came to money before we were married. We had a famous financial summit prior to buying a house together (prior to marriage). Then after marriage we paid off all our unsecured debt and we agreed not to use credit or unsecured debt except in very limited and agreed situations. We got… Read more »

EMH
EMH
7 years ago

I joke with my husband that if he had a Match.com profile, I would have never clicked on him and yet, we have been together for over 12 years and he is still my best friend. On paper, he has a lot of my deal breakers but in person, he is my knight in shining armor. I believe one of the many reasons that has kept us going strong is our outlook on money. I have many friends that struggle with how to spend or save money with their spouse but for us, it has never come into question. Even… Read more »

Ivy
Ivy
7 years ago

My husband seemed a deal breaker from the very beginning, as I didn’t see myself marrying a foreigner, I even told my parents that I am dating somebody but it’s definitely not serious (imagine their reaction:-). Well, the relationship grew on me and we solved the foreign thing by getting married and immediately moving to the US where we became both foreigners. If I had known in advance that we’ll eventually settle into a me working, him stay-at-home-dad type of marriage, this may have served as another deal breaker – but it works extremely well for us. Only yesterday I… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
7 years ago

Well I’m still in my 20’s, but far enough along that I’ve started thinking about what I want as a life partner (I’m hetero, I love that term for both gay and straight couples, better than spouse). He must: – Be financially smart, or learning (this has always been important to me) – Have good work ethic, no matter the type of work. When my first boyfriend and I started dating he did not have a job. It took him nearly 6 months to get one, and he didn’t start looking until several weeks prior. I later found out he… Read more »

Short arms long pockets
Short arms long pockets
7 years ago

I wish I had given more consideration to articulating my values and expectations regarding finances before getting married the first time – but I was young, stupid, and in love. It didn’t take me long to figure out that our viewpoints were very different – but it took me years to realize that this was not going to change. A direct quote from my ex, “We don’t have any money – why do we need a financial plan?” Fast forward to marriage #2 and you can be sure that we discussed our financial viewpoints before we took the big step.… Read more »

drea916
drea916
7 years ago

Religion can be a big deal breaker. It’s not being self-rightous, it’s a practical issue. I’m Catholic. I belive in using fertility awareness to space my children. That’s not a popular stance and there’s not really a way to compromise on it. So, that leaves me with other observant Catholics, or certain evangelicals or men who are very health/environmentally conscious. I also insist on having my children raised Catholic. Again, it’s not that non-Catholics are bad people, it’s just that certain things can’t be comprimised on…. I believe in infant baptism and some evangelicals don’t…so what do we do? That’s… Read more »

Kay
Kay
7 years ago
Reply to  drea916

And these are exactly the reasons why a serious ex and I broke it off. I had my opinions on religion (mostly all negative, I admit), and he was a staunch Catholic who wouldn’t budge on issues like BC and raising a family to be Catholic. Looking back on it, I should have seen the warning signs early in the relationship. He was almost perfect in every other aspect, and was most definitely perfect on paper, and I tried my hardest to please him while staying true to myself. In the end, those religious differences just weren’t reconcilable. I wish… Read more »

Lindsay
Lindsay
7 years ago
Reply to  Kay

Coming from another Catholic, I think it’s GOOD that you know you don’t want to be with someone really religious! If something is important enough to me to stake my eternal well-being on it, I’d much rather someone be honest with me and say we just shouldn’t be together. They’re right! It’s too important to me not to share it with someone important enough to me to be my spouse. No sense pretending that’s going to change. I think honesty is key, both with the other person, and with ourselves. If something makes you all cringe-y every time it comes… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago

As a divorcée I learned that certain deal-breakers are necessary. I had the opposite problem as Robert when I was 20 and married, I had no deal-breakers! Zero. For me balance is key. There are things I won’t tolerate for sure, but I don’t want to price myself out of the market completely either as I pointed out in a previous comment. When I look in the mirror and at my life, I am not perfect either. I’m in my 30s and not *gainfully* employed, living with a (expensive) chronic illness, etc. By PF/GRS standards, I should be single for… Read more »

Rhonda
Rhonda
7 years ago

Great post! I would’ve had the same thing on my list about music, dancing (though I would’ve said they had to go out drinking… because I always did). I do sort of wish I had more of a religion thing on my ‘deal breaker list’ though I’m certainly happy with my significant other! My husband was forced to do all the catholic stuff and – like most folks I know who were forced into catholicism – now hates church and would be happy never going to one again. I could probably win him over if I tried hard enough, but… Read more »

Kathleen, Frugal Portland
Kathleen, Frugal Portland
7 years ago

I love this — I often imagine conversations with my younger self. It’s fun to have met up with an old flame, simply to see how different things are now!

