45+ Biggest Deal-Breakers in Relationships (According to Experts)

Deal-breakers may vary from person to person, but there are certain traits that are consistently cited as big turnoffs and cannot be tolerated in a partner.

According to experts, here are the biggest deal-breakers in relationships:

Emily Simonian, LMFT

Emily Simonian

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Head of Clinical Learning, Thriveworks

Your partner does not accept influence

If your partner is unwilling to compromise or even hear the smallest things that others suggest to them, you might want to rethink taking the relationship to a more serious level. 

Accepting each other’s influence is vital to a harmonious partnership because it illustrates a crucial act of love: the ability to consider each other’s thoughts, feelings, needs, or desires—not just your own. 

If you’re in a relationship with someone who seems to make everything one-sided, you may end up over-compromising and wind up feeling resentful, hurt, misunderstood, and unsatisfied. 

So how can you tell if your partner is willing and able to compromise? In the early stages of dating, partners may instinctively present themselves as more malleable or compromising than they are to impress each other. 

Assessing how responsive your partner is to feedback from others they’re close to, like friends or family, is a good way to note true levels of suggestibility. 

Is your significant other digging their heels in the ground and taking the “my way or the highway” approach with those around them? While nothing is absolute, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll eventually make this a habit with you as well. 

Your partner has negative beliefs about relationships

While it can be hard to determine someone else’s internal beliefs without verbalizing their thoughts point-blank, you can figure out a lot about what a person truly thinks or feels by what they say. 

Listen for statements that sound mistrustful, hopeless, or cynical about relationships in general. Do you catch your significant other making comments like “divorce is the norm” or “the only person you can trust is yourself”? 

Beliefs create the lens through which we see the world, so a person who believes negative things about relationships might insert a pessimistic point of view onto neutral situations within the partnership, causing tension, conflict, and misunderstandings. 

Wondering about your partner’s beliefs? You don’t have to play detective—ask your partner directly how they feel about relationships using questions like: 

  • What types of relationships did you see growing up, and what effect did that have on you? 
  • Do you think that relationships can be satisfying and lasting? 
  • What are your thoughts about marriage? 

The good news is that everyone has the potential to change their negative beliefs into neutral or even more positive ones. It takes time and practice, so just know that if your partner falls into this category, you may have your work cut out for you. 

Lack of emotional or behavioral skills and shows patterns of “running away” from problems

Everyone experiences stress, frustration, or challenging times, but not everyone responds in the same way. 

Related: Why and How Do Men and Women Handle Stress Differently?

Specifically, individuals that have a low tolerance for experiencing difficult emotions or adversity tend to consistently lash out, disengage or flee during tough times. 

Even the healthiest relationships have rough seasons, so partnering up with a flighty mate will present challenges.

Related: How Often Do Couples Argue or Fight in a Healthy Relationship

How do you know if your partner falls into this category? Here are the warning signs

  • Your partner frequently responds to arguments, stress, problems, or frustration by using emotional retaliation (name-calling, blaming, or shaming you).
  • Your partner consistently walks away from arguments or ignores you entirely if you’ve upset them.
  • Your partner is consistently unable to hear your side of the argument.
  • Your partner ignores you for days at a time during difficult times.

Emotional and behavioral skills can be taught, so it may not be a deal-breaker if your partner is open and willing!

You and your partner have opposing values

You need a strong sense of connection to sustain a healthy relationship, and those with similar values will be better equipped to keep the love alive. 

Small value clashes—different tastes in music or movies, for example, usually aren’t relationship deal-breakers, but larger opposing values, like different religions, different lifestyle preferences, or conflicting goals, usually end up creating tension for couples. 

Related: What Are Core Values and How Do They Control My Life?

Different preferences relating to spending money, having or raising children, and opposite political views top the list of issues that contribute to disconnection and dissatisfaction over time. 

Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, LCPC, LPC, LMHC, NCC

Suzanne Degges-White

National Certified Counselor, Choosing Therapy

There are definitely some behaviors that should make you pause and think, “What am I doing in a relationship with this person?”

Some of the most common deal-breakers in ongoing relationships include: 

  • Abuse of any type
  • Infidelity
  • Secretive behaviors
  • Refusal to do their fair share of household tasks
  • Lack of attention to personal hygiene

Everyone has a different level of tolerance for what they consider bad behaviors, and some people just haven’t been made aware of the negative impression that their bad habits are creating. 


If you find out a partner is unfaithful, you need to address the issue upfront with your partner right away and not hope that infidelity doesn’t happen again. 

