Dating Dealbreakers

Women's Dating

6 Common Dating Dealbreakers (& Why They May Not Matter)

Karen Belz

Written by: Karen Belz

Karen Belz

Over the last 10 years, Karen Belz has written for dating and lifestyle sites such as Zoosk, Bolde, and Elite Singles. She started her career as a professional writer by helping launch HelloGiggles in 2011. Karen graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Broadcasting with a minor in Print Media Studies. She is now happily married and believes that healthy communication is the key to all successful relationships. You can follow her on Threads @karenbelz.

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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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Sometimes, you think you’ve met the perfect person — until they suddenly drop a bombshell you can’t ignore. While we all have dealbreakers, there are a few big ones that can completely stop a budding relationship in its tracks.

That said, things have changed a lot in the past few years that might have you reevaluating whether these dealbreakers still hold the same weight. It’s even possible that you and your ex would have survived had your relationship taken place today, as opposed to five years ago, based on changed viewpoints and circumstances. Here are six of the most popular dealbreakers reexamined. 

1. Religion 

Religion can be a tricky topic to navigate with your partner, especially if they were raised to put their parents first. Personally, my parents grew up in different religious communities, so this is one I can attest to. My dad was born and raised Catholic, and my mom was Jewish, which created a rift between their families. My parents even broke up for a spell, but realized that the strong feelings they had for each other remained. When they got married, they didn’t necessarily have the most family support at the time, but they had each other — and that was enough. 

Photo of religious couple holding hands with rosary
Talking about religious beliefs early in a relationship can foster respect and acceptance.

Both of my parents took values from their separate religions and made it work. That said, religion may still serve as a dealbreaker in your dating scenario.

While many sites exist to ensure you can date a person within your religious preferences (most notably Christian Mingle and JDate), it’s also possible to date individuals that accept your religion and the boundaries you have set. A partner may also choose to convert if they know you feel strongly about it. 

To avoid religion being a complete dealbreaker, you’ll want to talk with your partner early in the relationship. Figure out how much, or how little, of your religion you’d like to bring into the relationship and — if you’re both on board — how you want to raise future children. 

2. Politics 

Given the divisive political climate, having a loving relationship is more challenging if your political views are radically different from those of your partner. It’s not just about who you vote for, but what you value and what issues are important to you. In the 20th century, politics often got swept aside in polite conversations. In fact, you may have been raised in a “no politics at the dinner table” household. But today, more people are informed and engaged, and it’s more important than ever to know what’s going on in the world and understand how our leaders are handling things. 

Illustration of differing political beliefs
It’s good to get an idea of where your partner stands on political issues that are important to you.

Many dating sites allow you to screen for political affiliation before swiping left or right. But not everyone feels comfortable posting their politics on their dating profile, so you may find yourself on a first date with someone whose views differ from yours.

You need to ask yourself whether you can handle a politically mismatched partnership. Even though everything else might match up, your date may make a decision or statement down the road regarding women’s rights, or the climate crisis that makes you question your compatibility altogether. Their political views may intensify as the relationship progresses, so it’s important to have a good idea of where your partner stands on issues important to you.

3. Pets 

You might assume everyone will get along well with your dog, but that’s not necessarily the case. While pets can add a lot to our lives, many people out there are allergic, or might just be scared. Others may like the idea of pets, but not the amount of care they need. When you welcome a pet into the family, you should expect to care for that pet for the rest of their lives.

Photo of a couple with a dog
Asking a potential partner if they enjoy (and can be around) pets is fairly easy and straightforward.

While situations do come up (and allergies shouldn’t be dismissed), no one should have to choose between their beloved cat and their partner during cohabitation. Luckily enough, the question of “do you have pets?” is easy to ask during your initial encounters, so you know how your partner feels about pets. It’s also important to have your pet meet your partner before things get serious, so you can sense everyone’s comfort level before moving the relationship forward. If your partner grew up in a home without pets, this dealbreaker can easily become a non-issue if they’re willing to give your furry friends a chance. 

4. Location

Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? Long-distance dating can come with perks, but they’re tough to maintain for long. That said, when you’re in a committed relationship, you never know what might change — maybe your partner will get a job relocation, or maybe you’ll have to head back to your hometown to help an ailing relative. You need to ask yourself what your relocation limitations are, and how long you think you can manage a change in your relationship. 

Photo of couple talking over video chat with wine
Long-distance relationships work well for some couples but may test the commitment of others.

