Psychology Today defines relationship dealbreakers as “a negative trait or behavior in a person that outweighs their positive traits. More generally, whatever causes a relationship to be terminated is a deal-breaker.”
The question is never “What are my dealbreakers?” because we all have them.
Gather a group of your closest friends together, and each one can spend hours listing the many habits and character traits they dislike in potential partners, from a tendency towards introversion, to a penchant for marijuana, to well-curated collection of Star Wars memorabilia.
It feels easy to throw around each and every pet peeve as a dealbreaker.
How do you Define Your Relationship Dealbreakers?
The problem for most of us lies in defining dealbreakers that have an impact on the relationship, versus those that have no impact on the communication between two individuals. We tend to conflate an item (e.g., “I hate when he leaves his socks on the floor!”) with a behaviour (forgetting to put away one’s clothes), or take issue with an action (“He called me a ‘bitch’!”) rather than the events and mindset that paved the path for that action. We base our dealbreakers on the behaviour of our previous partners, rather than on the vision of a future full of love.
When I asked my readers about their relationship dealbreakers, most shared responses of this ilk.
“Being less than 85% a “man”,” wrote Soumya. How does one define his percentage of manliness?
“Tattoos,” wrote Akpo. “I don’t mind simple tattoos but when it seems to be covering a significant area of the body then it becomes unattractive to me.” Though when you’re bundled up in clothes for most of the year, how do you see someone’s tattoos?
“Being manipulative,” wrote Parnita. Wait, how do you test for that?
Why Well-Defined Relationship Dealbreakers Are Essential
Clearly defined dealbreakers make it faster and easier to focus on your serious options.
C.M. from Sweden told me he definitely does not want to have children. “It’s really hard to meet a woman who definitely doesn’t want to have kids,” he said. I congratulated him on his clarity, because he can immediately focus exclusively on women who imagine a perfect relationship without having nor adopting children.
Dealbreakers also help you set your boundaries ahead of time, and teach your dating partners to respect you and your boundaries.
M.J. from the USA wanted to date while travelling in South Asia, but was afraid of being perceived as “an easy Western girl on vacation and getting led on.” Having a clear list of dealbreakers makes it easy for her to identify which men could be worthwhile to date during her limited time in the country, because she has set criteria against which to evaluate her options, and can avoid decision fatigue and emotional attachment if those men do not match her list of dealbreakers.
Failing to Respect My Own Relationship Dealbreakers
In my own case, I failed to recognise my dealbreakers even after I started dating a guy we’ll call Joseph, because I thought I should be more “open-minded”.
Joseph showed up to our first date smoking a cigarette, stubbing it out as he said hello.
I dislike the smell of cigarette smoke, don’t smoke, and don’t have friends who smoke. All this, I chose to ignore, focusing instead on the fact that Joseph was handsome, kind, and had a gravelly voice I found very sexy.
“Smokers can be wonderful,” I thought, thinking about my father who smoked while I was growing up in Mumbai.
Joseph and I hit it off, and we began dating. As we grew closer, and spent more time together, Joseph introduced me to his family and friends, all of whom were chain smokers.
Needless to say, this felt like torture to me, being surrounded by cigarette smoke for hours during dinner.
Our relationship ended in part due to several arguments about smoking, and me wanting him to quit.
I would have saved so much time – his and mine – had I simply known to decline dating any and all smokers – respecting my own list of dealbreakers.
Know Your Dealbreakers, Know Your Ideal Partner Profile
In my premium program, Perfect Match, I teach you a step-by-step process to defining your dealbreakers, as part of your Ideal Partner Profile (IPP) – the foundation for your Soulmate Search, which guides you straight to your serious options, and helps you immediately eliminate those who are not a strong fit for the relationship and life you are seeking.
Click here to join the waitlist for Perfect Match.
Top image by Juan Serrano. Book and coffee photo by Lisa Palmer. Smoking photo by Julia Sakelli.