Abigail
Abigail
7 years ago

Thanks for the wonderful post, Robert. I also had a list of qualities that would probably have been likened to your deal breakers. And I was extremely judgemental, I realize now that it was probably due to my strict Christian upbringing, which I embraced and took wholesale. I am still a Christian however experience has taught me that dating or marrying a non-Christian is no longer a deal breaker for me. I am still single (although I don’t want to be) and will be 39 in April of this year and at 12 years of age, I started praying for… Read more »

Barb
Barb
7 years ago

Deal breakers then and now: 1. Smoking 2). Being religious.

MelodyO
MelodyO
7 years ago
Reply to  Barb

Ha, those are mine too, and they have served me well over the years. I don’t even know any people who take drugs or gamble excessively or anything crazy like that, so I don’t have to worry about those kinds of problems. Well, that and the fact I have a husband. :0D

A-L
A-L
7 years ago

When I first met my husband he was an alcoholic with consumer & student loan debt who didn’t see a reason to save for retirement (never thought he’d have one) and didn’t have a problem with consumer debt either (you’re always going to owe someone something). And he didn’t go to church either. Well, he’d already recognized the alcohol as a problem, and hasn’t had a drink in years. Talking to me about my dreams for the future made him want those same things, so he changed his behavior to be fiscally responsible. And he goes to church with me… Read more »

jxm
jxm
7 years ago

Development is a part of life. I’m young, but have enough years behind me to reflect upon and I probably wouldn’t date the people that I did back then. Everyone I dated except my last two relationships were not life-mate material. It may sound insulting (to my exes), but they were just distractions along the way. Looking back, I learned nothing other than to stay away from folks like the ones I dated. I don’t have a thoughtful list of deal-breakers, but you can rest assure that I know when to jump ship when I recognize it. I agree that… Read more »

Mom of five
Mom of five
7 years ago

I can’t say I ever had a list of deal breakers but there were nice guys I never dated because I could tell right off the bat we were incompatible. I never dated all that much (my social life was more serial monogamy than actually dating) but once I met my husband I knew that was it – I was done being a serial monogamist. I was a monogamist for life. Sometimes when I hear Dave Ramsey talk, I think money has an importance in his life that it doesn’t have for my husband and me. Personally, I’d be careful… Read more »

Edward
Edward
7 years ago

10K in credit card debt would certainly be a deal breaker to me! Unless it was *completely* unforeseen circumstances, it says a lot about a person’s character of indulgence. The following are also deal breakers: – Mean drunk (or has to get drunk daily) – Gambling addict – Drug addict – Is racist/prejudice – Doesn’t like to travel – Has 3 kids by three different men and one of the fathers is in prison – Cannot properly pronounce the word “aluminum” – Cannot name 4 countries in Europe that aren’t Italy or France (hint: Holland isn’t a country) – Cannot… Read more »

kat
kat
7 years ago
Reply to  Edward

in the rest of the world, we call it ‘aluminium’ and we don’t understand why Americans call it aluminum.

it’s like, calling titanium, titanum… barium, barum… plutonium? plutonum.. radium, radum.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  kat

I honestly never understood why pronunciation and dialects is such a big deal. In America we have dozens and I personally think its pretty cool.

My father is from Texas and after 40+ years of living in California he still pronounces “electricity” elec-twis-ity and “toilet” is taul-let.

Whatever rocks your boat, I have no complaints.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I will never get used to pronouncing lieutenant as “lef-tenant”. I love the differences in dialect and prononciation that exist among English speakers, but I’m a bit of a language geek 🙂

statisticallyunlikely
statisticallyunlikely
7 years ago
Reply to  Edward

“- Cannot name 4 countries in Europe that aren’t Italy or France (hint: Holland isn’t a country) – Cannot name 3 authors who aren’t Stephen King, JK Rowling, or Dan Brown – Does not know the name of their current prime minister or president – Is religious and talks about it all the time – Has an iPhone, an iPad, *and* a Coach handbag – Cannot properly pronounce the word “aluminum” – Is consistently rude or condescending to others” Really? *YOU* find it a turnoff when people are rude and condescending to others?? Wow. And by the way, Holland IS… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

