What makes the perfect man or the perfect woman? The answer varies for everyone, although there are some universal traits that almost anyone would appreciate in a partner. They should be attractive (and what makes a person good-looking also wildly varies), compassionate, communicative, have a good sense of humor, possess ambition in life, and not be financially destroyed. If you go into dating with a short list like that, you may still struggle for a while to find someone who ticks off all the boxes. If you start nitpicking over smaller details though, you’ll be scoping dating partners at the local bar or online even longer.
When someone doesn’t quite meet your tailored description, we tend to call these unwanted attributes dealbreakers. Just like almost everyone wants the shining qualities in a partner as mentioned above, most people have quite similar dealbreakers, like excessive smoking, drinking, cussing, gambling, or other ways of recklessly spending money. However, if you go out with a man and decide it won’t work out because he has a cat and you love dogs or you see a woman and rule her out because she’s a vegan and you couldn’t imagine giving up meat, you could miss out on a lot of very interesting people.
That’s not to say that you can’t be picky to an extent. It’s better to have preferences, which can be flexible, than strict and rigid dealbreakers, which have no room for malleability. You shouldn’t date someone who you’re not attracted to or who doesn’t treat you well just because you don’t want to cling too tightly to dealbreakers. Just keep these silly ones in mind the next time you gear up for a date.
12. Their Quirks
We’ve got news for you. Everyone has quirks. Everyone. Are some more pronounced than others? Yes, absolutely. However, everyone has them. Just because you don’t see someone’s strange little eccentricities on the first date doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Spend enough time with someone—anyone—and you’ll see what truly makes them, them. Even the person of your dreams will have an interesting peculiarity or two.
These little idiosyncrasies are what make us unique. Unless your date has a really bad habit like chewing on ice, smacking their lips, or talking too loud, there’s no reason to disqualify someone from a second or third date just because you noticed one of their little weird habits earlier than you might have someone else. Just remember before you judge too harshly that you too have your own rituals and practices that may seem alien to somebody else.
11. Long Distance
Distance is hard. There’s no other way around it. While your friends and coworkers can see their significant other or spouse every single day or at least a few times a week, you have to settle for visits weekly, monthly, or even just a few times a year. Whether you and your sweetie are just one state away or 10, there are ways to keep the magic alive even when you can’t spend time together in person.
With technology like Skype and FaceTime, you two can see each other and hear one another’s voices at the same time. Apps, social media, and smartphones make it easy to communicate nearly 24/7. Granted, make sure that your LDR has an endpoint where you two will be living in the same neighborhood. That gives you something to look forward to and work towards. If you met someone wonderful online though but they live a little farther than you prefer, at least give them the benefit of a doubt. You never know what may develop.
10. The Way They Text
In a grammar lover’s world, everyone would treat every text message, every Tweet, every Instagram caption, and every Facebook post like a piece of literary art, capitalizing the first word of every sentence, using proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and writing out the whole word rather than using abbreviations. However, you know very well that that will never happen. If you’re a stickler for proper English and your date texts like “hey babe wht’s up how r u,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t ever see them again.
People are busy, and for many, short texts with abbreviations are easier to send than paragraphs-long novels. While yes, you have your texting style and they have theirs, in the end, as long as you two are communicating, that’s practically all that matters. If your date is eloquent enough in person, who cares how they text, especially when the messages are just supposed to be for you two alone?
9. Their Intelligence
Speaking of eloquence, some people want nothing more than a brainy smarty-pants that still reads the newspaper and does so in their spare time. They would enjoy stimulating and intellectual conversation and often frequent art galleries and cafes. Okay, maybe for some people that sounds like a nightmare, but you can’t deny that everyone wants to be with someone who has at least some intelligence. That’s human nature, since you don’t want to look dumb by the company you keep.
However, it’s best to remember that on a first date, nerves are running high. You’re not as witty, charming, or flirty as you wish you could be. Sometimes you may stammer or be lost for words. You may forget your train of thought or what your date just told you. You’re trying to remember to be awesome and figuring out if your date is awesome and trying to look totally natural at the same time. It’s a lot. Just don’t use the first date as the permanent yardstick of a person’s smarts.
8. Their Diet
Perhaps you’re an adventurous foodie who lives to try new restaurants or small places with various ethnic cuisine. However, your date is just as fine going to the same few establishments week after week, month after month. The situation may be reversed, and perhaps you’re the picky eater for any number of reasons (diet restrictions or you just only feel comfortable eating certain foods). Does that mean that you two can’t ever mesh and have a happy relationship together? No, of course not.
In fact, people with two different diets get to practice their compromising skills early, which come in handy when you two are an actual couple. Perhaps the plain eater can branch out sometimes while the food lover can tone back their enthusiasm for the kinds of things you see on Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern. As long as a person’s diet isn’t so awful to the point where it’s harming their health and wellbeing, you two can work out something that may open both of your culinary worlds a bit.
