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Deal breakers and deal sealers in relationships?(39 Posts)
Before you start/started a relationship, do you discuss what your deal breakers are?
Should you have done so?
I never have, but I suppose they would have been things about children and their raising. If we had children, I wouldn't have wanted them raised in a strong religious background; I wouldn't have wanted them sent away to a boarding school. They weren't, in any case.
What would yours have been/were they?
How would you feel about your partner laying out what they expect of you before a relationship?
Just chiming in with the 'relationships are a work in progress' sentiment, I'd add, so are people. Or, certainly, so am I. A lot of my 'deal breakers' only developed after earlier relationships in which I thought "ooh, I can cope with that" only to discover that no, in the long term, I couldn't. So I suppose my 'deal breakers' evolved, but they were never laid out in a discussion where the two of us brought lists to the table and started ticking things off .... I think I only recognise them in retrospect!
My requirements for 'a date' were pretty much 'funny liberal type, non-smoker, interesting conversationalist, someone whom I find attractive.'
My requirements for a 'boyfriend' were 'similar views on religion, similar interest in levels of relationship seriousness (e.g. if the boyfriend I'd had aged 20 had said "I want to get married in the next few years" I would have run! But the one I met aged 26 who said the same thing... well I was on the same wavelength by then, and we got married 2 years later), fun in bed, relatively sure of self"
My requirements for 'serious boyfriend' then included "likes dogs, likes and wants children, good to live with (cleans, tidies, cooks, does these things without being reminded), similar political views, active feminist, a couple of hobbies in common, likes my family'' ... and again, I don't know how many of these I could live without, because I happened to have the luck to find lots in one person at about the time I'd worked out what I wanted in a long-term partner.
Imagining for a moment that my wonderful H got hit by a bus and I had to date again (oh god, no!) I think real, honest-to-god "I'll get up with our son and walk out" dealbreakers would be things I imagine I'd discover quite far into a relationship but would make me actually leave:
Addictions (I don't care for smoking and wouldn't want it around my boys, but I think alcoholism, drugs, or gambling destroy families much faster. Any of these would be a 'nope, sorry, not in my family' dealbreaker).
Difference in opinion about childraising, specifically discipline (eg: smacking, or even just mocking, swearing etc)
Bad with money (eg spendthrift or extremely stingy)
Bad attitude towards women or other people less powerful/privileged
I imagine stuff like 'doesn't share similar political views' and 'unfeminist' would be something that I'd notice before I was in an established relationship with someone, as I tend to mention that stuff in conversation!
drugs and smoking
Very small penis....and excessive porn use.
Cheater and rapists
Criminal convictions.....for violence especially
Long term unemployed .......laziness.
Charbon Fri 05-Oct-12 17:35:01
I think all relationships (and people) are a work in progress.
We agree. Here.
I think all relationships (and people) are a work in progress. For couples who get together very young without much life experience under their belts, the issues that were important to them then, might be replaced or added to with others later. It makes sense on starting a relationship to discuss attitudes towards the most common threats to relationships; infidelity, money, parenting, extended families, clashes of values/ethics, divisions of labour, addictions etc. but there might be others that are personal to the individuals, shaped by personal experience.
Because individuals change and therefore there is ample risk of values diverging on some issues, it makes sense to constantly re-negotiate the boundaries, rather than assuming that a partner is still on the same page. The problem is that during busy lives, it is easy to assume that a partner still feels the way he always has on a particular issue - and so there is shock and sometimes disappointment when his actions conflict with those long-held beliefs.
I also think that to make these discussions meaningful, there needs to be some realism involved. For example, a couple might discuss fidelity and agree it is important to both of them, without ever discussing what that means in practice, or without acknowledging the probability that such a threat will arise at some point in their lives. This applies equally to any discussions about the abstract. How both parents think they will deal with teenagers before they've got them, often bears no resemblance to the reality when it arrives.
It's a constant process of re-negotiation, checking out and communication, with both parties sharing equal responsibility for the health of the relationship.
I haven't in previous relationships. In my current one I was very upfront about all of it, quite early on. Porn, sexism, abuse were catagorically stated as deal breakers immediately. Religion would have been a massive problem for me (as an atheist), but politics I'm quite open minded about. Although I am naturally a leftie, it doesn't follow that all tories are heartless bastards.
"Bunbaker and crosscupcake did you discuss these before your relationships"
No we didn't discuss them. I think if any of the deal breakers had cropped up I would have ended the relationship. I don't think it is realistic to discuss all these things at the beginning of a relationship as you generally find out these things about a partner in the early days anyway. OH and I have been happily married for 32 years and I'm sure it is because we both want the same things out of the relationship and we share the same values.
We have never 'sat down and had a discussion' about deal breakers. But in the getting-serious stage of our relationship, we were both obviously testing the water re: certain things, and discussed issues like fidelity, marriage, finances, children and geographical stuff. DP is quite anti-marriage, already has a child who he would never be prepared to move away from (geographically) and he laid both of these things out to me. We both also wanted to know each others views on having children (or in his case more children) particularly re: timescales, and I wanted to discuss fidelity.
If we had had vastly different ideas re: any of these things, they would have been deal-breakers I think. But there was nothing that we didn't agree on, or reach a compromise on.
In terms of the other things on the list, we've also discussed alcohol, religion, violence - we're on the same page. I know he occasionally looks at porn and thats not a big problem for me. Our politics are quite different, and they occasionally come between us, but neither of us is extreme enough for it to be a deal breaker. We mostly try not to get into political discussions with each other any more...
