Dating Dealbreakers Don't Matter, So Stop Pretending You Wouldn't Date a Guy With a Cat

Do you have a list of the types of people that you will never date? Well, newsflash: dating dealbreakers don't matter. A study from Science of Relationships found that most people ignore dealbreakers, even when they are very clear on what those deal breakers are, and even though more preferential partners lead to happier relationships.

So why are people ignoring the signs that their partner isn't a match? Study authors Samantha Joel, Dr. Geoff MacDonald, and Dr. Rimma Teper speculated that this is because humans are prosocial animals and don’t want to hurt a potential mate’s feelings by rejecting a date.

They tested this hypothesis by interviewing undergraduates about potentially going on a date with a fellow student. In Study 1, the researchers made the potential match seem undesirable by pairing the profile with an unattractive photo. In Study 2, the researchers made the actual profile undesirable by filling it with the subject’s previously identified dating dealbreakers. In both studies, some randomly selected subjects were told that the situation was hypothetical, and to simply imagine that the situation was real, while the other participants were told that the situation was real, and that their potential date was in the building waiting for their response.

In both studies, the subjects were much more likely to agree to the date if they believed that the situation was real. In Study 1, only 16 percent said that they would go on a date with the unattractive suitor when they believed that the date was hypothetical. But out of the students that believed that the situation was real, 37 percent agreed to go on the date. In Study 2, where dealbreakers were involved, 46 percent of undergraduates agreed to go on their hypothetical date, while 74 percent of the subjects who believed the situation was real agreed to go out. Therefore, the researchers determined that part of what makes us abandon our dealbreakers and dating standards is fear of hurting someone's feelings. After all, it’s much easier to reject a date with a hypothetical guy than with a real one.

But still, it is outrageous that almost half of subjects agreed to drop their dealbreakers even for a hypothetical man. What is the point of a dealbreaker if it doesn’t break the deal? It is even more surprising that more subjects were willing to drop these standards than go on a date with someone who was unattractive. If we are going to be happier with a better match in the long run, why are we so willing to settle for matches that we know won’t fit the bill?

The faster that we weed out those we don’t want, the faster that we will find a date that we are excited to go on. Furthermore, wouldn’t you rather decline to go on a date from the get-go than admit, months later, that you both have irreconcilable differences? In the words of the great Liz Lemon, that’s a dealbreaker ladies.

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