Poll: What Are Your Deal Breakers?


The Wall Street Journal recently reported that new research suggests people give more weight to deal breakers, the traits that fall on their lists of cons, than deal makers, the traits they consider positive ones, when it comes to their search for a relationship. “Think of it as the relationship version of the economic loss-aversion theory, which holds that people prioritize avoiding risk over acquiring gains. In mating, people pay more attention to what’s wrong with a would-be partner than what is right.” In a series of six recent studies, researchers learned that women have more deal-breakers than men, people who consider themselves big catches have more deal breakers than average, and everyone who is searching for a long-term relationship has more deal breakers than people just looking for short term companionship.

The biggest deal breaker for both groups was “disheveled or unclean,” followed closely by “lazy” and “too needy.” More women than men found “lacks a sense of humor” to be a deal breaker, while men found “low sex drive” and “talks too much” to be their biggest deal breakers (though more women rated “bad sex” as a deal breaker, suggesting that for women quality is more important than frequency and for men frequency trumps all. It also suggests that more women than men have suffered bad sex!).

So, what about you? What are your top deal breakers? Poll below (you can check more than one!).


  1. Haha – I checked 9 of the 18. No wonder it took me forever to find my husband!

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I checked 13! It’s a good thing I’m OK with being single the rest of my life, ha.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Addie, I checked 13 and probably could have gone up to 15, and I met someone. 🙂 And I mentioned below that most of the guys I’ve dated have met my standards too, it doesn’t seem like it’s all that hard to find. Problem is, you have to have the chemistry on top of it all. 🙂

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        You have to have those things + chemistry + good timing + want the same things + want the same things with each other + must love dogs…. It’s exhausting all the stars that must align!

      3. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yeeeeep! Lots of us on here didn’t get married till well into our 30s though, so I wouldn’t worry about it. You already have your babes! 🙂 Nice thing is now you have time to meet the perfect guy without worrying about your bio clock.

      4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        True! Except I enjoyed pregnancy so much and I’m enjoying this baby so much, I want another! (I’ve already forgot the hell that is labor.) I was thinking about calling up my ex and flirting with him and getting him to have sex with me just one more time…. (Kidding! Mostly!) But then again, the nanny started today and so from this moment on I am piss poor, so maybe 1 baby is just fine.

      5. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Hahahah, hilarious. Or you could just ask him for a “sample” in the mail! 🙂 I was iffy on the second kid, very iffy, because one is hard already. And we don’t have a nanny but daycare here is a fortune, so is housing, so I hear you on being poor. Give it a year and see how you feel. 🙂

  2. Married was an easy number one choice… but there are a few on here that would be deal breakers for me.
    Bad hygiene (gross), smoker (double gross), isn’t funny (my laughing hard/smiling so much on our second date is the reason I’m with my boyfriend, my face hurt by the end of the date!) and bad tipper (I think speaks to his character and generosity) are next in line.
    Isn’t smart enough is up there too. And it’s not because I think I’m a genius, but I do want someone who is more of an equal when holding conversations.
    Finally, I can respect different political and religious views as long as someone isn’t in my face about it, and as long as someone isn’t anti-women.

  3. I checked 11 of the 18 as flat-out deal breakers and several more would be yellow flags, but not immediate deal breakers. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not still looking!

  4. Definitely unclean and not funny would be deal breakers for me, good my experience matches up to the great majority! Also, I wonder if the “lives too far away” question would be different if they used a different distance than 3 hours away. That seems like an exceptionally long distance to me…

    1. Also, I only had 4, but I think I would have less defined/specific deal breakers and more of a general feeling or gut reaction.

      1. I agree with the gut reaction. It is most important to me. And some of the deal breakers depend on severity and context.

  5. RedRoverRedRover says:

    Hahahah almost all of them are dealbreakers for me. But to tell you the truth, I’ve dated plenty of guys who aren’t any of these things, so I don’t think it’s that hard to find. Some of them are by degrees too… like “makes more money than you”. If he makes 10% more, no problem. If he makes 100% more, problem. Although it would depend on the guy, really. If he made 100% more than me but lived the same lifestyle as I did and was a strong believer in gender equality and that money didn’t give him more “power” or put him ahead of me in importance, then fine.
    Same with some of the others. Like messy. Well, I’M messy. But how messy are we talking? Are we talking piles of dirty dishes covered in mold in the sink? Or are we talking socks on the floor and dustbunnies under the couch and just general sloppiness but not necessarily dirtiness/grossness? Cuz those are two totally different things.
    Anyway, some of these I could get over depending on the circumstances, but a lot I could not.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      And for the record I marked 13 of them as dealbreakers, and there were a couple others I waffled on and ended up not checking.

