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These Are the Top Seven Dating Deal Breakers, According to Science

Social scientists have started to analyze what not to do early in a relationship, and their findings might make you want to change your sheets a little more frequently

At least a few times a year, someone will take to Twitter or Reddit to ask strangers to share their relationship deal breakers. The answers vary widely, of course, but the subtext of the question is usually the same: Am I being too picky or not picky enough? 

Oddly enough, scientific research has taken the opposite approach to the same question by focusing mainly on “deal makers,” or green flags like perceived ambition, success and kindness. But a recent study published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences analyzed all our various red flags, and tallied them up to reveal our most common deal breakers in relationships. 

To do so, researchers asked 155 heterosexual men and women to identify a total of 96 different red flags. From there, an additional 2,445 participants rated the characteristics according to how much each would make them reject a potential partner. Then, they pulled together their results and came up with the top seven most common deal breakers. Which were as follows… 

Lacking in Ambition

Not everyone can realize all their big dreams and lofty goals, but betting on yourself and at least trying to reach them is attractive enough, according to the study results. Ultimately, few people seem to want to be involved with someone long term who doesn’t have any personal motivation. That said, the study also found that being unambitious was less of a turn off in short-term relationships for both men and women. So if you’re just looking to smash, you might not need that promotion after all. 

Getting Clingy

Both men and women said that being clingy — or “insistent, overly sentimental and wanting commitment” — was very problematic for the short term, but not in the long term. This checks out: If the relationship is going well, having a partner who’s a little needy isn’t the worst problem to have, even if it’s a bit much. 

Coming Off Cocky

Although arrogance ranked among the biggest deal breakers, it was less of an issue for short-term relationships, particularly for women. This may have to do with confidence being found to be a generally appealing quality, particularly in men. But the line between confidence and arrogance is pretty thin. So if you’re cockily talking down to the waiter on a date, the night may be over sooner than you expected.

Being Generally Hostile

Shockingly, being “wicked, malicious, grumpy and unfriendly” isn’t something most people are looking for in a partner. So, consider being… not a jerk. Although it’s increasingly difficult to not feel grumpy about the state of the world, you can at least try to not be an asshole, right? There is also evidence that hostility and jealousy can lead to more abusive behaviors over time, so it’s an orange flag that can turn red relatively quickly.

Hurting Other People 

Likewise, being abusive or “aggressive and violent” in any way was ranked as one of the most important deal breakers for long-term relationships, but only for women. And even when it came to short-term relationships, women didn’t find abusive behaviors quite as repellent as, say, poor hygiene. Though we’ve come a long way in how abuse is defined, identified and acted upon, the findings underscore that dating abuse is still very much an issue, and one that obviously needs to be taken seriously.

Appearing “Unattractive”

Physical attraction fell somewhere in the middle among the seven biggest deal breakers for both men and women, and for those looking for either short- or long-term relationships. However, because unattractiveness was defined opaquely and harshly as being “ugly” and having a “bad bad body type,” it’s possible participants weren’t as comfortable admitting to their more shallow preferences. Either way, it goes to show that you’re probably better paired with someone who considers you attractive, than the other way around. 

Being a Total Slob 

As it turns out, you should leave the dirty stuff for the bedroom. Being filthy was generally considered the ultimate deal breaker for men, both for long-term relationships and more casual flings. For women, filthiness tied with being abusive as the biggest deal breaker for long-term relationships, and was the top deal breaker for hookups. 

Hey, if you can’t make your bed or pick up your goddamn socks off the floor, are you really ready for a relationship? Don’t bother answering that. Someone else will most likely make that decision for you.