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25 Dating Deal Breakers All Women Have—and Men Should Definitely Be Aware of

Updated: Apr. 17, 2023

Women and men aren't so different—we all have our date-night turnoffs that can range from superficial to deeply offensive. But the truth is that the nature of what turns women off is unique: Here are the no-nos all men should know about.

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Yeah—and here are the worst possible relationship lies you can tell. (By the way, the number one trait women (and men) are looking for when dating is kindness. And dishonesty is the absolute worst. While it’s a broad term, but any kind of dishonesty should be should be an immediate deal-breaker, according to New York psychotherapist, Melissa Divaris Thompson.

That includes dishonesty about:

  • Age: “Who can be interested in a guy who feels the need to misrepresent his age?” asks 51-year old Lara Nolan, who won’t date anyone whose actual age turns out to be different from the age on his online dating profile. “What does that say about how he feels about my age? Or aging in general? It’s just unacceptable.”
  • Marital status: It goes without saying that if a married man claims he’s single, it’s a deal-breaker, but what about a man who claims he’s divorced when he’s actually only separated? Psychiatrist Susan Edelman, MD, says that’s a deal breaker too. Sure, he may “feel” divorced and “feel” like he’s ready to move on, but you still have to wonder what else he’s being dishonest about. Don’t forget to check out our tips to help you date after a divorce.
  • Height: It seems pointless to lie about one’s height, but it’s fairly common for men to add an inch or two in their online profiles. Height can be a deal breaker for some women, says the founder of Elite Dating Managers, who goes by the name “Isabel.” But lying about it won’t help. It just creates a second deal-breaker.

Not all lies are outright lies, however. Some are lies of omission. “Obviously, being married is a deal-breaker,” says 51-year old divorcee, Mia Winner. “But I’ve learned that with some guys, you actually have to ask before they’ll tell you.”

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Being unemployed

Being out of work is a deal-breaker for virtually all of Isabel’s clients, and it’s not because her clients are gold-diggers. In fact, most of Isabel’s clients have great jobs and can provide for themselves. But being unemployed implies that you’re not where you want to be. If you’re in transition, then it’s difficult to truly be available (no matter how much you wish you were or think you are).

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Lack of ambition

One can be employed but still lack ambition, and a lack of ambition is “completely unsexy,” says lifestyle and travel blogger Amy Hartle. “You don’t have to have incredibly lofty goals, but you must have some goals,” Hartle says.

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“Once you score a date, don’t be late,” says Becky L. Duncan, a single 30-year old online business coach from Chicago. “If you can’t show up on time (or text that you’re running late) it tells me you’re at best, thoughtless and, at worse, self-centered.

Being chronically late is certainly not a laughing matter, but you still might want to check out this funny take on the psychology of lateness.

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“From time to time the unexpected happens causing us to break a date or other commitment,” says Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, “but it it becomes a pattern for your parter, it’s a sign to look elsewhere.” Dating expert and spiritual consultant, Davida Rappaport, takes a harder line: “If you cancel a date with a woman at the last minute more than once or twice, regardless of the reason: deal-breaker! When a woman has plans to be with a guy, there is only a limited amount of time she is willing to be disappointed.”

Date cancelled one too many times? Here are eight ways to meet new people.

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Sketchy online behavior

If a guy’s Instagram feed is full of women he’s dated (presumably) in the past or scantily clad party girls, it should be a deal-breaker, according to dating coach, Damona Hoffman. Men like that are almost invariably players. Here are some other social media mistakes that might be ruining your chance at relationship happiness.

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Sloppy or bad hygiene

“Nothing turns off a woman faster than a guy who doesn’t take care of himself, and make an effort to look (and smell!) presentable,” Hartle observes. Maria LoTempio, a 40-something surgeon in New York concurs: “If a man cannot take pride in the details such as clean clothes, what am I to think how they will deal with organizing and being clean in their surroundings?”

Speaking of a man’s surroundings, you might want to take a look at his car. “Whether it’s a Mercedes or a Kia, a man should take pride in his car,” says dating and relationship expert, Lisa Concepcion. If he doesn’t take good care of his car, can you imagine what his bedroom looks like?