    2. Yeah I agree that it’s a matter of degrees and sometimes of circumstances, too. Like off the top of my head “still lives at home” would probably rank as a dealbreaker in most cases, but there might be situations in which it wouldn’t be. If he’s living at home because he’s a 30 year old manchild who cannot take care of himself, then ugh god no. So it would really be: do his parents treat him like an adult or a child? Does he do his own laundry? Not all versions of living at home are created equal.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Totally. If he lives at home because his parent is unable to live alone and doesn’t want to give up the house, but he does a lot of the work around the house and is clearly bearing responsibility (including financial), then that’s not a dealbreaker.

      2. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        As someone currently living at home (but moving! in a few months!) I agree. I’m a little embarrassed to tell people, but almost everyone understands since I live in a very expensive area. Plus I lived on my own prior to this, and am not living in the basement playing games in my underwear….

      3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        No, you’re doing it buck naked, I knew it!

      4. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        Dangit, how’d you guess?!

      5. Yeah I wouldn’t fault you for that. The economy is shit and some places are super ridiculous. It would be worse for you to be living outside your means and racking up debt than to be living with your parents, so thats a point in the win column.
        When I last dated, what was important to me is that the person a) pulled their weight (paid some rent and/or did chores, worked to pay down debt or saved a nest egg etc.- something other than a free ride where all their income when to funtimes) and b) had adult boundaries established with their parents rather than regressed to some high-school type relationship (and to be fair, even people who don’t live at home still have problems with this one!)

      6. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        Sigh, yeah, it’s hard to establish a relationship with your parents as an adult living in their home. (I help out around the house with yard work and housework, and pay them rent.) I get along pretty well with my parents, and my mom is especially understanding of me wanting my own space and tries to give me that, but at the same time they’re still parents and will act like them! I basically never tell them I’m going on a date or whatever- I’m sure they wonder. My biggest worry is, what if I want to stay over at someone’s (ahem, a dude’s) place? It hasn’t come up, thankfully, but I know I’m just going to have to plan ahead and lie. Mostly because they’re old fashioned, and it’s none of their business as far as I’m concerned!

  6. Not a ton of them are deal breakers for me… although I guess now that I have a baby I should have checked “doesn’t want kids” 🙂 But since I’m not looking, its cool.
    For me the religious and political were issues because I can’t be with someone who I don’t agree with on fundamental issues. Since I’m not religious, I don’t want someone who is too religious. And political is somewhat iffy for me since depending on the issue I swing wildly left and right, but know what the important issues are to me.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I agree with you on political/religious. I don’t need my friends and family to sync with me on everything, but I need my partner to sync with me on most of it. Because so many of the issues are representative of such core beliefs and what your values are. For me, having opposite views on too many shows that we’re just living in different worlds. Not to mention it makes it a lot easier when having kids, when you agree on which values are important to teach them.

  7. Interesting… My friends keep telling me that I’m being “too picky”. Yet I only checked 8 things on the list, whereas other ladies here are checking 9,10,11, even 13 items… If you guys found your husbands, there’s hope for me yet!

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I hate “too picky”. I mean, if it’s like the Seinfeld episode where he broke up with a woman because she smells like soup, then yeah. But on major things, is there really such a thing as too picky? Wouldn’t it be better to be alone than with someone who you’re not really happy with? Definitely.
      Also, it’s mainly women who are told they’re too picky. Guys are totally allowed to be as picky as they want.

      1. I don’t believe I’m being too picky at all. At my age, I don’t want to date someone who has kids or who has been married before (maybe I’ll change my mind about this as I get older, but I’m only 29). And it’s really important to me that whoever I end up with values education the same way that I do (doesn’t mean he has to have a phd, I’m totally down with guys working in skilled trades, as long as he’s gone to school for SOMETHING). But according to my friends, this makes me picky. You’re right, I’d totally rather be alone than with the wrong person.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        That’s not picky at all. I have those same criteria, and they’re totally reasonable. If you were, say, 60, it would be crazy to look for someone who’d never been married/never had kids, but at 29? Totally reasonable. Plenty of people now don’t even have a first marriage till their 30s or even early 40s, so why give up on a major preference for no good reason?

