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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.

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