I saw a thread on Reddit the other day that was asking about deal breakers and it got me thinking – what are my dealbreakers? Also, when I saw a lot of the answers, they were squarely focused on romantic relationships, but I believe there are deal breakers in all of our relationships, aren’t there?
Deal breakers or Expectations?
To me, deal breakers really are just expectations you have for someone else. It’s what you are willing to accept to have them in your life. Because let’s be honest – everyone comes with some negatives. Everyone, no exception. Because we are human and therefore will make mistakes and are not perfect. Yes, that’s including you. So if you consider that definition, then dealbreakers exist for friends, family, coworkers or jobs and your romantic relationships. Also, deal breakers evolve. They change as we get older along with our expectations.
So let’s talk about deal breakers when you’re closing in on or already in middle age. Because if your expectations have never changed, it’s time to download that update. Today, let’s discuss friendships and romantic relationships.
Friends have Expectations Too
Our friends are a critical part of our life. In some cases, we don’t have a biological family and therefore our friends become our family. In other cases, we prefer them over the family we have. Friendships evolve over a lifetime and have the same ebbs and flows as long-term romantic partnerships and so do our expectations. In some cases, we hold them more accountable than our romantic partners – which for the record I don’t agree with.
When we are younger, let’s say our 20’s – or prior to being in the workplace and having families at least, we expect our friends to always be available – day or night. We could call them because we’re bored at 1am and they’ll pick up and talk to us. That has definitely changed. Now, If i call my friend after 9pm, there better be an emergency. Post 9pm, if my phone is ringing, I’m assuming someone is in trouble. Something horrible happened, or they need to be bailed out of jail – you name it, but it’s something that was important enough that couldn’t wait until tomorrow.
Well that is unless you are my brother who once called me at 4am, woke me out of a deep sleep, to ask me if I needed anything from Target on Black Friday. Do you know how terrifying it is to see your sibling calling you at 4am? And then how annoying it is to find out that nothing is wrong other than they must have lost their god damn mind to be thinking it was ok to call you at that hour? Um no Dave, there is nothing in the world that I want bad enough to be at Target at 4am. Nothing. Also, I will never wait in a line to enter a retail store for any reason – ever. Doesn’t matter the time actually. At no time is waiting in line for a store appropriate.
Small tangent here – but I live off of Michigan Avenue in Chicago. If you haven’t been there, you’ve probably heard of it. A long street, usually called Magnificent Mile, that is lined with stores like Nordstrom, Ugg, Zara, Tiffany’s, you get the point. Every singe day, I see people waiting in line to enter at least one store. The worst offenders are Burberry, Apple, Ugg, Zara and Nike. Now, Nike and Apple are usually because something just was released. Maybe a new pair of Air Jordans or the next iPhone iteration. But is that even an excuse? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that is available online no? So what are you doing spending hours of your life waiting to buy something in a store when you can just buy it with a click of a button – or a tap of your finger? I get hobbies and passions, but I’m very honest when I say there is nothing I would stand in line to buy that I can just buy online. I’m not a patient person, but I’m patient enough to wait for it to be delivered if that means I don’t have to wait in that line.
Sorry, I digress. Clearly a pet peeve of mine. But when it comes to phone calls, when we get older – there’s a time limit on non-emergency calls. There remains no time limit on emergency calls. In fact, the opposite – if I do call you in the middle of the night, I hope they’d pick up. Although I think in that situation I would be screwed. Most people I know sleep with their phone on silent or even on do not disturb so if shit was going down, they wouldn’t even know it and would sleep right through my emergency call. My selection would be severely limited in that situation.
My deal breakers for my friends are pretty simple, but important. Show up when I need you. Be genuinely happy for my wins and empathetic to my losses. Be honest with me at all times – that includes when you’re mad at me (which you will be at some point). Lift me up, don’t tear me down. And make an effort to keep the friendship alive. These sound simple, and maybe obvious – but I didn’t always hold my friends accountable for these. Notice what I didn’t include.
I didn’t include time limits on things. Like they need to respond to me in x number of hours. Or I need to see or talk to them once a month etc. I think that’s where getting older really starts setting in. I have close friends I only talk to maybe 3-4 times a year. I have close friends that are mostly text and we get together once a month over video chat. And I have close friends that I see very regularly. And all of this is 100% acceptable. Because as adults, we get busy! And so do our friends. We realize that our friendship is a part of their life, not the center of it.
