In Relationships, People Care More About This Deal-Breaker Than Anything Else

Are your deal-breakers too extensive?

In Relationships, People Care More About This Deal-Breaker Than Anything Else kittirat roekburi / Shutterstock

Do you have a wish list or more of a can't-possibly-have list when it comes to a potential mate? Although people may be unsure of the qualities they're looking for, they're pretty sure about the traits they absolutely don't want.

Whether it's potential dates or mates, we tend to focus more on the deal-breakers than the deal-makers. 

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The 2015 study, "Relationship Dealbreakers: Traits People Avoid in Potential Mates," was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Peter Jonason and his colleagues from the University of Western Sydney investigated the most common deal-breakers and the effect they have on our ideas of relationship material.

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The researchers looked at six surveys of relationship deal-breakers and discovered firstly that women have more deal-breakers than men since they're the ones who could potentially get pregnant.

When it comes to bearing children, evolution still plays a part in placing the utmost importance on the ability to pick someone who will help raise a child.

In one of the surveys, 5,541 participants (single Americans ages 21 to over 76) were asked: "When considering a committed relationship with someone, which of the following would be a deal-breaker to you?" 

Respondents were allowed to pick as many traits as they wanted from a list of 17 potential deal-breakers, including qualities like lazy, overly needy, too quiet, too talkative, and bad sex.


In the study, women had more deal-breakers than men and considered all the deal-breakers big problems.

Top 5 Deal-Breakers for Men and Women

1. Disheveled or unclean appearance

2. Lazy

3. Too needy

4. No sense of humor

5. Lives more than three hours away

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Men rated having kids, challenging locations of potential partners, talking too much, and low sex drive higher on the deal-breaker list than women did. The researchers reasoned that these responses may reflect men's somewhat higher interest in casual sex.

In another of the study's experiments, 132 adults rated the profiles of four potential mates who were attractive and successful.


The participants were asked to rate how likely they would be to consider either a purely sexual relationship, a short-term relationship, a committed long-term relationship, or a friendship with each of the four people.

After the participants made their ratings, they were told that each of the potential mates had a specific deal-breaker — such as an unhealthy lifestyle or a desire for an opposite kind of relationship than the participant. After learning of the deal-breaker, the participants were asked to re-evaluate their interests.

The results were that non-dating deal-breakers made people less inclined to have any type of relationship with that person, including friendship. Apparently, deal-breakers aren't just for serious relationships!

Having your own personal set of deal-breakers can be a helpful tool when trying to find that special someone. However, some flexibility should also come into play; you don't want to discount someone who may have some hidden positive qualities that just need to be discovered.


If you're too picky, you might miss out on someone fantastic. So, be sure to give someone a chance. You never know; they could be your soulmate.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.