It’s not just a matter of it being unpleasant, however, according to relationship counselor, Caroline Madden, PhD. “When a man can’t seem to take care of himself, it could be a signal that he’s looking for someone to take care of him.” And that should be a deal-breaker.

When it comes to personal hygiene, more is not always better. Here are the hygiene habits you need, and some you can throw out with the bathwater.

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A man does not have to be a ripped, pro athlete, says Duncan, the 30-year old single woman from Chicago, but if he’s not taking care of his body and his health, he’s placing the burden of it on everyone around him. “If you’re not investing time into your health and body, it’s a huge red flag,” agrees dating and relationship expert, Megan Weks. “That lack of self-care is a deal-breaker because it indicates underlying issues, including a lack of self-love.”

Are you a guy who can’t seem to get yourself motivated to exercise? Here’s the secret to loving your workout.

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Sartorially challenged

“Yes we like you to look dapper,” says Weks, and for good reason. “Studies show that we attribute a lot of good qualities to you if you’re dressed well, so why wouldn’t a man make the effort? If a man can’t be bothered to make that effort, is he worth your effort?” We get it. Dressing badly equals deal breaker.

If you want to make a good impression, you must avoid these outfit mistakes.

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His roommate is … Mom

It may sound a bit like the movie, Failure to Launch, in which Sarah Jessica Parker plays a woman who gets paid to help motivate men to move out of Mom’s house…but this is a bona fide real-life phenomenon. As hard as it is for some of us to fathom, there are men who continue to live with their moms well into their 20s, 30s, and beyond. And that is a deal-breaker, says actress and filmmaker, Audrey Lorea. “It’s not that he lives with his mother so much as it’s a symptom of a host of other problems,” she explains. These include lack of motivation, co-dependence, emotional immaturity, and a fear of commitment. “Moving out and living on your own is a huge part of personal development, and if a man hasn’t taken this leap, you should assume he’s stunted in other areas of his life as well.”

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His roommate is…his ex

This is also more common than you’d think (or than you’d like to believe). Men who remain under the same roof as their exes will offer up all sorts of excuses for doing so: the kids, the finances, the housing market. But none of them are valid, according to Dr. Madden, and a smart and emotionally healthy woman will not date a man who is living with his ex. It’s a deal-breaker. Period.

OK, men, so make a mental note: after you break up, you have to move out. Here are some other ways to get over a breakup.

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He comes with a posse

Friends are healthy. A man should have friends. But what about if he’s got a posse that he travels with, or, worse, that he brings with him on dates?

That’s a deal-breaker, according to Dr. Madden. “More is not the merrier if you are honestly trying to get to know someone,” she explains, and a man who routinely brings his friends with him when he goes out with you is friend-zoning you, whether he realizes it or not. And if he’s not doing it consciously, then you need to do it for him.

“If we’re just starting to date,” agrees Lindsey Hall, a 28-year old single blogger from Denver, “please don’t throw me into a situation with five or six of your bros. Be respectful and take me out separately. Otherwise, it’s a deal-breaker.”

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He’s a loner

So, if traveling with a posse is a deal breaker, then shouldn’t it be music to a woman’s ears that a man is a lone wolf?

In a word: no.

“Women want to date men who have other healthy friendships or deep connections with people,” says therapist Colleen Andre, MA LMHC. “If they have no close friends or family that means all the attention good as well as bad is placed on you, which is a huge gap for you to fill.”

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The waitress test

Virtually all of our experts agreed on one thing: You can tell a lot about a man by how he treats those in the service profession, as divorcee and attorney, Randi Robbins, puts it. And if he treats them poorly, it’s a deal-breaker.

“A man who is rude to hardworking restaurant staff is revealing a preview of coming attractions,” according to behavioral expert, Wendy L. Patrick, JD, PhD. Duncan, the online business coach from Chicago has seen it in practice, noting that “how he treats the server is how he will, at some point, treat me.”

Bottom line on this one: if a man can’t pass the “waitress test,” it’s a deal breaker.

