What Are Dating Dealbreakers

Men's Dating

What Are Dating Dealbreakers? Understanding What Makes or Breaks Relationships

Emma Estrada

Written by: Emma Estrada

Emma Estrada

Emma Estrada is a writer and performer from the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA. She has a bachelor’s in English Literature from UC Berkeley and studied Commedia dell'arte at Ecole Philippe Gaulier. She’s been freelance writing since 2019 and has written, acted, and produced award-winning short films, a web series, and a one-woman comedy show for the 2024 Hollywood Fringe Festival. She still lives in Los Angeles despite repeated efforts to leave.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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Everybody has things they can’t stand in a potential partner. On a first date, certain pet peeves may make you want to give up before you’ve even started. Sometimes, these red flags are hard to spot. 

The significance of dating dealbreakers cannot be understated. If you can know your dealbreakers early on in the dating timeline, you’ll be better off down the line and more protected from getting hurt or wasting your time. 

In this article, we’ll look at the different types of dealbreakers, their psychological undercurrents, how to talk about them, and when to leave. 

Navigating dealbreakers can be tricky, but this comprehensive guide can help. Read on to find out everything you need to know about dating dealbreakers. 

Types | Psychological Explanation | Communication Tips

Types of Dealbreakers

Dating dealbreakers matter because they’re your signposts for your boundaries, values, and beliefs. When those are disrespected or crossed, your integrity, self-worth, and overall happiness are in jeopardy. 

You can decide what’s most important to you, what’s not so important and you’re willing to overlook, and what needs a conversation. It’s also good to be aware that you’re not placing unrealistic expectations onto another person. 

After all, we’re all human and sometimes that person may not tick off all the boxes on your list. 

Here are a few types of dealbreakers. Some are more obvious, while others may take a more discerning eye to uncover. 

1. Financial

A survey found that an estimated 130 million Americans are overwhelmed by financial stress. While you may not be in conflict yet, financial issues can be caught early on. 


The person you’re dating doesn’t want to pay for their bill or pay for yours, ever? That could be a dealbreaker. 

They’re not working, not showing signs of working, and relying on your wallet? That could be a conflict waiting to happen. 

Or if they’re in a lot of debt, is that something you want to take on if the relationship deepens? They may not be in a place to spring for luxuries like restaurants and trips.

Relationships thrive on fairness and equality, and finances are no exception

A disparity in earnings may necessitate a potentially uncomfortable discussion about what you’re willing to provide and receive or forego altogether. 

2. Lifestyle

I lead a spiritually active lifestyle. If the person I date isn’t interested in self-awareness, personal growth, or the universe’s mysteries, I have to pass. That’s a dealbreaker, even if we get along great in other areas. 


When it comes to how you live your life and spend your time, what are your dealbreakers?

Do you like to microwave your veggies while they like to cook nutritious meals? Do you like to lift weights at 8 AM while they prefer lifting croissants? (No shade, I do both). Do you like smoking cigarettes but they’re asthmatic?

A few lifestyle habits make up your value map and identity. If certain behaviors don’t align, that’s something to consider moving forward so you can prevent future resentment and difficult decisions. 

3. Personality

Brace yourselves: I moonlight as a comedian. If someone doesn’t get my jokes, I get it. I’m not for everyone. If someone doesn’t have any sense of humor and is offended by the slightest bit of levity, it’s not going to work. No matter how many of their dad jokes they chuckle at while I blink in response. 


In a college study of 2,744 single American adults, participants were given a list of 17 traits and were asked to check off the ones they felt were dealbreakers. They could choose as many as they wanted. 

According to this study, the top personality dealbreakers in committed relationships were laziness, an unclean or untidy appearance, too needy, lacking a sense of humor, insecure, stubborn, too quiet, too athletic, and not athletic. 

It just goes to show how unique every person’s dealbreakers are. 

4. Goals

You don’t have to know where you’ll be in five years or what you’ll be eating for lunch, but having a general idea for the direction of your life is pretty handy. 


Your goals are the drivers of your life. They indicate what you do, where you live, how you act, and who you are. If someone doesn’t align with your goals, you may be looking at a potential mismatch. 

Do you want to go to grad school in Kentucky while your date is interested in putting down roots? Do you want to travel the world for three months next year while your date is looking for someone to nest with? Do you want to live on a farm and grow corn while your date is interested in city living and growing their bank account? 

In the short run, these goals may seem harmless, but in the long run, they can significantly make or break the relationship. 

5. Physical Chemistry

It’s last on our dealbreakers list but not the least important. Physical chemistry is the difference between a good friendship and a great romantic relationship. If you’ve got none, you’ve got a friend. If you’ve got chemistry, you’ve got a lover and a friend, AKA a relationship. 

Yes, looks fade, but if you’re not physically attracted to your potential partner, you are looking at a ticking time bomb in terms of relationship longevity and sexual satisfaction. 

Exploring the Psychology Behind Dealbreakers

The mindset behind dealbreakers can be broken down and analyzed for your benefit.

Knowing the cause behind who you choose and who you don’t can bring a lot of clarity around relationships and save a lot of future heartbreak and confusion. 