      3. Rather than being picky not to date someone with kids, I think its smart. How many LWs do we get who have trouble stepping into (or stepping too far into) the stepmom-type role when dating guys with kids or mad that the kids are coming first before their relationship? If you don’t want that and are being honest with yourself about not wanting to be in that situation, then you SHOULDN’T date someone with kids. Its not fair to you, them, and especially not to the kids.

      4. Glad you guys agree with me! I just know that I’m not ready to step into the “step-mom” role and I don’t really want to get involved with someone who has an ex that’s connected to them for life via babies. You’re right, it wouldn’t be fair to the guy or to the kids involved. I dunno wtf is wrong with my friends.

      5. I currently have a boyfriend, but I felt the same way in my late 20’s, @MissDre. I did date a divorced guy, and after that decided that I would rather not date anyone divorced again, but especially anyone who had children – that was the main dealbreaker for me. Definitely fine to consider those dealbreakers at your age.

  8. I picked 7 out of 18, so I guess that’s not too bad.

    One minor quibble: I think “isn’t funny” is something different than “has no sense of humor.” I don’t need someone to tell me jokes or funny stories all the time, or to be the life of the party. But to me, not having a sense of humor means that he can’t appreciate humor. Or, worse, that he can’t take the stuff that life throws at you with humor. That, I couldn’t live with.

    1. I agree, they are definitely two different things and the one that’s a dealbreaker for me is not having a sense of humor, or being too serious and not able to laugh at things.

  9. I don’t know why, but if a guy has a cat.. that’s a deal-breaker.
    I am totally fine with cats, and women having cats, but if a guy has a cat.. that’s a red flag for me.

    1. My brother has a cat and he’s a catch. So you might want to rethink that one 😉

      1. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        Your brother has a cat and is a catch? Tell me more! 😛

      2. Hahaha. Sorry money. He’s engaged 🙂 but still a catch!

    2. Yea , sorry but that’s just…..one of the most ridiculous “DealBreaker” I have ever heard. I love cats but I have a dog, I grew up having cats, if I didn’t have a roommate who was allergic I’m pretty sure I’d have both a dog and a cat.

      1. And that doesn’t make me some creeper or weirdo either. I’d say it’s a dealbreaker to be with that person who thinks it’s a red flag that a guy (based on gender no less) has a cat.

    3. That would be a plus for me!

    4. A cat would actually be a deal breaker for me too. But it’s not a gender thing. It’s an I’m allergic and slightly scared of them thing. I’m not a big animal person. Most make me uneasy. I’m ok with dogs that aren’t hyper. I could get on board with a turtle. But in general, I’m not great with them. Please don’t flame me DWers.

      1. I don’t think the cat as dealbreaker is a big deal when it’s your own issue – i.e. you hate cats or are allergic. It’s the cat being a dealbreaker because you (OP, not you, ktfran) have some weird prejudice where you think there’s something “wrong” with a single guy who owns a cat that I think most people are reacting to.

      2. Yeah I never want to have a cat (they make me itchy) so to me a guy with a cat would be a nope. And I have to admit that I find it sexy when a dude has a dog.

        But I also have a couple single guy friends with cats and I think it’s sweet. A dog is a lot of work compared to a cat, and I feel like if most working, single, apartment-dwelling people are honest about how much time and space they have for an animal companion, a cat is a more realistic choice. That’s why I didn’t get a dog until I had a husband to share the load, and a backyard.
        And in some cases, its a stray cat that “adopted” the guy. If a cat keeps showing up by your back door looking thirsty/hungry/lonely and you don’t start taking care of it, that’s kind of heartless. And heartless is not a good look on anyone.

      3. Yeah. I agree. The main reason I added the please don’t flame me bit is because I feel weird admitting I’m not an animal person because people who do love them really love them. I kind of feel like it’s not normal. I’ve just never been comfortable around animals.

    5. Most of my guy friends have or have had a cat. I think it’s a big plus in their favour. It shows they don’t care about whatever silly macho ideals say they shouldn’t have one, they have the wherewithal to look after an animal, they know what animal suits them best and they have love to give.

