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30 Dating Deal Breakers for Men

Men shy away for all sorts of reasons—some ridiculous, some justifiable, some absolutely mysterious. Here's what can turn a guy off when it comes to dating.

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Dishonesty

One of the top traits men (and women) are looking for when they’re dating is kindness. And the number one they avoid like the plague? Dishonesty. It’s a broad term, but any kind of dishonesty should be an immediate deal breaker, according to New York psychotherapist, Melissa Divaris Thompson. That includes lying, failing to disclose, or concealing anything else on this list of deal breakers. Both men and women seem particularly sensitive to lies about age and marital status. Single model, actor, and entrepreneur Devon Ryan says that he’s speaking on behalf of himself and all his single friends when he says that “men seek a woman they can trust since they will be investing their time, energy, and money into them. If a woman tells even a small lie it signals to a man that they are capable of lying to them which increases the woman’s risk profile.” Here are the worst possible relationship lies you can tell.

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All that shallow stuff

Age? Shape? Hair? You betcha—they’re all on the list of male deal breakers. While few men will cop to the truth, matchmakers had a different story to tell, listing the following three deal breakers for men:

  • Too old: Men want younger women—even if in their past they had relationships with women their age or older, says a Chicago matchmaker, Stefanie Safran.
  • Not fit enough: Isabel, a matchmaker who founded Elite Dating Managers, told Reader’s Digest that 90 percent of her male clients call this a deal breaker. “They just want a woman in good physical shape who is not overweight.” Safran concurred: “Men want women that work out, eat healthily, and generally take care of themselves.”
  • Short hair: “More often than not, men want women with longer hair,” Safran says, “especially since most of the women on TV have long (and some with very long hair extensions) hair these days.”

At the same time, Safran also notes that men consider “being high maintenance” to be a dating deal-breaker. “They want someone who spends some time getting ready, not hours and hours.” If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, beware of these signs your partner just sees you as a fling.

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Poor hygiene

Yeah, this one crosses genders: “I want to be able to hug, kiss, and hold hands without wondering how much bleach I’ll have to use on my next laundry cycle,” jokes single photographer and model Michael Freeby. But the sentiment is no laughing matter. Nick Fresolone, a divorced dad in New Jersey, confirms that hygiene is crucial: “Good teeth are important,” he says, “as are clean fingernails. In fact, I consider those non-negotiable.” These cheesy pick-up lines will help you out when dating. 

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Bad manners

Dating and life coach Jonathan Bennett says that “if a woman can’t stay off her phone while on the date, that’s it. It’s a non-starter.” Ryan, the single model, actor, and entrepreneur, got quite frank with us about bad manners in the bathroom. While admitting that men should always put the toilet seat down, he also said that it’s a deal breaker if a woman can’t be bothered to wrap up her used tampon in tissue paper. Are you guilty of any of these common behaviors that are sabotaging your relationship?

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Messy car

It’s true, says dating and relationship expert Lisa Concepcion. “There’s nothing more unappealing than empty water bottles, wrappers, papers, pens, and other unnecessary junk cluttering up the seats and floors,” she says. “Whether it’s a Mercedes or a Kia, clean it up and take pride in your ride.”

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Being vegan

“In my coaching practice, I’ve noticed that quite a few men won’t date vegans,” says dating coach Damona Hoffman. “Aside from being unable to take you to their favorite steakhouse, saying you’re vegan sometimes gives the impression that you are too rigid to date.” These are the foods you might want to think twice about ordering on a first date.

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Being a teetotaler

While not always true, many men do prefer a woman who is willing to imbibe. “I like to have a drink every once in a while,” says single man Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, which has been described as the “Uber” for lawn care. “Although I’ve tried dating women that don’t drink, I find it makes me feel uncomfortable if they are not having as good a time as I am.”

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Smoking

As most non-smokers will tell you, this is a filthy and dangerous habit that is a deal-breaker. “With all that we know about smoking’s harmful effects, there’s no reason a woman needs to light up,” says Wayne Rodgers, a writer for Info Group Media who specializes in relationships and other issues that affect men. “It’s amazing to see how many people agree to date a smoker with the hopes of getting them to quit,” notes Concepcion. “They tolerate bad breath and second-hand smoke just to be in a relationship. It’s a waste of time, bad for your health, and starts the relationship off with the need for someone to break a habit. Make it a deal breaker and move on!” If you argue about these 15 things with your partner, your relationship might be in trouble.