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“When I’m on a date, I give my undivided attention, and I expect the same,” says Dr. LoTempio. “Otherwise, I don’t feel like we can connect.” And that means that divided attention is a deal-breaker for her. But she’s not the only one. Many of the single women and relationship experts we spoke to agree, and especially when it comes to men taking out their phone during a date.

“This should be a no brainer, but women tell me all the time that guys are on their phone,” says Dr. Madden, the relationship counselor. Whether they’re texting with an ex or checking sports scores, it’s just bad form. As Michele Sonier, a 40-something single pilot and former Wall Street-er, puts it: “Just don’t take your phone out on our date.”

Here are the cell phone etiquette tips you need to know.

But the phone isn’t the only thing diverting a man’s attention. “Ogling other women is a full stop for any woman,” says Dr. Madden. “Yet some men go as far as to comment about other women while on a date.” It’s mind-boggling, and it’s a total deal-breaker even for bisexual women. “A man shouldn’t think that just because a woman is bisexual that she’s interested in cruising other women while she’s on their date.”

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Bad conversation skills

This is bad news, and it comes in many forms. For example, Robbins notices “”if he fails to ask me questions and only answers mine. Or if he doesn’t appear to be listening because he doesn’t reflect back any of what I’ve said.” Sonier notices if her date is constantly talking about himself.

According to relationship expert, Monique Homanan, “Women want to date men who are interesting and interested. Watch out if a man only wants to talk about himself, his job, his car, his friends, his hobbies, his bank accounts.” And about those bank accounts, Robbins would like to offer this tip to men: “Don’t talk about money at all. It’s uncomfortable. It reveals insecurity, and more importantly, a focus on materialism.”

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Getting soused

“Given the opioid crisis in America, everyone knows someone struggling with addiction. If you get hammered within the first few dates, that signals to me that you don’t care to keep it together, and therefore, I don’t have time for it,” says Denver blogger, Hall. “Sure, have a couple drinks to loosen up, and I will too, but women are weary of men who seem to have never left college.

Trying to cut down? Try these tips to dial back your booze habit.

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This dirty, disgusting, and dangerous habit is a deal-breaker for almost every non-smoker (the top reasons being bad breath, smelly clothes, health concerns, and just a general sense of “why would you do that?”). But it’s a deal-breaker according to our experts as well.

“It’s amazing to see how many people agree to date a smoker with the hopes of getting them to quit,” notes relationship expert, 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!”

Dating coach, Hoffman says that even if you love to be a caretaker in a relationship, it’s too much, especially if you, yourself, have past or current addiction issues.

Trying to quit? Here are 23 ways to kick the butt habit.

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Excess baggage

“Many people can go on to have a healthy and fruitful relationship even after divorces or separation with kids. But, several children with multiple women or a complicated ex can just trap you in the unnecessary mess and problems,” according to therapist Andre. Thirty-something singleton, Becky McKeown, recalls the time she went on a date with a man who had 13 kids from nine different baby-moms. It’s not a date she recalls fondly.

The reality, according to dating coach Hoffman is that regardless of how deeply a woman is attracted to you, if you have a messy situation with your child’s mother, you’ll end up on her “do not date list”. And one way you can tell that a messy situation exists is if a man talks negatively about his ex on the first date; when Robbins sees this, she’s outta there because to her it means her date has unfinished business with his ex. For Robbins, it’s also a deal breaker if a man expresses animosity towards his children. “That’s a drama I want no part of,” she says.

Dr. LoTempio thinks that speaking ill of others in general speaks volumes about a man’s level of tolerance and kindness. In short, it’s a deal-breaker.

OK, this is getting a little serious. Let’s lighten things up with these hilarious jokes about relationships.

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Antiquated views of women

This is a deal-breaker for some women, but not for others. For single pilot Sonier, for whom being an “aviatrix” is a point of pride, if a man looks askance at her for her love of flying, there’s no point in continuing. “Why would you want to be a pilot?? What about kids, husband, family?” Sonier recalls being asked on more than one occasion. “My attitude is that it shouldn’t have to be a question of either/or. This isn’t the 1950s. But if that’s his attitude, we’re not dating.” Dr. LoTempio also notices that some men seem uncomfortable with her career as a surgeon. When she realizes that’s happening, she knows there’s no point in continuing because it’s not going to get better.