  10. After dating at least THREE guys who would just casually deposit loogies on the sidewalk, I decided that “public spitting” was going to be a dealbreaker for me. Thankfully my husband is not, and has never been, a spitter. (Also, when we started dating, I noticed immediately that his apartment didn’t smell like feet. So many guys in the college/early-20s years live in spaces that have that certain man-child stink. Had we not stayed together and gotten married, I think that “feet-smelling apartment” might have become another dealbreaker…)

    1. I think spitting is SO gross. My husband does it occasionally but only when we’re out running– and I guess there is a different etiquette for that sort of thing, this is the sport that gave us snot rockets after all– but I always give him a side eye and hope it doesn’t turn into a habit.

      1. Yeah, I will make an exception for running, although I’ve nearly been caught in the down-wind crosshairs of snot-wads when running in road races. Gross!!

  11. lying! Lying is such a deabreaker! I could get over a lot for the right person (though, married was another big one for me), but if you are willing to lie to me I am all done.

  12. Smoking is the biggest deal breaker in my case. I could not date someone who smokes.

    Another big deal breaker: if the guy doesn’t like cats or dogs. I would not be able to date someone who wouldn’t like to have cats and dogs with me eventually. And not only have them, but also love them like if they were our children.

  13. Bad Tipper is a huge one for me. It goes hand in hand with how he treats those who are waiting on him/helping him. If he’s an asshole to someone who is doing work for him, especially without just cause, I’m gone. Luckily, Othello has always been super polite to everyone.

    1. I agree in general, but I do think some people just have different concepts. If someone was raised in a penny pinching (not necessarily poor– some of the rich people I know are the biggest penny pinchers!) environment and/or was always taught “15%” and maybe hasn’t given it much thought, I would perhaps give the benefit of the doubt and start a conversation about it. Like are they tipping low because they don’t value service positions, or do they honestly think they’re doing it right and they’re just not? Are they open to discussing/adjusting or do they shut it down/get nasty?

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Canadians tip a lot less than you guys in the US do. I try to remember when I’m there to do 20% or more, but it’s hard when it’s such a habit. I do 15% at home, but honestly I feel like it’s a bit much considering how much our servers get paid compared to minimum wage. Like, in my province, on an 8 hour shift they make about 10 bucks less than a regular minimum wage worker. So why are we tipping them so much, but not tipping McDonald’s employees at all??? Makes no sense.

      2. I think tipping low compared to the traditions and cultures of your region/type of service is the problem. Especially when it is pointed out that they are tipping low and they continue to do so out of spite. It’s more a general attitude towards service workers than the actually tip amount that would be the deal breaker. Does that make sense?

      3. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Oh yeah, for sure. I was just kind of adding to SpaceySteph’s comment, that people don’t always realize that they’re bad tippers. I’ve heard Canadians get a bad rap in US restaurants because of it. 🙂

      4. I’m genuinely scared of tipping when we visit the US later this year. I’ve told my husband we’re doing 20% as that seems the norm but who we tip exactly and how it all works out with taxes is pretty confusing. Like I read you guys have sales tax that only comes up at the register and we’re sitting there all ‘is that a thing we might see? Will it affect the tip amount? How do we know we’re not stiffing anyone by accident?’ We really don’t want to be ignorant foreigners lol.

      5. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yeah, that’s how it’ll be everywhere. In the US (and Canada too) the sales tax isn’t shown up front. It’s only shown on the final bill. I guess it’s annoying but we’re used to it. None of the prices on menus, in stores, etc will include sales tax.
        You can look up tipping guides. Restaurant servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, hotel maids are probably the main ones you’ll run into. 20% should be good for restaurants in the US. I’m actually not sure on taxis, I give 20% on that too when I’m there but I don’t know if that’s right. I give a couple bucks a night for hotel maids, sometimes as much as 5. I’m usually there for work though so I don’t care if it’s too much, I’ll get reimbursed. You might want to look up the “real” numbers. I don’t know bartenders either, I don’t think I’ve ever paid for my own drink in the states. 🙂

      6. I know bartenders get tipped too, I just don’t know at what point. Maids is one I didn’t know. Gaaaahhhh so confusing, I’ll definitely look up a tipping guide. Seriously America needs to campaign for a wage hike and it needs to happen before September lol

      7. When ordering drinks at the bar from the bartender, this is my general rule of thumb:

        1. If I pay as I go (i.e., order a drink, receive drink, pay), I leave $1.00. Maybe $2 if I ordered a $12 cocktail or something.

        2. If I have a tab and leave open and have a few drinks, I tip like I would a server. So, typically 20% of the final bill.

