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Erika Ettin: Is That ‘Really’ A Deal-Breaker?

By Erika Ettin Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Having too many things on your dating "deal-breaker" list may inevitably doom your search for Mr. or Ms. Right. As dating coach Erika Ettin points out, in reality, no one is perfect, so it's important to know what you can bend on.

Tribune News Service

I used to watch "The Millionaire Matchmaker" on Bravo.

Of course, I told everyone that I watched it for "work purposes", I am a dating coach after all, but the reality is that it was my guilty pleasure. (As a side note, her new show, "Million Dollar Matchmaker," on We TV isn't as good, in my opinion. Asking a client if he or she wants to "check out" with someone after the first date is a bit gimmicky to me.)

I can't say I've always liked Patti Stanger's advice (far from it, actually), but on rare occasions, she shares a nugget of guidance to her clients that I can actually stand behind.

This time, that advice has to do with someone's non-negotiables and deal-breakers. I describe these as the things you either can't live with or can't live without. Things like smoking, education, or religion might make this list.

Patti tells her clients to limit their non-negotiable list to five items. While I don't know whether five is the magic number, or if there is a magic number at all, what I do know is that having a never-ending list of "must haves," a la Amy Webb's 72 data points that she shared in her book, "Data, A Love Story."

Having too many things on that list will inevitably doom your search for Mr. or Ms. Right. In reality, no one is perfect, so it's important to know what you can bend on. (I mean, No. 52 on Amy's was "Must weigh at least 20 pounds more than me at all times, whatever I happen to weigh at that moment." That sounds more like a commentary on her own weight insecurities than what she's looking for in a partner. But I digress...)

Being an online dating consultant and dating coach, I've heard it all: I don't want a guy under 6'0 tall. She must wear a size 2. (I can't make this stuff up.) If he owns a pet, I definitely do not want to meet him. She plays Scrabble, so, so she must be an introvert, no thanks. He puts so much sugar in his coffee, that's so non-masculine.

I won't go out with her if she hasn't been outside the country in the last year. I can't go out with him if he has the dry cleaner crease in his shirt. She's older than I am, it's just a month, but I can't date an older woman. The list goes on and on.

When you think about it, are these things really, truly important in life? In all of the times I've done online dating myself over the years, I had two main non-negotiables: intelligence and religion.

I knew that I wanted someone to be smart, like, really smart. Not that I'm Einstein or anything (I can usually get through Wednesday of the NYT crossword puzzle), but I'd dated people who weren't as intellectually stimulating as I had wanted, and it bothered me.

As for religion, I'm more culturally Jewish than religious, but it was the common background that I craved. (As a side note, over the years, I actually realized that meeting someone Jewish was not a priority for me, so these "deal-breakers" can change if you truly delve into why they're there in the first place.) Nothing else seemed important except for some age and location boundaries and, of course, physical attraction, the latter of which is so hard to tell until you meet in person.

In the end, what's more important, someone's travel preferences or how that person treats you. Is he or she kind, generous, and giving? How about trustworthy and honest? That's what matters in life. So, shred that long list of deal-breakers, and think about the few things that really matter to you, why they do, and then stick to those.

Beyond that, throw caution to the wind, and date lots of different types of people until you find that one who makes you happy. ___ (Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)

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