I know what I need in a man. Do you?

The checklist you put together for your ideal mate may not be yielding the results you want, but narrowing it down to your top five deal breakers may be the ticket.

Listen, if we could have it our way, we would all have the man that’s rich, good looking, cooks, cleans, and loves to shop, and the list goes on. But the reality is, there are no perfect people. Most often we are trading one shortcoming for the next in relationships and it really comes down to what we can and cannot accept from our partners.

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Reeling in our expectations doesn’t mean we’re settling either. We all have expectations and the key to flourishing relationships is being able to effectively communicate them to one another. You should have standards to aid you in the process while dating to know who has the potential to be a long-term mate or not. But when we say to ourselves, what are my top five deal-breakers, we’re allowing ourselves to be flexible while maintaining our core values in love.

When I think about my top five deal breakers, they are the things I must have in order to feel safe and respected in my relationship.

Dedication to growth. I need someone who is dedicated to growing. There is nothing that I dislike more than feeling stagnant in my life. So in my own relationship, it’s comforting that my fiancé is someone who wants to steadily progress and become the most refined version of himself. I’m constantly working to get better so I can’t leave my partner in the dust.

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Honesty. Love is not always pretty. Sometimes there will be things that will hurt. But it’s so clutch to me that I have a partner that feels like he can communicate with me even in the moments when it’s something he thinks I won’t like. Sometimes we hide the truth to “protect” our partners but for the most part I’ve only seen detrimental effects.

Spiritual Belief. Having God at the center of my relationship has been a saving grace. I am not sure that we would have made it through rough spots if it wasn’t for the solid foundation that we have in God. If anything ever happened where he no longer believed, it would be very tough for me to want to continue the relationship if our basis for how to live our lives changed that drastically.

Respect. I heard someone say that most often when relationships fail it’s because one or both mates lost respect for each other. At the moment when we no longer hold each other in high esteem, I think the relationship would be in serious trouble.

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Unhealthy Behavior. Although I would be all for helping my partner get the help that he needs, I don’t think I could withstand long-term substance abuse. I have seen the effects on families and it’s just not something I think I have the tolerance for at all.

I know that some of my deal breakers may not be yours, and that’s cool. You just need to be clear on yours too. For many it’s cheating, power struggles or jealousy (which was allegedly to blame for Sage the rapper split with Jordin Sparks). Whatever they may be, it’s important to have them in place before we find ourselves in relationships sacrificing our standards in the name of love.

I’d love to hear more about your deal breakers? Drop a line in the comments below.

Ashley Coleman is a writer, pen toter, and love advocate that explores life, love, and dreaming in color through words. Follow her musings @writelaughdream