6 Shallow Dating Dealbreakers to Ditch for Deeper Love

“I’m not shallow, but…” – well, maybe you are. Here are 6 shallow dating dealbreakers that might be stopping something great.

"I'm not shallow, but..." - well, maybe you are. Here are 6 shallow dating dealbreakers that might be stopping something great.
Photo by Jep Gambardella

“Come on Rachel, you’re 30, you can’t afford to be picky”. Kate Hudson’s Darcy to Ginnifer Goodwin’s Rachel kicks off the driving thought of the movie Something Borrowed (which I love), and also gives voice to the harrowing thought of many singles as they get older.

Dating can be really challenging. It seems like every year you get older, the pool gets smaller, the issues get bigger and weirder, and the chances of you finding someone you can live happily ever after with seems to shrink. There’s a lot of really great shows and movies that cover this topic fairly well.

It’s rough when you have a dream of having a life partner or starting a family or being with someone that seems to get further and further away.

But what if the reason could be something… small? Trivial? Dare I say, shallow?

No one considers themselves a shallow person. Well, maybe the cast of Seinfeld who seemed fairly self aware of having a large list of mostly dumb things that stopped them from dating someone. Maybe the cast of Friends who dated those weird side characters from time to time. Eleanor Shellstrop of The Good Place has a list of dozens of former suitors who she dismissed for nothing too important. Usually fictional characters are well aware of it to great comedic effect.

And unfortunately we are blind to it to depressing effect.

Here’s the thing – sometimes the reason you won’t give them a chance is the very reason you’re still single. Now there’s lots and lots of factors of why you might be single or why a relationship might not work out. With the hundreds of factors already out there, can we at least remove ourselves and our potentially picky perspectives from the equation?

Here are 6 shallow dating dealbreakers that get in the way of a relationship that could be potentially great. Let’s go.

#1: Hobbies

I remember talking with a big group of 30 somethings once who were discussing things that they’re interested in in the opposite sex. Eyes and kindness and similar dreams and all the usuals came up, all standard fare.

And then one individual in the group was absolutely adamant they would never date someone unless they were into certain environmental activities. Anyone who wasn’t interested already wasn’t even in the draw for running. We asked if they ever met anyone like that in their life, and they said they knew two people in the last 13 years who were suitably interested in environmentalism but unfortunately not him.

In truth, similarities can be pretty useful. It’s great having a common base with someone and bonding over common or shared experiences makes for a really fruitful friendship and relationship.

But here’s the thing – you can develop your hobbies over time. The things you like right now you might not like in 10 years. Maybe not even 2.

And you can develop your hobbies together. One night that always stands out to me was when my wife went on one of our earlier dinner “hangouts” to a Vietnamese restaurant that she didn’t really have much she liked to order from. I said we could have gone somewhere else, but she said that she wanted to get into my world and this was one thing that was part of it.

Fast forward multiple years and we have a very varied list of cuisines that both of us enjoy and have been able to share with each other that the other just hadn’t had enough chances to really get to know, shows that we’ve shared with each other but then also now the majority of which that we’ve found together, places and travels we’ve discovered we both like together…

You get the point.

Perhaps more important than what hobbies they have is whether or not they’re willing to get into somebody else’s world. And perhaps even more important than that is your own willingness to do the same for someone else.

#2: Sizes

Come on, don’t be shy now. You know what I’m talking about here.

Heights, cup sizes, and penis lengths.

There’s a reason every time a woman takes off her shirt the tickets go up and every time a male penis appears on TV it appears on the news for a conversation about how much size is a factor.

These are things that people aren’t really able to change too much about themselves. At least not easily.

Sure, there’s implants and supplements and surgeries. But this is making an impossible ask out of things that are the least easily changeable about a person.

And in truth, the origin of the sexualisation or attractiveness has been learned, not discovered. It’s not that you’ve learned about yourself that you need 7 inches or Double Ds or 6’8″ to feel safe – it’s that you’ve consumed enough content to condition yourself to think those things are important.

More on that and the research behind it in Addressing the Sexual Elephant in the Room

#3: Appearance

In a similar vein, people can have substantial makeovers and make ups and dress downs without ultimately changing the base template too much.

And if you’re going to enter a longterm relationship with someone, it’s that base template you’re actually going to have the most to do with.

#4: “Sexual Chemistry”

Here’s the thing about this one. Dr Kevin Leman points out in the book Sheet Music that the worst sex you have with someone in your life is going to be the first time. Why? Because you haven’t done anything yet, you haven’t learned anything about what this person likes, or what you like with them. You haven’t learned about what makes you gel, or even if you might need some gel, and it’s not a quick lesson – it’s a lesson that takes a long time.

And if you’re going into the early stages of dating critiquing someone, the sexual experience they’ve had with other people (or haven’t had) is not a good metric for how they’re going to be with you. Let’s face it – that’s what you’re going to get when you first start going at it.