They have careers, families and significant others and other things that also require their attention. But I think even though we tend to spend less time with our friends as we get older, the time we spend is more precious. We appreciate it more. Because as our lives get busier, it takes effort to maintain friendships. And we know our time is valuable – therefore when we choose to spend time with our friends, what we’re saying is I choose to allocate some of my valuable time to you because you matter and our friendship is worth it.
On the flipside, as we get older and busier and pulled in other directions, some friendships naturally die off. And that’s ok too. Because we have less and less free time allocated to friendships. So it’s only natural that some sort of prioritization needs to happen. Basically we’re saying, I no longer want to waste your valuable time because I’m not willing to live up to your expectations of friendships – and you don’t live up to mine.
Romantic Deal Breakers Don’t Have to Ruin the Mood
Now, when it comes to romantic relationships, deal breakers are essential yet more likely to be ignored. How many people do you know that you just watch them ignore red flags in a partner? Maybe that person is staring at you in the mirror.
Side note – I saw a social post (yes, TikTok) the other day that said cisgender straight couples stole the title “partner” from the LGBTQ community. I found that interesting for two reasons. First, it feels like there’s enough in the world for us to be upset about other than where the term “partner” came from when describing our romantic relationships. And Second, if cisgender straight couples did “steal” this term, it’s probably because the other options we have available come with a ton of baggage on the expected gender roles within relationships that we aren’t aligned to. Maybe we use “partner” to describe our significant other to emphasize that we are equals in the household and the relationship. So in a way, both groups are using “partner” because of antiquated societal expectations put on our relationships that we are trying to break free of – so let’s not argue. Let’s focus on the real problem here, and to give you a hint – it’s not who came up with partner first.
Anyhoo, the deal breakers within romantic relationships are heavily dependent on the expectation of that relationship. So if you’re just looking for a booty call, your deal breakers could be pretty simple like good hygiene, no STD’s, transparency in partners, good in bed – you name it. But if you’re looking for something long term, then the deal breakers are very different.
You still want everything I just mentioned, minus the transparency of other partners – I guess unless you have an open relationship which I don’t get. I feel like the thought of that works better than the reality of it. But hey, to each their own.
Maybe your deal breaker is tied to religious beliefs, political parties or if they want children or not. These make sense. Maybe there are financial deal breakers. And I feel like me saying that would make some people say that’s shallow and it shouldn’t matter. But I beg to differ here. One of the top causes of divorce is financial incompatibility. Not necessarily that one person has money and one doesn’t – but that both people in the relationship are not aligned to how they handle the finances. So maybe this is an area that deserves more attention.
What is a financial deal breaker in a relationship? Do you need someone to be able to hold their own? Do you want someone to stay at home? Are you willing to deal with a partner that can’t manage their finances appropriately – they’re always forgetting to make payments, spending more than they make, racking up debt, not saving – you name it. Their financial well-being impacts you, especially if you get married. Their debt is your debt.
Deal breakers also include how they treat you and make you feel. My deal breakers for my marriage are: I require respect, emotional support, a present partner and someone that considers me their equal. I also require a partner that is confident in their own self, and in our relationship, that they don’t mind the time we spend apart and support me spending time with friends. I require someone that has their own passions and individual goals, but that also enjoys doing things together and takes me into consideration for future planning. I’m sure there’s a lot more -but these are not things I really thought as much about when I was dating in my 20s, and I definitely didn’t hold others accountable for these expectations.
If anything, I think dating in my 20’s actually helped me develop and identify my deal breakers. That’s actually the number one reason I believe that it’s better to get married after you’ve had a chance to date around a bit. Because dating is what helps you realize what is truly important and what really doesn’t matter. Because that’s the other part about long-term relationships, they’ll never work if you don’t pick your battles.
Deal breakers have a negative connotation, but they shouldn’t. Deal Breakers are really just boundaries set that align with our expectations. They help us prioritize those that have access to us and our valuable time. They give us a framework to hold others accountable. As we get older, and we are getting pulled in more directions – deal breakers are essential. So what are your deal breakers? What are your expectations for your friends? For your significant other? And are you holding them accountable? Or ignoring the red flags? Be honest with yourself. Take steps today to honor your deal breakers – because holding others accountable to your deal breakers, means honoring yourself. And that should always be your top priority.
Thank you for listening! Please share this with anyone you think should reconsider their deal breakers or maybe needs the courage to uphold them. Please leave a review so others can find this podcast. If you’d like the blog version of this podcast delivered to your inbox, you can subscribe to myalmostmidlifecrisis.com and of course, you can follow me on instagram, facebook and tiktok. Until next time!