Especially when the Netherlands promotes itself as Holland? http://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm

I’m starting to imagine this guy’s first dates are like a quiz show 😉

Ely
Ely
7 years ago

I just thought it was a joke.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

I think deal breakers can be very dangerous. I had a friend who was in her mid 30s and had seriously dated lots of guys. From each failed relationship, she developed another deal breaker. My thought at the end of it was that no guy was ever going to live up to her expectations. Plus what was a deal breaker with one person might not be with another, especially if the next person is willing to change. Having said that, I do think someone should NEVER marry someone who doesn’t want children if you have any inkling you want them.… Read more »

Lincoln
Lincoln
7 years ago

Deal breakers change as we ourselves change. Our society is more dynamic now than ever before, and changes at a faster rate than ever before.

Having a plan is great. Having flexibility to adapt is great too. I try to be mindful of both in my marriage.

Dona Collins
Dona Collins
7 years ago

Are there ever things that start out as OK and slowly evolve into deal breakers? When I was about the same 23 year old age, I thought it was OK to date a guy who had a casual recreational drug use issue – with rules – he couldn’t do it around me or ever have me with him when he purchased his stash. As we aged, I became more mature and he stayed stuck in the smoking/video game world he lived in. He also became less responsible. And yes – the drug use became the ultimate deal breaker. Now, my… Read more »

Tiara
Tiara
7 years ago

Definitely a few deal-breakers for me: if he wants kids or is religious, it’s a no-go. He must also be responsible and employed/employable, not be an addict of any kind, and not a total spendthrift.

Heather
Heather
7 years ago

In a recent conversation with my sister (who has been separated off and on from her husband for the past couple years due to his inability to hold down a job or support their family), she brought up the idea of asking someone their credit score on the first date. Even though I’m generally the one who is (or tries to be, with mixed results :/) more discerning about men, I thought that sounded like its own deal-breaker, asking for TMI too soon. As well as a real romance killer! Though it does seem to be more and more common… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Heather

Thanks God I have an SO now. If someone asked me my credit score on a first date I would walk out. No matter what my credit score is, its humiliating that I’m being measured first by numbers and figures, not who I am as a person.

Tim
Tim
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I don’t have any issue with anyone asking or judging me by my credit score. (Of course someone with excellent credit would say that, most would think) However having great credit also makes you subject to less than stellar people looking for an easier ride… You still have to CYA with common sense in the world. The truth is that a persons credit score does say a bit about what kind of person someone is. I don’t see that being the first question I would ever ask a potential mate… My GF of 5 years is pretty serious working towards… Read more »

Davina
Davina
7 years ago
Reply to  Heather

I dated a dentist for three years who was loaded with stock and real estate and had a perfect credit score; he turned out to be the most horrifying liar and jerk, free of any conscience whatsoever.

Your idea of asking a date’s credit score is simplistic and a poor reflection on your ability to think and reason.

Juli
Juli
7 years ago

“She wasn’t Catholic. I told you I was very judgmental and self-righteous.” I think you are coming across as self-righteous by even making that snide comment. I am a devout Catholic, and if you are truly living what you believe on a daily level (not just Sundays or Easter/Christmas), then it is very important to have someone with similar beliefs. It’s not a question of being judgmental, but of being realistic. As it is, my Catholic (but not very devout) SO doesn’t always understand / support me. However, he is way better than the typical a-religious man. Even devout non-Catholic… Read more »

Lindsay
Lindsay
7 years ago
Reply to  Juli

That’s a good point. Changing who you’re being judgmental and self-righteous toward doesn’t actually make you less judgmental or self-righteous. That’s not to say Robert wasn’t judgmental or self-righteous in the past, but patting himself on the back because he’s now judgmental of his former self seems a bit contradictory.

It’s one of my favorite ironies of today’s media. We have to be “tolerant” of absolutely all viewpoints–except deeply religious ones. We can mock those people relentlessly.

superbien
superbien
7 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay

Lindsay, I can understand your frustration, that’s a really negative aspect of our culture now. I know my religious friends and family find that very frustrating. As a counterpoint, I think that some secular people feel very helpless in a country in which it feels like we are held captive by the religious – legally forced to follow rules that we don’t believe in. I suspect that some of the negativity to religion is rooted in that feeling of helplessness. It doesn’t make it right, and ironically I hear the same sentiment of helplessness (secular laws don’t allow for religious… Read more »

Lindsay
Lindsay
7 years ago
Reply to  superbien

I support laws that only allocate to the state powers that are truly within the purview of the state. For example, I’d love to see a law that allows any two consenting adults to bestow a certain set of legal privileges on each other, including “next of kin” status for medical affairs, default inheritance of all property, and discounts for purposes of taxation, because two people in committed partnership, even if they’re siblings or something, are generally more stable and better for the economy than any individual trying to make it on his/her own. Then let religious bodies determine their… Read more »

Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
Matt at Healthy N' Wealthy
7 years ago

Thanks for yet another great article, Robert. I don’t think it’s a great idea to have deal-breakers, because you never know who you’ll fall for. That being said, I’m in my late twenties, and, even now, I cannot imagine being with someone who doesn’t mind credit card debt, has no plans for saving for retirement, etc. We have just seen the financial world nearly explode (and I think the wick is only shorter). I don’t understand how people my age don’t appreciate the importance of being financially literate/secure, and saving for the future. I was also self-righteous (still kinda am… Read more »

My Financial Independence Journey
My Financial Independence Journey
7 years ago

I think it would be very hard for me to move past casual dating with someone who had a lot of debt or didn’t understand or appreciate money. If your interest is in a serious relationship, then you need someone who shares roughly the same set of core values (money, kids, religion, lifestyle) as you do. Otherwise you’re going to be at odds with each other all the time.

Sarah Gilbert
7 years ago

I really loved this piece, Robert! It was sweet and personal. And I too look back on the self-righteousness of my young self and wish I had been self-righteous about different things. It’s hard to know the future, though, and it’s hard to know that many of our deal-breakers will morph into the very opposite; on religion, or tastes in spending, or so many other things. I would design my ideal mate quite differently, were I to write my story again. But, I can’t 🙂 at least not unless I do it in fiction!

Ultravires
Ultravires
7 years ago

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Timothy 5:8)
You may not go to church anymore, but you instinctively know……..

Anne
Anne
7 years ago

My dealbreakers: -MUST BE HONEST (I should list this one 3 times, as it’s pretty much the biggest deal breaker for me). -Must be able to talk to me -Must have self-awareness -Cannot be violent or aggressive -Cannot be racist or sexist or homophobic -Cannot be a drug addict -Must be able to support themselves, preferably with a proven track record. (I don’t really care what their standard of living is, I just want to know that they can get by on their own). In general, they need to be pretty open. And I definitely prefer a person who continues… Read more »

Ely
Ely
7 years ago

I always figured ‘dealbreakers’ or ‘rules’ were just artificial blockades to potential relationships. For some they probably are; unreasonably high standards are an excellent way to avoid intimacy. For others it may be a way to rein in runaway emotions. I never had dealbreakers when I was young, but I didn’t date much either. I wasn’t interested in dating/marriage/family, and all my relationships have been the result of someone pursuing me. I am now married, but were I to become single again, I still don’t think I would pursue marriage or serious relationships. For casual dating, all I’d need would… Read more »

@pfinMario
@pfinMario
7 years ago

I like to think I don’t have deal-breakers, but I understand their importance because it’s so easy to get caught up in the emotions of a relationship. What I do have are good male and female friends whose opinion I trust, and who have heretofore been great judges of whether deals should be broken or not

Alexandria
Alexandria
7 years ago

Great Post! For me, it’s really hard to convey to others my feelings about money and relationships. I think often it is perceived as “I don’t fraternize with people who are bad with money.” I generally don’t, but it’s not nearly that simple. I fraternize with people who respect my choices. People in the “terrible with money” spectrum often don’t fall in that spectrum. I like friends and lovers and a spouse who is open to improvement and efficiency in their life. Not people who say, “I am happy to be in debt up to my eyeballs, struggling, always unhappy.”… Read more »

Tina
Tina
7 years ago

This article is spot on! I had a deal breaker with smoking. Only to later find out that my husband hid smoking from me until we were married. That should have been the first sign things were not what they seemed. I saw my spouse as having a good job and didn’t question his spending habits. We didn’t move in together until we were married so no surprises there. But when things started getting harder to afford and our bills nor income changed, I started to question where the money went. It was spent on gambling. Now he has been… Read more »

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