This is my personal relationship deal breaker list. Built in the fires of my own resentment, I couldn’t help but get a little wild-eyed and nostalgic writing this up.
Letting Our Personal Hygiene Slip
I could conjure up all sorts of uncomfortable imagery here, but I’m sure your overly enthusiastic brain is already doing you the honor in that regard. Sorry about that.
My main gripe here, other than the obvious, and from a relationship perspective, is that it amounts to a fundamental lack of respect. Both towards ourselves, and towards our partner. We’re taking basic, lower common denominator levels of respect here. It shouldn’t be a question.
And yet it often is.
Relationships mean sharing the same space, not just spiritually. Nobody wants to share space with someone who has decided to transcend their corporeal concerns.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about that kind of boyfriend who thinks belching during dinner is the height of comedy. Nor am I talking about someone who has a natural tendency to overheat, and consequently sweats like a sponge. No, I’m talking about someone who, in all seriousness, has underlying issues that need to be addressed.
Another correlated deal breaker, that often shares the same depressive causes, is a tendency to over obsess with hygiene. Both are symptoms of a larger psychological issues (not culture or education) that end up destroying relationships if not properly managed.
Acting Like A Child
Some adults never grow out of their childish, manipulative tactics. Generally because these tactics, for whatever reason (overly permissive parents, or submissive friends and siblings, etc), work.
But repeatedly slamming your forehead on the ground when you don’t get what you want is not going to fly in a relationship setting. At least, not in the long run.
What do I mean by not communicating correctly? Well…
- Inability to talk about their feelings.
- Use of manipulation to get what they want.
- Bringing you down to prop themselves up (leveling the playing field in this way is a sign of low self-esteem).
In the short term we can forgive these ups and downs, who doesn’t have a bad emotional hair day now and then? But if these are more than just hiccups, and become habits our partner seems incapable of breakup, it might well be adios.
Being A Selfish Lover
“Like the hurried lover, it comes and goes.”— Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
I’m going to get flak for this one, but I’m not backing down.
Intimacy is important, and not just the conspiratorial kind. Admittedly, for some more than others, but for some it really does constitute a deal breaker.
I’m not going to go into the nuts and bolts of the issue, you know exactly what I mean, but suffice it to say that teamwork is underrated and occasionally also required.
Taking Your Partner For Granted
Taking someone for granted is a bit of an umbrella term for a whole host of relationship mistakes. It is an attitude more than a specific behavior.
The main thrust of my argument is that at its core, taking for granted means not valuing what we have. And thus, in a sense, we are telling our partner they are worthless.
This blindsides many partners when they are inevitably dumped. They did not see it coming because they took the relationship for granted. You can’t correct issues that you don’t know exist. For this reason, it is imperative that both partners, and not just the person taking the relationship for granted, learn to communicate.
But there’s only so much you can say or do.
If you did let them know, repeatedly, that your sense of worth was hanging on a string, then this will amount to a classic among relationship deal breakers.
Being Too Needy
There’s nothing cute or endearing about a needy partner. What on the surface may seem like undying love, is actually a self-centered expression of insecurity.
Codependency will destroy your relationship. It’s exhausting and patently unhealthy.
What are the traits of a codependent partner? Here are a few for you to chew over:
- A partner who requires constant approval and reassurance.
- A partner who derives their sense of self from their partner.
- A partner who no longer has a life outside of the relationship.
- A partner who identifies only as part of a whole, and not also as an individual with their own wants and needs.
If your partner is unwilling to recognize the effect that their behavior is having on you then it’s definitely a deal breaker.
Note: In some cases there are pathological explanations for codependent behavior. If your partner refuses to entertain the possibility that a problem exists, you cannot allow your guilt to suck you further into a toxic relationship. This is doubly true if you feel you are being manipulated.
A partner who weaponizes emotions is a clear reason to bail on the relationship. I know this, you know this, they know this. But it’s still hard to snap a connection that is so obviously toxic. Why on earth is it?
