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Dealbreakers That Ruin Passion and Connection

...and how to improve your personal screening process.

Key points

  • Dealbreakers can make potential partners appear unappealing for a short-term fling, a long-term relationship, or any type of romance in general.
  • General dealbreakers focus on avoiding partners who are unavailable, unhealthy, or abusive.
  • Short-term fling dealbreakers disqualify hookups who are unattractive, judgmental, or uninspiring in the bedroom.
  • Long-term dealbreakers steer clear of partners who are not conscientious or trustworthy.
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
Source: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

In previous articles, I have shared how attractive traits can have negative aspects in long-term relationships. I have also discussed how an annoying habit can become unbearable for a romantic partner over time, too. But what about traits that prevent a date or relationship from ever happening in the first place? What about the "dealbreakers" that make a bad first impression, or ruin passion and connection from the very start?

That question was explored by Jonason, Garcia, Webster, Li, and Fisher (2015). The team surveyed participants, asking what would make them reject someone as a potential short-term and casual sex partner, or as a long-term and committed partner. Participants responded with a number of impressions of people that would constitute dealbreakers. Some were specific to short-term or long-term interests only, but others overlapped both contexts.

General Dealbreakers

These traits ruined both short-term and long-term interest. They focused around a few different factors. To start, individuals were not interested in potential mates who were already in a relationship or dating multiple partners. Apparently, although a partner who is a little hard-to-get might be appealing, a completely unavailable one is not.

People also preferred to avoid partners who had health issues, such as STDs, or who had poor hygiene. Beyond that, anger issues or abusiveness was a general dealbreaker as well. Given the fact that all relationships are built on the capacity and willingness to meet each other's needs, it stands to reason that an unwell or abusive individual might not be able or willing to cooperate in that way. Overall, these dealbreakers tend to screen out potential mates who are too unavailable, unhealthy, or unruly for either a short-term or long-term connection.

Short-Term Dealbreakers

The dealbreaker traits centered around a few themes. The majority focused on physical attractiveness, such as whether an individual smells bad, does not take care of themselves, or is unattractive in general. Those points concur with other research on physical attractiveness.

It was also a short-term dealbreaker when an individual was bad in bed. This is no surprise, given that the point of a fling is to have fun in the bedroom. Other research agrees with this focus as well, noting that physical attractiveness and passion play a larger role in short-term mating decisions.

Furthermore, individuals looking for a fling were put off by partners who were racist or bigoted. This may be due to the fact that personality can influence physical attraction, or because individuals who desire uncommitted sex prefer partners who are not judgmental. In either case, these dealbreakers are about avoiding potential partners who might be less attractive physically, or otherwise less adventurous in the bedroom.

Long-Term Dealbreakers

In contrast to the categories above, these dealbreakers all focused on the conscientiousness and responsiveness of a partner. Specifically, partners who are untrustworthy, inattentive/uncaring, or who have alcohol/drug problems appear to be less appealing as long-term mates. This notion is supported by other research, suggesting that conscientiousness and self-control are important traits in a partner for relationship success. Furthermore, building trust with a partner over time is essential as well. Thus, these dealbreakers are about screening out potential partners who might not be trustworthy, or who may have other issues that prevent them from contributing to a relationship consistently in the long term.


Overall, by looking out for the general dealbreakers above, you can find available, healthy, and good-natured partners for any kind of relationship. Then, depending on your sociosexual orientation, you can focus on screening out individuals with short-term or long-term dealbreakers. That way, you will have a better chance of finding the passionate fling or committed partner that you want. Also, by avoiding those dealbreakers yourself, you will have a better chance of making a good first impression and being attractive to potential partners, too.

Facebook image: New Africa/Shutterstock


Jonason, P. K., Garcia, J. R., Webster, G. D., Li, N. P., & Fisher, H. E. (2015). Relationship dealbreakers: Traits people avoid in potential mates. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(12), 1697–1711.

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