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Excessive drug use or partying

Party girls need not apply, say the single men and the dating experts we spoke with. “I’ve learned that no matter how open-minded you are, if you let people who have toxic addictions into your life, you’re inviting a lot of other issues as well,” says Freeby. According to licensed New York mental health counselor, Tom Kearns, LMSW, “a woman who still wants to party and not spend time at home, clubbing every night, and worrying only about the next party can be too much. If a movie night at home is a deal breaker for her, then that’s a deal breaker.”

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Selfie-addicted

Men don’t want a woman with substance abuse issues, but they do want a woman with substance. And there’s a different kind of addiction that can make a man run in the other direction: selfie-addiction. “When a woman takes selfies compulsively, it diminishes my view of her intelligence and maturity (especially the duck face),” says Ryan. Similarly, “it can be off-putting if a woman spends inordinate amounts of time on social media,” says single dad, Michael (not his real name), “particularly if it involves posting numerous selfies and frequently changing her profile pic.” The problem with this sort of behavior is that it spells “attention-seeking,” as well as, potentially, narcissism. And that definitely spells “deal breaker.” These are the clues that can help you spot a narcissist.

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Non-texters

“Texting is a crucial part of pre- and post-date flirtation today,” says dating coach Hoffman. And it’s true no matter what the age-group. “If you’re not good at keeping up a conversation over text or you simply refuse to text, you are limiting your chances with modern men.” Make sure you know these etiquette rules for texting your partner.

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Unresponsiveness

“This is a generation where people are glued to their phones for Candy Crush and FarmVille,” says Freeby. “If I can’t get a quick answer to my texts or call within a few hours, I’m going to assume we’re done.” And that brings up ghosting, which is having someone that you believe cares about you disappear from contact without any explanation at all. No phone call or email, not even a text. It’s not new, but it’s attracted quite a bit of attention in the advent of dating apps, which make it easy to disappear on someone without a trace. “Few things are more confusing and potentially damaging than just disappearing, especially after several dates,” according to Santiago Delboy, MBA, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Chicago. In this day and age, if you drop out of sight, your date is going to assume you’re ghosting.

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Playing hard to get

“I’m trying to go to lunch, not on an Indiana Jones adventure to unlock the secrets of some tombstone,” Freeby jokes. But he strikes a chord for a lot of men: “We like a challenge, but if a woman plays hard to get, it’s a deal breaker.” The availability of other women via online dating websites and apps makes it even more crucial that a woman not appear to be closed off, points out dating coach Bennett. Here’s the dumbest dating advice we’ve ever heard.

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Being too easy

As Freeby says, “men like a challenge.” They also like sex, reminds Ryan, but there has to be a balance. “If a woman sleeps with a man too soon on the dating journey, it’s a giant red flag,” Ryan says. That said, if a woman shows no affection at all (not sexual affection, but rather, general physical warmth), it’s a total deal breaker for divorced dad Fresolone. “Hand holding and cuddling are important,” he says. “I don’t want to date a woman who’s cold.” These are some more habits of couples who have steamy sex lives.

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Negativity

“No one likes a neganator,” says single 40-something Ari (not his real name). This comes up a lot in online dating. “If your profile leads with the things you hate about men or what has frustrated you about online dating—before you even mentioned your positive qualities, you won’t make the cut even for a first date,” says dating coach Hoffman. Another way people express negativity is by speaking ill of others. “There’s no one less attractive in any given room than the person who feels the need to put others down,” Freeby says.

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Racism

Single New Yorker William (not his real name) has no tolerance for intolerant women. Since William is a black man, one might assume that any woman he’s dating is not a racist. Not true. “I’ve dated women who are fine with black guys, but dislike Hispanic or Jewish people.” And for William, any intolerance, whether racial, religious, or otherwise, is a deal breaker.

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Expecting a mind-reader

A woman who expects her date to be a mind-reader is not only going to be disappointed, she’s going to end up dumped. Dating For Geeks coach Rami Naseir wants every woman to know: “Men don’t read minds. If you’re unhappy about something and don’t say so, don’t expect it to magically be fixed.” Men also can’t tell when you’re holding a grudge. “If we cross a line, you need to tell us. If we apologize, you need accept it. If you get your apology but still carry venom, that’s a deal breaker.” Here are some better ways to improve communication in your relationship.

