When my husband and I were dating, well into the serious portion of our relationship, we would sometimes joke that a certain behavior in the other person might be a “relationship deal breaker.” It was always a joke at this point, because we were already pretty darn sure that marriage was in our future.
But in all seriousness, there are certain things that should be deal breakers in a Catholic dating relationship, or in any dating relationship for that matter. But on the other hand, there are also issues of contention that can come up and become a problem but don’t necessarily have to spell the end for two people that are otherwise pretty good together.
So let’s look at a set of issues that might or might not be a legitimate red flag in a Catholic dating relationship.
Your Significant Other Likes Super Weird Music
Let’s start with the apparently trivial: Music.
I’ve known some people who actually have almost no preference when it comes to matters of tuneage. If that’s the case for you, this one becomes pretty easy and you just let the other person in the relationship (and probably the car) go crazy with their… Tunisian metal music?
But for the rest of us, we might need to decide how dearly we hold our musical preferences and how willing we are to compromise.
Let me give you a pretty dramatic example of these different tastes coexisting in a relationship.
I have been a fan of American country music since early in my childhood. My husband had probably never willingly listened to it in his life before he met me. Instead, he was a fan of…super-weird metal music. Only to him, at least initially, it was my country music that was unpalatable.
In our relationship, it’s my amazing husband that compromises most often. We usually listen to country in the car, and some of it has actually grown on him over the years. And then sometimes, especially if we might be on a long trip, I deign to let him turn on a Dream Theater album or something similar.
Could this issue have spelled doom for us? Possibly, if neither of us had been willing to budge on our preferences. Luckily for me, though, my husband led the way in the matter of musical choice sacrificial love.
Your Significant Other Refuses to Plan Anything
Perhaps you’re familiar with those personality trait inventories. One of the most popular ones is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. When I was a resident assistant at Franciscan University, I had to take MBTI assessment during my training. It was part of learning how to work together with different personality types.
There was one particular trait that I was very strong in, and so were most of the fellow RAs in my building: We were all Js. “J” stands for “judging,” which actually just means we’re super-planners. We like to have a schedule and know what’s coming. The opposite trait is P, and it stands for “perception,” but mostly just means you don’t care much for concrete plans.
Our residence hall’s staff of all Js ended up being perpetually frustrated with our brother dorm’s staff of mostly P’s. See, these P-people never wanted to plan their weekend duty night rotation ahead, so we never knew who we would be on duty with. In our residence life situation, this issue was a little bit frustrating but bearable.
However, in a dating relationship it would have driven me bat-crazy. My husband is not the planner I am by any means, and early on in our relationship it became a bit of an issue between us.
But we’ve learned to work together on it. He understands how crazy it drives me to have no plan, and I know it will start to get on his nerves if I constantly discuss every last detail of my plan.
So I would say that the issue of how plan-oriented two people are can potentially be a legit dealbreaker, if they let it lead to constant arguing. But if the two people are open to compromising or can learn to adapt, it’s doable.
You Have Dramatically Different Ideas about Hygiene
Let’s get real for a minute. Ideas about hygiene can run the gamut of personal bodily hygiene to germs in your kitchen to how you deal with cleaning your bathroom.
I was raised with a keen appreciation of germs and bacteria. I remember actually being a little bit shocked during my time as an RA to discover that some people were pretty darn careless when it came to these things. Like when I’d do room inspections and see people let their toilet brush drip across their bathroom floor – yuuuuck! It still makes me shudder.
As for kitchen issues, my sisters and I like to joke about how several of our grandparents and some of our in-laws will do things in their kitchens like this:
“Oh, let me clean this wooden bread board with the sink sponge… Now, I think I’d like to set this whole block of cheese on the board to cut it. Maybe this raw chicken too!”
When it’s only your grandparents and your in-laws, you can probably deal with any revulsion (and maybe even later digestive sickness if you eat their food…) because you’re not dealing with it every day. In a future spouse, though, this could end up being a real issue. But once again, it comes down to how set in your ways the two of you are.
You Have Wildly Different Political Views
Most of the time, I find myself assuming that serious Catholics have essentially the same political views. Life issues, marriage and the family, conscience rights, all those non-negotiables should be pretty clear-cut.
And then we had our last presidential election. Yikes. Nothing is so clear-cut anymore.
Luckily for my husband and me, we talked it out and came to pretty much the same conclusions. But Facebook told me that not all my serious Catholic friends came to exactly the same conclusions. It was during this time that I also came to realize that there is actually some room for variance in political opinion on some other issues among serious Catholics.
I’ve always been pretty conservative politically, but I found out that lots of my Catholic Facebook friends are kind of politically liberal in that they’re fine with bigger government, maybe despise guns… and I realized that, as long as you are firm on those non-negotiable issues, Catholics actually can differ on these things and it can be okay.
