(as seen in Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine)

Jenny was busy planning her wedding to her ‘very wonderful Mr Right’. She’d bought the dress, sorted out her bridesmaids, and had put her deposit down for the limousine. She couldn’t wait to share the rest of her life with this man! And then, out of the blue, the whole thing was off. Not by his doing, mind you – at least, not directly… She had stumbled upon a deal breaker in their relationship, and had swiftly cancelled their future together.

So, what is a Deal Breaker? It’s a non-negotiable boundary which, when crossed, causes the relationship to disintegrate. It’s when one or both of the people involved in the relationship crosses a line that can’t be un-crossed. It’s when someone in the relationship does something that undermines the other person’s value system, and creates a circumstance where compromise is no longer an option.

Deal breakers can be different for different people. There are no rights or wrongs. The main similarity, though, is that the event would cause you to throw your arms up in the air and say, “That’s it. I’ve had enough”. Your deal breaker may be a big one, or it may seem insignificant but be the one thing that tips you over the edge.

Here are a few to consider. Please note that I’ve made men the deal-breaking parties, but these examples are also true for same-sex relationships. Or, you may find that it’s actually you who breaks the deals:

Deal Breaker #1 – Cheating

For some people, there is no going back from this scenario. For you, cheating may be about your partner sharing themselves physically with someone else. But it’s not always about the sex – it can be emotionally damaging when you think about your partner talking intimately with someone else, or spending precious time with them. Your definition of cheating could range from your partner going elsewhere for sex, right down to sending suggestive emails or texts to another woman. It may even be your partner catching up with an ex girlfriend. It’s not up to anyone else to define your stance on this. It’s up to you how you feel.

Deal Breaker #2 – Constant Put Downs

There is no easier way to lower your self esteem than having someone constantly put you down, and yet a lot of women put up with it! It’s usual to find that a man who frequently puts down a woman is actually the one with the self esteem problem and is trying to make himself feel better. After all, if you’re a piece of dirt, he’s so much better than that! Or, at least, he thinks so…

Deal Breaker #3 – Physical Abuse

Now, seriously, this should be on everyone’s Deal Breaker list. The moment a man is physically abusive, it’s time to leave and get support. In most cases, once a violent act has occurred in a household, it makes it easier and ‘okay’ for it to happen again. This is not right, and leaving should be non-negotiable.

Deal Breaker #4 – Emotionally Vacant

Some men can be so wonderfully attentive at first, and then slip into a ‘nothingness’ where they seem unable to communicate properly anymore. It’s like the lights are on but no-one’s home. These people tend to either agree with everything you say (because they really don’t care or can’t be bothered thinking for themselves), or become physically distant. Either way, if you have passion for the relationship, you’re going to find that it’s probably not reciprocated.

Deal Breaker #5 – Addiction

When people have addictions such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, or internet porn, they tend to become secretive so they’re not found out. Or they play down what they’re doing so you don’t get suspicious. Either way, it’s very difficult to trust someone who lies to you – no matter what it’s about. And it’s very hard to respect someone who puts an addiction above and before you.

Deal Breaker #6 – Different Beliefs and Values

In the time between when we were born and the present day, we have accumulated our own sets of beliefs and values. Beliefs are something that are not necessarily true, but that we hold true within ourselves, and values are intrinsically set ideas that, when challenged, can make us feel entirely incongruent and out of sorts. Both have been influenced by those around us, and most were formed when we were very young. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be changed, mind you. It’s just that, if someone tries to change them and we really don’t want them changed, we start living a life that doesn’t really measure up. You need to be very conscious and wary of people who think you need to change your core beliefs and values – unless, of course, your beliefs and values truly don’t serve you well, and you actually want to change them!

Deal Breaker #7 – No Long Term Plan

What does your partner want out of your relationship long term? Okay, the first date is probably not the most appropriate time to ask them when they’re going to marry you but, after a couple of years, you’d probably get some kind of sense of where it’s all heading. Some women hold on to their men for years and years, hoping against hope that they’ll eventually decide to match their desire to have children, only to realize that they’re with someone who is never going to agree to having kids. And, more often than not, those same poor women end up feeling like they’ve missed their chance to have a family. It’s a good idea to find out relatively early on what someone’s intentions are, if marriage and/or children are high on your agenda.

If your partner crosses a boundary, and you feel like a huge red flag has been erected between you, that’s a Deal Breaker. Jenny, the woman who called off her wedding, found that she couldn’t tolerate something that her partner did. It was like a light bulb went off in her head, and she could clearly see that the marriage was not going to work. So, rather than end up in a loveless partnership, she chose to confront the problem then and there. The wonderful thing about Deal Breakers is that they help you create a life that really makes you happy, and they also make you and your partner accountable to your relationship. Fortunately for Jenny, her man was open to seeking help, although he was very shocked by her actions when she called off the wedding. By being truthful with him, and explaining why she needed certain boundaries, Jenny was able to command more respect from her man. And, after a few months of couples counseling, Jenny and the new improved version of her man set a new date for their wedding. And, so far, they’re living happily ever after!

Samantha McDonald

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