Attachment Theory

Attachment theory is trending right now in pop-psychology and relationship circles, and for good reason. Knowing your and your potential partner’s attachment style will help you navigate difficult conversations, situations, and arguments. 

There are four main attachment styles:

  • Secure
  • Anxious
  • Avoidant
  • Anxious avoidant

Secure attachment is #relationshipgoals. You trust each other and maintain honest communication, even when it comes to difficult subjects.

Secure attachment

Anxious attachment may look like someone wants to be close to their partner but is insecure, has low self-esteem, lacks trust, and fears abandonment.

Avoidant attachment develops when a child’s main caretaker doesn’t show care or responsiveness to the child’s needs.

In relationships, this may look like discomfort with intimacy, inconsistency (ghosting, apathy in conversations, canceling plans), and extreme independence. 

Anxious avoidant attachment is a combination of the two other styles. People with an anxious-avoidant attachment may desire intimacy and closeness but also have difficulty relying on others and trusting them. 

Knowing where you stand on the attachment style spectrum can help you navigate difficult conversations.

Relationship Dynamics

Dealbreakers can shape who you choose as a partner and how you relate with each other. Some of your behavioral patterns in relationships are shaped in childhood, learned in past relationships, and brought up by triggers. 

Becoming aware of how you and a potential partner show up in relationships can help you decide whether they’re right for you.

Toxic relationships

Relationship dynamics tend to come out in certain behavioral patterns, like arguing about the same thing countless times. The dynamic may include your partner criticizing and blaming you, and then you react defensively. 

Other dynamics can include a partner calmly and clearly expressing their feelings and needs to you, and you receiving it and listening fully, and then responding from a place of love and understanding. Knowing which dynamic feels healthy to you can help you decide whether to stay with a partner. 

Fear of Commitment

We hear about it all the time in the dating world.

“They ghosted me after I told them I loved them.”

“They got cold feet before we got married.”

“They told me they were feeling suffocated.”

These reactions all trace back to a fear of commitment

If you’re constantly choosing people who are emotionally unavailable or unclear about their goals for the relationship, then you may be in tricky territory. Some ways to know whether someone has commitment fears are to know upfront what the person’s relationship goals are, how their last relationship, or lack thereof, ended, and understand the root of the fear. 

If commitment is something you need in the long term, this is a huge dealbreaker and can create many more dealbreakers down the line, including a lack of communication, intimacy, and fighting. 

Emotional Red Flags

Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse can and should be the cause of several dealbreakers in a relationship. Both partners must be respected as adults and treated with care. When general safety is jeopardized, it’s important to get out and get help.

Seeking outside help from organizations that deal with abuse will start the healing and recovery process by stopping a toxic cycle. 

Communicating Dealbreakers in Relationships

Communication is necessary for a healthy, thriving, and happy relationship. It’s not a matter of whether you’ll have difficult conversations in relationships; it’s a matter of when. And it’s more often than you think. 

How and When to Talk About Must-Haves

On this one, it’s good to read the room. Choose a neutral place and a good time when the person is not at work, busy, or otherwise mentally and physically occupied.


When it comes to talking about your absolute must-haves in a new relationship, external factors are important. But what really matters is just getting it out there and being honest and authentic to your true inner voice. 

Prepare for the conversation by discussing it with yourself, a trusted friend, mentor, or therapist, or journaling about it. Make sure you feel safe and take deep breaths during the talk. 

Knowing When It’s Time to Break Up

Breakups are never easy, even in the early stages. Knowing when it’s time to break up can depend on a few factors. If you feel calmer when they’re not around, and when you’re with them, you’re mostly arguing and fighting, that’s a big sign it’s time to break up. 

Do you like who you are around them? Are you excited when you’re affectionate? Is the physical chemistry there? If you both lack shared values and beliefs, then that may be a huge reason to leave. When conversations flow and you can have an open dialogue, that can be a good reason to stay. 

Or Maybe You Can Compromise

Relationships aren’t perfect and not everyone gets their way all of the time. Compromise is necessary in every partnership that entails mutual respect. Are you willing to cooperate with your partner? What are you willing to sacrifice? 


Compromises can be made about several things including who’s doing the chores, where you go on date night, how you express love, and what activities you do together. 

Getting comfy with compromise can look like honestly expressing your feelings, acknowledging their feelings, having a respectful discussion, and knowing when to give and take. 

Getting “the Ick” Can Spell the End of Romance

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of dating this person for whatever reason – whether physical, financial, emotional, or otherwise – it’s best to examine your dealbreakers and your boundaries. 

Perhaps you’re not excited by the prospect of communicating, compromising, and reflecting on what needs to change within you or them. If that’s the case, maybe the relationship isn’t the best option for you at this time. 

Secure, safe, and sexy relationships are based on the promise of trust, honesty, openness, and vulnerability. 

If a potential dealbreaker comes up, it’s a good sign when you can acknowledge it and move past it. If it’s a hard and fast no, then you’ve just saved yourself a lot of time. If it’s a mild dealbreaker, you and your potential partner may benefit from a conversation. 

Whatever the dealbreaker, dating gets much easier when you can spot the red flags early. That way, you can focus on people with green flags.