Falling in love is not the same as maintaining a relationship. Although love is an important component of a relationship, it’s not the be-all and end-all of it. There are always some non-negotiables that you just can’t look past no matter how much love there is. And here we are helping you identify them with our list of top 20 relationship deal breakers.
In this article, trauma-informed counseling psychologist Anushtha Mishra (M.Sc. Counseling Psychology), who specializes in providing therapy for concerns such as trauma, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, grief, and loneliness, among others, writes to help you better understand what relationships deal breakers mean and how to understand them.
What Is A Relationship Deal Breaker?
The literal meaning of a deal breaker is something that would cause a person to abandon a plan, mutual arrangement, agreement, or relationship. This can be a behavior, value, or characteristic of your partner that you intrinsically disagree with.
They help spot unhealthy behaviors, unbalanced relationship roles, or potentially dangerous situations in your relationship, basically preventing an unhealthy relationship. Reflecting over relationship turn-offs is the first filter used for vetting out any core differences in values and lifestyle. Communicating these can bring you and your potential partner closer if you can find a middle ground, or this can be the beginning of the end of your journey as a couple.
Top 20 Relationship Deal Breakers That Should Not Be Tolerated
Sometimes, there are certain things that can make you say “I’m done” even if you deeply love the person or have been together for a significant amount of time. It may sound harsh, but having deal breakers in place can actually protect you from becoming entangled in a toxic and harmful relationship.
Here are some important factors to consider. Firstly, if your partner consistently makes you feel belittled or disrespected, it can erode your self-esteem and happiness. Additionally, if they disregard your feelings and opinions, it may indicate a lack of emotional support and validation. Controlling behavior, such as monitoring your activities or isolating you from loved ones, is another significant red flag. Poor communication, opposing religious beliefs, differing political views, etc. can also be a sign for you to exit the relationship. Here is a list of deal breakers to help you gain an insight on behavior that should not be tolerated:
1. They have a big ego
Let’s say you went on a first date with a potential partner, and throughout the entire night, they not only boasted about themselves but also constantly criticized your behavior. It’s difficult to imagine a loving relationship with someone who consistently exhibits such patterns in the long run. Their boastfulness and criticism can make you feel suffocated and suppressed, leaving you to deal with a constant sense of judgment and ridicule.
It can create an environment where you feel invalidated and unable to be your authentic self. Building a healthy and loving relationship requires mutual respect, support, and acceptance. When someone is unable to offer these basic qualities, it is one of the major relationship red flags. It will become challenging to envision a future together where you can thrive and feel genuinely loved and appreciated.
2. They lie a lot
This is one of the many deal breakers in a relationship for a woman as well as a man. Being lied to by a partner can be devastating because it strikes at the core of the intimate connection you share. Trust is the bedrock of any successful relationship, and when that trust is breached, it can lead to deep emotional wounds. Whether it involves significant lies or white lies, the impact can be equally damaging.
Broken trust can cause emotional and mental stress. It is better to walk away from a relationship if you both are unable to rebuild trust or when your partner lies to you about everything regardless of you having addressed this issue.
3. They have poor habits
Poor habits can significantly impact a relationship as they can cause frustration, conflict, and even resentment between partners. Certain behaviors can become problematic and strain the dynamics of a relationship. Some common poor habits that can act as deal breakers include:
- Substance abuse: Substance abuse, such as excessive drinking or drug addiction, can be incredibly destructive to both the individual and the relationship. It can lead to emotional and physical harm, financial strain, and a breakdown of trust and communication
- Lack of personal hygiene: Neglecting personal hygiene can be off-putting. Persistent disregard for basic cleanliness and grooming may signify a lack of self-care and consideration for the partner’s comfort. I mean, you do not want to be with a partner who always smells bad
- Poor communication skills: Effective communication is vital for a healthy relationship. Poor habits in communication, such as constantly interrupting, being dismissive, or avoiding important conversations can hinder understanding and create a sense of emotional distance
- Financial irresponsibility: Money-related conflicts are a common cause of relationship strain. Poor habits in managing finances such as excessive spending, high debt, or failing to contribute to shared expenses can create significant stress and cause you to not see eye to eye
Related Reading: Manipulation In Relationships – 11 Subtle Signs You Are A Victim
4. They are never around when you need them
A good relationship is based on healthy dependency that fosters a sense of security and an ability to rely on your partner. Consider a situation where you experience a personal loss, such as the death of a loved one. During this grieving period, you turn to your partner seeking comfort and understanding. Yet they distance themselves emotionally, avoiding conversations about your pain or failing to offer any solace. Their absence in your time of need deepens your sorrow and creates a sense of isolation, leaving you questioning their commitment to the relationship.
