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These Are 10 Biggest Relationship Deal Breakers, According to Science

Empathy, respect, and vulnerability are among the top qualities that make a desirable partner. But what makes or breaks whether you want to stay in a relationship or decide to run for the hills? 

Some relationship red flags (i.e., those warning signs that sometimes could indicate a larger pattern) are pretty much universal: abusive behavior, unfaithfulness. Others are entirely individual: political views, spending habits. And a lot of them can be tough to spot. 

There are always a few personal differences that make being in a relationship with another person a little bit of a challenge. For example, you may not like the way your partner decides to spend their leisure time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship won’t work. 

Some people incorrectly label personal preferences as deal breakers, like height, weight, or eye color. However, this can be highly limiting: just think how many people you’re ignoring just because they don’t fit a preconceived notion of what’s “right” for you. 

One easy way to tell whether something that feels “iffy” about your partner is actually a deal breaker or not is to ask yourself whether this issue is something that challenges your core values. Another good question to ask yourself is, “could I live with this situation forever?” If a relationship goes against your internal moral compass or causes you mental or physical harm, those are signs that you should leave. 

Still confused trying to tell deal breakers apart from personal preferences? We got you! To help you decipher whether you’re in a potential deal breaker situation, we’ve poured over the latest research and compiled the 10 top non-negotiable traits that people avoid in potential partners. Read on to find out more. 

Poor Hygiene

Several polls confirm that a smelly partner is one of the biggest relationship deal breakers, especially for new couples. And there’s even some evidence that your perception of your partner’s smell can change from a source of comfort to being ‘disgusting’ or ‘revolting’ as the relationship breaks down. Other deal breakers related to hygiene include having an unclear or disheveled appearance. 

Geographic distance

Although the pandemic has unfortunately forced millions of couples into long-distance relationships, a 2015 study found that nearly half of women and more than half of men won’t stay with a partner that lives “too far away.”

Isn’t Trustworthy

After respect, trust is one of the most vital factors in a relationship. Feeling like you can’t trust your partner, even with small things, can put you in a very lonely and unhappy place. 

Mistrust can spread like wildfire in a relationship, especially if one of the persons involved has violated the other one’s trust by cheating or lying. In some cases, though, trust issues can be addressed successfully in couples therapy.  

Diminishes your interests

Having a partner that puts you down, even in a teasing way, can be a deal breaker for any relationship. This is especially true if you consistently voice your concerns about it or explain to your partner how they’re hurting your feelings and their behavior doesn’t change. 

Is Married Or In Another Relationship

It should go without saying that being with another person when you’re in a relationship is only acceptable if everyone is on the same page. However, if you are in a relationship with someone and you find out that they’re married or have a boyfriend or girlfriend, rest assured that someone’s bound to get hurt.  

They Aren’t Over Their Ex

On the same topic, if your significant other says that they’re really into you but won’t stop seeing, calling, or talking about their ex, this could be a sign that they’re still not ready to be in a relationship with someone else.

Has Anger Issues Or Is Abusive

Never tolerate any kind of abuse in a relationship — physical, emotional, or otherwise. If your partner has hurt, intimidated, belittled you, or been violent with you in any capacity, this is an automatic deal breaker and a sign that the relationship has to end. Also, never stay in a relationship with someone that makes you feel afraid or unsafe.

Different Financial Visions

Do you and your significant other see eye to eye on everything but money? Being on different pages about finances and spending can cause a lot of friction in a relationship and become a constant source of issues. Sometimes these differences can be sorted with therapy or financial planning. Other times couples just can’t get over the strain. 

Not On the Same Page About Kids

Whether you want kids or not, this is something all couples should discuss before deciding to go the distance. You can work out some differences with your partner, but chances are that if two are not aligned in how you picture your future together, the relationship will not work. 

They Are Inattentive Or Don’t Like To Spend Time Together

There’s no point in being in a relationship with someone that doesn’t want to spend time with you. If your partner takes you for granted, is more interested in being with their friends than with you, or doesn’t make an effort to prioritize you in their life, it’s time to exit the relationship. 

In closing

There’s no way around it: relationships are hard and they take a lot of work and commitment. However, there are things you should never tolerate from anyone, not even your significant other. 

Remember that there is a difference between a relationship deal breaker and a personal preference, though. Things like abuse or cheating should always be non-negotiable deal breakers. But other issues, like living in different cities or having different spending habits, may not necessarily mean the end of a relationship if you and your significant other are willing to put in the work.



Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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