Simply put: Hot and cold behavior is addictive. That’s why it works. That horrific vacuum of affection created by a partner emotionally withdrawing makes that moment when they come forward again absolute bliss. We forget about our day-to-day misery and live for those magic moments when it comes together, albeit briefly.
The moment we realize that most of our time is spent pining for something that doesn’t actually exist, the show is over. The manipulative ex loses their power and we have our sixth relationship deal breaker.
Clashing Core Needs
Call them what you will; needs, values, requirements or demands. These are your core necessities that cannot be negotiated, unlike “wants” that are the currency in the ever-shifting shortline or relationship fulfilment.
There’s no long-term hope for a couple who simply cannot agree on the foundations of what constitutes a relationship. And sometimes it can take time to realize this.
If pleasing our partner demands the sacrifice of our core needs it is up to us to let them know that some things are non-negotiable. It is imperative that while we learn to compromise our wants, we also learn the value of saying “no”. There’s no point sacrificing everything that is necessary to us if it makes us miserable in the process. We aren’t doing our partner any favors in the long-term either.
If your taking a stand proves too much for your partner, comfort yourself knowing that you’ve saved yourself a great deal of long-term pain.
Being Overly Possessive
Not respecting relationship boundaries is a relationship deal breaker.
If your partner treats you like a possession, it means they have lost sight of what it means to be in a “relationship”. Being a “partner” means sharing the responsibility, not delegating it.
You could call the link between master and slave a relationship, I suppose, but it’s not the kind we’re shooting for. And make no mistake, a possessive partner’s need to control the situation (you) will lead to precisely this. A master and their slave.
Similar to the point above about clashing core needs, the sooner we learn to say no the better. The only way to overcome the manipulation and mind-games is not to play. Don’t let projections of guilt and shame convince you you deserve any of the treatment you are getting.
Lacking Drive And Direction
If you find that you are just the shadow of what you used to be, it might be a symptom of a dysfunctional relationship. Specifically, it might mean you’ve given too much away in order to make things work, and that you exist only as an exhausted hanger-on, clinging desperately onto the last remaining relationship filaments.
This is equally true of our partner. Sometimes a caring, loving and energetic partner can fall prey to the same relationship rusting. If your partner seems either uncaring or without energy, it is a sign that they may have lost touch with who they are as individuals.
All of this is part of the normal wear and tear of relationship growth. When these symptoms arise it causes a crisis that allows both partners to consciously examine what’s going wrong (which is a pretty way of saying you fight), and hopefully address the issues. But sometimes this lack of drive finds its roots outside of the confines of the relationship, and that is bad news.
If your partner lacks direction, and the this has always been the case, there will come a point where either you settle to forever take the reigns of the relationship (it might suit some temperaments), or you don’t. And you know what that means. Personally I could not settle for a relationship where my partner is a perennial back-seat driver. I’ll take the bitter ups and downs instead, because it means the relationship is adapting to change.
Subtly Eroding Trust
It pays to consider trust a finite resource. Or one that regenerates very slowly. This means that every little bump and bruise to our trust has a tendency to pile up, leading to long-term resentment.
Small betrayals are silent killers. While a case of cheating will force a showdown, you might try to brush off small cases of betrayal, only to find that they will merge together and build into something that will one day become a deal breaker. Why? Because they seemed poor hills to die on at the time they happened.
Don’t be silly! You tell yourself. This isn’t worth a fight!
- Maybe your partner has a habit of being a “little” late. Just a little, but constant.
- Maybe your partner forgets the details you would never forget.
- Maybe they have a habit of publicly shaming you (and they don’t realize it).
- Maybe they talk about personal stuff with people you don’t trust.
- And on…
Small bangs add up. Stop them before it’s too late or the rolling avalanche of resentment will become yet another relationship deal breaker in a sea of relationship deal breakers.