If they consistently fail to fulfill this fundamental aspect of a relationship, it may be necessary to reassess whether the relationship is meeting your needs and consider the possibility of walking away to seek a partnership where your emotional needs are respected and fulfilled.
5. A big deal breaker is when your partner doesn’t trust you much
Trust is an important part of any interdependent relationship. To assess the importance of trust in a relationship, a study was conducted. It found that every participant agreed that trust is a key component in making an intimate relationship work. A lack of trust can look something like this:
- They constantly check your phone
- They won’t let you hang out with others
- They always doubt your word or intentions
- They question your loyalty toward them
- You cannot have separate bank accounts because they don’t trust you with money
Two people in love naturally develop a bond of trust. However, if in the long run, you feel that you cannot earn your partner’s trust because of their own issues, it is better to go separate ways than be miserable together.
6. You both have different beliefs
You obviously cannot find out everything about a person on a first date so it can be a shock to realize that you and your partner have a very different belief system when it comes to religious beliefs and political opinions. If you are in a relationship with someone who does not see eye to eye on matters of faith, politics, and basic human rights, you can find a healthy way to communicate that. However, if you have radically different views which cause you to fight all the time, then you must bid adieu to that relationship.
Related Reading: 10 Ways The Queerphobia Is Coming From Inside The House
7. There’s been an incident of infidelity
Or more than one. With all this lack of trust, the risk of infidelity runs rife, which is another one of the top problems even in a successful relationship. A YouGov survey reported that 33% of the respondents in a monogamous relationship said they have cheated on their partner — either physically, emotionally, or both. However, different people have different ideas and measures of infidelity. Here are some examples:
- Your partner has engaged in a physical affair with other partners
- Your partner has an emotional affair with someone (this means getting emotionally attracted to someone who is not your partner)
- Your partner is engaging in virtual affairs; texting or flirting with people online
- Your partner is sexting with another person and has hidden friendships
When your partner makes you feel that you are not enough for them, it is definitely a relationship deal breaker.
8. They are disrespectful
Respect is a vital component of a relationship. Disrespect or lack of respect in a relationship usually stems from a power imbalance where one partner is made to feel undervalued. This can cause a relationship to end because, over time, disrespect can lead to resentment and even abuse, creating a cycle of toxic behaviors. Here are some signs of disrespect in a relationship:
- Dismissive statements and actions
- Using insults or derogatory language
- Complete disregard for your boundaries
- Publicly humiliating you or making you feel awkward
- Lack of communication and active listening
9. Your partner is violent
Violence in a relationship is an absolute deal breaker and should never be tolerated. Here are some key points to highlight the significance of violence as a deal breaker:
- Violence, whether it is physical, emotional, or sexual is a clear violation of trust, respect, and safety within a relationship
- Any form of violence is unacceptable and can cause severe physical and psychological harm to the victim
- It creates a toxic and dangerous environment that is detrimental to their well-being and can have long-lasting effects on their mental and physical health
- Violence erodes the foundation of a healthy and loving relationship, making it impossible to establish trust, open communication, and emotional intimacy. It is one of the things you should never compromise on in a relationship
- It is important to recognize that violence is not limited to physical aggression. Emotional abuse, such as manipulation, threats, or controlling behavior, can also be considered violent and are equally damaging
10. They expect you to compromise on your goals
When your partner requires you to sacrifice your life goals, it can be a significant deal breaker in a relationship. One of the essential aspects of a fulfilling partnership is the ability to support and nurture each other’s aspirations. It is crucial to consider this a deal breaker as it will lead to the following:
- Lack of personal fulfillment
- Imbalance in priorities
- Limited personal growth
- Lack of support
- Incompatible visions for the future
- Resentment and unhappiness
11. There’s no sexual compatibility
A Quora user notes, “Sexual compatibility is important in a relationship. Many divorces and breakups happen because the sex was not good. Bad sex could be the result of something else that’s happening in the relationship. Therefore, it is a symptom and not a condition.” This is a crucial point to raise. It’s a symptom of a much bigger problem but it is still a valid enough reason for you to decide if the relationship is no longer working for you. It is time to fix things or pack up and leave when this happens all the time:
- They are the only ones initiating sex every time
- You spend too much time thinking about how bad the sex is
- You have begun to dread date nights because it will lead to a sexual encounter with your partner
12. They are not ready to put in the effort
Relationships are not a smooth road to fairyland. They need work to keep running like a well-oiled machine. When your partner isn’t ready to put in that effort, it’s a major red flag because it means that you will never be on the same page when it comes to the well-being of your relationship. If you are looking for a stable, long-term relationship, these behaviors of your partner are signs to walk away:
- Rarely initiating or participating in meaningful conversations or discussions
- Consistently canceling or rescheduling plans without valid reasons or alternative arrangements
- Neglecting to show appreciation or gratitude for each other’s efforts or gestures
- Avoiding responsibilities or chores that contribute to the overall functioning of the relationship
- Refusing to seek professional help or couple’s therapy when facing significant challenges or conflicts
- Failing to prioritize quality time together or neglecting to plan and participate in shared activities
- Ignoring or dismissing the emotional needs and concerns of the partner
- Exhibiting a lack of interest in understanding and supporting each other’s personal goals and aspirations
13. Your partner being rude to you and others is a solid deal breaker
When they are rude to strangers and you, it is a sign that your partner might not be the best fit for you. They may also tend to be mean to their family members or yours, which speaks volumes about their nature. Derogatory remarks about your appearance, achievements, background, and the like are many ways a partner may express their rudeness. You don’t deserve any of that. This is one of the most hurtful in our list of deal breakers in a relationship for guys as well as girls.
