Dealbreakers: How To Choose Some (And Stick to Them)

If sharing a laptop in the park is incredibly important to you, be sure to stick to your guns.

If sharing a laptop in the park is incredibly important to you, be sure to stick to your guns.

When you’re navigating the waters of online dating, you encounter a wide variety of people. Some, of course, are fake people (bots), but you can probably spot those. They’re the ones that keep flirting with you in chat even when you reply with things like, “Seriously, if you’re not a bot, say ‘no bot’ right now, dammit.” But many of the people you meet online are real, genuinely interested, and full of their own quirks, personality traits and habits.

Not all of these quirks and habits will suit you, of course. Some things will just not be compatible with your own life or personality, no matter how cute the other person is or how well they spell. For many people, smoking is a major dealbreaker; for others, things like religion, children or political opinions can ice the interest. So how can you figure out what YOUR dealbreakers are?

Start by looking at your own interests. Are you heavily religious? Do you really, really care about politics? Do you want kids someday? Are you a drinker, a smoker, a recreational drug user, etc, and either way, do you have strong feelings about these things? Think about the many beliefs and interests that are truly important to you, and then think about how you’d feel if you spent time with someone who was diametrically opposite to those things. Does it feel like it would be a punch in the gut to spend time with someone who says they’ll vote for Trump? Does the thought of kissing a smoker turn your stomach? These are visceral reactions that you can’t ignore. Trust your instincts on things like this, BEFORE you have someone standing in front of you to test your resolve. And figure out which are more important than others.

Second, don’t apologize for your dealbreakers. You are entitled to your own desires in a relationship, and that’s nothing to be sorry about. Some people might get annoyed with you, even hostile, if they find out that something about them just doesn’t jive with you. But that’s nobody’s fault. Different people don’t always mesh, and there is no reason you should have to feel obligated to change yourself, alter your beliefs or suck up an uncomfortable situation just so the other person can feel better. Be true to yourself and honest with others. That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible on a myriad of other things — after all, compromise is vital in a good relationship — but when it comes to true dealbreakers, compromise is usually not a good idea.

Last, be patient. In the hunt for a perfect mate, it’s easy to make excuses, rush through the process and overlook red flags in order to be in a relationship. But dealbreakers almost always come back on you. For example, if you’re a guy who doesn’t want kids, and you start seeing a woman who does, don’t think that you’ll be able to “bring her around.” She probably thinks the same about you, and in the end, if you’re both solid in your desires for/against children, you’ll both be in for a world of heartache. No matter how pretty she is, how much you fit together in other ways, how great her laugh is…. in the end, a dealbreaker is just too big to skip over. There are many, many other potential dates out there, some of whom WILL fit the bill for you, so take your time and don’t rush it.

Going from the Web to the Real World: Three Tips for Meeting In Person

So you’ve found someone on a dating site that you actually click with. You exchange some winks, some flirts, some chats… Yep, definitely a match. So now it’s time to plan the first in-person meetup! After all, that was the point of making an online dating profile in the first place, right?

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Getting ready for the first in-real-life meeting can be stressful. Where do you go? What do you do? Most people know that they should plan the first date for a public place (it’s safer on both sides that way), but beyond that, what’s the best option? Judy Cole of Men’s Fitness had some tips for guys looking to plan the first face-to-face experience with a new flame, and really, these tips can apply to guys OR gals.

