Most of us are willing to bend our dating rules for “that special someone” — even if they’re not the kind of person we’ve always pictured as a potential romantic partner. But at the same time, most of us also have in mind at least a deal breaker or two — qualities that anyone we date absolutely must have if this is going to go beyond date three or so. And I’m not talking “must love dogs” or “loves to laugh” or whatever; I mean real, honest things that you can’t live without in a mate. Because really — doesn’t everyone love to laugh? Have you seriously ever met anyone who has openly declared, “I hate laughter and think it should be banned worldwide?” Let's be honest — that's kinda a cop out on the "what I'm looking for" front. Let's go beyond "has great values" and "loves his family" and get down to the nitty gritty. The weird, funny, you-specific stuff that can make a potential mate your perfect match — and make you tell that guy who "just can't get into Serial" to hit the curb.
So in the interest of determining what sorts of things might appear on an honest deal breakers list, 10 volunteers from the Bustle.com editorial team stepped forward (including yours truly) to identify the essential qualities they look for in their potential partners. Although each of us have a unique set of criteria, there’s one thing pretty much all of us can agree on: A deep and abiding love for cheese is not optional; it’s necessary.
Here’s how it went down!
Ten volunteers from the editorial team of Bustle.com.
Each participant was asked to answer a simple survey via email consisting of the following question: "What are the top qualities you look for in a romantic partner? Be as broad or specific as you like."
Responses were wide and varied, as is to be expected. Why don’t I get this party started?
1. Lucia Peters, Lifestyle Contributor
1. Believes that coffee is its own food group.
2. Knows that there’s a story behind everything — and is curious about what all those stories might be.
3. Understands that anything said to me while I’m working may as well be directed at a brick wall — but also doesn’t get offended because he knows I’m not intentionally ignoring anyone. I just get a little single-minded when I’m in the proverbial zone, is all.
4. Is fluent in fast-paced motor-mouthing (I speak way too quickly. Slowing down is an ongoing process).
5. Does not object to pets being named after nerdy fictional characters.
2. Jordan Rubin, Assistant Social Media Editor
1. Has a decent history of '00s pop punk music — because I can't debate if Brand New or Taking Back Sunday are better all by myself.
2. Won't point out that I wore this outfit twice this week, even if it's really obvious.
3. Understands that the best kind of coffee is black coffee.
4. Will let me order nachos "to share" without mentioning that I ate most of the nachos.
5. Allows me to go full Jersey sometimes (white wine with an ice cube).
3. Hayley Saltzman, Social Media Editor
1. Likes Chipotle (bonus points if he agrees that the jalapeño Tabasco sauce makes it even better).
2. Can at least tolerate Gilmore Girls.
3. Will share wine with me even if he doesn't love wine.
4. Believes cheese should be melted over most foods.
5. Will attend Justin Timberlake concerts and actually enjoy them.
4. Marie Southard Ospina, Associate Fashion and Beauty Editor
1. Wants to cook for me. ALL THE TIME.
2. Is willing to listen to me ramble on about the books I read. Even if he refuses to read them himself. Even if he is incredibly bored.
3. Tolerates all my gross habits, i.e., biting toenails, filing my toenails on the couch, eating popcorn I have found in my belly button, etc. (sorry, not sorry).
4. Will not judge when I watch The Bachelor/ette (a little sorry about this one).
5. Is always up for silly and impromptu songwriting.
5. Julie Alvin, Senior Lifestyle Editor
1. I consider impressive demonstrations of brainpower/feats of mental math to be foreplay for our life together. A partner with major smarts makes the whole "long-term monogamy" thing way more palatable.
2. Potential mates must be able to paint the nails on my dominant hand when I'm performing an at-home manicure.
3. A healthy but harmless level of delusion-supporting — he must agree that walking home from work totally has the same caloric burn as an hour of spin class, and bravo to me for not taking the subway. I think he can do this while still pushing me to be my best, right?
4. He must understand (even share?) my borderline-problematic need for novelty — why go to that restaurant when we've already BEEN there? Why watch that movie when we've already WATCHED it that one time in 2003? Why go to Chicago again when we could go to TASMANIA?
5. If circumstances aligned he would be totally down with quitting our jobs and backpacking the world for a year.
6. He must look at Victoria's Secret model types and say, unprompted, something along the lines of "she's attractive and all, but I prefer women with more meat on their bones and way less makeup."
7. Will oblige when I say, "Tell me a story."
6. Lia Beck, Associate Entertainment Editor
1. Will make fun of the couples on House Hunters, House Hunters: International, and/or House Hunters: Renovation with me.
2. Doesn’t eat really gross foods like spray cheese. Because seriously, can you imagine living with someone who eats spray cheese? Ick!
3. Will keep it to a reasonable level if/when making fun of my questionable clothes and shoes.
4. Is willing and able to talk about getting a puppy for years on end without tiring of it, but also without ever actually getting a puppy.
5. Enjoys seeing a movie and then talking about it for a long time. Like, a really long time. Like, longer than pretty much anyone else would want to.
7. Kate Ward, Managing Editor
1. Must like cheese. On everything.
2. Must be willing to accept that our relationship is not just you and me, but you and me and my iPhone.
3. Must be willing to pretend my cat is human and totally accept the fact that we will have long, elaborate conversations with her on a daily basis.
4. Prefers that I order a burger over a salad.
5. Will spend hours each summer strategizing how we would play Big Brother if we ever ended up in the house together as a secret couple in a secret alliance, yes, we've thought about this a lot, clearly.
8. Lindsay Mannering, Senior Entertainment Editor
1. Be fluent in Domino's crust options
2. Understand that bigger is better in terms of Christmas trees.
3. Must STFU and listen to '90s on Nine during road trips.
4. Must be able to make their own fun.
9. Jessica Blankenship, Viral News Editor
1. Will memorize and uphold my specific self-delusions, re: rate at which I go to the gym, consume cookies, and drink wine.
2. Will not let my encyclopedic knowledge of Grey's Anatomy undermine his view of my overall intelligence and cultured-ness.
3. Understands that when my best friend is spending the night, he is not, unless he has a particular desire to spend the night on my couch.
4. Will not only accept but respect the fact that he will probably never come first in my life, but also understand that third or fourth is a hell of a good place to be.
5. Is down to order take-out from the same place more than one (okay, three) night(s) in a row.
10. Kara McGrath, Fashion and Beauty Editor
1. Appreciates the scene in Rick and Morty where they have to bury their own bodies.
2. Has a “shitty” tattoo that they have no intentions of covering.
3. Loves food and would be perfectly happy eating once every two hours.
4. Related: Loves spicy food. NO MILD SALSA ALLOWED.
5. Dances at parties. I don’t mean like sways back and forth in the corner — like, full-on would be down to make up a routine and teach it to all of our friends. Or make them watch while we perform it. Whatever.
What all of these lists have in common (other than the cheese thing) is this: Know thy partner, know thyself. If it works for you? Awesome! Go forth and have fun! Happy dating!
Images: Lucia Peters, Jordan Rubin, Hayley Saltzman, Marie Southard Ospina, Julie Alvin, Lia Beck, Kate Ward, Lindsay Mannering, Jessica Blankenship,Kara McGrath/Bustle