10 Common Dating Dealbreakers, Revealed

A relationship expert says some of these mean you should run, not walk, away.

Bustle readers share the top dating dealbreakers you could have in a relationship

If you’re single and in the dating game, picture your last date for a moment. How did it go? Did you enjoy the person you were with? Did they make you laugh or share in any interesting conversations? If so, great! If not, did you notice any immediate red flags or unsavory behaviors? Were they rude to the server, neglect to ask if you have any siblings or what you do for work, or did they cancel last minute? These can be really annoying traits for anyone to deal with when they’re looking for a partner. For some Bustle readers, they are straight-up dealbreakers.

In the name of science, Bustle surveyed readers on social media to ask what their top dating dealbreakers were — and they delivered. There was a wide range of responses, many of which shared common threads that targeted some pretty unanimous characteristics. These dealbreakers in a relationship or dating scenario were passionately touted as going against social norms, but what does a relationship expert think about them?

According to Dr. Emily Jamea, a licensed marriage and family therapist and AASECT-certified sex therapist, the responses all imply a variety of different things about a potential partner — some of which indicate that you should run, not walk, away. Read on for her expert input on people’s top 10 dating dealbreakers.


Rude To Anyone In The Service Industry


Have you ever been on a date where your date was a bad tipper or became impatient waiting for the food and snapped at your server? According to Bustle’s survey, being rude to any service industry employee was the top dealbreaker.

“I think the reason this one comes up as a red flag so commonly is because it's a litmus test for so many aspects of someone's character,” says Jamea. “It gives us information about their ability to be patient, kind, generous, good-natured, respectful, and generous, all traits most people want in a potential life partner. I advise anyone in the dating world to run if they see a date being rude to someone in the service industry.”


Overly Negative Or Pessimistic

No one likes a negative Nancy, and Bustle’s survey participants wholeheartedly agreed. Jamea points out times can get tough for anyone, sure — but balance is key. “Most folks don't want to be with someone who makes life harder by having a constant negative outlook,” she says. “I like the qualifier here of ‘overly,’ because it is important to maintain a sense of balance.” It’s OK to feel down when something terrible is on the news, but you don’t want to be with someone who stays in that mindset — it can be exhausting and depleting to constantly have to lift them up.


Bad Hygiene


Having bad hygiene is unpleasant, but Jamea agrees that it can be a full-on dealbreaker. “Aside from the obvious fact that poor hygiene contributes to the spread of disease and poses health risks, it's also a sign that your partner doesn't value themself or may struggle with poor self-esteem,” she tells Bustle. Plus, who wants to kiss someone with stinky breath?


Mean To Or Doesn’t Like Animals

Puppy parents and cat enthusiasts united quite unanimously over this dealbreaker. “It's one thing not to like animals, but quite another to be mean to them,” Jamea says — noting that it’s also important to acknowledge cultural differences when applicable. “Remain curious and open if you notice your partner has a different response to some animals compared to you. But being mean to animals? Definite red flag.”


No Sense Of Humor

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Laughter is important to share in any relationship. If you’re finding your date or potential partner to be a total dud in the jokes department, Jamea says you might want to take note. “Just as you probably don't want to be with someone who's overly pessimistic, pairing up with someone who can't laugh at life every now and then can be depressing,” she says. “Humor breaks tension, offers relief from psychological stress, and helps us connect with others.” In other words: Being with someone funny is literally healthy for you, so be wary of those with zero sense of humor.


Only Talks About Themselves

There’s a high chance you’ve been on a date where the other person goes on and on about their career, money, or their own interests... and never asks a question about you. Jamea’s take? This is red flag territory. “There's the obvious reason that this may be a dealbreaker — it points to narcissistic tendencies, but also it's a major hindrance when it comes to conflict resolution,” she says. “Being unable to remain curious about your partner's point of view, which you can't do if you're only focused on proving your own point, is going to throw the relationship completely off balance.”


No Goals Or Drive

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It may not sound like the biggest red flag, but many people said that seeing someone without goals or drive was a major dealbreaker — and Jamea agrees it’s something to watch for. “Pairing up with someone who lacks the skills and tools to grow, both as an individual and as a partner in the relationship, is going to make you feel stagnate,” she says. If you are slaying your job and feel fulfilled by your creative pursuits, you deserve a partner who also has big dreams and ambitions.


Keeps A Dirty Home

Be honest: Have you ever had a partner who just... didn’t clean? Many of our survey participants named this as a dealbreaker. “Just as it's important to maintain personal hygiene, keeping a clean environment is a good trait,” Jamea says. “What's key is that you and your partner are aligned in your expectations. I think this is less important than personal hygiene because it's something that can more easily be negotiated, but if you think you're too different in this regard, it may be time to move on.” Especially if you plan to share a space with a partner in the future, this may be something you really want to consider.


Flakiness Or Inconsistency

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Having something come up before a date is usually excusable. Consistently backing out on your plans, however, may be a sign of something else. “Flakiness can be a sign of mental health issues like ADHD, anxiety, and depression, so it's important to understand the context,” Jamea says. Otherwise, it may be an indication that you won’t be able to rely on this person in the long run. “Generally, I think what most people want is someone who is true to their word. When someone calls when they say they're going to call, it gives you a sense of safety and security in the relationship, which is the foundation for a healthy, secure relationship attachment,” she says.


Stays Friends With An Ex

Plenty of people are buddies with their former flames. For some in our survey, however, this is a moot point. “A key question to ask yourself with this one is, is the ex a ‘friend of the relationship’ or not? While generally something to be curious about, there are some exceptions,” Jamea says. If they’re sharing custody, for instance, it’s a good thing that they remain friendly. If it’s a more recent ex, the situation could be much different. “It's important that you have an honest conversation with any potential partner about why they keep that person in their life and then assess how you feel about it,” says Jamea.


Dr. Emily Jamea, PhD, LPC, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and AASECT certified sex therapist