While we are all looking for subtly different things from our partners, there are certain key issues that are proven deal breakers in relationships. A group of international psychology experts recently conducted six studies that looked at 6,500 people in an effort to learn more about the personality traits and lifestyles that end relationships. Interestingly, these researchers also contend that negative factors in relationships are actually more powerful than the positive traits that attract us to other people, making these new findings particularly important.
Are you looking for more insight into why certain previous relationships didn’t work out, or interested in developing a better understanding of the types of traits that might make you unhappy in the long run? Check out the following eight, scientifically proven deal-breakers to learn more.
1. Unclean appearance
An unclean or disheveled appearance was flagged by 71% of women and 63% of men, meaning that it topped the list of most commonly identified deal-breakers. However, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that being on top of personal hygiene is the most important factor for a relationship—rather, it seems to have come out as number 1 because it’s relevant to both short-term and long-term romantic liaisons. In other words, whether you’re just looking to hook up with someone or you’re on the search for a spouse, bad breath or food-stained clothes are going to send potential partners running for the hills.
Both male and female groups of respondents agreed that laziness could spell the end of a relationship—72% of women confirmed this, along with 60% of men. So, it seems it’s hard to tolerate a lack of motivation in a partner. For some people, the difficulty might be with partners who don’t help out enough around a shared home, while others might struggle with a lack of career ambition or low interest in self-improvement.
As with laziness, women appear to find neediness less acceptable than their male counterparts—69% of female respondents marked “too needy” as a deal-breaker, compared to 57% of males. Still, that makes it a significant factor for both genders, so it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on your own conduct. Do you know how to practice self-care rather than exclusively expecting other people to “fix” you? And do you have the ability to express reasonable needs in a relationship without demanding every last bit of a partner’s time and energy? If not, these might be some useful skills to start learning, if you want to improve romantic relationships.
4. No sense of humor
Humor is subjective, so perhaps this deal-breaker should really be phrased as an “incompatible sense of humor.” 58% of women said they couldn’t cope with a partner who lacked humor, along with 50% of men. Some people deliberately inhibit their sense of humor in the early days of a relationship, playing it safe in case the other person doesn’t find them funny. However, since shared wit is obviously such an important factor, it might be worth just taking the risk and letting your zany side shine—at least you’ll find out early on whether you and your date laugh at the same jokes!
If you’re in a long-distance relationship at the time of reading this, don’t be disheartened! While 47% of women and 51% of men said that a partner “living far away” would be a deal-breaker, it’s one thing to evaluate the possible distance from a dispassionate standpoint and another to experience it for yourself. With the possibility of instant messaging and Skype video dates, modern long-distance dating is more effective than ever. However, if you’re just starting to see someone who is moving far away, do consider the hard work you’ll have to put in—and remember how important it is to set clear boundaries about the extent to which you plan to be monogamous.
6. A poor sex life
With 50% of women and 44% of men citing bad sex as a deal-breaker, it’s clear that problems with physical intimacy can spell the end of a relationship. 27% of women and 39% of men also identified low sex drive as another specific problem. The good news is that this type of issue is potentially easier to address than problems with fundamental character traits (e.g. laziness or neediness). The key to satisfying sex life is being able to talk openly and honestly with your partner, making it clear what does and does not work for you. And if you’re really struggling in spite of the consistent effort, know that sex therapy has become increasingly available and progressively less stigmatized.
7. Lack of self-confidence
This is one that’s more important to women, but still relevant to men—47% of females said low self-confidence was a deal-breaker, along with 33% of men. However, if you spend all your time worrying that your lack of confidence will put people off, you’ll create a vicious cycle that doesn’t help your happiness or your dating prospects! If you struggle with confidence issues, therapy may be helpful. On a smaller scale, you may benefit from keeping a list of the things people tell you they appreciate about you—slowly, this list can help to transform your self-image.
8. Conversation style
Finally, like a sense of humor, conversation style is a matter of personal preference. In fact, 20% of women said talking too much was a deal-breaker, but a further 17% said being too quiet was intolerable! Meanwhile, 26% of men said they couldn’t cope with a partner who talked too much, and 11% of men felt they’d reject someone who wasn’t talkative enough. So, while some proven deal-breakers are essentially objective, it’s important to remember that others are highly dependent on innate compatibility.