But, a lot of people feel very strongly about their political opinions.
Your Significant Other has Terrible Taste in Vehicles
I remember my now-husband once saying, as we joked about dealbreakers earlier on in our dating relationship, that his step-mom hates El Caminos so much that she wouldn’t have wanted to marry his dad if his dad had driven one. That’s some hard-core feeling about a means of transportation.
I’m guessing his step-mom probably wasn’t 100 percent serious about this. Because typically, I’m of the opinion that driving an ugly or weird car is not really a reflection of a person’s character.
Early on in a dating relationship, though, there is a chance you could be taken aback when you suddenly realize this person you just started dating loves his Pinto or his huge green van. Mostly, I’d say this is an opportunity to get over yourself.
If you do realize that you’re feeling more strongly about the embarrassment of riding in said vehicle than about how fun and amazing this person is, it might actually be signal that there are some things you need to examine in your own life.
The caveat to this is perhaps if you discover that this person you’re dating has weirdly extravagant taste in vehicles. A person with a typical job and salary who feels the need to go into massive debt for a Ferrari might not have the best priorities in his life.
Your Significant Other Has Unhealthy Eating Habits
I do think that eating habits tend to rub off on others we spend a lot of time with.
My father is a dairy farmer and does a massive amount of physical labor on a daily basis, so he’s eaten basically whatever he wants for years with little to no bad effects on his health. When I go home for visits, I sometimes find it hard to eat healthy myself while he eats his after-dinner dessert helping of four chocolate chip cookies.
But there are a lot of degrees to this issue. Some health nuts might be bothered by just a moderate amount of junk-fooding in their significant other. Or you might instead be shocked to find out that the person you’re dating enjoys eating fast food every single day.
If you find yourself at odds with the person you’re dating in this area, try to see objectively whether or not it’s going to be an issue. Talk with your significant other about it and see whether the other person is willing to adapt a bit for you.
If healthy eating habits for yourself are high on your priority list, dating someone who doesn’t give a darn about it might be a challenge. But like most issues, talking about it and making sure you’re willing to be on the same page together might be all that’s needed.
You Have Strongly Different Ideas About Pets
I’m not going to lie, this could have been a dealbreaker for me.
I kind of can’t stand animals (yes, even though I grew up on a dairy farm). I legitimately would not be able to deal with having a cat or a dog roaming around my house. The germs, the noise, the excrement… no thank you!
My husband does not share these feelings of mine. He grew up having small dogs and cats in the house (and strangely, a pet chicken as a child…). As an adult, I’m pretty sure he would love to have a dog. But he knows I would absolutely hate it.
Will we someday compromise and get an outside-only pet? Maaaaaybe. But for now, he has taken the lead (again) on the sacrificial love thing.
If he had been a person who insisted that having a pet was essential to his daily happiness (I have met some people who feel this way), things would have gotten a little tricky between us.
So if you do have strong opinions one way or the other on the pet issue, you might want to feel out your significant other’s opinions early on in your relationship.
Your Significant Other Has a Porn Problem
Let’s get serious for a moment. If you discover that the person you’re dating is addicted to viewing porn, that’s a deal that should be broken.
I don’t care how trivial and light our culture tries to make it, porn is a serious problem.
I am thankful to say that I don’t have personal or relationship experience in this problem. All of my insights on the matter are secondhand.
Most of what I do know about porn’s hurtful effects on personal mental health and on a healthy dating relationship, I’ve learned from places like Fight the New Drug (an anti-porn website that I would strongly suggest checking out for more info).
The caveat to this one would of course be if you discover that your significant other is recovering from a porn addiction.
There’s a difference between someone who realizes porn is terrible and is trying their hardest to turn away from it, and someone who thinks anything goes and that they should be entitled to do whatever they want with sexual images, etc.
Dating a person recovering from a porn addiction might still be problematic, depending on how recovered they are. It’s possible that they need time to themselves, not in a dating relationship, to get fully on track in it.
But one thing is for sure. I don’t care if it sounds judgmental, because it needs to be said: Don’t date someone who sees no problem with porn. They don’t have a solid grasp of or commitment to Catholic sexual morality and ultimately won’t treat you as you deserve to be treated. Let me spell it out: D-E-A-L-B-R-E-A-K-E-R.
Is it possible that two people can have a strong romantic relationship if they differ on these issues? Probably. But it’s definitely something that could make things difficult in the long-run.
What would probably be a serious red-flag, though, is if your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t actually hold the Church’s non-negotiables as non-negotiable. Then you’ll have to have a discussion about whether you’re actually on the same Catholic page.
So it’s definitely true that some things really should be dealbreakers in a Catholic dating relationship. But we always have to ask ourselves how serious an issue it really is, and whether it might just be an opportunity for us to practice sacrificial love.