Related: Warning Signs Your Partner Could Be Cheating

When a partner’s attention drifts beyond their primary relationship, it’s generally a symptom of an even deeper rift that, left unattended, will grow bigger and erode the relationship further. 

Of course, if polyamory or throuples are your jam, monogamy might not be expected, but if a partner breaks the relationship’s ground rules, this is an issue, too.

Lack of intimacy

By intimacy, I am referring to that deep level of connection, authenticity, and vulnerability. 

Related: How to Be Vulnerable in a Relationship

When partners refuse to self-disclose at the same level that their partners do or refuse to let a partner share at a deep level, the relationship will be stuck at a level that lacks depth. 

While superficial relationships can work well for some people, they may begin to feel like transactional behavior-based connections rather than more meaningful, deeply intimate relationships.


While someone may appreciate a “devil may care” or “c’est la vie” attitude, when they are trying to build a lasting relationship with someone who is unable to hold a job, live up to their promises, and be there for us when we need them, the “free spirit” they once admired begins to seem more like a jerk who can’t be trusted to do what needs to be done. 

When a partner changes jobs frequently, has no qualms about backing out of commitments, or just can’t be counted on when things get rough, this may be a partner who can’t honor the expectations a partnership implies.

Abuse of any type

This shouldn’t be included on the list as it should be a given, but abusers are often highly skilled manipulators who can convince their victims that the abuse was a “one-time thing” that won’t happen again. But it always does—abuse is cyclic

After one or two rounds, both the abuser and the victim understand the cycle; unfortunately, it’s often up to the victim to break the cycle and leave the relationship. 

Remember, abuse isn’t limited to physical assault—it can include: 

  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Relational abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Spiritual abuse

Ideally, relationships include open and honest communication, and the best way to encourage a change in your partner is to share your feelings about the behavior. 

Until your partner knows you resent having to prepare the meals and handle clean-up, they may not realize their contribution to the workload is needed.

Jerry Brook

Jerry Brook

Certified Professional Life Coach, Good Together | Author, “Good Together

Disrespect, discouragement, intolerance, and neglect

We’ve all been there. Coasting along in our relationship with hardly a care in the world. And then suddenly, out of the blue, as if on cue, it happens. What is this “it” that happens exactly? Derailers or showstoppers.

There are two types of showstoppers. The blatantly obvious ones that jump out at us. And the subtle, almost imperceivable ones that sneak up on us.

These derailers have many common names: 

  • Red flags
  • Deal-breakers
  • Limits
  • Boundaries

They can take a speeding train and bring it to a screeching halt. Or they may tap the breaks causing a loss of any forward momentum.

Every type of relationship has them, from family to friends to intimate to business. We all have our own set of beliefs or core criteria that we can’t, or more accurately won’t, compromise—relationship enders.

“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” — Ellen Goodman

Deal-breakers say as much about the person doing the breaking as they do about the person being broken.

Where do deal-breakers come from?

Some are very personal, while others are, or at least should be, universal.

The personal ones have to do with a combination of our past experiences and personal sense of what is right and wrong. I define that as our expectations. 

When our expectations aren’t met or are actively disregarded, we tend to get a feeling of disappointment accompanied by disconnection or separation. We experience exclusion as opposed to inclusion.

Some of our deal-breakers are clear, traceable, and tractable, while others are murky, disjointed, and disorganized. In other words, some are intellectually motivated, while others are emotionally derived. Both are valid.

Deal-breakers are just as the phrase suggests, that is, an end to any negotiation. They are not the beginning of the negotiation process. Any potential negotiation should have occurred before reaching the point of breaking the deal.

Red flags, deal breakers, limits, and boundaries, oh my!

The intellectually motivated, universal deal-breakers are more easily defined and justified.

These are the artifacts of relationships that I term unacceptable(s). These aren’t always or necessarily directed toward us; however, that is really only a matter of time.

  • Disrespect 
  • Discouragement 
  • Intolerance
  • Neglect

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Notice how people treat others. At some point in time, you will be one of those other people.

Disrespect consists of arrogance and ignorance

Disrespect is the disregard for another person’s beliefs, values, or opinions. It denies others’ the rights to have and hold their personal and different beliefs, values, and opinions. It can be either intentional or unintentional in nature.

Discouragement is the expression of disapproval

Discouragement consists of:

  • Disapproval
  • Criticism
  • Disingenuousness
  • It is fatalistic

Discouragement is the act of depriving another of courage, hope, or confidence. It is disheartening. It works to obstruct opposition or difficulty, as well as to hinder. Discouragement is the expression of disapproval.