7. Their Taste in Music
How can they listen to country when you love rock? How can you stomach their preference for hip-hop when you only listen to pop? These questions don’t just apply to music but to most other forms of entertainment as well, like television shows, movies, and even video games. While yeah, it would be great if you could get a new concert buddy out of a relationship, you have to understand that this isn’t always the case. The least that you can do is try to introduce each other to your favorite bands and artists, but if that doesn’t take, then you really have to let it go.
Just like with food, you two can compromise. If you’re driving, you control what’s on the radio or your iPod, and the same goes for when they’re in charge of the trips. You can certainly invite them to that huge concert coming up in a month, but make sure that you don’t drag them along unwillingly. While you may never be able to get over your seething hatred of country music, at least if you hear a song, it’ll remind you of your boyfriend or girlfriend, and that’s not all bad.
6. Their Fashion Choices
Everyone wants to look good, and as the saying goes, “clothes make the man.” Whether you follow fashion with an eagle eye or not, there’s probably some trends and garments that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. Everyone has something, ranging from Crocs to overalls to crop tops. When you’re dating someone though, now not only do you have to worry about how you look, but about how they look as well.
What if they wear socks with sandals? What if their style is so outdated that it makes you cringe a little inside? Okay, likely it’s not that bad. Your partner probably makes a fashion faux pas or two that you don’t love, but your options are nil. It’s not advisable to try to change someone, even the way they dress. Unless you’re going to replace their wardrobe, begrudging them for their clothing choices when the world doesn’t really care either way isn’t wise. Pick your battles.
5. Their Educational Background
Whether you’re book-smart and nerdy or just someone proud of their bachelor’s (or even master’s) degree, you may want someone with the same kind of education as you. They must have graduated high school, they must have graduated from a college or university, and maybe they even spent a few more years there studying further. You may not be picky about their alma mater (but who can resist an academic from Harvard, Princeton, or another Ivy League school?), just that they have one.
However, that’s not really fair. There are plenty of reasons that people don’t continue their education. Some get a job right out of high school, some stay back to take care of an ailing family member, and many just can’t afford it. As long as your date has a job, who cares how many years they spent in a classroom to get there? If it doesn’t bother them, then it most certainly shouldn’t bother you.
4. Their Place
If your potential boyfriend or girlfriend did indeed graduate from a university or community college, they may be saddled with debt like many graduates are. With jobs still a little scarce to come by, it can sometimes take years longer than anyone would prefer to pay off those lingering bills. As a result, many college grads move back home with mom and dad. It’s not the best situation, but at least they have a roof over their heads. In the meantime, they’re saving up money to try to find their own place.
If you go out on a date with someone who still lives with their parents, don’t write them off right away because of it. Yes, sure, it makes things a little difficult when it comes to having sex, but if one of you has an apartment or house, that answers that. Besides, it’s not like your date will live with their folks forever. If this person is an otherwise great catch, make sure to have some patience. It may very well benefit you later.
3. Their Occupation
It’s already been said: it’s not easy to get a job right out of college. It’s not easy to get a job period. With the economy recovering seemingly at a snail’s pace, many people take whatever they can find to pay the bills, whether it’s part-time, seasonal, or a position that they never dreamed they’d be working. This takes perseverance, since you’re putting your own basic needs (food, shelter) ahead of your happiness. It’s admirable and, for today’s generation, becoming more and more of a necessary evil.
If you meet that hunk or cutie and take them to dinner or out for a coffee and find that their job isn’t exactly the coolest or most inspiring career path that you’ve ever heard of, try reserving your judgment. After all, it’s them that has to wake up every day and go to their workplace, not you. Just be glad that your date has a job.
2. Their Income
In our dreams, we all want the rich man or woman, someone who can take care of us and leave us without a financial care in the world. In reality, it’s kind of insulting when someone pulls out their checkbook for you all the time. You can pay for yourself, you know. Countless relationships and marriages have dissolved because of money imbalances. It’s too easy for the party making less cash to be envious of the one raking in more dough.
Think about that the next time that you log on to your favorite dating site and start glancing at the income information for certain matches (and yes, sites do allow that data to be public if you’re willing to provide it). It’s probably best to try to find someone who makes about as much money as you to prevent the power and control from swinging too far in one direction. Oh, and of course, never ask about money on a first date. Or the second date, for that matter.
1. Their Height
Everyone has weight preferences, and that’s alright. After all, someone’s weight is part of their appearance, and appearance is a portion of innate attraction. You’ll either find someone irresistible or not. There’s no need to pretend that you have feelings for someone when you don’t. The big difference between height and weight though is that people can control their weight. They can lose some or gain some. With height, it’s all hereditary. You’ll only grow so far, and if you’re old enough to date, your growing days are likely over.
Still, there’s hang-ups that some women can’t exactly get over when it comes to a man’s height. Yes, we all would love tall, dark, and dreamy, but sometimes you just get dark and dreamy. It’s tougher for taller women, since they want to feel feminine, and looking down on your date doesn’t exactly invoke that feeling. However, wouldn’t it be a shame to throw away a potentially great relationship all because of a few inches?
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