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Q I’ve been told to think through my “deal-breakers” given that I’m interested in dating to find a partner as opposed to just casually dating for the sake of dating. My question is, now that I think I’ve figured out what my deal-breakers are, how tightly would you recommend I hold on to them in my search? I don’t want to get burned by getting involved with someone who is wrong for me, but at the same time I also don’t want to turn away a potential match for the wrong reasons.

A As a matchmaker and dating coach to highly selective men and women who, like you, are seriously searching for their life partners, I want to reassure you that your concern is one I hear quite often.

Whether deal-breakers become assets or liabilities in your search for a life partner depends on your approach.

Generally speaking, commitment-minded men and women tend to gravitate towards prospective partners with equally selective standards.

The key to achieving the balance of having standards while at the same time not missing opportunities is to select your deal-breakers very carefully, armed with a high level of self-awareness.

Self-audit the deal-breakers you’re holding on to by asking yourself the following three questions:

1. Do your deal-breakers reflect those traits which will highly impact your day to day well-being for the long term such as insensitivity or unkindness, as opposed to less impactful deal-breakers such as he (or she) being only two, rather than three, inches taller (or shorter) than you? Another example of a highly-impactful deal-breaker would be incompatible life goals such as when one person desires to have kids and the other does not.

2. Ask yourself whether your deal-breakers reflect your own priorities, values and emotional needs, as opposed to external expectations held by others (for example, your friends or family)? Don’t fall into the trap of adopting others’ deal-breakers as your own, without first considering the relevancy of those deal-breakers to what will truly make you happy and fulfilled in the long-term.

3. It also helps to ask yourself: what will your prospective partner have to put up with if he/she chooses to share his/her life with you? None of us is perfect. Keeping our own fallibilities and weaknesses in mind can help you maintain a realistic perspective regarding the imperfections we can deal with in a partner.

A key to having deal-breakers work for rather than against you is in your ability to apply your heart and mind in working through these kinds of questions.

Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio, a monthly lifestyle show.

Jasbina Ahluwalia

Jasbina Ahluwalia adds a unique contribution to the Matchmaking industry–she has pioneered an approach to matchmaking, which blends the best of the East and the West. She is an Indian-American attorney-turned-entrepreneur,...