Adventures in on-line dating: The Art of the Deal and Deal-Breakers

PHOTO: Taken by Me in 2011 in Barcelona. 

*NOTE:  This is not a fake blog or profile, so there is a very real chance that someone I am dating Googles me and finds this. If that is you, I hope that you do not find the following shocking. I haven’t shared much of this with you because that would be weird, but if you ask, I will. This is not meant to be insulting to you, and be honest, is it so different from what you are doing and thinking? Mmmm-hmmmm….I thought so.

Reading a profile is a funny thing. Once I have not swiped left due to: age, height and general physical appearances,  I read the profile. What is interesting is seeing what may pass as acceptable to me on one person warrants a swipe left on another. This deal-breaker mentality is heightened, however on the dates, and as I decide to move forward or not with my gentleman callers. Do successful couples have to have all things in common? Only “big” things? What compromises are necessary and what are too much to ask?

Politics and religion have been dividing families, nations and would-be lovers since mankind began recording its tumultuous history. I am not especially religious…actually, I am not religious at all. As a yogini, however, I am spiritual. I do not pray, go to a place of worship or believe in a particular god. This being said, I am respectful of religion. However, I don’t wish to be sold or saved.

Very early on in a past relationship, my then boyfriend texted me, “Do you believe in God.” I replied that I thought it was not really a text conversation to which he replied, “It’s a simple yes or no answer.” I don’t want to go down a philosophical rabbit hole, but my boyfriend who was raised Catholic, and later declared himself to be a Muslim was about the most unholy person you will ever meet, but he believed in God. I worked in non-profit, volunteered, didn’t eat meat because of my belief in the right to live and was beginning down my yogic path, yet I didn’t and don’t believe in God. A year later, we broke up. A year after that, in a heated argument, he said, “I never could have been with you long-term because I never could have raised kids with someone who didn’t believe in God.” Fair point. Maybe a good thing to have brought up after that text message two years ago! Just sayin’…

So now, when I read profiles, religious preferences always factor in. On this dating site, there are many choices of religion plus, “other,” “agnostic” and “atheist.” After selecting (or not) your religion, there are three categories to choose from to rate its importance in your life. I have chosen not to list a religion. In all honesty, anyone who simply lists a religion, doesn’t bother me. It’s when it indicates a religion (as opposed to agnostic or atheist) with the suffix “and it’s important” that I tend to quickly swipe left no matter how tall, dark and handsome. Honestly, it isn’t that I care if he wants to go to church or temple or whatever. My future spouse can pray however many times a day he wants to whatever god he wants. The problem is that in my experience, religious people tend to want to be with religious people. Sharing faith is important. I get that, but I am not faithful, and sometimes my spirituality can offend the atheists, but is not traditional and defined enough for the faithful. Deal-breaker.

It is with this backdrop that I bring you to my latest misadventure. I got a message from a man of appropriate age and height whose photos indicated he was less garden gnome and more pool boy in physical appearance. The profile indicated “Christian (and it’s important”). Perhaps the boyish good looks on a 41-year-old man factored into the equation, but I read on. His profile was intelligently written, but his views were strong. He said his “faith is important.” Noble, but a red flag for me. He said he was a “liberal conservative”. As a liberal liberal who often finds liberals too conservative, that concerned me. Needless to say, after reading his profile, I had decided we were not a match.He did say something about ambition, and work, which would not normally have elicited a reaction, but my underemployed yoga self decided to take that personally too. His message was a simple hello, which my habit was to simply ignore if I wasn’t interested, but a church organ chord had been struck, and I decided to respond in a fairly unnecessary and unpleasant manner. The dating app rated us a 91% match. I informed him that the rating was clearly wrong. That I was pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-immigration, pro-gay, etc. etc. I told him I was a yoga instructor “barely scraping by” and…oh I don’t know what all I said. You get the idea.

Rather than let it be, he responded with something to the effect of: “Well, thank you for pigeon-holing me as an intolerant bible-beater.” He then went on to correct some of my assumptions, and ended by curtly thanking me for showing him the shortfalls of his profile.

My little peace and love yogini self was crushed. Why in the world had I been SUCH a bitch!??! Not knowing if he would even read it, I replied that he was right. That I preach tolerance, and yet totally judged him, and chose to be intolerant of what I perceived to be his views. I told him that I had literally the night before been in a very interesting conversation with a devout Catholic about the importance of social justice, which is the field in which she worked, so it was unacceptable that I should assume that just because someone was Christian, they would be opposed to the social issues I hold as important. I said that I hoped he would accept my apology for my very un-yogini behavior and I wished him well. I didn’t expect a reply, but I did hope he would read it. I wanted to neutralize the negativity I had put out in the universe. To my surprise, he did reply, and we began to chat. We actually share a lot of similar views, and while he is a Christian, he is not as conservative as I had assumed. Anyway, we are meeting on Sunday (no, not at church!) Will our faith differences prove to be a deal-breaker or can we agree to strike a deal and accept and respect our differences?

Other issues that have arisen with the men I have seen more than once are with regards to alcohol, smoking and meat-eating.

I indicate that I am a vegetarian, but I also say in my profile, “It’s fine if you eat meat, but please don’t try to convince me to. I hate that, and it is sort of a deal-breaker for me.” I also indicate that I don’t smoke at all, and that I drink socially….which is probably a slight under-statement, but “regularly”  made me judge myself and feel badly about myself, so I softened it. I think a lot of people do…right? I have probably a glass of wine every night. These days, the nights I have more than 3 or 4 drinks are rare, and I regret it…but I digress into a pool of red wine and shame….