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A mind-reader

Whether she actually is a mind-reader or just thinks she is, it can be an issue, says thirty-something single guy, Finn. “After this woman told me she was a mind-reader, I couldn’t help but wonder if she knew in advance that we wouldn’t be going out again.” On a more serious note, Delboy points out that “when women make assumptions about the motivations behind a man’s actions, it can get old real quick. While you might be correct, it would be a lot better to simply ask.”

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Failing to give enough space

“Men need man-time at least once a week,” says geek-coach Rami. “I’m talking about leaving us alone to watch television, read, or do nothing at all.” If a woman can’t give a man at least that much don’t-interrupt-man-time, then it’s going to be a problem. Here are the reasons your partner might say no to sex.

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Criticism

“No one likes to be talked down to or belittled,” Rami says. “If you’re into that, don’t expect him to stick around for long.” If the purpose of constructive criticism is to get a man to change something about himself, it’s wasted breath. “If you badger him about changing something, the one thing he’ll probably change is you.” It would be great if women could stop believing they can change men, observes psychotherapist Delboy. “Men can change and many of them may want to, but it’s a turn-off when someone is actively trying to turn them into someone they’re not.”

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Overbearing friends

A woman makes the choice to allow her friends to be overbearing, says single New Yorker, William. And if she allows them into every facet of her life and to make her decisions for her, it’s a deal breaker. Some friendships aren’t good for either party or their significant others. Learn the biggest dating deal breakers for women.

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Incompatible politics

Especially in these times, it’s not really surprising that not seeing eye-to-eye on political issues could kill the mood. Politics can also be polarizing when it comes to how much each person wants to talk about politics. “My main deal breaker for the first few dates is having a girl who talks about nothing but politics. Some is fine, but if it’s the main focus for each conversation, I usually end it,” says single guy Sterling Graham.

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Different goals

Being incompatible in terms of what you want out of life isn’t a great place to start. Building separate lives based on entirely separate interests is not a good way to go, says New York counselor Kearns. It’s OK to have differences of opinion, says psychotherapist Jesse D. Matthews, PsyD. “Differences in beliefs are okay to some extent, but in the long run, big differences in values are going to be a deal breaker.” Watch out for these common mistakes people make when dating after 40.

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Financially insecure

If a man is responsible with his money, it’s going to be a deal breaker if the woman he is dating carries a huge amount of debt, doesn’t pay her bills, overspends, or is otherwise not financially responsible, according to single psychologist Matthews. Here’s how to stop arguing about money with your partner.

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Infidelity

Some people are up for monogamy, some just aren’t. “If I commit myself to you and believe monogamy is important to growing our relationship, then I expect the same from you,” says Matthews. Anything less would be a deal breaker. These are the myths about cheating that people should stop believing.

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Wanting kids—or not

“Where you stand on parenting is a very important thing to clarify in a preliminary phone call before even going on the date. If you don’t want kids and the person has two children this is something important to learn about quickly,” says Concepcion.

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Loving pets—or not

Some men really object to cats. Some are actually allergic. Single New Yorker William says “after two cats, it’s a deal breaker.”

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Too much drama

Being overly dramatic in any relationship, whether it’s partner, friends, family, or therapist, is going to be a deal breaker, says Matthews. Likewise, if there’s too much drama in her life, whether from family members or an ex, it’s exhausting, says Bennett. “No quality guy has time or energy for that.” These are the habits that destroy trust between partners.

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Being rude to the wait-staff

Women don’t like when men are rude to the wait staff. Men don’t like when women are either. “How you treat people in the service industry speaks volumes about your character,” says single Portland guy Robert (not his real name). Here are some more ways you’re acting like a jerk without even knowing.

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A woman with no opinion

“A man enjoys someone to volley with him on ideas. The play is the thing!” according to Kearns. “To simply agree or not have their own view is boring.” Likewise, says psychologist Matthews, it’s unattractive for a woman to be inconsistent or wishy-washy. That could be indicative of a lack of drive, which is not OK with Bennett as a potential dater and as a dating coach. “Successful men engage in self-improvement constantly. They don’t want to settle down with someone who lacks any sort of personal drive and ambition.” Next, here’s how to tell if your partner might actually be a keeper.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.