Dating Dealbreakers: 8 Danger Signs We All Overlook

Photo: ThinkstockBy Amy Shearn

The 14.5 Percent Tip
Dinner was lovely, and he made you laugh and, as promised, the chicken mole was nothing short of revelatory. But then, as you noticed and tried not to notice you were noticing, he was snippy to the waitstaff and left an underwhelming tip. Yes, you can spin this into a playful little debate about whether tips ought to be performance-based, and maybe it will be amusing in a Seinfeld-y way. Still. Think it through. He might have made charming conversation and looked meaningfully into your eyes, but if this relationship progresses, sister, someday you're going to be the one bringing him a plate of spaghetti and getting the stink eye.

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Bertha. His Pet Boa Constrictor
If life were a movie, a pet boa constrictor would read as "quirky." But this is no Wes Anderson film; this is a life you have to live. And boa constrictors live up to 30 years and keep growing that entire time. That's three decades of feeding a snake live rodents. In your home. This is someone who did not think things through, who was not able to reconcile in his imagination, when he bought old Bertha after sophomore-year finals, the possibility of his future children and how they might not enjoy watching the daily devouring of rodents. You're a grownup. You need someone who can think like a grownup, which sometimes involves looking 30 years into the future.

He Can't Hook Up the DVR
We all like to believe that we have no gender-based expectations. We are modern people, of course we are, and we don't need any man to build us a fire or change the flat tire anymore than we need someone else to bring home the bacon! But you do have to be honest with yourself. What do you really, really expect of your life partner? Like, I think of myself as someone who is independent in most factions of life, but let's be real, I need someone else to be the one who knows how to tame the technology-cord-snake-Medusa. If it weren't for my husband, I would live in a house without Internet, cable, music or, probably, working electric lamps.

Sulking at Cousin Sandy's 60th Birthday Party
We've all heard that you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother. But what about your mother? Or, for that matter, your great-aunt? When he sulks with a teenager's intensity every time you want to hang out with your family, he's revealing a great deal about his relative philosophy. If you wear your great-grandmother's cameo brooch and named your cat after your uncle, you probably need someone who gets it. This is assuming you actually do enjoy hanging out with your family; if they are total loons and you know it, consider cutting him a break.

He Thought Your Dental Floss Was Fishing Line
Eyes may be the windows to a person's soul, but teeth are a pretty good indicator of where his head is. If he doesn't take good care of his teeth, he's probably pretty cavalier about his health in general. I think this should be part of any responsible first-date diagnostic: close you eyes for a moment and imagine convincing this person to get a colonoscopy. Romantic? No. Important, if you want to connect with someone who is going to live a long, healthy life and encourage you to do the same? Yes.

He Thinks You're a Masseuse
So you're at a party, and you go to get another mini-quiche, and you overhear him talking about you in glowing terms. You flush a bit and, of course, stop to listen. "She's so great," he's saying. "And how cool is it that she's a professional masseuse?" But you're not. You're a licensed physical therapist--a job you described in extensive detail on dates Nos. 2 and 3. That explains why he's always demanding backrubs. But also, it indicates some deeper trouble: If he can't even be bothered to find out what it is you actually do, is he really interested in you? Even if he's memorized your job title, though--does he care? Did he listen at all? Or was he too excited about the idea of free massages to hear what you were trying to tell him?

He Won't Put His Face in the Water
If he can't wholeheartedly commit to swimming a lap, one is forced to wonder if he can ever commit to anything at all.

You Don't Huff His Sweaty Shirts
A recent study published in Lake Forest College's publication Eukaryon found that "a person chooses a mate with advantageous genes through odor." If his taste in music makes you swoon and you share a favorite restaurant but you don't thrill to the smell of his neck, perhaps you've found a mate with DISadvantageous genes.

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