Location isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker if you have a set plan for long-distance dating, and stick to it — whether that means a dedicated time for FaceTime conversations, or the promise to reunite and live together after a certain date in the future. View it as a test to see how well you and your partner handle change together. 

5. Family

Have you heard the phrase, “When you marry someone, you marry their entire family”? Well, unless your partner has cut ties with them, it’s true. If your partner has a deep connection with their family, you’ll be invited to all the gatherings and be present for parts of the drama. It’s a red flag if their family doesn’t accept you, or treats you poorly — and, it’s a bigger red flag if your partner doesn’t stand up for you when a conflict happens. Those actions are a preview of what to expect down the road. 

On a related subject, we as humans base our relationships around the type of connection our parents had, so it’s often good to pay attention to how your partner’s parents interact with each other. “Even though we begin the process of healing from childhood by recognizing the behaviors exhibited by our parents that shaped us negatively, we often neglect to look at how we were affected by the bond between them,” writes Peg Streep in Psychology Today. “In fact, our parents’ marriage is as big an influence on us — if an unseen one — as their individual behaviors.”

Photo of couple eating with family
Family issues and dynamics can cause strain in relationships if they aren’t treated with care and respect.

You and your partner will need to find ways to talk about family issues, keeping both sensitivity and reasonability in mind. Remember, your romantic partner may have more of a complex relationship with their parents than you do, and you don’t want to step out of bounds when bringing them up. But you also need to make sure that you’re treated with respect. Otherwise, it can put a huge strain on the relationship regardless of the love you and your partner have for each other. 

Family can also be a dealbreaker in the discussion of children. It’s a big choice to make, and you and your partner need to be on the same page before getting serious. Don’t expect someone who’s not quite certain to suddenly change their mind — instead, it’s wise to learn their thoughts on kids early on to avoid a devastating breakup down the line. 

6. Money

Lastly, there’s money. It’s not necessarily about how much a potential partner brings in, as much as how they choose to spend it. If you’re a saver, it can be disastrous to be in a relationship with a spender. But if you’re frugal, the arrangement may balance things out. While it’s common for two married individuals to share a bank account, there are many other arrangements that couples today are making — such as three accounts total, two for personal spending and one for shared spending. This arrangement may help ease the friction, but it’s not guaranteed. 

Photo of couple calculating finances
Financial habits are a common cause of frustration, but there are ways to ease the friction.

As you date your partner, you’ll get to know their spending habits — and, more importantly, their saving habits. If they don’t line up with your values, money could very well become a serious dealbreaker for your relationship.

Food for Thought: Are Dealbreakers Important?

Sometimes, it’s not as much about the dealbreaker as it is about the person. People are complex, so dealbreakers may look a little different in every relationship. For example, your partner may know that their family can be toxic and want to start fresh with your relationship. Maybe they’re more than willing to cut ties and make a change. With a long-distance relationship, it’s also possible for the arrangement to work better for you and your partner — it’s just common that many of these relationships can’t survive under that type of pressure.

Some other dating dealbreakers should be set in stone. When it comes to personal safety, there’s no room for compromise. For example, if your partner is abusive, cut them off and find a partner who genuinely loves you and values you for the person you are. If your partner scares or intimidates you in any way, that’s a sign of a toxic relationship. It’s important to leave immediately and find a safe place that can offer support. 

Photo of couple arguing
Know the signs of a toxic relationship, and don’t hesitate to leave if you fear for your safety.

Dishonesty is also a trait that shouldn’t be overlooked. Trust is everything in a healthy relationship, and if you’re constantly worried about little white lies and dishonest behavior, that’s a real dating dealbreaker.

The New Trend of Beige Flags Could Change the Game

If your personal dealbreakers read like they came straight from an episode of “Seinfeld,” it may be time to reevaluate what’s a red flag versus a beige flag. Don’t let little things hold you back from a new relationship. If you refuse to date people who are a certain height, or have a particular body type, you may want to reconsider. After all, compatible personalities come in all shapes and sizes. 

Try to refine that list and keep only the things that will have an effect on the life you imagine for yourself. If you’re set on kids, it’s legit to break it off with partners who’d like to remain child-free. You can’t expect your significant other to change their mind on an important thing like that. 

But if a potential date has a different taste in music or different hobbies, our dating experts recommend giving that romantic partner a chance. Try to be open to possibilities in the dating world so you don’t miss out on an incredible match.

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