Absolutely Apocalypto, I wonder however how many people start a new relationship with a DP who has a difficult relationship with his/her parents, only to measure the severity of the dysfunctionality at the wedding banquet or once DCs are about....
This is not to say the the new DP is hiding this part of his history, make up, but that he / she may not be aware.
There were some red flags that I completely ignored / was oblivious too, but I probably failed to see the trees in front of the woods because everyone involved "play acted" as if they were the healthiest of a family. In that I mean neither the mum nor the sister came out to say DP is the scapegoat by the way....
Discussion at an early stage, should / could include talking about your history / make up, but then one tries to be attractive and leaves the skeleton in the closet...
You can't really make anyone have different family though.
I guess you have to examine the family as part of your due diligence and if they are not up to scratch reflect on the likelihood that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
One more to add to the list... Toxic family (future in-laws).
I have to admit that had I known how dysfunctional DP's family is, I would have been much better prepared and wouldn't have felt like an elephant in a china shop every time we saw them.
Not a deal breaker as such but partners don't always lay out how toxic their family is... They don't alwys know or measure the damage but honest discussions about relationships with close and distant family would be helpful as it explains a lot of behaviourism...
I think a lot of the time (and I've allowed far more shit in my own life than I'm proud to admit to) it's a complex mesh of things like low standards, laziness, lack of confidence, social pressure and misplaced 'love' that leads to the misery rather than it particularly being a conscious decision. Doesn't even have to apply to human beings. How many owners of horrible dogs do you know who reel off a list home-wrecking misdemeanours but finish with the words 'but I couldn't bear to part with him...' People are nuts.
Indeed cognito, i agree.
Spose my influences are my own parents and my pil.
Terrible marriages, creating misery and bad feeling and utter desolation and depression...for years and years and years and years until death parted them.
Why? Just why?
One person can smear such shitness into another persons life if they are allowed to. Really..why?
(NOT talking about domestic abuse here either before i am pounced on)
We sound similar crosscupcake. I suppose our umbrella 'dealbreaker' that we might state up front is 'we don't put up with shit'... that leaves it nicely open to interpretation as to what 'shit' might look like
Yup i defo had an ear/eye for these things. Just a gut feeling if the person is right for me or not.
I am fussy though.
But then you hear all the time about people with soul mates shitting on them froma great huge height...unexpectedly and out of the blue.
SO for that reason i am not smug, i know it can all go tits up in an instant, you never know what is coming for you around the corner.
But then im pretty hard faced an meh about these things. I love my dh, but would rather be alone than put up with shit.
Maybe if the deal-breaker was something so unusual that a regular person couldn't possibly know that it was important and it was unlikely to crop up in conversation .... maybe then you might possibly be justified in saying 'I couldn't tolerate being in a relationship with someone that wasn't 100% committed to nudism/macrame/creationism/etc' at the outset. Save everyone a lot of time. But otherwise, no.
Sorry, Cogito I agree with you... I don't see how others discuss this. TBH, I think I wouldn't necessarily know a deal breaker till I discovered it.
Like you, I suspect I develop an ear/eye for things that make people unsuitable.
We actually didnt discuss these things.
BUT had a friendship prior to relationship.
Relationship over a 7 year period before commiting to marriage.
I got to know him completely and he got to know me too within that time.
And yes, if these things were not compatible with my standards, it would have been the end of that.
It isnt just one thing, its a combination of things that are deal breakers i find.
Unfortunately i have learned from others mistakes, appauling relationships and tolerant women...not for me i decided from a very very young age.
"Would you really say if you ever do x, y or z, it's all over?"
I said I never discuss deal-breakers. I don't threaten therefore, I simply test the waters, get to know someone and if I discover they are doing x, y or z then I drop them.
Case in point is the recently divorced boyfriend that, on visiting my home in an expensive part of town, suddenly went from lukewarm to very enthusiastic, started asking how much it was worth, talking about moving in and practically measuring for curtains. He wasn't to know that a deal-breaker for me is 'goldigging cocklodger'.... but he was out of the door.
Bunbaker and crosscupcake did you discuss these before your relationships and if so what dealbreakers did DP bring to the table?
I agree with that Cognito, when I said we discussed it it wasn't in the terms of 'deal breakers' we just had a open honest discussion one evening about what our hopes and fears would be for a long term relationship/ marriage. It was early on in the relationship but we had both come from very difficult relationships so it was a reflection more than anything else, but it seemed to be a real turning point in our relationship from 'dating' to 'couple'.
But I don't think you 'discuss' deal-breakers by their very nature. A deal-breaker is something that, once you are aware of it, the relationship is over.
Would you really say if you ever do x, y or z, it's all over?
I don't think people do, if I'm honest.
I suspect most of us think things will be Ok, and don't set conditions on our love.
Too much alcohol
Not pulling weight around the house and for childcare
Being a sports fan to the extent of being a football widow/golf widow/other sport widow every weekend
Lack of personal hygiene
Lack of respect
Helpful with chores and childcare
Not being too possessive
It's the word 'discuss'. I think it's wise to discuss practical things like attitudes to shared finances or housework if you're thinking about setting up home with someone. But I don't think you 'discuss' deal-breakers by their very nature. A deal-breaker is something that, once you are aware of it, the relationship is over. The porn thing is a case in point. If, on your first date, you were mention 'I hate porn' and your companion says 'oh yes, so do I'... this can either mean they genuinely agree with you or they are making a mental note 'never let new girlfriend see the jazz mag stash'.
It's not black/white.
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