  1. Go on a real date. This seems obvious, but many people who meet for the first time after an online connection do it in super-casual places, like Starbucks. Treat this like a date with someone you already know in real life. You don’t necessarily have to pay for a whole meal, but choose a decent restaurant, a classy bar for drinks, or a pleasant al fresco lunch spot. Make it feel like you care about the effort your date put into getting ready and meeting you, because they probably DID make an effort.
  2. Watch for telltale signs of trouble. On a first date, it’s easy to ignore or completely overlook red flags in the other person. Watch for things like a date who asks too much about how much money you make, doesn’t look or seem very much like her online profile, or is already planning several dates down the line. My brother recently started dating a new girl, and in under two months, she was talking about what their wedding would be like. That’s a huge no-no, and when it happens, you have to be ready to split. Don’t lie to yourself about what your dealbreakers are or what you’re willing to put up with: a red flag is a red flag. Even if it’s nothing in particular that bugs you about the other person! Our gut feelings are often a great indicator of something being just not quite right. Follow your instincts.
  3. Know how to get out safely, if you need to. Women are told this a lot, but it applies to men, as well: Aside from meeting in a public place, you should know where the exits are, tell people where you’re going, and have a plan to get out if things get hairy. Sometimes, that means having a friend call you partway through the date in case you need an excuse to bail. Again, this isn’t a negative thing for either side of the meetup. This is a safety thing. Meeting someone in person when you’ve only known them online is a risk, and even though the vast majority of first dates from dating websites go fine, it never hurts to be prepared.

Get Ghosted? Three Things You Should NOT Do

"Let's see.... who else should I just not respond to..."

“Let’s see…. who else should I just not respond to…”

So you’ve had a few good dates with someone you think you really click with. Maybe you’ve spent the night at each other’s places… Maybe you’ve stayed up to all hours talking about your interests… Maybe you’ve laughed so hard together that your sides hurt. In short, all seems to be going well.

And then, one day… Nothing.

Radio silence. You text them, no response. You call them, it goes to voicemail. You thought you guys had plans for the weekend, but they don’t confirm or show up. What just happened?

You’ve been ghosted.

Ghosting is when one of the people in a relationship (usually a pretty new relationship, but probably one that’s several dates in and likely intimate) suddenly drops off the face of the earth. Rather than tell the other person that they’re not interested anymore or provide a clean, closure-filled breakup, they just vanish. Sometimes, this is unintentional; people do occasionally get insanely busy with work, family, or other distractions. But often, it’s a purposeful cutting of contact with the hope that the other person will simply get the idea that the relationship is over.

On the one hand, if it’s only been one date or just a few hangouts, there’s really nothing wrong with going no-contact if you’ve lost interest. It’s somewhat rude, but not against the social norm. And of course, if you are dating someone and they say they want to break up, they don’t have to provide a list of reasons why or justify their decision; no one has to date anyone they don’t want to, even if it hurts to be rejected. With ghosting, though, there’s usually a bit of history already in place for the relationship, several dates or several weeks/months of togetherness, and then there’s a complete lack of a real breakup, even in the form of a “let’s see other people” text message. The other person is simply there one day, gone the next. Ghosting is a pretty horrible thing to do to someone. It’s lazy and completely uncaring of the other’s feelings. But unfortunately, it does happen. So what do you do if it happens to you?

The better question should be, what NOT to do.

