Breakups & Cheating
June 11, 2021

5 Relationship Deal-Breakers To Watch Out For

What might be a relationship deal-breaker for one person, may not be for another. While red flags are subjective, it’s important to consider if the issue means it’s time to call it quits or if you and your partner are willing and able to work through it.
Written by
Rose Low
Published on
June 11, 2021
Updated on
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When you’re dating or in a relationship, you might encounter some red flags — signs that mean the relationship may not be right for you. Of course, red flags are subjective and what might be a relationship deal-breaker for one person, may not be for another. It’s important to pay attention to these issues and consider if it’s time to call it quits, or if you and your partner are willing and able to work through it, either through better communication, couple’s therapy, or another way.   

We've gathered some expert-reviewed relationship deal-breakers to help inform your decisions.

1. Chronic flakiness.

There's nothing worse than getting ready for a date you're excited about only to have the person cancel an hour before saying "something came up." Albeit an emergency or health issue, there's really no reason for someone to be so callous with your time. 

Matchmaker Bonnie Winston told Insider, "If your guy or girl is always canceling at the last minute to do something that 'just came up,' that's a deal-breaker. It shows they do not respect your time, your plans and your interests. For example, if the person blows you off without much notice for something like a sports thing with their friends, that's a deal-breaker." 

If someone is chronically flaky during very early dating stages, it might be time to say goodbye as they are not valuing you on the offset. If a long-term partner starts exhibiting this behavior later in the relationship, however, it could be symptomatic of a larger issue. If you think the relationship is worth fighting for, address the behavior, communicate how it makes you feel, and if changes can be made. 

2. Different values.

If you’re looking for a potential long-term partner, comparing values is crucial. If you're someone who puts your family over everything, odds are you won't be compatible with someone who couldn't care less about theirs. The same goes with foundational components such as ambition, wanting children, loyalty, political leanings, religion, sense of adventure, etc. 

While you won’t necessarily align on everything, consider the things you most prioritize. If you don’t match on those issues, the relationship could be in trouble. It’s difficult to work through an issue if you and a partner fundamentally want different things. 

Rachel DeAlto, a relationship expert, told Insider, "Attraction and chemistry are great, but what happens when looks fade and the spark wears off? If your potential partner differs significantly on a core value, the relationship can be doomed."

3. They're not over their ex.

Someone still holding an emotional candle for someone else will probably not have space for you in their lives, at least for right now. Matchmaking giant eHarmony put it the most succinctly: "Keeping your hopes up for someone who is so stuck to their past is pointless." 

Getting over an ex can take a long time and a lot of self-work. You don’t need to be along for the ride while the person you’re interested in pines over someone else. If you are looking for more than a casual hookup, allow yourself space to find someone who is fully emotionally available for you. 

4. They don't fight fair.

Arguments are natural in every relationship, but it's all in how you handle them. Going after someone for every single thing they've ever done wrong after they forget to take the garbage out one time, for example, is not healthy. 

Clinical psychologist Deborah Grody told Time, “If you start to have a fight, say, ‘Let’s pick it up this evening, or another time when there’s time to discuss things.’" Grody emphasizes that putting time aside to work out disagreements gives each party the space to regroup, prepare, and share their feelings in a calmer, less tense environment.

“Most of the time, things are said on impulse in the heat of anger,” says Grody. “But the words stay with us.”

Good communication can be the foundation of a healthy relationship. How you argue with a partner can be a sign if your communication skills with them are strong or weak. 

5. There's no trust.

Trust is the anchor that holds relationships together. Without it, you have no confidence that your partner is an active participant in the relationship. Relationship experts and therapists Linda Bloom, LCSW, and Charlie Bloom, M.S.W told Brides that "when interpersonal trust is missing or insufficient, it’s absence all but guarantees a difficult, painful, frustrating, and ultimately unsatisfying future for both partners."

The publication breaks it down even simpler; "When you can't take your partner at their word and find yourself trying to determine if your partner is being honest or not, this relationship is probably not for you."

The bottom line

It's important to remember that not all deal-breakers are one-size-fits-all. So, if you see something we mentioned above in your own relationship, think before you run. Is this a red flag that means the relationship is doomed or is it something you talk about with your partner? Can it be worked on in therapy together? Communication is the key to most of our relationship problems so keep those antennae up for the red flags, but most importantly: talk, talk, talk.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Rose Lowe is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a deep love for romantic comedies.

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