How To Determine Your Deal-Breakers In A Relationship

Everyone has deal-breakers. Like boundaries, deal-breakers are things we've decided that are okay or not okay in regard to relationships. A deal-breaker could be as big a deal as not wanting to date someone whose politics are different from yours. Alternatively, they can be as small as not wanting to date someone who has a penchant for wearing white socks all the time. Deal-breakers truly run the gamut and they can't be right or wrong because they're dependent on each individual — however, deal-breakers need to be realistic.


Although a lot of deal-breakers are no-brainers, trying to determine all of your deal-breakers takes time. "It's not always possible to know what all of your deal breakers are in advance," social psychologist at The Kinsey Institute Dr. Justin Lehmiller tells Glamour UK. "Because sometimes we need a bit of practice and experience dating to figure out what we do — and don't — want." For example, you probably can't say that someone who doesn't ski is a deal-breaker if you've yet to meet someone who doesn't ski. It's only when faced with something that we're able to decide if it's negotiable or non-negotiable.

When trying to determine what your deal-breakers are in a relationship, it's about your past and what your heart (and stomach) tell you. From those two points, you can figure out who you want to allow into your world and who just isn't a fit for what you want at the moment.


Look at your past

Who doesn't love a little walk down memory lane? The best part about looking at your relationship history in regard to deal-breakers is that you don't have to dig too deep. In fact, it may be your deal-breakers that ultimately led to the demise of the relationship. If it wasn't a deal-breaker that was the catalyst for the breakup, then what was it about the relationship that could have been better? What did your partner bring or not bring to the partnership? Did you feel fulfilled and happy, or was it lacking? Were your needs being met and do you know how to have them met now? These are important questions to ask yourself so you have a deeper understanding of what deal-breakers look like to you when dating. 


"Once you have your must-haves, then you can think about your would-be-nice-but-not-necessary characteristics," clinical psychologist Dr. Sari Chait tells The Zoe Report. "With those in mind, you can then evaluate any date to see if they have what you want despite also having a seemingly silly deal breaker."

It really comes down to reflecting on what was then and what is now. When you do this, the red and green flags are likely to pop up quite easily, giving you a clear view of your deal-breakers.

Listen to your intuition

Intuition is the ability to understand something without needing to know all the facts or having a concrete reason as to why something sits well with you or doesn't. It's that voice in our head that tells us what we know to be true for us. If we meet someone who doesn't align with who we are, intuition kicks in and gives us the strength to walk away. It's something that doesn't require much thought because it just is what it is. You could be on a date and faced with something that never fazed you in the past. Now when you're confronted with it, your intuition gives you a heads up that this thing — whatever it may be — is not for you. It could be a personality trait, a difference in values, the way they chew with their mouth open — and you just know it's a deal-breaker.


When you've reflected and followed your instincts, it's time to put these two things into action. As therapist Shadeen Francis tells SELF, that means recognizing what you really want, owning that want, and then advocating for it. When it comes to your turn-ons and turn-offs, only you can advocate for them by sharing and discussing these relationship deal-breakers with potential partners or current partners. When you've determined what they are, you can't keep them to yourself if you want to have healthy relationships and dating experiences.