Learn How to Spot Relationship Dealbreakers

Know what matters to you

It’s a common theme that therapists frequently hear – there are dealbreakers that some people simply cannot live with.

Dealbreakers are the things that you must consider before you embark upon an exclusive relationship with someone. It’s important to come up with a list of those non-negotiable things that would keep you from wanting to be in a relationship with a particular person.

“True relationship readiness hinges on knowing what you must have and that you can’t live without in a future relationship,” said Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC
psychotherapist and relationship coach.

Learn How to Spot Relationship Dealbreakers

Classic dealbreakers

“A woman should know when it’s too much. As long as she is honest with herself and is in the relationship for healthy reasons as opposed to a fear she will never meet anyone else, all her friends are married, she hates being alone, she is on the rebound, etc. When she is looking for a relationship, any relationship, she is likely to rationalize and sweep any concerns under the rug,” Coleman said.

Stef Safran, founder of Stef and the City dating service in Chicago, said, that setting dealbreakers is essential. “You should know yourself well enough if you have relationship goals in mind. A lot of heartbreak can be helped, if you read some of the writing of what people are telling you.”

Coleman and Safran shared their lists of basic dealbreakers that have ended many relationships before they got off the ground:

  • He tells you he's unsure about having kids. If you want kids, this is something you shouldn't see as, “he'll change his mind.”
  • He is a racist.
  • He only has a high school diploma and you want a guy with an advanced degree.
  • He spends most of your dates on the phone talking to other people, or exhibiting rude behavior in other ways.
  • He has been married and/or has kids, and you want to be with someone who has never been married and has no children.
  • He is in serious debt and/or handles money very poorly and financial restraint and security are near the top of your list.
  • He wants to live together and see how it goes, and you want to be engaged before living together.
  • He is too close with his mom. If he goes to his mom before you for important decisions and refuses to live more than a few blocks away from her, this may never change.
  • He tells you he has a gambling or other addiction problem. While he might be in recovery now, be prepared to find out if he's had relapses.
  • He likes porn and doesn't include you in parts of his sex life. If he's checking out porn without you, you need to find out why before it becomes a bigger issue.
  • He doesn't believe in marriage and you want to get married eventually.
  • He seems obsessed with his ex-girlfriend or ex-wife and frequently talks about them.
  • He is rude to food servers and others in the service industry.
  • He's a cheapskate.

“One of the ways you can find out if this is a deal breaker for you is to talk and be honest about what your needs are and your goals of a happy marriage. Certain dealbreakers can be worked on while certain ones may just need to end the relationship,” Safran said.

Lisa Bahar, a relationship therapist in Dana Point, Calif., said to be on the lookout for unusual behaviors such as a second, secret cell phone and increasingly derogatory remarks made to you or others.

It’s easy to know when someone has too many dealbreakers, she said.

“Listen to your intuitive self which will be your guide, this is challenging if you have fears of being alone or single, and sometimes we can compensate for that fear by agreeing to situations and relationships that we would not do in what we perceive as our right mind, therefore, be aware of it and listen to your intuitive wisdom, follow it.”

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