6 Top Relationship Dealbreakers, According to Science
These relationship dealbreakers aren’t all based on feelings! Learn about the six "red flags" in romance, according to a 2023 study by psychology experts.
Relationship dealbreakers are qualities, behaviors, or lifestyle choices that might make you lose interest in seeing or pursuing someone. It's in the name: they can break a relationship – sometimes, even before it starts. Most people have a list of things they avoid when dating, especially if they're looking for a sustainable, long-term commitment.
Knowing your relationship dealbreakers can help you save time, effort, and heartache when navigating the . If you know what you don't like, it's easier to find what you do. It also helps you break from toxic cycles and avoid unpleasant (even dangerous) entanglements.
What are you steering clear of in your romantic life? If you love science, maybe data will help you figure it out. And if you’re in the market, perhaps knowing what not to do can improve your prospects. Learn more about the top six categories of dealbreakers, according to a recent study by psychology experts.
Backed by Data: Top 6 Red Flags in Romance
In 2023, the peer-reviewed academic journal Personality and Individual Differences published a study on relationship dealbreakers. Researchers surveyed 285 U.S. college students on what they consider the ultimate . They grouped their findings into six general categories: Gross, Addicted, Clingy, Promiscuous, Apathetic, and Unmotivated. Here are the factors that fall into each group, and how the study’s authors interpreted them. Plus, additional notes from the BeautyHub.PH team.
1. "Gross" covers factors like poor hygiene and unattractiveness.
As harsh as it sounds, “grossness” is equally repelling for those seeking long- and short-term relationships. Zsofia Csajbok, a psychologist and the lead author of the study, explains that a person who exhibits "gross" tendencies signals a pathogen threat to others. The mind relates signs of poor hygiene, like unpleasant body odor or bad breath, to poor health.
From an evolutionary standpoint, humans seek mates who appear to have good genes and a wholesome lifestyle. Even if you don’t actually want to have babies, people are hard-wired to want to reproduce. For many, it’s a subconscious desire. Having a healthy partner makes that goal easier to achieve.
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Lastly, swipe on your Rexona Women Shower Clean Antiperspirant Deodorant Roll-on for 48-hour odor protection and an extra confidence boost. It’ll make you smell shower-fresh all through your date.
2. "Addicted” includes having drug problems, smoking, and engaging in criminal activity.
According to the study, addiction to substances like drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes can be a sign that someone struggles to . Others might view this as an inability to care for others, by extension. The same goes for having a criminal past. Relationship-seekers want someone with positive habits who’ll help them cultivate a desirable life and not someone who might encourage bad behavior.
3."Clingy" is a catch-all for clingy behavior, such as jealousy and possessiveness.
Csajbok theorizes that excessive clinginess can make someone feel restricted and unable to explore or nurture other relationships. In other words, the study's participants believe that a clingy partner can limit their social life. Clinginess is also suggestive of deep-seated insecurity and can lead to a co-dependent, unhealthy relationship.
4. "Promiscuity” means having an extensive sexual and/or dating history.
According to Csajbok, promiscuous behavior can signal that someone is inclined to cheat, have children outside of marriage, or be at risk of transmitting diseases. Of course, this is only one perspective.
There's nothing inherently wrong with dating or exploring your sexuality. If everyone involved is a consenting adult and practicing safety, then do what makes you happy! Some prospects might even regard "promiscuity" as a sign of independence or openness to having new experiences. It’s all about finding people whose views align with yours and respect your choices.
5. “Apathetic” covers being inattentive, untrustworthy, and dismissive.
In the study, male and female participants rank "apathetic" as the worst dealbreaker in long-term partnerships. Naturally, no one wants to be with someone who doesn't pay attention to them or disregards their interests. Mutual trust is also integral to a strong, relationship-sustaining bond.
can also fall under this category. When your communication styles are incompatible, it can hinder open, honest conversations. Thankfully, anyone can learn how to be a confident and effective communicator. But you can only achieve that if both sides aren’t apathetic to their partner's needs.
6. “Unmotivated” includes lacking ambition, passiveness, and having conflicting morality.
Csajbok groups Unmotivated, Gross, and Apathetic together as critical hindrances to a happy, harmonious romance. Not having any ambitions and being generally passive about life suggests that a person might not be willing to put effort into their relationships.
For many, having the same values and goals as their partner makes for a solid foundation. For long-term success, you should be on the same page about important matters like politics, family ties, and wanting (or not wanting) children. It can be tough to compromise on these points later. While kids may not be ideal fodder, it’s worth discussing before things get serious.
Of course, it’s worth noting that this study has a small sample size, with limitations on age groups, experiences, and cultural norms. Maybe some of these “red flags” aren’t dealbreakers to you, or your ultimate no-nos didn’t even make the cut. Perhaps you feel called out by some items on this list, and now you’re doubting your dateability.
Remember: one or two “unfavorable” qualities can't make up someone's entire personhood. People are complicated! Besides, so much of the fun in dating comes from getting to know others better and seeing how you fit together. So, be firm about your relationship dealbreakers, but be open to surprises. Sparks may fly when you don't expect them!