The good, the bad and the ugly of relationship behaviors

Wayne and Wanda

Wanda: Much like Santa, I've been making my lists, checking them twice, three times and then some. The chore: deciding what relationship behaviors are naughty, what's nice and what's simply not OK. As it's the season of sharing, I decided to get Wayne's two cents, too. The result: this special holiday-themed column on our top relationship deal-breakers.

First, let's deal with the immediate big bad relationship-busting hope-crushing deal-breakers. Disclaimer: This has absolutely no basis in logic or science. It's just my womanly opinion. It's based on firsthand experience/research. And it's inspired by the top-five listing approach of the modern classic Nick Hornby novel/ John Cusack film "High Fidelity." So, in no special order, my immediate top five deal-breakers are:


Future life plans. Do you both want kids? Do you want to live in the same place or relocate? Do you want to work forever or retire early? Own a huge house or rent a modest dwelling? Broach these important major non-negotiables early. A man who wants seven children in a sprawling compound on five acres in Peter's Creek may not find harmony with a woman who wants to reside childless in a renovated loft near Ship Creek.


Spiritual beliefs. Sometimes two people of different faiths find middle ground - which is grand. But that can't always happen. And it can get more complicated if you're in the market for a spouse/co-babymaker. If your spiritual or philosophical convictions matter deeply to you and the person you are eyeing obviously isn't aligned, ask yourself: Is that OK? There is no wrong answer, but your answer does matter.


Lifestyle. For me, this means I would not be with an unadventurous, lazy, unmotivated cigarette smoker who doesn't read novels and is indifferent about his career. What does it mean for you? Think about it. Opposites sometimes attract. It's good to interact with different types, but some differences are insurmountable.


Ethics. Cheaters need not apply. Liars? Kiss off.


Chemistry. It just has to be there. Intimate sizzle is the one thing that sorts out the platonic pals from the bed buddies. No chemistry? No coupling. If you're forcing it from the first date, it probably won't dramatically improve.



Wayne: I'm right there with you on the first four, Wanda, but as far as I'm concerned, chemistry comes before any deal can be brokered, much less broken. If there's no chemistry, what's the point of signing a deal? That's why you and I get along so well -- chemistry and a shared love of wordplay!

Here are my top five deal-breakers, in reverse order of importance just for the fun of it!


5. Music differences. Sure, this is pretty superficial, but for passionate music lovers, this can be a definite deal-breaker. Can a country gal hang with a head-banging metalhead? Can a maestro mix with an around-the-way girl? It's not gonna work, people! Oh, and if you don't like the mixtape I made to woo you, it's totally over.


4. Talking about an ex. Isn't this the worst? You're totally getting to know somebody, forge your own history, have a little fun together ... and they suddenly bring up their ex. Screeeeech! Fewer things halt the momentum of a blooming relationship faster.


3. Pets. Like cats and dogs or honeybadgers and snakes, pet lovers and pet haters can rarely coexist. This also extends to pet owners dating folks with pet allergies. For the pet owner, it almost always comes down to an eventual, painful choice between the pet and the partner.


2. Political passions. If political differences don't break up a relationship, they'll certainly be a constant spark for arguments and angst. Seriously, Wanda and I get almost as many letters from people who are picked on by their partners politically as we do from lonely and confused folks just looking for love. Unless you both truly love to debate peacefully, it's going to end badly.


1. Children. This is about as definitive a deal-breaker as you can get. You're in one camp or the other - having kids or not. There's no wiggle room, no negotiating, no getting over it.


Readers Respond

Thanks for writing about the politics issue! My husband of 16 years won't drop the issue and it is wreaking havoc in our personal lives. I would like to agree to disagree and leave it at that, but he is constantly bringing it up in conversations ... and not to discuss both sides and try to see where each person is coming from, but to try to sway me to his side. The convo always leaves me feeling unheard and belittled.

- Anita


Deal-breaker: Highly critical people -- always finding fault with other drivers, political parties, certain occupations and even misspellings wherever they see them!

- AK in AK


If ever given a choice between a lady and my two dogs, especially in the form of an ultimatum, I would choose my dogs in a heartbeat and say ta-ta to the woman.

- Krunch52


Political differences -- a definite deal breaker!! I would not consider a romantic relationship with a man who did not share my political views. Political leanings reflect fundamental values that would have to be shared for a relationship to work.

- Lila


• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at