It’s very common to be asked what you are looking for when you are in the shidduch parshah. You can rattle off a list of ten things right off the bat: “He/she must be a mentch, has to do chesed, give tz’dakah, have a good personality, etc.” All of that is great, but it can also be applied to every living, breathing person. Nothing stands out that would make your potential spouse unique. When I was single, I always liked to throw in, “He can’t be shy or quiet, has to have a very outgoing personality…” At least that would eliminate the quiet bookworms, but alas many times they were set up with me, as well, and I was told, “After spending time with him, he’s really great, but it takes time to bring it out of him.” Ummm, if you’re an outgoing person with a boisterous personality, it shouldn’t take time for that personality to get out. Basically a deal-breaker for me was if the person was the “quiet type,” wanted to make aliyah, was learning full-time, didn’t go to movies or watch TV. I knew who I was and what I wanted. I knew I couldn’t handle moving to halfway across the world from my family, and I also knew that if the fellow didn’t watch television that he wasn’t for me. No beating around the bush; that’s how it was.
Again, I was perusing social media and found many posts/threads and articles on the subject of what would be a deal-breaker in a relationship. What would make someone break up with someone he or she has been dating for a short while, or would help the person decide that he or she would rather steer clear and not even agree to one date with someone else, if that person had one of the deal-breaking qualities that were on the list.
Let’s discuss some of these “deal-breakers,” and we can analyze if they really are a “deal-breaker” or something you can live with because the person has all the other qualities you are looking for, and you enjoy spending time with him or her. Basically, can you overlook a “deal-breaker” because you actually like him or her?
People in today’s world like to live a healthy life and make healthy life choices. If you are one of those people, can you date a smoker or someone who drinks alcohol on a consistent basis? I’m referring to a glass of wine or a beer a few times a week. Can someone who is really trying to “live right” date someone who he or she feels is living an unhealthy lifestyle? For many, that is a deal-breaker, and I know people who won’t date a smoker. But you can change your smoking and drinking habits; it may be hard, but people can change. Are you going to write someone off just because he isn’t living the “healthy lifestyle” you have chosen right now? What if he decides to stop smoking and/or drinking in a few months or a year?
I really don’t want to offend anyone with the next potential “
deal-breaker,” but I need to be honest
Thankfully, my husband and I share the same political views, but what if we didn’t? People are fighting in the streets because they have opposing political views. Many won’t date someone who hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon of whatever politician he has chosen to hitch his wagon to. There’s one political couple that has made it work for over two decades, despite their opposing political views, and that is James Carville, a Democratic commentator, strategist, and a prominent figure in the Democratic Party, and Mary Matalin, his wife and Republican strategist, who has worked for the Reagan and both Bush administrations. You can’t find people with more opposing views about politics than this couple, but as Carville was quoted as saying in an article about their marriage on politico.com, “I’d rather stay happily married than pick a fight with my wife over politics.” They are able to put aside their differences and make it work. But some people can’t do that.
I was recently speaking with a friend who told me that she went out with someone who was in his upper 30s, but only held a part time job and no, he wasn’t learning for the other half of the day. When she asked him about that on the date, he said he would start getting serious and decide what to do with his life once he is married. At 35, with a wife (and a family) to support, he was going to start to figure out what to do with his life? When he finally decides which direction to look, will school or training be needed or will his starting salary be $100,000? This fellow wasn’t being realistic. Frankly, my friend found him to be lacking in having a drive to succeed and to basically work. That was a deal-breaker for her, because she didn’t want to be the sole provider for a few years before her husband can start to earn a decent salary, especially when he is first starting out in his upper 30s. Where was he when he was in his 20s, and who was advising this fellow that this was a good idea and the women would support it? Here, again, is a deal-breaker for my friend. But if you or someone else is willing to take the journey with a 36/38-year-old trying to find what career path he wants and is more than willing to support him on his journey, then it’s not a deal-breaker for you.
I have often written about people dating others because they were “geographically desirable.” What this means is that they live relatively close to each other. I went out with quite a few men who complained about how far I lived from where they lived. In turn, I complained (as a joke) that they lived very far from where I lived (the joke was lost on most). Who were they? Fred Flintstone, that they were pushing the car with their feet? But for many people, they don’t want a long commute to date someone. Yes, I know about all the people who make the drive up or down to Maryland or will fly across the country. But I am finding (through what my friends tell me) that many people want to date others who live within “daled amos” of their house. Dating someone out of town, even if in the same city – but a different borough – is out of the question and an instant deal-breaker.
There are other deal-breakers that have to do with the person’s physical looks, such as weight and attractiveness. More and more I hear, “He/she has to look like a movie star.” Yes, it’s unrealistic, as I have written about in previous articles, but unless someone is told that the person being redt is a “10,” they won’t go out with him or her. What about beauty being in the eye of the beholder? People don’t want to date someone they consider to be fat or obese, because it is an unattractive quality to them, and it links back to living a healthy lifestyle and making the “right” choices.
I really don’t want to offend anyone with the next potential “deal-breaker,” but I need to be honest. People don’t want to date someone with bad personal hygiene. They prefer dating someone who smells of cologne/perfume rather than their own body odor. Personal hygiene is a big deal-breaker. I know of two stories (that I won’t write about) where body odor was a real issue and ended the relationship before it even really started.
I can go on and on with “deal-breakers.” I have another two pages of notes, but I will stop here. Some of the items I mentioned are real issues and are deal-breakers; others may not be, as situations or habits may change, and so the issue won’t be there in a year or so. Only you can decide what a “deal-breaker” is for you. All I ask is that you take the time to think about the person and the actual issue and ask yourself if it is something that you can live with, because everything else about the person is great (and you’ve gotten to know him or her), or if it is something you can’t live with. I don’t just offer advice; I take my own advice, too, and I hope you do as well.
Hatzlachah to you all.
Goldy Krantz is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.