Intolerance consists of self-righteousness

Intolerance is the denial of the difference between personal preferences or opinions versus universal facts. It is the lack of understanding that you are not the sole owner of the facts and that, in fact, most things aren’t factual at all; they are merely personal preferences. 

In other words, most things aren’t universally right or wrong; they are only personally right or wrong. Appropriate or inappropriate. 

Intolerance rejects the reality that others have a right to their own preferences—their own rights and wrongs—that are separate and apart from yours.

Neglect consists of indifference and inconsistency

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity.” – George Bernard Shaw

Neglect is the lack of responsiveness—it is void of reactions and positivity. It has an inconsistent manner about it.

A word of caution; too many of us have a bull mentality. When we see red flags, we go charging in instead of having the sense to retreat. We have a savior complex, which goes against our own best interests. 

We see deal-breakers as a challenge, a problem to be fixed and overcome. Rather than as a warning to be heeded, and a crisis to be avoided. We try to fix an unfixable situation.

We must impose our deal-breakers

Regrets occur when we either, ignore our deal-breakers or continue the relationship as though nothing has happened. Or when we realize our deal-breakers after they have already been broken, and then we try to enforce them after the fact. 

Or when, and this is the most common regret, we ourselves don’t have any deal-breakers to apply in the first place. We can’t spot that which we aren’t looking for.

Related: How to Deal With Regret

Not knowing or having our own limits and boundaries leaves us open to manipulation or, worse yet, abuse. We can’t enforce boundaries that we haven’t set.

Do we really have deal breakers if we didn’t make a deal? Oddly enough, this is a deal that we make with us ourselves, not with others.

The bottom line is that we must impose our deal-breakers. Of course, we must have deal-breakers to enforce our deal-breakers. Our deal breakers are there for a reason; they are for our own safety and protection, emotional as we as physical.

Susan Trombetti

Susan Trombetti

CEO and Matchmaker, Exclusive Matchmaking

When it comes to relationships and the idea of a relationship, they are always complex and can be a difficult thing to navigate for some couples. 

The absence or presence of deal breakers can make for smooth sailing or rough waters. The lack of conflict due to a lack of deal breakers makes the difference between running off happily into the sunset as a couple or running around stressed from never-ending breakups. 

It can be limited to compatibility—lifestyle issues, but often, it is more of a matter of what you will or won’t put up with deal-breakers. Some deal-breakers can be more around the both of you as a couple, whereas the rest can be extremely toxic and a no-go for most relationships. Read on for some of them:

Abuse, whether physical or emotional, is a deal breaker

Most people would agree with this, but sometimes, emotional abuse isn’t always something you can see at first. It takes time, but any abuse shouldn’t be tolerated. 

Some women stay for various reasons, such as low self-esteem or fear, but for these issues, you should run. Emotional abuse could also be extreme jealousy or toxic attempts to control you. These things are always as evident and easy to realize as physical abuse. 

Drug or alcohol abuse is a deal-breaker in a relationship

It’s hard, and you love them. Addiction is terrible, but the person in the relationship is dealing with something bigger than your relationship, and they need to get clean and sober. 

There is nothing you can do besides enable them, and that’s no good, so this is a definite deal-breaker. They need to work on them. You can support them, but that’s about it. 

Infidelity is a no-go

If they have promised to be faithful to you and exclusive, but are a serial cheater and player, recognize this as a deal breaker. You are never going to change this person. 

Don’t confuse this with a “one-off, never again” cheating scenario as opposed to someone who can’t be faithful. This is a fatal flaw, and you can’t stick around and deal with it. It will always be this way. 

Everyone knows someone like this and someone that has been through this. It’s no fun

Wanting kids when your partner doesn’t, or vice versa 

You aren’t going to change this, so don’t try to change their mind. This is a big decision that no one should ever be pressured into or face regretting later.

Although this is a deal breaker, it does come down to a vision of one’s life and a long-term compatibility issue. This is more where you want different things out of life. You could both be on the same page at the start and change your mind later. It’s a deal breaker. 

Wanting to live in different parts of the world for a job or even a different lifestyle

Sometimes you start on the same page, but then something happens to upset your life. One of you gets a job across the country, and one loves where they are. 

People think you should be able to work it out, but it’s not always that simple. It can be a deal-breaker if they can’t come to terms. You just want and need separate things. 