  1. Do NOT blow up the ghost’s phone with calls and texts. You might be tempted to do this at first; after all, what if the ghost is actually hurt, in a hospital somewhere, or dead?? They might be going no-contact through no fault of their own! Yes, theoretically that’s possible, but it’s not terribly likely. Sending message after message and leaving voicemail after voicemail is not helpful behavior. If they ARE hurt or dead, it won’t help you reach them. And if they are just blowing you off, you come across as desperate, needy and maybe a little stalker-y. Instead, send no more than three messages and no more than two voicemails. The final of each of those should be something like, “Well, I guess you’re too busy to get back to me right now, so if you want to hang out again, call/text me back when you’ve got time and I’ll see if I’m free.” And then leave it at that. That way, you’ve made it clear that you recognize what’s going on and that you are probably still interested, but you’re also not waiting by the phone (no matter how much you may want to). Play it cool, even if you’re pissed. And yes, you have a right to be pissed if you’re getting ghosted. You’re under no obligation to ever speak to or see this person again after they’ve been so rude.
  2. Do NOT stalk them on social media, contact their friends or otherwise use outside channels to hunt them down. Again, this is pretty pointless behavior. If the ghost was truly sick or hurt and in a hospital somewhere, they’d find a way to get word to you. If you approach their friends and say, “Hey, why hasn’t [ghost] called me? Are they ok?” you’re putting the friends in the awkward position of responding that the ghost is fine, just not replying to your texts. Don’t make other people be the bearers of bad news that you probably already know. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. In this day and age, the availability of so much social media and means of communication leads to the reality that there are just that many more ways someone can reject us or just not contact us at all, and that can feel especially isolating or hurtful. Still, though, using those same means to track down your ghost and see if they’re alive, uninjured, or seeing someone else is just wrong.
  3. Do NOT think any less of yourself or think it’s anything you did. Being ghosted is not an indictment on you. You did not deserve it; no one does, unless they’re abusive or harmful. It doesn’t mean you are undateable, unlovable or somehow not worthy. Ghosting reflects poorly on the one doing it, not on the victim. Those who choose to ghost someone with whom they’ve had a relationship are, by and large, being selfish. They don’t want to deal with the conflict of a breakup, so they just disappear. Or they have “chased” you until they “caught” you, and now they’ve lost interest. Or they’re juggling so many potential mates that they just can’t be bothered making their intentions clear to the ones they’ve decided to cut loose. Whatever their excuse might be, it’s just an excuse. Mature grown-ups handle a parting of the ways with communication. “Sorry, I don’t think this is working out, but thank you!” or “I’ve enjoyed hanging out with you but I don’t think we’re a good fit. Best of luck!” Yes, rejection hurts, but ghosting — the not knowing what exactly is going on or where the other person went — hurts more. Don’t do it to others, and don’t blame yourself if it happens to you.

Five Tips for Approaching (and Conquering) Online Dating

Know what you're looking for even before you start.

Know what you’re looking for even before you start.

We’ve given tons of tips in our blog about how to be a successful online dater. We help you take a good profile pic; we point out what NOT to do on a first date. We even suggested some niche dating sites for people with specific interests. But in a general sense, just how can you turn online dating into a successful endeavor? Amy Webb did a month-long experiment to analyze successful dating profiles, and she shared her results with the world (and now, we’ll share a few of those with you).

  1. Know what you want before you start (make a list and everything). It’s hard to find the perfect mate if you don’t even know what you’re looking for in the first place. If you want someone who has kids, have some idea how many kids and how old/far apart they are. After all, there’s a big difference between someone who has one ten-year-old kid and someone else who has five kids ranging from 6 to 16! Write down what really matters to you, what you seek in a partner, and what your dealbreakers are. Be honest with yourself; there’s no reason to settle here.
  2. Figure out the sites you like best, and join more than one. For the most success, belong to at least a few sites. Keep in mind that paid sites like Match.com tend to be successful for long-term relationships (they tout their high marriage rate in their commercials), while free sites like Tinder are more hookup-friendly. Watch your budget, though; paid sites can nickel and dime you for all the features they offer, so do your homework and figure out what you really need each site to provide for you.
  3. Keep it short, and don’t be funny. Don’t use your profile as a place to ramble on about yourself. Stay short and to the point, and don’t try to be funny. Webb suggests that humor doesn’t translate well to text, especially dating profile text, and sarcasm often falls flat. Instead, be earnest about who you are.
  4. Don’t fixate too narrowly on your own interests. Say there’s a TV show you love. I mean, you LOVE it. If you spend too much space in your profile talking about that show, you could turn off potential matches who might not appreciate your show the way you do. Instead, mention a few of your interests, maybe keep it more general (“I really enjoy sci fi TV” instead of “I’m completely in love with Star Trek, especially Commander Data”) so you can create a potential “in” for those who might be attracted.
  5. Keep your language positive and upbeat. Webb found that profiles that use words like “fun” and “happy” got more love, so don’t use your profile as a place to dump all your issues, your pet peeves or your hangups. Stay as positive as possible, smile in your profile pics, and try to describe things that genuinely excite you. What would your ideal day look like? Let some of that joy show!