Patti Stanger is the master of matchmaking in the Bravo TV show “Millionaire Matchmaker.” On a past episode, a client went to Stanger for help in breaking her string of bad relationships she had been experiencing. Stanger advised her client to create a list of non-negotiables, which are the key values and personality traits the client wanted in her potential mate. The premise is the list will keep the client from dating the same not-right-for-her people.
I was inspired by this episode to create a list of five non-negotiables for my own dating life because I was tired of my dating failures. I wanted to find a life partner, and that was not going to happen with continual bad first dates. It was like I was stuck in the movie “Groundhog Day.” After the creation of the five non-negiotiables, potential dates had to meet at least three of the five to merit a first date. I would not consider a relationship with anyone mastering less than four non-negotiables.
My friends thought the five non-negotiables were an odd approach until I explained what a valuable tool they were in my hunt for a mate, especially since I was using an online dating service. My friends now think the five non-negotiables are a brilliant idea. My mother, who does not pry into my personal life beyond asking if I am happy, was encouraging and kept telling me to stick with the non-negotiables, despite the level of complexity they added to my dating life.
The first non-negotiable is “no lying or deceiving — must always be honest.” I spent three years in a relationship with someone who lied about everything and hid illegal activities and infidelities with ease. I was not about to spend time in a relationship with another liar or cheater. The very simple concept of honesty tripped several people up, which was a shocker to me.
“Must have a legitimate, legal income and pay taxes” became my second non-negotiable. This is a bit of a spin off of the first non-negotiable and was put in place to make sure my mate would not be involved in illicit activities. Drug dealing, gun running, auto theft, human trafficking, making methamphetamine, counterfeiting, money laundering, tax evasion, and engaging in acts of prostitution are all deal breakers. They were deal breakers before I created the non-negotiable list. I just expanded the list to re-enforce the concept that my mate needs to work for a living and have a W-2 or a W-9 to prove it.
My third non-negotiable became “needs to take care of individual belongings and the body.” In the previously mentioned three-year relationship, my former partner blamed me for a 100-pound weight gain. It was apparently easier to blame me than to put the fork down and go exercise. My potential mate does not have to be thin or muscular, just scrubbed clean on a daily basis while living in a safe environment with minimal dirty dishes in the sink, no laundry piling up, clean sheets on the bed on a weekly basis, and no trash stinking up the home or the car. If my potential mate has pets, children, or elderly parents, those living beings must be taken care of as well.
“Always be respectful, even when arguing” is my fourth non-negotiable. I was shocked at the amount of people who failed this one, as it should be common sense to treat everyone with respect. I made this a non-negotiable because I do not want to spend any length of time in an intimate setting with someone who would call me names when angry with me or who would ignore a safe word.
Finishing up the list of non-negotiables is “must be able to stand on own — pay own bills and have a handle on debt.” I have been paying my bills on my own since I graduated college. Five years ago, I paid off my credit cards and have lived without one ever since. I don’t want a mate living large while breaking the bank account. I don’t require my potential mate to be debt free. I just want my potential mate to have a good plan in place to handle any existing debt and any big purchases in the future.
Having outlined my non-negotiables, they seem basic and rooted in common sense. In two and half years, I have been on nearly three dozen (mostly bad) first dates followed by a half dozen or so second dates that turned into three or four brief relationships before I found my current partner, with whom I see a future and who passed all five non-negotiables with ease before the end of the second date.
I recommend the creation of a non-negotiable list to anyone having dating difficulties or to those people who are repeating dating patterns and seeing undesirable results. Here is a personal example of how the non-negotiables can change things. Before the list, I would only date others close to my own age. After implementing the non-negotiables, I discovered I was no longer dating in my own age range, but that I was dating a decade over my age, which I had never tried before. Dating older is a good fit for me personally. Without a list of non-negotiables opening my eyes to new possibilities, I would never have met my current partner, who has been worth every bad date I went on.