During the year and a half I spent on and off OKCupid, about 1,100 different men emailed me. (Yes, this is partly par for the course, but I also crafted a killer profile.) Yet the truth is, I probably went out with fewer than 15 of the men who contacted me. This was because I crafted very specific criteria dictating who I would date, and decided anyone who didn't fit the mold wasn't even worth messaging back. Since then, though, I've realized that there's a fine line between having high standards and having impossible ones.
The reason? I found love when I finally broke up with my biggest deal breaker of all.
Deal Breaker Lesson Learned
Other than having a penis, geographic desirability was the first thing I looked for when choosing men to date. In all fairness, this is an issue for many Angelinos because it can sometimes take two hours to drive 20 miles in traffic. I even wrote in my profile, "I believe some things in life are meant to be and if you live in the Valley, Orange County or beyond, I can assure you we were not." Looking back, I sounded like such a jerk, I'm shocked anyone was interested in me at all.
But all of that got thrown out the window last year, when a friend of mine from New York (where I am originally from) insisted on setting me up with her friend Jay* while I was visiting the city. We never met up because I wasn't interested. When I was back in Los Angeles, my friend continued to insist I get in touch with him because, though he lived thousands of miles away, he sounded like the right guy for me. But I still didn't want to make the effort, so I told her to have Jay add me on Facebook. We started to message each other, which led to four-hour-long phone conversations. It would have been a nightmare if we didn't have unlimited minutes. A month and a half later, I was miserable. I decided that despite this major deal breaker, I had to go to New York to meet Jay. We've been together ever since.
How to Move Past Your Deal Breakers
Of course, overlooking your deal breakers is easier said than done; the key is deciphering the difference between real standards and superficiality. For instance, no one wants to date someone who physically turns them off, but there's a distinction between a guy who needs to lose 10 or 20 pounds and someone who is morbidly obese. Hair is a huge deal breaker for many women, but (and I was beyond guilty of this) outright rejecting a guy who could benefit from some Rogaine isn't the best way to go when seeking a true partner.
Another mistake women make is confusing social snafus or outside circumstances with deal breakers, especially on the first date. Perhaps you meet a date for a drink after work and he has a little body odor or not the best breath. If it's very hot out and everything else goes well, there's no need for this to stop you from a second date. This rule also applies to cologne and not dressing perfectly. Maybe he's wearing a douchtastic Abercrombie t-shirt because he needs to do laundry. Maybe he has a poor sense of smell and doesn't realize he stinks from all that drenched-on cologne. Give him a bit of a break, at least at first. If these snafus happen again on the second date, you can always reassess then.
No one wants to talk about it, but sex can also be a huge deal breaker. Perhaps you have sex and it's not the mind-blowing, off-the-charts, When Harry Met Sally-orgasmic kind of sex. But if you are both attracted to each other, it's worth the time to get to know each other's bodies. Here's a tip on how to get men to do what you want in bed: Tell them! Men are not mind readers. It might take a few tries, but if all else is smooth sailing, you can work on the sex together, which (bonus!) can actually be a fun thing to do.
That said, some deal breakers aren't meant to be broken. Really big character defects—like guys who are rude to waiters, passive aggressive, fight in public, or aren't respectful to you—probably won't change. If something doesn't feel right about his personality, than he's not worth your time. Just don't forget that deal breakers work both ways: While his dream girl might have DD breasts, it doesn't mean he can't enjoy your perky B cups. Keeping an open mind can lead you to true love—or at the very least, an active dating life.
* Name has been changed to protect the privacy my saintly boyfriend, who is a sport about having his love life written about on the Internet, where it will never, ever go away.