Relationship Deal Breakers – Tips and Resources

Deal breaker

If you’ve ever seen the TV show 30 Rock, you might have heard Liz Lemon’s famous line, “Shut it down. That’s a deal breaker!” For those of you that haven’t seen it, the star of the show (Tina Fey) finds herself getting famous for laying down the law in the dating world in regards to deal breakers.

What we want to talk about today are what relationship deal breakers are, the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship deal breakers, and how they should impact your dating life. Depending on how you’re using them and letting them affect your decisions, they can be a great asset or a detriment to your dating success.

So, What is a Relationship Deal Breaker?

A relationship deal breaker is something that you decide will disqualify a potential dating candidate no matter how awesome-sauce they are.

For example, let’s say that you will never date someone who hates kids. Maybe you work with kids or want them one day or just think that someone who hates kids is not the type of person you want to be with. This would make hating kids a deal breaker for you.

If you met a guy or a girl that was perfect in every which way possible, but they hated kids, you’d kick them to the curb because your deal breakers are not things you are willing to compromise…or at least you shouldn’t be.

Common Relationship Deal Breakers

  • Smoking, eating, drug use, and drinking habits
  • Having kids or not wanting to have kids
  • Religious belief systems not aligned
  • Bad hygiene or health issues
  • Working in particular fields or industries
  • No goals, drive, or aspirations for life
  • Racism or bigotry
  • Sex drives that don’t align
  • Distance
  • Different political or moral belief systems (We’re looking at you 2020. If this is you, make sure you check out our guide to dating with different political views.)

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Deal Breakers

The first thing you need to be aware of when introducing relationship deal breakers into your dating life is the fact there are two types – healthy and unhealthy.

Healthy deal breakers are ones that are truly helping you find someone better for you. They’re productive to the dating search process and do a great job of helping you weed out the duds. Examples of positive deal breakers we’ve heard before might be people who smoke, people without life goals, people who don’t want kids, people that work in a certain field, people that don’t have the same religious views as you, etc.

So, what about unhealthy deal breakers? Well, unhealthy relationship deal breakers are things that might be excluding people from your dating search who are great candidates. For example, if you for some reason decide that you won’t date someone who eats breakfast…that’s an unhealthy deal breaker. Or maybe you refuse to date people with blonde hair? These are deal breakers that really aren’t that healthy or conducive to you finding someone special.

Sure, it’s okay to be picky and have preferences, but you shouldn’t refuse to date a perfect person just because you don’t like the color of their hair. If it’s so off-putting that you can’t bare to look at them, then fine. Although, if that really is the case, we have a few more things we need to talk about.

The bottom line is that you need to know the difference between a deal breaker and a preference. A preference is something you’re willing to possibly overlook while a deal breaker is something that you refuse to ever overlook.

How Deal Breakers Should be Used in Your Dating Life

This brings up the question of what is the right and wrong ways to use relationship deal breakers in your dating life. First, you need to make sure that you 100% know what your deal breakers are and what is simply a preference. This is probably going to require some self-reflection time and being honest with yourself.

Once you figure out what your healthy deal breakers are, we recommend that you write them down, so you never forget what is on the list. The next step becomes the hard one. You have to be disciplined enough to stick to your deal breakers. If you meet what you think is the perfect person but they don’t match one of your deal-breaking criteria, you need to run the other way. Don’t waste any time “trying to make it work.” Deal breakers are things that will not get better, and you need to stick to your guns.

No matter how perfect someone might seem, remember that they really aren’t that perfect for you. There is someone out there that is just as “perfect” and also doesn’t upset any of your deal-breaking criteria. Remember, it’s called a deal breaker for a reason.

Where people struggle is that they allow themselves to waiver if they meet someone that doesn’t check all of the necessary boxes. If you’re online dating, we recommend that you take full advantage of the search functions the sites offer. Most common relationship deal breakers are things that you can filter people out with. Doing this from day one will ensure that you don’t start falling for someone that it will never work out with.

The Takeaway

The bottom line here is that you need to understand the importance of deal breakers, know what your personal deal breakers are, and then stick to your guns regardless of how cute, pretty, or seemingly perfect a potential dating match might seem. Deal breakers can keep you from going down a rabbit hole that ends with pain and suffering.

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Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.