Anyway, when I see “Smokes regularly” and “Drinks regularly”, I pause for a moment. Either of those may be enough to swipe left.

I went on a first date, and then sat in my date’s car after while I waited for my bus. I noticed cigarettes–both the smell in the car and the pack. I said nothing, I just took note. Later (after my second date of that night), I looked at his profile again. It definitely said “doesn’t smoke.” I let it go. I liked him. He took me out to see a live band at a cool bar about a week later, and excused himself to go outside and smoke. He did then start the conversation about it, and asked it it was a deal-breaker. I replied that it was his body, which it is. Is it a deal-breaker? I’m not sure. I dated a smoker before and more than anything, I just worry about the long-term. I had dinner at this one’s house over the weekend, and he went into the bathroom to smoke. He turned on the fan and the shower in an effort to get rid of it, but as I said to him, it still comes out. The apartment smelled like smoke, he smelled (and tasted like smoke) and it wasn’t great. He has a child, and I don’t tend to discuss parenting with the men I date because I have no kids, but I wondered if he smokes around her. Or does he do the bathroom thing. Is it wrong to not date someone because of this?

I have a married couple friend where one smokes and drinks. The other does neither. The other gets annoyed EVERY TIME the one smokes and/or drinks too much, but the one says, “He found me this way. I didn’t change, but he wants me to.” It’s a fair point. I see both sides; if you go into it knowing, is it fair to demand change? I haven’t decided if this is a deal-breaker for me on this one. He’s pretty hot, so it’s clouding my judgement…

As I said, I drink. I could easily give up beer and liquor, but wine, especially red, is here to stay. Red wine has been more faithful than all of these men, so I am not going to just abandon her like she is nothing. Sorry, guys. Normally, this is not a thing. However, one of the guys is not a drinker. He is not an alcoholic; he just never liked it. On our second date, I had a drink and on our fourth date, I asked him if it bothered him that I drank. I asked if it was a deal-breaker, he said “No, as long as I can eat meat, you can drink.”

Shit.

The meat issue. My last boyfriend, who was perfect in most ways with his most obvious flaw being that he opted to not be with me forever and ever, ate meat. However, he hardly did it around me. He intentionally chose restaurants with vegetarian options, and assured me he was happy not to eat meat, so we could share dishes. When I cooked, he hungrily ate what I made (and did the dishes). I know he ate meat, and I even cooked it for him occasionally, but I loved that he was willing to curb it around me, so that we could share a meal. Breaking bread together is important.

Just so you can keep track, this first story is back to our smoker. The night I went to his house was because he had said we should, “Cook dinner together.” I asked if this meant I cook dinner while he poured wine (which would have been fine, I just wanted some clarity). He said, no that we would cook “together”. So he picked me up, and we went to the store together. I had already made a salad and we agreed on some quick and easy pasta with vegetables. And then he bought a steak. We went back to the house; I cooked pasta and vegetables, and he cooked a steak, which, of course, filled the apartment with steak smoke. I REALLY don’t expect men to become a vegetarian because they date me, but if he is trying to impress me, surely this is not the way to do it. He also kept telling me how good it was and that I should try it. I really hate that. I know what I am missing, and I choose not to eat it. I asked him to cease and desist with that line of conversation. To recap: has smoking and unbendable carnivore tendencies that may be deal-breakers, however, he is attractive, smart, has a good job and is really sweet and tender to me, which make me inclined to make a deal. That night was our fourth date.

Now on to the second bachelor in contention. I told him I would bring lunch to him today, which would also be our fourth date. He was working from home, and I had to be in the neighborhood, so it made sense. I asked if he had any food allergies or dislikes. He told me that he was allergic to beans and only likes vegetables in a salad. Now, the bean thing is an allergy and not a dislike, so I have to let that go, but I eat A LOT of beans. I also eat a lot of vegetable both in and outside of salads. In fact, most meals I eat consist entirely of beans and vegetables. This was worrisome. I arrived at his house with the food, which he gamely ate. He had taken some shrimp out to defrost, but luckily I guess decided to save it for dinner because it stayed put while I was there. If we stay together, how precisely will meals work? I love to cook, but I am not going to cook meat everyday. He can’t eat the main protein source I eat. Logistically, how will this actually happen?  He is the one who offered that he would trade his eating meat for my drinking. That’s seems a fair trade. Is it a deal I can make? He also has a good job, is tall and good looking and seems to be a decent human. Do I cut my losses and break the deal? Am I prepared for a lifetime of two dinners?

Kids. Wow, that is a big one. In the profile, having kids is not a deal-breaker, but having the kids in every photo is. Wanting more kids is a definite deal-breaker because I am not birthin’ no babies. Of the men in the current pool of contenders, two have kids and three do not. One of said kids lives in another country (I haven’t told you anything about that guy, as we have only had one date, but we have set a second.) Am I prepared to be a step-mom, to share him with his child, to have the ex in my life? I think I am, but it is a very important point to consider.

I just accepted a short-term, part-time job and I took on even more yoga teaching, so my time is about to be scarce. Therefore, I have opted to take myself off the site. I have two that are neck-in-neck with four dates each, and I have seen their apartments; two first dates, at least one of which will get a second; one who is pending a first date; and there was one Hail Mary right before I disabled my account. His profile was funny, and he was cute,  agnostic, tall and 41. I broke my rule and sent him the first message. He replied, and I replied with my phone number. I then closed the account, so let’s see if he texts me.

And there you have it. This is where we stand at the end of the third week. The Art of the Deal and Deal-Breakers.

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