Sydney Hills Counselling Blog

Deal Breakers Are A Big Deal

We are all aware on some level of what things are unacceptable to us when in a friendship or relationship with another person. Sometimes we just have to look at the facts and decide what are our deal-breakers and what may be acceptable or at the very least, able to be tolerated.

Deal-breakers apply in all relationships, whether romantic or non-romantic. It doesn’t matter how much we pretend something isn’t important to us, if we are really bothered by something a friend or partner says or does, chances are it’s pressed the ‘deal-breaker button’ within us. Those of us who ignore our true needs in relationships usually end up feeling anxious, sad or even depressed. Putting up with deal-breakers from those closest to us will not ultimately bring us happiness. Even if we sweep deal-breaking transgressions under the carpet temporarily for the sake of ‘keeping the peace’ or avoiding confrontation, we end up settling for less in our relationships. However much we pretend they are not important to us, deal-breakers will eventually catch up with us and remind us that certain ones must be addressed and attended to; the sooner the better.

When a relationship deal-breaker sends us a red flag warning, some of us may be more inclined to sell ourselves short than others. Some may do this because they have a low self-worth; others may do it because they have been manipulated into a false sense of security by someone we perceived to be a true friend or partner but who now portrays themselves as alarmingly different.

Deal-breakers often result in a relationship ending, so they carry a lot of influence and may lead us to disqualifying a potential friend or romantic partner.

Here is a list of some of the most common deal-breakers:

  • Habitual lying
  • Cheating / Infidelity
  • Stealing or fraudulent behaviour
  • Untrustworthiness
  • Anger Management Issues
  • Addiction issues
  • Abusive behaviour
  • Is already married / attached
  • Poor hygiene or smells unclean
  • Is physically unattractive
  • Poor dental health and / or bad breath
  • Too short or too tall
  • Is racist or bigoted
  • Lacks a sense of humour
  • Sexual Incompatibility
  • Inattentive or uncaring
  • Stubbornness
  • Talks too much, too little or too loudly
  • Bluntness or insensitivity
  • Doesn’t want children (or has children)
  • Is a cheapskate (or never seems willing to pay his / her share).
  • Their actions don’t reflect their words / promises.

While doing the research for this article, I came across an article by researchers Jonason, Garcia, Webster & Fisher (2015) who suggest that we should consider losses and ‘deal-breakers’ above the positive information we initially perceive about others when considering entering into friendships or romantic partnerships. Their studies strongly support this through their comprehensive research. Their studies involved 262 participants who were recruited online. These participants identified as 88% heterosexual, 77% Caucasian, 35% single, 29% married, 31% in committed dating relationships and 5% were dating casually. The research concluded that we are more likely to form relationships with significant others described as having more deal-makers than deal breakers.

When becoming friends with someone or when considering entering into a romantic relationship ask yourself the following questions should a deal-breaker arise in the relationship:

  1. Have I noticed any ‘red flags’ or deal-breakers so far?
  2. Am I inviting any deal-breakers into the relationship by being too needy or by having low self-esteem and willing to ‘settle’ for less than what I want from a relationship?
  3. Is there any way for me to discuss the deal-breaker with my significant other to try to eliminate it?
  4. What impact will the deal-breaker have on my mental health if I try to accept the deal-breaker or ignore it?
  5. How will the deal breaker impact our relationship in the long term if I ignore it or just accept it?

Remember that your time is valuable and it should not be wasted on people who present with non-negotiable deal-breakers. it’s much better to spend your time and energy with people who nurture you, pay attention to your needs and have your back. Recognise your own value and importance and choose to spend your time with people who value your good qualities and appreciate them. Look for ways to become more invested in your own personal growth and work on refining your good qualities and improving the ones that you feel need a little more work.

Jonason, P. K., Garcia, J. R., Webster, G. D., Li, N. P., & Fisher, H. E. (2015). Relationship dealbreakers: Traits people avoid in potential mates. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(12), 1697-1711.