Like hobbies, if you’ve got working genitals, you’re not going to have a sexual problem down the track. Millenia show penis and vagina like each other, you’re going to be okay. But you might have a problem if you start jumping the gun and making it a huge deal today to the point of dismissing the entire person because of a relationship dimension that, while very important, has a lot of time to get right.

Plus it’s mostly about your attitude towards the other than it will be about some tricks they do or don’t currently have in their repertoire. More on that in Marriage and Servant Hearted Sexuality

In fact, research shows it’s the elderly who are the most sexually fulfilled. As one study highlighted, this is likely because emotional and relational closeness are more important a factor in sexual satisfaction as anything else. The research shows us that the best sexual relationship is a long one.

#5: Income (but let me qualify this one)

Now here’s the first one I’m going to put a number of caveats around, as I fully do think that income, or probably more accurately fulfilled purpose, is very important. One of my most popular posts is entitled Why Men Need Purpose, Direction, and Income and it contains a deep dive into why this can really matter.

Something that really throws a lot of people off is that they’re looking to date someone now but they’re often comparing potential suitors against a picture in their head that they learned from a 40 or 50 year old married man or woman who has successful investments, a well established career, a happy set of children, a white picket fence house and a happy spouse. Some actor or pastor at a conference or spiritual mentor or fictional character they read about in a book has it all, so why can’t the person you date?

But they didn’t start there. And it’s impossible for an incomplete young person package to compete against someone who is well into their life journey… or doesn’t even exist and was specifically invented to trigger your insecurities so that you’ll buy the book or watch the show.

So when you’re going to date someone, income may be one of those other sizes or metrics that isn’t as important right now, for a few different categories of people.

First would be those who are young, or relatively young. One or both of you are still studying, you’re doing big hours at your TAFE or university or college, you’re working a part time job to support it all the while you’re accruing debt. This is a person who is trying to get their career started, is pointing in the direction of who they want to be, and is taking concrete steps to become that person.

Another similar category would be someone doing a career change, which is not uncommon. Research shows that people change their career (not just their job) every 3-7 years. Someone in this life season will likely look a lot like the earlier example and may currently have less money in the bank while they adjust the sails.

So, income on its own isn’t enough to ask.

But here are the caveats to consider:

  • A case can be made for an 18 or a 20 year old regarding income, but for someone over 25, maybe that’s a problem. At some point bro (or sis) you’ve gotta start contributing or doing something with your life, at the very least being able to provide for yourself if not others
  • Consider parenting aspirations, carer situations, illnesses etc. and your own views on each of these in the equation

To me more than an issue of income is the issue of realized potential. Not just talking about one day when and not doing anything about it, but having a described goal and a life that looks like you’re on your way there.

#6: Introvert Extrovert

Doesn’t even matter.

Well, it does in terms of how you relate to someone. But it isn’t actually the dealbreaker that many people treat it as.

I think we can have pictures in our head of what a suitable partner for us looks like. And it can be a very strong picture indeed. We only often think of a few different ways our relationship with a life partner could look.

But maybe someone quiet would be good for you, they might be able to listen to you and give you more support. Maybe someone louder would be good for you, they might help you get out of your comfort zone and keep your relationships more active. Maybe someone who has the same temperment as you means when you both need a chill night it’ll be easier to ask for and enjoy.

Maybe the leader would benefit from a follower. Or vice versa. Or maybe two leaders together can reach out together. Or maybe two followers can support and build a bigger dream.

I remember talking to a Christian psychologist who has a very successful marriage, 5 children, grandchildren, and overseas influence. He said to me “Matt, regarding the Myers Briggs test, studies can show that when you have one of the same dimensions, your chances of staying together goes up. When two are the same, they go up again, and when three are the same, they go up again. Me and my wife have absolutely none the same and we’ve been married for decades”.

There is surely a practicality in relating to someone of a different temperment than you, and there can be areas of conflict around it if not carried out well. But that will be true of any type of person you can date.

Maybe it’s not as much of a dealbreaker as you think it is, and in fact some people may help you build a life you didn’t even think you could ever achieve.

I’m sure there are many more shallow dating dealbreakers that people allow to get in the way of their love life. But these ones I find keep coming up in conversations where people are struggling to find someone to date.

You’d hate for it to be a dumb reason that you didn’t end up with someone who could have truly been the love of your life. And there are definitely valid concerns that could or should be reasons not to date someone – maybe the direction of your lives is too incompatible, maybe you’re in one of those other income related categories, maybe there’s some longstanding substance abuse that won’t be relinquished.

I love exploring this topic and have tackled some other angles on it before, such as some much more scary or dark 5 Attitudes That Keep People Single And Relationships Short, or how about #GreenFlagsOnly 10 Signs You’ve Found Marriage Material. Or an additional list of reasons like this in 7 Dumb Reasons To Not Date Someone (Or To Break Up)

How about you? What shallow dating dealbreakers have you encountered or had to overcome?

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