What are your relationship deal breakers?

Everyone has relationship deal breakers, even though they may not have consciously identified them. They are those things you just can’t live with or without in your future partner or relationship. Not surprisingly, it has been found that there is actually a list of common deal breakers, and that they have a similar significance across the board and by gender.

Last month six studies were published online in the Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin. They were conducted by researchers from Western Sydney University, the University of Florida, Indiana University, Rutgers University, and Singapore Management University. They found that people put more importance on what is wrong with a potential partner than what is right or working in the relationship.

Not surprisingly women have more deal breakers than men, probably because they have more to lose if the relationship doesn’t work. They are the ones who bear the children and end up being the primary caretakers and having a supportive and strong spouse is important to successful child rearing.

It’s also not surprising that those who have higher self-esteem and confidence are more selective. They place a high value on what they have to offer and expect the same in return. So, that picky friend of yours is holding out because they really are looking for someone they think is their equal and worthy of them.

Relationship deal-breakers also matter more when someone is considering marriage than when they are just having a good time with someone. Wonder why your friend dates that guy or girl when they could do better/ maybe it’s because they are in it for short-term fun and have no intention of going any further. Wonder why your boyfriend avoids the topic of marriage? Maybe it’s because he sees this relationship as meeting his needs now, but can’t see you as a long-term partner.

There were similarities between the sexes in what they considered their top deal breakers. The #1 spot was held by unclean followed by lazy. Yep, these two would be very hard to accept or live with. Sense of humor is high on the list as well. This really speaks to the importance of “intellectual” compatibility. If we don’t see humor in the same things, our ability to relate that way may be very incompatible—and this often ends up being discussed as a big issue in marital counseling.

Really not surprising is that men rated “low sex drive” as a major deal breaker, while women said that “bad sex” is their deal breaker. In other words, he’s happy if they have a lot of sex and she is not happy unless it’s good sex and leaves her satisfied as well. If men could truly understand this they would work harder at being better lovers, and then they would get more sex. Again, this is a common topic in counseling.

Anger issues came up as important for both sexes, along with bad habits like smoking and drinking excessively. Men also talked about women being too talkative, but for women this was not really an issue—didn’t need a study to know this one would be there. For women, men who can’t communicate came up over and over again.

Having pets or not having pets made a few of the lists—this one really speaks to values. If someone doesn’t like animals or considers them a nuisance, what does that say about their ability to nurture and parent? For those who find animals messy and troublesome, lifestyle differences could be a real deal breaker when the other can’t imagine a home without them.

The bottom line—know your deal breakers- what you can’t live with and must have in a future partner and relationship. Everything else is negotiable.

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