This article is to differentiate between preferences, boundaries, deal-breakers, and red flags. If you prefer to watch me discuss this topic, you can view it here.
A preference is something you like more than something else. For example, a person may prefer to date someone taller than they are. They don’t dislike, discriminate, or not date someone shorter than them. However, if there was a mutual attraction between someone shorter than them and another person taller than them, they would likely choose to date the taller person. It can be the same with hair color. A person may be more attracted to someone with red hair, but they’ll still date someone they like with brown hair.
A boundary is a figurative line drawn on what you’ll allow and disallow someone else to do or say to you and also what you’ll do or say. Your personal boundaries protect you from being harmed by others and are shaped by your past experiences, including your upbringing, and may change as you navigate through life. Boundaries fall into categories such as spiritual, physical/material, mental/verbal, and sexual.
An example of a spiritual boundary would be a person who accepts another’s difference in spiritual beliefs, or lack of spiritual beliefs, while making a conscious decision to not visit a place of worship that doesn’t adhere to their same beliefs. A physical or material boundary may be not kissing on the first date or not wearing a roommate’s clothing, etc. An example of a mental health boundary may include not being friends with someone who has a negative mindset, often speaks poorly about life and others in general, or not being open-minded. A deal-breaker is something you know about a person, their actions, or their mindset that causes you to consider that person incompatible for a friendship or relationship.
I’ll take this time to clarify deal-breakers because some people mistake them for red flags. A deal-breaker is sometimes an incompatibility issue. You may desire something in life and love and a potential love interest has an opposing view or mindset. For example, you may want to have children and you meet a potential love interest who doesn’t want children. The two of you are incompatible for a relationship, though you may still be suited for a friendship. Another quick example is someone who wants to be married one day. They’d be incompatible for a relationship with someone who doesn’t ever want to be married. Those two examples aren’t necessarily deal-breakers for polyamorous people since a person may have one partner who desires the same thing they do and another partner who doesn’t. I’m not saying to cheat on your partner in order to get what you want from a particular person. I’m explaining that relationship deal-breakers may differ between monogamous and polyamorous people. A deal-breaker doesn’t mean either person isn’t a good person, it just means you’re incompatible for a relationship.
You can determine if a deal-breaker is an incompatibility issue for a friendship or a relationship by thinking of your interactions with that person, their mindset, their lifestyle, and their behaviors in general. Using myself as a real-life example: I have allergies and asthma so I’m incompatible to be in a relationship with someone who has furry pets or is a chronic smoker. However, I’d still be friends with this person though I wouldn’t visit their home for prolonged periods of time. Someone who has a poor attitude isn’t someone I’d be in a relationship with, although I’d be cordial and with them. I hope this article is helping you differentiate between where someone may or may not fit into your life and why or why not.
Let’s move on to red flags. A red flag is anything that intentionally or subconsciously causes physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional harm to another person. Red flags may develop if a person continues to push your boundaries, which would become a deal-breaker, and then grow into a red flag. The majority of red flags are due to the intensity of someone’s mindset, speech, or actions. I’ll do separate articles and videos highlighting specific relationship red flags. If you subscribe on this site, you’ll receive automatic notification of new posts including the ones that’ll later be posted in this series, the same if you subscribe and click the notification bell on my YouTube channel.
I previously mentioned a physical boundary of not kissing on the first date. If you go on a date with someone and they lean in for a kiss and you tell them it’s something you don’t do and they continue to try…this is both a deal-breaker and a red flag. Their action is disregarding your boundary while attempting to forcibly control your behavior.
A person with a spiritual boundary of not wanting to go to places that don’t align with their beliefs can agree to disagree regarding differing beliefs and still be friends, or in a relationship, with another person. However, if the other person constantly asks you to go places you don’t want to or verbally put you down for your beliefs, that can turn into a deal-breaker and a red flag. The person’s behavior shows they insensitive to your beliefs, aren’t accepting you for who you are and for what you believe. Also, their attempts to change your mind can lead to emotional and verbal abuse.
As time goes on and as you and another person learn more about each other, you’ll find out what boundaries you each have, especially if they aren’t discussed upfront. The way a person responds to you, or how you interact with them, will show a pattern of preferences, boundaries, deal-breakers, and red flags. Little things may turn into larger issues, so pay close attention if something begins to unsettle you.
I hope this article was helpful to you. I’d love to read your comments on what preferences, boundaries, deal-breakers, and red flags mean to you. Do you agree there’s sometimes overlap between the categories? Do you believe you may be compatible for a friendship but not a relationship with someone because of a boundary or deal-breaker?
I look forward to reading your thoughts. Be sure to subscribe for automatic notification of new posts. You can share this article using the available social media buttons or copy/pasting the article link.