“Love transcends all barriers,” and “True love knows no bounds,” we’ve all heard some variation of these two quotes growing up. Whether it was uttered in the sappy rom-coms we indulged in as teens or in the fairytales we had grown so fond of in adolescence. The idea of love overcoming all runs rampant in our society, providing us with a hope that at the end of the day, we’ll find our “true love” who will accept us despite our differences. While this may be true for some people, it would be remiss to completely ignore the majority of society to who this idea does not apply to for a multitude of reasons. Whether the reasons be differences in religion, values, political affiliations etc. We call these “dealbreakers,” qualities that future partners may possess that we are incapable of overlooking regardless of the love we may have for them because of the importance these “dealbreakers” possess.

Origin of “Dealbreakers”

To reiterate what a Dealbreaker is, it is something that a person may find important enough that bars them from agreeing to something. Usually, we apply this to the development of relationships, but the definition spans many uses. However, dealbreakers don’t just randomly appear one day while we’re lying in bed, contemplating. Rather, these dealbreakers are cultivated, they’re cultivated by our family, our society and our environment. Simply put, these dealbreakers are a result of the culture in which we are raised. We are told from a rather young age by our parents and others we may choose to surround ourselves with what to value, what to look for in a potential partner and what to do if these many criteria are not met, leave. It’s not bad to have standards and certain expectations that you wish to be met, rather it’s encouraged as it is what helps people discern those who are good for them from those who are not. However, we cannot ignore the fact that it limits potential and ultimately results in standards impossible for both men and women to uphold. 

Limitations and Expectations

There are two main ways in which culture impacts our romantic relationships in which culture can either limit our romantic experiences or it can make them feel like a business transaction of some sort. Concerning limitations, we look to cultural aspects like religion. For most people, they cannot even consider dating outside of their religion. Ideas of religion and the importance it serves are drilled into us from an early age and so it’s only natural for people to want to find someone else who can participate in these beliefs and support them wholeheartedly. Not only do we support them but so do our family and community, and to love someone of a different religion, at least in most cultures, is taboo. This “forbidden” aspect of dating outside of your religion is not as surface level as it seems, it goes past simply being of different religions. It’s a difference in values, child-rearing, outlooks on life and death etc., all important things. This notion is explored in an article in which a woman states that she was dating an Arabic man and that because she was of a different culture and religion (Hispanic), his family would “…probably be wary of my tattoos and the fact I work and don’t go to school.” She comments that it “…Sucks, we were really great together.” Despite the fact that the two might’ve been absolutely enamoured with each other and the connection they had otherworldly, the love that they had for each other was incapable of bypassing the values that their respective cultures had. Therefore, instead of searching for love and “the one,” (which could’ve potentially been each other), both were limited to their separate cultures and religions regardless. 

While there are certainly religious standards that may prevent individuals from seeking love outside of their religions, the aspect of culture that tends to play a rather large role in romantic pursuits is the idea of gender roles. Gender roles are prevalent in almost every culture, and the expectations held for men and women are often the same around the world. Men are expected to be the breadwinners, strong, protective and ready to fix anything in the house that may be broken. Women on the other hand are supposed to be nurturing, staying home every day to take care of the house, their kids and their husbands. This notion is perpetuated in every part of the world, not only by men but women themselves, especially older women. This is where the concept of the “dreaded mother-in-law” rose from in many cultures. The most notable depiction of this phenomenon is “Crazy Rich Asians,” in which we watch a battle between mother-in-law and wife unfold where, in the mother-in-law’s perspective, the wife will never be good enough for her son, socially, economically and culturally. While this may seem like an entertaining drama to watch, this is often the reality for a lot of people in relationships, constant competition and comparisons.

 At the end of the day, these expectations and limitations change the idea of relationships from one of seeking company and love to that of a business transaction in which you are essentially assessing the other person to see what they can offer you. This devalues the idea of love as a whole and makes it harder for people to not only connect with one another but form meaningful connections as well that go past just similar values and goals but the ultimate goal: love.

Cover Photo obtained from: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/case-against-marriage/591973/ ; artist: Rose Wong

About the Author

Hi! I'm a blog writer for WEW at the uofa! I'm in my first year majoring in biology and love consuming any forms of media I can: music, reading and movies, I love them all! I hope you enjoy my blogs and come back to WEW to read more!