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He doesn’t pay for the first date

As forward-thinking as our single women and our experts are, they all agree, nevertheless, that the man should pick up the check on the first date. “It’s simply the universal sign that this has been a date,” explains Dr. Madden.

Even if the woman makes more money? “Even if she makes more,” according to Dr. Madden. “Yes, there’s probably going to be a moment where she’ll reach for the check out of politeness, but if a man doesn’t grab that check away and pay it, himself, he’s acting like this isn’t a date. If it’s a date, a man should act like it.”

Film producer and singleton, Karen M.C. Kane sees it as a matter of respect. “Women want to feel valued by the man they’re involved with. If a man doesn’t want to pay for the first date, he’s sending a message that he values his wallet more than he values her.”

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Irreconcilable differences

“Women want to date men who hold similar values to their own,” says relationship expert Monique Honaman. “Massive incompatibilities regarding fundamental values should be deal-breakers.” Those incompatibilities can include:

  • how you handle money
  • your religious beliefs
  • your political views
  • where you stand on having kids
  • how you feel about pets

“I write about eating disorders and recover,” blogger Hall says, “so if you make fun of a mental health issue on our date, I’m going to assume that not only do you not mesh with my career choice, but you’re also not a nice person.”

“For me, I can tell a lot just by noticing how he treats my cat,” says the thirty-something singleton from Chicago. “How he treats my cat is at some point how he’s going to treat me. More to the point, says 28-year old single nutritionist, Arielle Simonis, “if he’s not an animal person—if he actually says he’s not an animal person—I get off that train as fast as I can.”

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He’s pushy about sex

“Women want to date someone who is attracted to them and vice versa, but when a man won’t keep his mouth shut about how much he wants to bed her (ahem, on the first date), best keep looking,” says Simonis, who sees it as a bad sign about his intentions. And if he won’t stop groping you? Run, says dating expert and spiritual consultant Rappaport.

Once things get consensually intimate, there are other potential deal-breakers. For example, a lack of chemistry or a lack of compatibility when it comes to sexual proclivities. Even worse is when a man gets kinky without asking first, according to author Evie Vane. “If he tries spanking, bondage, or rough sex without asking, he’s likely to get the boot.”

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He’s a player

“Be available,” suggests New York psychotherapist Thompson to all the men out there who don’t want to be written off by women who don’t want to date players. “You don’t have to sign up for marriage but if you aren’t even available to date, don’t waste anyone’s time. An easy way to tell that a man is a player is if he’s unwilling to let go of the dating apps, says Dr. Madden. Also, if his social media behavior is “sketchy,” as described above.

“It’s important to date someone who’s looking for the same thing in a relationship. Women who want a relationship won’t want to date a player,” says psychologist and owner and director of New York City’s My Dating and Relationship School, Paulette Sherman, PsyD.

While you’re weeding out the players, here’s how to avoid online dating scams.

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Signposts of abuse

Emotional abuse can sneak up on you, but there are usually signs present right at the beginning. Here are some to consider as deal breakers:

  • Road rage: Not only is being trapped in a car with an angry man downright terrifying, but it’s a good predictor of more anger to come, says Dr. Madden.
  • He can’t compromise: If a man insists on eating only at his favorite restaurants, seeing his favorite movies, and hanging out with his friends to the exclusion of yours, it’s a bad sign, says relationships expert Honaman.
  • He won’t accept blame: If he won’t take responsibility for his behavior, especially if he’s looking to blame someone else (or you), beware, says therapist Sedacca. “Blamers make for toxic partners.”
  • He’s too attentive: If it’s only been a few dates, and he’s already constantly texting, calling, and checking in on you, that spells danger, says therapist Andre. You might be dealing with a controlling or insecure partner.

Whether you’re just dating or already in a relationship, please heed these relationship warning signs.