How Not to Date

Completely Stupid Dealbreakers

By Judy McGuire

Bad tippers, road ragers, racists, homophobes, and adults who live with their parents: all perfectly valid dealbreakers. But how many of us cockblock our own love lives because of some vapid list of "don'ts" we cling to like a lifesaver, even though it's often more like a chastity belt. 

#1 Bad Grammar

Do you want to correct someone's misuse of an apostrophe or do you want to get laid? While granted, yes, that smug feeling of superiority washing over you as you write off the guy or gal who doesn't seem to know the difference between "your" and "you're," is delicious. No doubt. But what if they're an award-winning physicist, gifted in the oral arts, but too preoccupied to proofread? Or a brilliant dyslexic with a Paris apartment, a Tribeca loft, and a rambling old Victorian on the Hudson? Obviously, feel free to write off complete dumbasses, but if you're nitpicking typos and feeling better-than about something you learned in third grade, it may be time to reassess your priorities.

#2 Sad Sense of Style

This is a tricky one and not valid for the truly fashion-forward, because most of us aren't going to feel visceral pain if we go out in public with someone who owns a pair of tan corduroys or a dons the occasional prairie skirt. And I know some of you will feel that pain in your heart, so if you really need to be with someone who knows the difference between Rick Owens and Rick Astley, go with god. But for your average dater, getting over an unfortunate pair of desert boots or the occasional dowdy poly-blend sweater in the name of love is usually a worthy sacrifice.

#3 Little White Liar

Putting yourself out there is hard. You have to come up with a cute photo, make yourself sound more interesting than you perhaps feel, and then sit around, basically waiting to be rejected. So if someone says they're 29 and they turn out to be 34, or they graduated from college when they really just took a few night courses, that's not indicative of any kind of pathology. They're probably just a little insecure. Of course if the lies turn out to be whoppers -- like a spouse or child or decade they "forgot" to mention, all bets are off.

#4 The Over- or Under-sharer

There are some people who are perfectly poised in any social situation --they instinctively know how to put everyone in the room at ease; they're witty, charming, and know exactly when to tell a secret and when to shut the vault. Then there are the rest of us. Maybe our mouths turn into freight trains when we get nervous; barreling out of control, spewing all sorts of secrets like our aversion to romaine lettuce or how we wet our beds well into our twenties. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those daters who are stunned into silence (especially in the face of hotness), certain that if we open our mouths, we'll say something unspeakably stupid.

Don't get me wrong -- chemistry and an ability to converse with a partner is non-negotiable. But first dates can be a little nerve-wracking, so if you're otherwise attracted to the person, cut them a little break if they seem nervous. Maybe they'll be willing to let some fault of yours slide too.

Published February 9th, 2016

Judy McGuire is a freelance writer and the author of The Official Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Lists and How Not to Date. Send your dating questions here and she’ll attempt to straighten out your love life.