Scientists Have Identified the Top 10 Relationship Deal Breakers

Maybe you prefer brunettes to blondes, but you wouldn't necessarily avoid an otherwise acceptable mate for having golden locks (right?). Now let's say they've got serious anger issues; that's a much different story. Of course, not everyone seeks out the same desirable features in a significant other, but a 2015 study shows the relationship deal breakers many people agree on. Be honest: Have you ever ghosted anyone based on these less-than-ideal qualities? *Raises hand*

Good Is Good, Bad Is Worse

Most of those magazine cover-friendly "7 Ways To Make Yourself Irresistible to Hotties"-type articles focus on desirable traits. The deal-makers, if you will. But for a 2015 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers focused on the absolute roadblocks. Can't know the good without the bad, you know?

According to the research, deal breakers were weighed more heavily than deal makers. In other words, bad qualities are worse than positive qualities are good. This effect was stronger for women than for men, and for people in committed relationships than for single people. According to the study, "these findings support adaptive attentional biases in human social cognition." That is to say, we evolved to pay attention to some things in our partners above other things.

Deal or No Deal?

The study identified the top deal breakers in two categories: long-term relationships and short-term relationships. There are some overlaps (and, weirdly, repeats), which is to be expected. But you might be surprised to learn that being unattractive and "bad in bed," for example, are only really major issues for a short-term fling. Do your deal breakers line up with what this study found?

Long-Term Relationship Deal Breakers

The person ...

  1. Has anger issues or is abusive
  2. Is currently dating multiple partners
  3. Is untrustworthy
  4. Is already in a relationship/married
  5. Has health issues such as STDs
  6. Has an alcohol or drug problem
  7. Is inattentive/uncaring
  8. Has anger issues or is abusive
  9. Has poor hygiene
  10. Smells bad

Short-Term Relationship Deal Breakers

The person ...

  1. Has health issues such as STDs
  2. Smells bad
  3. Has poor hygiene
  4. Is already in a relationship/married
  5. Has anger issues or is abusive
  6. Is bad in bed
  7. Is unattractive
  8. Is currently dating multiple partners
  9. Does not take care of themselves
  10. Is racist/bigoted

If you're interested in how the dating landscape is changing, check out this episode of the Curiosity podcast. You'll learn why it might actually be a good thing that dating technology has outpaced our ability to process it.

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Want to know more? Check out the book "The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction" by Larry Young, Ph.D., and Brian Alexander. You can get the audiobook free with a trial of Audible! We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto November 29, 2017

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