3 Common Dating Dealbreakers That Shouldn’t Be

Hopefully by now we’re all armed with our green flags and red flags when we strike back out into the dating game. Some of us, though, may be toting more than just red flags — we may be judging potential dates against our own personal dealbreakers.

Dealbreakers aren’t inherently bad — for instance, if you’re a fat person entering the dating pool, refusing to date fatphobic people is a completely reasonable dealbreaker. Sometimes, though, our dealbreakers can reflect knee-jerk assumptions about dating, and we could be losing out on someone really special. Here’s an example of three common dealbreakers you may want to reconsider.

They’re not ambitious enough

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Often, when we describe an ideal partner in our heads, we use words like “ambitious,” “passionate,” or “driven” — we want someone who has goals, we might say, someone who’s working toward something and making something of themselves. Maybe you dream of being half of a “power couple.”

It can feel deflating, then, if our dinner date tells us they tend to just clock in and clock out at their job; “I work to live, not live to work,” they might say. For some of us, especially if we’re the kind of person always gunning for a promotion or the next industry award, that can signal incompatibility. Would a relationship with this person mean coming home to them in sweatpants on the couch plowing through seasons of SVU every night?

Not necessarily. It’s great to want someone passionate and goal-oriented, and that may very well be a major green flag for you — but that doesn’t mean those qualities have to be centered on professional spaces or labor. In fact, someone who “works to live” may be the healthiest of all of us when it comes to work-life balance and sustainable relationships with their job. You may not want to date a sweatpants-clad couch potato — but do you want to date someone who’s still at the office at 8 pm every night, or keeps interrupting your romantic weekend getaway to take work calls? 

Try asking your hypothetical dinner date what they do outside of work: what are they passionate about? What do they devote their time to? What gets them most enthusiastic? The answers to these questions might help you find the passion and compatibility you’re looking for.

They’re still friends with their exes

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“Please save us both time and don’t talk to me if your exes are still alive,” reads a popular meme making the rounds lately. For some people, it’s not a joke; they see ex-partners as an existential threat. The idea of someone who still has any of their exes in their life other than the bare minimum maybe necessitated by coparenting or sharing custody of a pet is an instant dealbreaker. 

These people may feel that true friendship is impossible with an ex, and that one or both parties is always still harboring feelings. Even if they don’t think their partner is actively still pursuing things with an ex, the ambient jealousy surrounding the idea of someone their partner used to date may feel overwhelming.

Everyone’s boundaries are their own, and you’re under no obligation to date anyone with any kind of relationship with their exes. However, it might be worth considering: is it more toxic to be friends with an ex — or to have cut off all ties to everyone you’ve ever dated because they’re “crazy”? Even if it’s not our preference, staying friends with an ex can often be a sign of an emotionally and psychologically healthy person. If it’s a healthy relationship with good boundaries and clear expectations, it’s a sign that your date is capable of repairing ruptures in relationships, moving past hurt and anger for the sake of an important relationship, and is skilled at communication — all qualities you want in a partner. If the thought of exes is truly paralyzing to you and feels triggering to even consider, it may be an issue with (retroactive) jealousy on your end; if that’s what’s going on, then it will likely crop its head with any partner, and may be worth working on.

Before you decide it’s a total red flag, it may be worth asking some questions about the friendship(s) — how did they decide this was an important relationship to maintain? What boundaries have they established? The answers might change your perspective.

They have an STI

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To many people, this has historically been a core dealbreaker — after all, don’t we ask new sexual partners to get tested so that we can turn them down if they test positive for something?

It’s completely reasonable to want to avoid getting an STI, or sexually transmitted infection — however, that doesn’t mean that avoiding any sexual or romantic encounters with people who have one is the best way to do so. STIs of one kind or another are incredibly common; about one in five people have one. Many of these STIs are mild, intermittent, or even curable with treatment. Many common ones, like herpes, aren’t communicable all the time — the risk is mostly when someone is having an outbreak. And by virtue of their status, many people with STIs are more knowledgeable about these facts — and the best ways to protect others — than the average population. 

While it may feel counterintuitive, you’re often at higher risk having sex with someone who doesn’t know their status than with someone who has an STI and is aware of how to manage it. Someone with an STI is often well-educated about sexual health and how to mitigate risk for both themselves and others; someone who assumes they’re STI-free may well be communicating illnesses without any awareness of it. 

There’s no moral register to having an STI (or not having one); while prioritizing your health is important, you may find that trying to remove anyone with an STI from your dating pool means removing people who are well-informed, safety-minded, and would prioritize your health.

Recommended Books:

Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone

Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: A Guide to Getting Over Your Partner’s Past and Finding Peace

Strange Bedfellows: Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of Stds

For More Articles Check Out These Recent Posts:

Dating as a Fat Person

Everything You Need to Know About Green Flags in Dating

Approaching Dating & Sex as Someone with an STI

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