Based on the table below, Jack Klugman (left) would have been considered more undateable than Tony Randall on the TV show “The Odd Couple.”

If you’re unlucky in love, read on: It could be that you’re exhibiting one of these relationship deal breakers.

While there is a lot of research on what people do want in a partner (kindness, attractiveness and honesty, among them), there is comparatively little on what they don’t want. A collection of six studies, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in October, set out to answer that question.

The researchers found that daters (particularly women) identified plenty of traits that make someone undateable (more than five, on average) — and that these may matter more than positive qualities to potential partners. “People have distinct traits they avoid in partners — deal breakers,” the researchers write. What’s more, “when evaluating potential mates, people will weigh negative traits more than positive traits.”

When the researchers asked more than 5,500 participants this question — “when considering a committed relationship with someone, which of the following would be deal breakers to you? (select all that apply)” — they learned that an unkempt or dirty appearance was the biggest issue for men, while laziness was for women.

Table: 10 biggest relationship deal-breakers
Top reasons cited for not wanting to pursue a committed, long-term relationship

Overall Men Women
Disheveled or unclean appearance 67% 63% 71%
Lazy 66% 60% 72%
Too needy 63% 57% 69%
Lacks a sense of humor 54% 50% 58%
Lives 3 or more hours away 49% 51% 47%
Bad sex 47% 44% 50%
Lacks self confidence 40% 33% 47%
Watches too much TV or plays too many video games 33% 25% 41%
Low sex drive 33% 39% 27%
Stubbornness 33% 32% 34%

Other concerns included someone who talks too much (23% of people consider this a deal breaker), or is too quiet (14%), blunt (14%), doesn’t want kids (14%), has kids already (13%), is too athletic (9%) or is not athletic (6%).

(Some of these characteristics — including poor hygiene and laziness — also popped up in a study dating site eHarmony did of 720,000 of its users that examined qualities people noted they “can’t stand” in a partner.)

In general, women reported more deal breakers than did men, with an average of 6.1 versus 5.4 for men. Women were more likely than men to report that lacking self-confidence, being too lazy, being too needy, and engaging too often in television/playing video games were deal breakers — a finding consistent with other studies showing that women desire mates who are dominant and ambitious.

Meanwhile, more men than women said that someone already having kids, living too far away, talking too much, and having a low sex drive were enough to end a budding relationship, “which may reflect men’s greater concerns about resource investment in partners (and their families) and men’s somewhat higher interest in casual sex,” the researchers reveal.

To be sure, even the top deal breakers aren’t the same for everyone (roughly three in 10 women and four in 10 men don’t think an unkempt appearance or laziness are enough reason to give someone their marching orders), and many of the top deal breakers are things people can change.

While positive traits in a person certainly matter, people give more weight to the negative traits. The researchers asked participants to imagine they had met someone new that they were getting to know, and then they asked them how learning different bits of positive or negative information — five deal breakers and five deal makers lead them to accept or reject the target person. The result: “Deal breakers created a greater decrease in interest than deal makers increased interest,” the researchers reveal.

“For romantic relationships, taking on a bad partner may be costlier than foregoing a good partner; thus, traits signaling a bad partner may have evolved to be more salient and important than positive traits, especially during the initial stages of attraction and relationship formation,” the authors write.



10 Traits That May Render You Undateable

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