      8. Ok cool that helps, thanks.

      9. I think a lot of people don’t tip hotel maids but the rule of thumb I have heard is $1 per person per day for a regular hotel, more if its fancy or if you leave a big mess.
        In general though, waiters are paid less than minimum wage but pay income taxes as if they make minimum wage because its assumed that they will make the rest in tips. Also a lot of places the waiters have to tip out to other staff members (busboys, hostesses) assuming they made at least certain amount. So to not tip a waiter well, you are literally making them pay money to serve you rather than the other way around.
        For other jobs, while yes the wages can be low, the tip is a bonus and not an assumed part of their base pay– more like waiters in Europe where it’s just a thank you for a job well done and a little extra money. So don’t stress about all the different tips.

      10. Yes the sales tax is not shown on the menu, but it is shown when you get the bill at the end so it’s not some secret number, you do get to know it. When you get the bill it should list:
        thing you ordered…. $price
        thing you ordered….$price
        subtotal…. $prices all added up (before tax)
        tax…..$price of tax
        total…..$subtotal plus tax added together (the total amount owed)

        I tip 20% on the total and then round up to a whole number, unless the service was exceptional or if we spent a long time (many hours) at the table and then I do more. The sales tax in my area is 8.5%, so on a dinner that cost $50, the sales tax would be $4.50. And 20% of the sales tax would be 85 cents. So the difference between tipping on the pre and post tax total is small, and you won’t be seen as stiffing anyone if you tip on one vs the other.

        If you order, pay, and get your food from a counter (like a fast food restaurant) tipping is not necessary.
        At the bar I tip $1 per drink if its a quick drink (beer, glass of wine, something easy) and more if it’s a complicated drink or if I sat there a long time.

        I think if you be polite and do the best you can, nobody is going to hate you. Also a lot of places have a few lines on the bottom that auto-calculate the tip for you (both because people are bad at math and because foreigners are not as familiar with the concept) and say something like “15% would be $X.XX, 18% would be $Y.YY, 20% would be %Z.ZZ” so you can use that as a guide.

      11. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Is it common in the US for them to bring round the wireless card reader so you can pay with your card at the table? if it is, those usually have a tip option which makes it really easy. They let you put it an amount or percentage, and if you pick percentage it all gets calculated for you. I don’t remember actually seeing it in restaurants though. I’ve seen something similar in cabs in the Boston area, but then other areas I’ve been the cabs don’t even take credit cards! So have cash handy for that kind of thing.

      12. These are extremely uncommon here although I think starting to become a thing, especially in places populated with more tourists. I have yet to go to a restaurant where they did that, actually, every place around here still brings a paper bill, collects your credit card, and runs it at the waiter station, then you write the tip on the line.
        I know those things they bring to the table are more secure, but I kind of lament the day we go to those and nobody has to do even simple math anymore. We’re dumb enough as it is!

  14. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    I have 8 (thinking as if I were single and looking), but am iffy on a couple more. Different religion is fine, but couldn’t date anyone who was seriously devout in any religion. Couldn’t date someone whose political views differed drastically from mine. Voting for hillary instead of Bernie? Workable. Voting for Trump instead of Bernie? Next! And at this point on my life, no smokers. I also would have a hard time with someone who was a certain age and had NEVER moved out of mom and dad’s home (living with them temporarily is fine). And kids are ok, but someone who has kids and is a bad dad is not ok. I might consider a particularly awful baby mama a deal-breaker, too. If the kid(s) are young, that woman could be a huge party of one’s life…

    1. I pretty much agree with all you say here. And if there were caveats, I usually went with the general it’s-a-deal-breaker.

    2. Ooh… good call on the kids. I could totally date someone with children, but if the mom were a nasty or spiteful person, I agree, NEXT! Or if the guy bad mouthed his ex all the time, NEXT! I wouldn’t want to deal with that the rest of my life. It would have to at the very least be a “we’re cordial for the kids sake” kind of situation.

  15. dinoceros says:

    I marked 10. The big ones were smoker, heavy drinker, politics, lived at home, bad hygiene. Some of the others depend on where on the spectrum. I’m pretty neat but can handle some messiness if it’s not like their home if gross. Religion is on a case-by-case basis, with atheist being most favorable. I had roommates up until this past year, so as long as it’s not like a frat house kinda set up and it stops by mid 30s, it’s ok.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *