My Dealmakers and Dealbreakers: A Shallow List

I’m definitely not ready for or wanting anything serious right now, but I also know that in the past I didn’t really KNOW how I felt about certain issues until I was committed to them. Which proves I can’t be completely objective while IN a relationship. Which is why I’ve started to think about some dealbreakers and dealmakers now. Not so much to take it from dating to matrimony, but at least to take it from First Person Singular to First Person Plural.

I read somewhere that there are 3 important levels of compatibility: Intellectual, physical, and emotional. So with those in mind, I’ve started a list of some of my make-it-or-break-it essentials.

Intellectual Compatibility
Enough is enough; no more explaining what I mean five times. Or vice versa. Conversations should flow relatively easily. (Exception: pop cultural references. And not just because it’s not a real reflection of intellect. Mainly because I have to use stealthily at least once a day while talking to friends. It’s just not a fair assessment!)

DEALmaker: Nerdy habits are attractive. So, have a nerdy quirk, like using physics laws and math equations to explain something. Even if I can’t understand you, I’ll find it fascinating!

dealBREAKER: I read a lot. So tell me what you’re reading, or even tell me you think I have bad taste in books. DO NOT say something like, “Wow. That’s so cool. I can’t remember the last time I read a book.” (Sadly, I did not dump him on the spot.)

Physical Compatibility
I’ve gotta WANT you, and not just for your incredibly intelligent and sexy-nerdy brain. I want to forget your mind once in awhile and just focus on your body. I grew up valuing intelligence, but I might have overromanticized it…because in a relationship, I’ve figured out I also want and need real chemistry. Hey, I’m not saying it’s gotta be a 50-50 split between brains and rip-your-clothes-off attraction. I’ll take 51-49.

DEALmaker: I’ve never been a fan of PDA but recently it occurred to me: hey, maybe it’s not me, it’s THEM! If you can make me want to just grab you (parts unmentioned) in public, no matter who might be watching, you’re in. If I don’t want you almost all the time, where’s the fun?

dealBREAKER: If I find myself completely, 100% engaged in conversation with you after the third or fourth time we’ve met, it’s probably not a good sign. My mind should be wandering already!

Emotional Compatibility
(I’m not completely sure what “emotional compatibility” is, so I’m gonna wing it.)


  • Be my age, or at least within 2-3 years: We need to have similar goals. I don’t want to be super career-driven while you’re just ready to start a family (or vice versa).
  • Compliment me: But not all the time, because that’s annoying.
  • Be very down-to-earth and practical: Because I am NOT! I need someone to tell me that my dreams are absurd and impossible but that you like me anyway—it means I’ll never have to rely on anyone but myself to find the way down my chosen path. It also keeps me motivated.


  • Being needy or smothersome: I don’t wanna talk to you ALL the time, and I don’t want a play-by-play of every thought that passes through your brain.
  • Not having lots of friends: I mean, I’m totally flattered if you consider me your best friend—until I find out I won that position by default.
  • Being really attached to TV or material goods: You won’t find me in front of a TV all that often. Plus, how will we chuck all our belongings and travel the world otherwise?

What’s on your list? Am I missing any big things? Keep in mind, this is a SHALLOW list!

  1. Pete said:

    pam, great job as usual. as for emotional compatibility, i think you nailed it. you also articulated the importance of finding someone slightly (or not so slightly) different from you. similarity does not equal compatibility. that’s the pearl of wisdom i’m taking away from this one. since i am the lucky first commenter, i’ll add a couple list items.

    Breaker–Physical: don’t be a (pardon me) slut. look nice, don’t get me wrong. but please, please don’t dress like you’re on a rap video. even the hottest, sexiest girl in the world can gross me out if she doesn’t know how to look (and hopefully, truly be) classy. i only mention this because i think it’s a common misconception that the fewer/smaller your clothes, the more men will dig you. just not true. ask around.

    Maker–Emotional: disagree without fighting. nothing worse than thinking you’re both expressing yourselves and communicating with the goal of understanding one another better, only to find out that you’ve been in a fight the whole time. this one is easily avoided. eye contact, calm talking, and knowing when to step away for a minute (or hour) are all crucial. in the best of circumstances, disagreements are approached with the goal of making the disagreement less severe the next time. counter-intuitive as it may be, a successfully negotiated disagreement can be a great “shot in the arm” for a relationship.

    • Pam said:

      Haha, thanks for sharing, Pete. Hmm, interesting. As far as the dressing goes, can you give a few examples of clothing styles that turn you off? Not that I’m ever dangerously close to the line (I think!), but I am curious.

      Never thought of the way a guy dresses in terms of dealmaker or breaker. I do remember with an ex, I once very honestly told him that a shirt he liked to wear did not flatter him, and he said okay…then proceeded to wear it to meet my parents, to a party hosted by my friends, etc. I don’t think it was blatant disregard, but it was kind of annoying! And that was the only shirt I ever really had a problem with-figures. I tried!

      I agree with the negotiation during disagreements. Haha- sorry, but “only to find out you’ve been in a fight the whole time” is such a perfect example of what can happen so easily! I admit I’ve never gotten into many fights during relationships, but only because the guys were too daggone set in their “pleasing” mode that they just pretended they were okay! Fight with me, damn it!!

      Any examples as to how to make sure fights aren’t avoided? and can one be proactive – “hey honey, we haven’t had a fight yet, but when we do…?” Have you done that?