Related Reading: How To React When Your Spouse Says Hurtful Things?
14. They are sexist
If your partner is outright or imperceptibly sexist, it’s an insight into their mentality and conditioning. A few signs to look out for:
- They belittle your achievements as well as those of other women and marginalized genders
- They don’t take accounts of harassment faced by people seriously
- They shame you regarding your body
- They don’t ask for your consent during intimacy or even reglar decision-making
- They make jokes at one gender’s expense
- They refuse to share financial responsibilities because of your gender
These are traits of a toxic partner and red flags in a man to be watchful for. It is completely valid then to take your foot out of this dynamic, and a justified deal breaker for you in a relationship.
15. They are racist
Maria fell in love with a guy who later started passing racist slurs and comments on her and people from oppressed races. She says that it was hurtful and frustrating to see someone she loved be derogatory toward her and others. She adds, “It took me a while to realize that this is a problem for me, as I had never seen his true colors before. My voice was shaky but I eventually got out of the relationship.”
16. They don’t know how to manage their anger
Anger is a strong emotion and gets as destructive as wildfire if not managed. Many relationships break because a partner did not know how to deal with anger issues or how to control anger and frustration. If your partner isn’t ready to put in the work to manage these feelings from the get-go, it’s wise to reconsider the relationship since it can get abusive as well.
17. You are not a priority for your partner
If your partner flakes on you regularly, doesn’t put efforts into special occasions, and rejects all the labels of commitment for a long time, then you are not a priority for them. We all want to be a priority for our significant other and when this need isn’t met, it can lead to resentment and frustration. If you have started feeling like an option in the relationship, is this something you’d want to live with?
18. You can’t be yourself around them
A Quora user says, “I’d rather be alone than be in a romantic relationship if I am not happy. You owe it to yourself (and to him, too), to be completely honest about how things are. A good relationship is open to communication.” I couldn’t have put it any better. If it’s pretentious, it’s going to bring you a lifetime of agony. That’s why not being able to be yourself with a romantic partner is one of the top dating deal-breakers.
19. You have different relationship goals
When your idea of commitment varies, your 5-year plans don’t match, and your current plans aren’t aligned, it is a sign that you both have different relationship goals. This is going to lead to a lot of dissatisfaction in the romantic relationship and will probably not help you in building a healthy relationship with each other. Here are some examples of difference in goals:
- One partner desires a monogamous relationship while the other is polyamorous
- One wants commitment and a long-term partnership, while the other is content with a casual or short-term relationship
- One wants to start a family, and the other is more interested in maintaining an independent lifestyle
- One partner wants to prioritize career advancement and personal achievements, while the other values a more balanced approach with a focus on family and personal relationships
- One partner desires frequent traveling and exploring new things, while the other prefers stability and a rooted sense of home
- One partner aims for financial security and long-term financial planning, while the other has a more carefree approach to finances and spending
Related Reading: Relationship Goals For Me And Bae When We Turn 80
20. You have opposing morals and values
If your morals and core values are different from your partner’s, you two will run into some hurtful arguments and always contradict one another. These arguments will only increase over time, again leading to resentment and the possibility of turning into a toxic relationship. It can be something as simple as bad financial habits, work ethics, difference in quality time needs, respect for others, views on accountability, etc. This could be a valid deal breaker in a relationship for guys as well as girls.
- A relationship deal breaker is a behavior, value, or characteristic of your partner that you intrinsically disagree with
- Some of the top deal breakers are that they have a big ego, they lie a lot, you can’t trust them and they don’t trust you, and they are never there when you need them
- Violence, abuse, and manipulation are some of the absolute non-negotiables that you must never compromise on
What might be a major red flag for you may not be an issue for someone else. In the end, you have to decide if something is a non-negotiable for you. You can always reach out to someone whose judgment you trust to guide you through this. However, the final decision is going to be yours. This isn’t to say that it’ll be easy, but you’ll thank yourself for assessing your personal deal breakers and acting on them.
This article was updated in June 2023.