It’s not always jobs, though, that create this problem. It could be that one of you wants to join the peace corps or doctors without borders, and one of you wants to live the life and place you both chose. 

A partner that won’t commit

Most have been there but trust me, you have nothing if, at some point, after six months to a year, they can’t decide if they want to commit to a life together, whether it’s marriage or a serious long-term relationship. 

I am not talking about moving in together, but more where you feel you are committing permanently and not out of convenience. Just realize that if you need a commitment, staying with someone to prove you are worth it while waiting for them to wake up and see it isn’t a good strategy. 

Neither are ultimatums. It’s simply a deal breaker that spells it’s time to move on.

Lying and dishonesty is a deal breaker that comes down to trust

All three of these things are deal breakers. Don’t stay! It is also a matter of differing values, which is always a deal-breaker. This should be obvious but not always. 

People try to build trust, and your partner lying to you can be very problematic, causing trust issues, but you need to be able to trust your partner and what they say. Dishonesty is a non-starter. 

Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII

Steve Carleton

Executive Clinical Director, Gallus Detox

There’s no perfect formula for a successful relationship, but there are certain red flags that can indicate trouble ahead. 

As a mental health expert, I’ve seen individuals stay in unhealthy relationships because they ignore these deal-breakers: 

Lack of communication and ability to resolve conflicts

A two-way street of compromise and understanding is crucial for a healthy relationship. Because conflict is inevitable, it’s essential to have the skills and willingness to address and resolve issues as they arise. 

So if you consistently avoid confrontation or shut down during arguments, both you and your partner won’t be able to understand and meet each other’s needs. 

It’s important to remember that your union is not a competition about who’s right or wrong but rather a team effort to find a solution that works for both parties. 

Lack of trust and constant suspicion

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. Without it, there will always be doubt and insecurity; toxic behaviors such as jealousy and control can quickly arise. 

Remember that trust must be earned through consistent actions and communication, but it can also easily be broken. If that’s the case and it’s not repaired correctly, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. 

Related: Trust Building Exercises for Couples

This can open many other potential issues, such as loss of independence and disrespect for personal boundaries. 

Disregard for boundaries and disrespect

Each person in the relationship should have their own sense of autonomy and respect each other’s boundaries—disrespect, whether verbal or physical abuse, is never acceptable and is a clear sign that the relationship is unhealthy

Related: How to Deal With Someone Who Doesn’t Respect Boundaries

Excuses like “I was just stressed” or “I love you too much” are not justifications for these actions. It’s important to remember that you deserve to be treated with love and care, and any behavior less than that is not acceptable. 

Verbal or emotional manipulation

It’s important to listen to and validate your partner’s feelings, but it’s a red flag if they constantly use emotional manipulation to guilt or shame you into doing what they want. This type of behavior can lead to a loss of self-worth and dependence on the other person for validation.

Related: How to Stop Seeking Validation From Others

Similarly, physical threats or abuse are never justified and indicate a clear power imbalance in the relationship. 

Do not wait for the situation to escalate. Seek help and remove yourself from the toxic dynamic as soon as possible. It’s not normal or healthy to feel afraid in your own relationship. 

Related: Can Toxic Relationships Be Healed?

If you recognize any of these deal-breakers in your relationship, it may be time to seek professional help or reassess the future of the relationship. 

Dr. Gail Saltz

Gail Saltz

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine | Host, “How Can I Help?

Future goals that cannot be compromised

Partners need to be fully aligned when it comes to the life milestones each wants to achieve. For instance, if one wishes to have children and one does not, that’s an immediate red flag. 

While it’s typical in functional relationships to disagree about smaller, day-to-day topics, decisions like whether to grow your family or move to another state, etc., need to be made as a unified front as they set the stage for the rest of your lives. 

Abuse of any kind toward a partner

Whether it’s physical or verbal abuse, it is a non-negotiable in a relationship and should not be tolerated. 

If you see signs early in a relationship, that is when you should stop to consider if this is a partner that respects you and your boundaries and will make a solid option for you in the long term. 

Having different morals and values

Everyone knows relationships are about compromise, but if you find yourself at odds with your partner over your difference in morals and values, that might be a problem. 

As mentioned above, it’s not unusual to have differences of opinion, but having a different code of ethics entirely from your significant other is a sign of troubles to come, and often those relationships deteriorate over time.

Christy Piper

Christy Piper

Coach and Speaker | Author, “Girl, You Deserve More

Everyone has different standards in relationships; we also all make mistakes. So individual dealbreakers for each person and couple will vary.

However, there are a few core ones that can’t be ignored:

They can’t be trusted

If you can’t trust the person, you won’t know what’s going on. When you ask them direct questions or have an agreement, they should be able to look you in the eye and tell the truth. If you don’t trust them, all their words are null and void.

It is okay to screw up or make a mistake. But not being able to honestly admit to it will build distrust.

Lack of communication and focus on resolving issues

If your partner can’t tell you what’s happening or why they’re upset, this will be a problem. If they tell everyone else behind your back about your relationship issues, this isn’t good. 

You should be the first one they come to if they have an issue with you. They should not be gossiping to others about your relationship before addressing the problem with you. This will just cause anger and feelings of betrayal. You don’t want to be the last to find out. 

It’s not a good sign when you feel like your partner is looking for reasons to badmouth you instead of trying to resolve the issue with you directly.

They don’t take responsibility and accountability

If your partner does something that upsets you, they must be willing to take responsibility for it. If they keep blaming you or other factors, they are not ready to be in a partnership. 

Someone needs to be able to apologize when they mess up. They also need to be able to put effort into doing better next time.

This lack of accountability may point to immaturity or even something more serious like Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If your partner is extremely unreasonable about taking any responsibility, I highly recommend researching this disorder to see if it may apply to your partner.

Related: 25+ Signs You Are in a Narcissistic Relationship

They don’t care about your happiness

A caring partner wants to see you happy. They don’t just talk about it. They take actions that make you happy more than unhappy most of the time.

This means they don’t: 

  • Say hurtful things
  • Cheat on you
  • Spend all your money
  • Break your things without replacing them
  • Make you feel like you’ve been wronged

When you are sad or upset, it bothers them. They take action to cheer you up and love to see you smile.

They are not receptive to change

These issues probably won’t fix themselves. If you approach your partner and they aren’t receptive to change, you will have to decide whether it’s worth it to stay in this relationship.

If you are married or have kids together and decide it’s too complicated to leave right now, it’s understandable but not advisable. Things will not improve. In this case, accepting them for who they are is essential. Realize they won’t change and be okay with this.

Why? Because if you continue to complain, it will make things much worse. Focusing on what you could or should have but will never change will only hurt you more.

If you’re unsure if it’s worth leaving or staying

If you’ve been together a long time, it makes sense to examine the relationship more carefully before just breaking it off. Just don’t hold off on this indefinitely. 

For a newer relationship, it will be much easier to break up. Since you don’t have as many ties and memories holding you together, it’s best to leave as soon as possible as soon as you realize the relationship isn’t worth saving.

It can be good to ask a trusted mentor, therapist, or coach specializing in healthy relationships. They can help you realize if you are too hard on your partner or if there is anything you could do differently to help the situation. 

But remember—your gut instinct is usually correct. Learn to listen to it, and set your boundaries accordingly.

Katy Clark

Katy Clark

Lead Matchmaker and Expert Dating Coach, Cinqe

One of the biggest deal breakers is a person’s dating goals

Everyone has their own deal breakers when it comes to dating. Some people might be turned off by poor hygiene or a lack of ambition, while others might be put off by bad manners or someone who doesn’t share the same values. 

Whatever your personal list of deal breakers may be, one thing is certain: figuring out who you are and aren’t compatible with can be an important step in finding lasting love. 

Related: How to Know if You’re Compatible With Someone (According to Experts)

Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or just trying to figure out if that cute coworker is worth pursuing, carefully considering each person’s individual quirks and traits can help you make better decisions about who to date and how to date them. 

So roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath, and think honestly about what really matters to you in a partner. After all, it’s only by taking this approach that you can build strong, healthy relationships that lead to lasting happiness and satisfaction.

As a matchmaker, one of the biggest deal breakers I see is a person’s dating goals. Whether we’re working with men or women, it’s crucial that they have a clear sense of what they’re looking for in a partner. 

If a man is vague or appears apathetic about long-term relationships, it will instantly turn off any woman he’s interested in. 

Similarly, women who don’t seem to have any ambition or drive are also likely to scare off potential suitors. 

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, dating is all about connecting with someone on an emotional and intellectual level. So if you want to find true love and lasting commitment, it’s essential to be honest and open about what you’re looking for from the outset. 

Heavy and severe stuff should be deal-breakers

Deal-breakers in relationships can vary from person to person. It refers to a specific aspect of your partner that you simply cannot tolerate and would ultimately cause you to end the relationship. 

For some, it could be something as trivial as your partner’s inability to keep the house clean. But for others, it might be something more serious, like infidelity.

In any case, deal-breakers are usually non-negotiable for most people. And once a deal-breaker is triggered, it can be very difficult to move past it and continue the relationship. 

You can say that deal-breakers are good because they help you weed out any incompatible partners from the start. It can also protect you from heartbreak and disappointment down the road. This saves you a lot of time and energy in the long run.

However, there are also some drawbacks to deal-breakers. For instance, you might miss out on a great partner simply because of one little thing that they do that you don’t like. 

Maybe they’re not the tidiest person in the world, but they make up for it in other ways. If you’re too strict with your deal-breakers, you might end up alone or with someone who doesn’t truly make you happy.

So, think carefully before you establish any deal-breakers in your relationships. Usually, the heavy and severe stuff should be deal-breakers (like infidelity or abuse), as things like these should never be tolerated in a relationship. 

But for the smaller things, maybe you can be a little more flexible. Those who are willing to work on their relationship and make compromises are usually the ones who end up with the most lasting and fulfilling relationships.

Nicole Sodoma

Nicole Sodoma

Divorce Attorney | Author, Please Don’t Say You’re Sorry

Lack of open and honest communication

As a divorce attorney of 20+ years, I see a handful of things repeatedly that ultimately end up being deal-breakers in relationships. The top 3? 

  1. Lack of open and honest communication between spouses
  2. Unaddressed mental health and addiction issues
  3. Domestic violence

The last two may feel obvious, but remember that the people we marry are not the ones we divorce. 

Often, these issues may not have been present at the beginning of a relationship, but as they emerge and become more present, a chasm opens that can be irreparable. 

Is adultery a deal-breaker? Yes, to many. But, in a quickly changing relationship landscape, we see glimpses of more couples entertaining the idea of open marriages, swinging, and even polyamorous relationships. 

There was a time when I would have emphatically told you opening your marriage to a third (or fourth) party would only lead to one thing— divorce. 

While that may not still be true today, one thing that remains is that regardless of the type of relationship you have or desire, couples must rely heavily on trust and communication to have a successful marriage. 

Avoid an appointment with a divorce attorney by digging in and unpacking your how and why—try to understand your partner’s needs, use effective communication skills, and don’t use any possible deal-breaker as a band-aid to fix a bigger issue.

If you choose to divorce and children are involved, it is essential to remember that even when your romantic relationship with your spouse ends, your parenting relationship continues. 

For some, the thing that ends their marriage may not impact their ability to co-parent together effectively. 

Research studies reflect that children who are raised in a post-divorce co-parent conflict environment are predictors of negative outcomes in their emotional, behavioral, academic, and social futures, as well as their future interpersonal relationships. 

Only the parents can change this outcome—always prioritize loving your children over hating your spouse.

Sameera Sullivan

Sameera Sullivan

Relationship Expert, Sameera Sullivan Matchmakers

If your partner is acting in a way you have discussed as cheating

In the dating world, there are many various relationship types and unconventional relationship structures, so it’s crucial to talk about each other’s preferences for romantic and sexual arrangements early on. 

If your partner is acting in a way you have discussed as cheating, it indicates that they weren’t honest, which is a major red flag and a reason to end the relationship.

They no longer want to have children with you

A significant deal-breaker is someone who changes their mind about having children with you. 

If your partner was initially receptive to starting a family with you but later decides against it and you want children, but they already have children, or even if you’re both childless, this can be devastating. 

Therefore, it should be a deal-breaker if one of you develops second thoughts or is on a completely different side from you.

Rachel Van Nortwick

Rachel Van Nortwick

CEO and Founder, Vinylly

They have polarizing taste in music

Two people in a relationship can generally like the same music, disagree with an artist, and still manage to jive with their partner. After all, no two people have a perfectly-matched music palette. 

However, have you ever dated someone with a polarizing taste in music? Or worse, someone who isn’t open to even listening to your music or someone who refuses to go to see certain concerts with you? 

Music impacts who we are, and if someone feels like they have to hide or stray away from the music they’re into, it’s not long before it can create a wedge between partners. While connecting over music can be fun at the beginning of a relationship, music can also be vital for your compatibility as a whole. 

Some level of tolerance and compromise is important in any relationship. A lack of flexibility in music could be a sign that this partner may not be as understanding when it comes to deeper-rooted issues. 

Lauren Egna

Lauren Egna

Certified Senior Matchmaker, NYCity Matchmaking

People who are or have narcissistic personalities

Our clients routinely give us lists of their deal breakers when working with us to find their forever. It’s an important part of our process of finding someone their soulmate.

We hear all sorts of deal-breakers, but some of the ones we see most often hear are:

  1. People who are or have narcissistic personalities. 
  2. People who own cats (mostly because of allergies).
  3. Large tattoos.
  4. People with no sense of humor or who are too serious. 
  5. Smokers and drug abusers.
  6. Location, location, location! 
  7. Mean-spirited or not kind or affectionate. 
  8. People who aren’t honest. 
  9. People who don’t have a career they are passionate about. 

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

Senior Editor, Tandem

Though I have been married for over 15 years, I remember what it was like when I was seeking a partner for life. Meeting different people, going out on dates, and starting relationships to find out if the person I was with could be my long-term mate. 

How do you determine if they are “the one” when dating someone? What are some deal-breakers in a relationship?

Admittedly, what is a deal-breaker for one person might not be a deal-breaker for another. Remember that you need to reach deep within yourself to determine what is important to you and what you might be able to overlook in a partner. 

Some typical relationship deal-breakers are:

Your partner doesn’t have time for you

If you feel like you are always playing second fiddle to your partner’s wants, you might not be getting the respect you deserve. If your partner doesn’t have time for you, find out why this is. Are they just extremely busy at work, or are they making excuses?

Your partner doesn’t listen to you

We all want someone to listen to us, and, more importantly, we want to be heard. 

Does your partner listen to you? Or does what you tell your partner go in one ear and out the other? Not listening to our significant other can be a deal-breaker for many couples.

Your partner wants kids, but you don’t (or vice versa) 

When you are in a relationship that you want to be in long-term, you need to ensure that you and your mate are on the same page. 

If one of you wants kids but the other does not, this could be a recipe for disaster. Finding critical information like this is recommended sooner rather than later.

Your partner doesn’t have the same workplace ambitions as you do

You always wanted to do the best you could. To get the best grades, job, and simply be the best. Maybe you aren’t content with your current salary and are doing what you can to work your way up. 

If your partner doesn’t have similar ambitions, you may resent them. For this reason, this is one possible deal-breaker.

Your partner’s family leaves something to be desired

Marrying someone is more than marrying that person. In a sense, it is also marrying their family. Establishing how involved or uninvolved you will be with your partner’s family is essential. 

If you don’t get along, you might want to reflect deeply on how this could affect you and your future happiness.

Your partner cheats on you

A partner that is not trustworthy and who cheats (with another person, isn’t fair to you financially, or anything else that you might consider a “cheat”) is unacceptable. This might be a good reason to consider this behavior a deal-breaker.

Your partner constantly fights with you 

People don’t want to fight continually. Think about if the amount of fighting you do is enough to warrant calling it quits on your relationship. People deserve more than being in relationships where all that is accomplished is fighting.

Your partner is abusive (verbally, emotionally, or physically)

Abuse of any kind is unacceptable. Whether the person was abused themselves, they have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or any other reason—abuse should not and cannot be tolerated. 

Remove yourself from an abusive situation and get help. Abuse is always a deal-breaker.

Again, everyone’s list will be different. It would be best to look at what you consider your deal-breakers. Whatever your deal-breakers are, remember that you are important, and so is your well-being. Whatever you do, never forget that!

April Maccario

April Maccario

Founder, AskApril

The readiness to have children

The most common deal-breaker in a relationship is the readiness to have a child/children with your partner. 

For instance, if one of them changed their mind about having a child. Another is the presence of physical/emotional abuse. If either one is physically or emotionally hurting their partner, that’s a deal breaker.

Having a child/children together is a decision both partners should make. If one of them is unwilling or changed their thoughts about it, then I think it’s time to call it quits. One of them doesn’t see their future with their partner. 

It clearly shows that you’re not on the same page and don’t share the same vision of having a family.

Physical or emotional abuse

On the other hand, physical/emotional abuse is a serious red flag that your current partner doesn’t deserve you. This is a very obvious reason to break up with your partner. 

No one should hurt their loved one, whether physically or emotionally, or both.

Daniel Ploof

Daniel Ploof

Founder, Wilderness Survival Training | Author, “Wilderness Survival

Relationships can be complicated, marriage especially. However, they don’t have to be so long as couples come together to gain consensus on what they feel are non-negotiable behaviors both individuals must possess for their relationship to work. 

Therefore, if couples focus their time, energy, and resources guarding their hearts by replacing these three negative attitudes with positive behaviors instead, they will ensure themselves the greatest opportunity for success in their respective relationships and save themselves a tremendous amount of heartache as well. 

They rely on assumptions

Assumptions are cancerous to any relationship because they’re grounded in opinions rather than facts. They are the epitome of laziness in communication because we assume we know what others are thinking and feeling without taking the time to ask them where they stand. 

Therefore, we must ask one another discerning questions with the intent of listening to understand rather than assuming we already know what they’re thinking. 

It also means we never hold them captive to the past but evaluate who they are in the present so we can allow them to change their mind as well. That is why ongoing, transparent communication is vital to the success of any relationship. 

It ensures we’re focused on learning more about one another as time passes to avoid assuming they are who we always thought they were.

Unrealistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations are equally as problematic because they are self-focused. In other words, if we expect certain behavior which does not come to fruition, we open our hearts and minds to frustration, anger, and disappointment and react negatively. 

Oftentimes, we rarely articulate what expectations we have in our relationships. However, we often keep a mental scorecard and judge others based on a grading scale of our own creation, which requires nothing short of perfection. 

No wonder expectations are such a deal-breaker in relationships! The key is distinguishing between reasonable expectations, such as honesty and trust, from unrealistic expectations, which depend on personal preference rather than necessity. 

The more we stop expecting unrealistic behavior to make us happy, the more peaceful and content we will be with one another. 

Entitlement is working behind the scenes

Entitlement is not something we think about, but its fingerprint can be seen all throughout our relationships. 

Case in point: If our thoughts have ever begun with the statement, “I deserve,” then we are treading on dangerous ground because our love of self is overwhelming our ability to love others unconditionally instead. 

Entitlement evaluates life from a “me first” perspective. It is always self-funneling to ensure our desires are met, first and foremost. However, how can we love and serve others unconditionally when entitlement is working behind the scenes and undermining our efforts to serve our selfish interests first? 

Far too many relationships have ended under the premise, “I deserve to be happy,” which means, “If you don’t act and behave in a way that makes me happy, I’m out of here!” 

One would be better served to humble themselves and focus on how to make the relationship work rather than evaluating it from the angle, “What’s in it for me?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can deal-breakers change over time?

Yes, deal-breakers can change over time. As people grow and evolve, their priorities and values can change. Something that used to be tolerable may become intolerable or the other way around. 

It’s important that partners communicate openly and honestly about their needs and boundaries over the course of their relationship.

Is it possible to work through a deal-breaker in a relationship?

It’s possible to work on some deal breakers in a relationship, but it depends on the situation and the willingness of both partners to commit. 

For example, if one partner has a substance abuse problem, they may be able to get it under control with therapy and support from their partner. 

However, if one partner is fundamentally dishonest or abusive, it’s unlikely that the relationship can be saved.

How can I avoid deal-breakers in my relationships?

It’s important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner from the beginning. Discuss your values, goals, and boundaries, and make sure you’re on the same page. Pay attention to any red flags or warning signs, and trust your instincts. Remember that walking away from a relationship is okay if your deal-breakers aren’t respected.

How can I tell that my relationship is struggling with deal breakers?

If one or more of the above deal-breakers are present in your relationship, there are a few ways you can tell if it’s time to have a serious conversation about how you two should move forward:

Pay attention to subtle changes in either partner’s behavior. If one person seems unusually distant or disinterested lately, it could be an indication that there are problems brewing under the surface that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Pay attention to nonverbal cues such as body language (e.g., crossed arms) or eye contact (or lack thereof), which can often express underlying emotions more accurately than words alone ever could.

Evaluate your conversations—are you still having meaningful discussions? Or has the conversation become dull and empty? A lack of meaningful conversation could indicate that there are underlying issues that need to be addressed to ensure a successful future together as a couple.

Can deal-breakers be different for different people in the same relationship?

Yes, deal-breakers can be different for different people in the same relationship. Each person brings their own values, priorities, and boundaries to the relationship, and what is a deal-breaker for one person may not be for another. 

It’s important for partners to have open and honest conversations about their needs and boundaries so that everyone feels respected and heard.

How can deal-breakers affect a relationship?

Deal-breakers can have a significant impact on a relationship. If one partner feels that their boundaries aren’t being respected or their needs aren’t being met, it can lead to resentment, anger, or even betrayal. 

If these issues aren’t addressed or resolved, they can ultimately lead to the end of the relationship

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