      • Pete said:

        well, for me, the clothes that turn me off tend to be tight. if we’re going on a special date or something, by all means, dress in a way that makes you feel special/sexy/however you want to feel, but i hate hate hate the idea of a wardrobe that consists entirely of sexy outfits. what in the world are you going to wear on a hike or when we grocery shop? diversify, ladies, please. that said, i don’t often dress “nice” so maybe i’d better take a dose of my own medicine here…

        pam, i couldn’t agree more that a good disagreement is not just to be expected–it’s desirable. if your sig. other always ALWAYS agrees, that’s cause for concern. do they not have opinions of their own? if not, where’s the fun? what the heck are you going to talk about? lucky (i guess) for me, this has never been a problem i’ve encountered.

        below, annie makes some fantastic points about what to avoid during disagreements. i’m right behind her, there. though forgiveness is always possible, the bitterness that comes from one-time hurtful comments can be terribly poisonous. i have also found that different communication styles can make for some drama. i am a quiet arguer, because i don’t like yelling and screaming, but when my ex wanted to scream, by god, she wanted me to, as well. the fact that i couldn’t bring myself to do it made her feel like i was condescending or emotionally unavailable–or even “robotic,” as i was accused of being during one particularly bad argument. as a funny aside, i used to assert my non-roboticism by screaming, “I LOVE YOU!” at the top of my lungs, just to prove to her that i could! hehehe. it worked for a little while…

        i’ve never intentionally started a fight, but i have tried to anticipate fights, sensing when things were building and trying to talk it out before the situation had a chance to percolate (sp? again) for too long.

        all that said, i’m a perennial relationship screw-up, so anybody who cares to read this should take my words of “wisdom” with a grain of salt.

      • Pam said:

        A wardrobe ENTIRELY made up of sexy outfits?? Pete, what kind of women are you dating?? Even J Lo has sweatsuits for grocery shopping! 😀 Haha.

        Again, I feel left out of this conversation about arguing within relationships. To answer your question: YES he did not have opinions of his own, basically. Or he just wanted to be agreeable, but he would make sulking, resentful remarks later. The biggest problem was that his native language wasn’t English so he’d be pissed about something and mutter in his mother tongue and refuse to translate. Sigh.

        That’s it. Next guy I date, I’m totally picking a fight!!! Will test out your theories, Pete and Annie, and report back. (Only half kidding.)

      • Pam said:

        “perennial relationship screwup”??? haha! I’m sure you’re not. But that’s a cool title. I’m stoked – I have a Perennial Relationship Screwup commenting on my blog. Now I just need a Cynic, a Hopeless Romantic, and a Devil’s Advocate to really get this conversation started…

  2. Ashley said:

    I think you’re right on with this list, Pam! For me, I definitely think having similar goals is a MAJOR must, especially if you’re a 20-something. I’m finding that most 20-somethings I know are either grown up and in/working towards getting that big career position, or they’re stuck in the same job they had in high school with no future aspirations. Also, a lot of my friends who are in long-term relationships are just realizing that they have different ideas of when/where/how they want to settle down and start a family (or at least a marriage). If you ask me, I don’t get how people can date someone for a few years and only recently find out they have different ideals…What are these couples talking about anyway? Sheesh. Maybe everyone’s in denial…

    • Pam said:

      Yes, DEFINITELY DENIAL!!!! Haha. I can’t say I’ve been immune… I’ll be the first to admit that much of my list is based on what I learned from mistakes I made. I think at the beginning of a relationship too much focus is on similar tastes in the things that DON’T matter: music, food, TV shows, movies, pop culture. By the time many couples get around to finding out their goals are so vastly different, they’re fooled into thinking that love is all they need and everything will magically work itself out.

      And I meant to write in my post: I think it’s totally cool and doable if one person is career driven and the other wants to focus on the family…just as long as both parties know that about each other.

  3. Annie said:

    Pam, I think your blog is really well written and interesting! I’m kind of a poser because I’m not single, but I still like to read!

    I think you’re exactly right that there has to be emotional, intellectual & physical attraction for sure. However, there should definitely be some pop culture overlap! This sort of goes into the age difference as well. It was always a dealbreaker to me to be with someone too old or too young. I need someone who watched the same Saturday morning shows I did as a kid! I need someone else who can explain why Riffraff existed as a subset of the Heathcliff cartoon.

    To piggyback on Pete’s comment, people need to fight fair. No saying things just to hurt each other, and no saying things that are hurtful and can’t be taken back. Apologies can still be given, but even if one partner apologizes, sometimes the offensive comment is still there. It isn’t about winning; it’s about coming to an understanding and agreement if possible without trampling the other person to death.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Pam said:

      Thanks Annie!! And no way – not a poser! I need non-single people to tell me if I’m totally off the mark or just plain wrong. My goal is NOT to stay single forever…just UNTIL…and I need some convincing from people in the know to figure out when that should be.

      Haha, I get what you’re saying about pop culture references. I just hope my dream guy doesn’t have all the perfect-for-me qualities and then dump me when he realizes my pop culture savvy isn’t too sharp. I mean I’m pretty sure I watched the Heathcliff cartoon, but the comment you made in general? Totally went over my head! 🙂

      I feel like I can’t really contribute to the argument discussion. Goal for next relationship: have a fight. Any kind of fight!

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