The Effect of Deal Breakers in Dating


How much do people’s dating deal breakers effect whether or not they date someone? A recent study says – a lot! Often times, we focus a lot on our deal makers (what we’re looking for in a partner), rather than our deal breakers (what we don’t want in a partner). Show of hands, who has a laundry list of what they want in a partner? Well, I recently challenged my readers to ditch the laundry list!! Just let it go!! Instead, focus on what mutual values are important plus identify your deal breakers. Don’t believe me? Read on to see what science has to say about it!

The Effect of Deal Breakers in Dating

So what was this study all about? Well …

Across six studies, they identified and examined relationship dealbreakers, and how they function across relationship contexts. Dealbreakers were associated with undesirable personality traits; unhealthy lifestyles in sexual, romantic, and friendship contexts; and divergent mating strategies in sexual and romantic contexts. Dealbreakers were stronger in long-term relationship contexts, and stronger in women (vs. men) in short-term contexts. People with higher mate value reported more dealbreakers; people with less-restricted mating strategies reported fewer dealbreakers. Consistent with prospect and error management theories, people weighed dealbreakers more negatively than they weighed dealmakers positively; this effect was stronger for women (vs. men) and people in committed relationships.

So according to the study, people placed more weight on their deal breakers than their deal makers when looking for a long-term partner. Some of the common deal breakers identified :

  • physical unattractiveness (this includes looks, image, clothes, etc)
  • unhealthy lifestyle (this includes not taking care of themselves, etc)
  • undesirable personality traits (this includes arrogance, being impolite, telling bad jokes, socially inept, inability to read social cues, etc)
  • different religious beliefs (especially if someone is practicing / devout)
  • limited social status (this includes having limited social circles)
  • differing mating strategies (this includes their views on sexuality)
  • differing relationship goals (this includes what type of relationship they are looking for)

So when someone meets you, whether consciously or subconsciously, they are rating you based on these factors, and it even could be just one factor that turns them off completely. So you’re socially inept? Turn off! You don’t dress nice? Turn off! You don’t take care of yourself? Turn off! You are over confident? Turn off! You have a sense of entitlement? Turn off! Well, you get the idea! The person you are speaking to is giving more importance to these deal breakers rather that the positive traits you have to offer. For example, you could be a smart, sexy and accomplished person but you are socially inept, well that might factor into their deal breakers rather than their deal makers and you will be rejected by that person. I think that’s pretty fair actually because if someone really knows and focuses on what they don’t want rather than their laundry list of wants they actually will have more luck in finding love. No, really, it’s true. It’s been my experience as well as the experience of my clients.

But what if you’re on the receiving end of the rejection? Well, I challenge you to take a good look at yourself and your dating life. Do you get rejected over and over again? Look back at each time and try and figure out why that is. It may be something that you can adjust in your life. For example, you may think you have great social skills but maybe you give off a creepy vibe to people or your conversation skills leave much to be desired.

But all is not lost! One person’s deal breaker is another person’s deal maker! So perhaps this person isn’t a mutually compatible BUT someone else will be. While I encourage people to ditch their laundry list of wants, they should be very clear about what their deal breakers are as well as what compatible values they are looking for. Remember, not everyone is going to like you (just like you’re not going to like everyone) and THAT is OK!! Keep at it and you will find your happily ever after!

Answer this poll & let’s see what your deal breakers are compared to others!

READERS: How much weight do you place on your deal breakers versus your deal makers? What do you think of this study? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Copyright Single Dating Diva


  1. I think dealbreakers are good, and important. It saves you from wasting your or anyone else’s time. Of course, as you get older your personal dealbreakers are likely to change, as you learn about yourself and of life in general. You become more flexible in some area, and then even more strident in others.


      • For example, you could be a teetotaler, and your dealbreaker is someone who drinks. Because, as your younger, you don’t want to risk being with someone who is an alcoholic. Get a little older, and now you may be like, well, I’d still PREFER someone who doesn’t drink at all, but I’ll accept someone who just drinks socially, but not everyday.

        Or something bigger, like, not wanting to date someone with kids. Or who’s been divorced. That’s fine and reasonable in your 20’s, since there are plenty of single never-married people in your age-group. As you enter your mid to late 30’s, you may change on that because, unless your willing and able to date much younger people, your options in your own age-group are going to start including a lot more people who have kids and/or have been divorced (and that may include yourself by then). So then it’s like, well, I don’t want someone who’s been divorced TWICE. Or whatever.

        But I think core values, which are really important, stay the same. Like, my biggest dealbreaker is illegal drug-use. I don’t want to be around anyone who does drugs. That’s never changing.


        • When it comes to kids some of us actually get stricter on that. In my 20’s I was open to single dads and dated a few. After seeing their lifestyles and how it was contrary to mine (and I hated their lifestyle)I knew it was absolutely a no way, even if this means never married. In fact as I get older I get more judgmental on single parents because I see more and more who either left their ex for dumb reasons (which tells me they aren’t god mate material) or seeking childless for things like wanting us to support them, the kids and the ex even if the kids are grown, or expecting us to bend over backwards to cater to them. Or if they are little expecting us to babysit them. Actually as people get more successful they are more aware of the single parents who look at their money and expect some of it. Kids are my absolute dealbreaker and it’s staying that way. It’s not the kids but the ex and single parent wanting my money or time.


          • Yes, as I said in the first place, you can become more flexible in some areas and more strident in others. In general, I think people tend to get more set in their ways as they get older. But everyone is different.


        • People do get set in their ways and I do think morals plays a bigger part. I don’t care if he’s rich or has grey hair but do care if he has kids.


  2. Have my dealbreakers changed? the ones like looks have. I’m not as picky now about that. However morals haven’t changed. As I get older they get stricter because I know what I like and don’t and I’m not going to deal with something I don’t want to just to have a mate. Might sound selfish but in the past have loosened my moral standards and dates low class men. I’d rather be alone.


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