Relationship deal breakers provide standards

Relationship deal breakers develop for different reasons, but they can be important in helping people figure out what they are looking for in a significant other.

Relationship expectations can come from influences such as friends, parents, the media and literature, said Amber Paulk, assistant professor of sociology. Overall, those expectations create a comparison level for alternatives.

Paulk said when a person feels his or her comparison level for alternatives is met, he or she is satisfied. If the comparison level is not met, he or she begins looking for alternatives to being with that individual, which could include being single.

“I’m sure you have experiences where you’ve seen a friend not treated particularly well by somebody, and you yourself go, ‘I would not be happy if I were in that relationship,’” she said. “She looks very happy, and she’s not looking to break up with the boyfriend she’s got. That tells me her comparison level of alternatives, and what she expects out of a relationship, is different from yours.”

One of sophomore Renae Moseley’s deal breakers is the other person must also be religious, she said.

“I was brought up with one person that was not religious and one person that was,” she said. “I see the hardships that they have, and they struggle to stay on the same page. I would like to avoid those kinds of problems.”

Paulk said it is important to go into a relationship with “bottom lines,” which are things that are intolerable. They should be centered on making sure the relationship is respectful and healthy, she said.

“Research says if you don’t go in with some bottom lines with how you expect to be treated, in the name of love, you will put up with anything,” she said.

Paulk also said to figure out what is absolutely necessary for an individual’s future happiness, such as

having children, and stick with those requirements. She said these long-term requirements should be found in a person’s value system or belief system.

“A big piece of what predicts long-term success in romantic relationships is compatibility,” she said. “So, it’s essential that you figure out what you’re looking for in terms of what will fit well with you. It’s going to make those first dates so much easier because you have an idea of what you’re looking for.”

Jesse Rogers, a freshman, said individuals should know the important things they want from someone else.

“If it’s just blondes over brunettes, that’s not really important,” he said. “But, when it comes down to the things that are really going to matter in your life, you should take time to figure that out.”

When deciding what is a deal breaker, individuals should ask what they want from a significant other, Paulk said. Then, they should look to see if they possess the same qualities. It is unreasonable and unfair to ask someone to have characteristics the individual does not possess themselves, she said.

“Some things are necessities and are deal breakers for you, and that’s OK,” she said. “Can you have too many to where your expectations are too unrealistic and no human being could fit that mold? Yes.”

Paulk said it is best to classify things that are not needed in a relationship, but that would be a benefit, as luxuries. If a person does not have some of the luxuries, but they meet the requirements, it is OK to accept that person for what they do and do not have, she said.