September 22, 2018

10 Relationship Deal-Breakers: when to Stay & when to Go.

As the late summer rain poured down upon the cobblestone street in the French Huguenot section in my town, I walked to a nearby café to grab a cup of coffee.

As the day began to wear upon me, I could feel my sharpness begin to wane somewhat. I walked through the doorway and a Keb Mo song was playing on the stereo. All at once, I was transported back to six years ago when I embarked upon what I, at the time, considered my last relationship.

As I mechanically placed my order with the barista, I was swirling around in a bit of confusion. How is it that I am here now?

As the caffeine began to take effect, I remembered more vividly how it is that I am living a half an hour away from my children. Whether we want to admit it or not, there are certain deal breakers that even the most well-intentioned lovers cannot ignore.

Some, of course, can be worked through with counseling, and some—especially when violence is in the equation—just can’t.

Different demographics have different priorities. Researcher Peter Jonason completed a study in 2015 where he determined what, to me, seemed like a straightforward list of what most people consider dating deal-breakers—everything from poor personal hygiene to living too far away—and while that is somewhat interesting, I was concerned with what will kill a relationship mid stream.

Here’s what I believe it comes down to:

Sexual incompatibility

Certain issues are totally workable. Obviously, most relationships in the early stages include lots of incredible sex. This will begin to wane with time and if kids are part of the equation, it may fall off drastically. The incompatibility I am thinking of is when one partner wants sex twice a week and the other can’t seem to get enthusiastic about it twice a year. In these extreme cases—and yes, they do exist—I can’t see continuation possible without some serious counseling.

Ideological differences

Let’s be honest, this was definitely less of an issue pre-Trump. If your partner was behind Hilary and you were a Bernie lover, this could work. If the love was strong enough, you perhaps could’ve even tolerated an Obama/Romney disagreement. With the current administration, however, it’s difficult not to make some hard evaluations about who you might be with if they voted in that direction.


A lot of relationships that begin when people are in their 20s begin to destruct as people approach their 30s—especially if the partners are on a different page with regard to having children. This is something that is worth getting straightened out as early as possible.


Everyone is different when it comes to this area, but having experienced it once, I can say that it was difficult to ever look at the person the same way again. We did try to keep the relationship alive afterward, but it was never the same. We would have been better off ending it right then and there.

Emotional distance

Relationships can sometimes endure this for a while, but emotionally distant people, quite honestly, make awful partners. There’s not too much in this world more frustrating than asking your lover what’s wrong and having them just grunt back at you. This will, more times than not, domino into bigger issues with time.

Alcohol/Substance abuse

This can be its own article, but to keep it short and sweet, people who have substance issues have no capacity to have healthy relationships. All of their energy and time is spent in the pursuit of their chemical needs and cleaning up the mess that subsequently follows that lifestyle. There’s a reason experts say, “Addicts don’t have relationships, they take hostages.” So regardless how you feel about your partner, eventually, being a hostage gets tiresome.


This is sometimes less of an issue with people in college, simply because most people are broke at that age. As time goes on, if two people cannot see eye to eye on the importance of creating wealth and abundance, it’s not going to work out.


There are different sorts of apathy. Usually the term is reserved for people who have their head in the sand when it comes to political or social issues; however, the apathy I speak about is contained to the relationship. If your partner does not even attempt to feign interest in the things you are passionate about, that’s going to be difficult to maintain for too long.


I’ve been guilty of this from time to time, so I have plenty of empathy for this type of person. What it comes down to with this character flaw is a willingness or unwillingness to change. While it may be somewhat annoying in a young relationship, it is downright toxic when children become part of the picture. The damage a self-centered parent can do is immense.


I believe that this can be worked on and should be worked on. Nothing is more humane than helping a person who has been damaged by a poor upbringing or past relationships to learn to love themselves.

There are exceptions, though. If the person doesn’t respect your privacy, if they get crazy jealous about everything, and just make every day a living hell, it might be best to let them work that stuff out without you. Like many things, it’s best to go with your gut on this one.

Of course, almost any relationship can be salvaged if both partners are so committed to change that they enthusiastically seek counseling.

Unfortunately, what makes most of these character flaws deal breakers is when the offending partner is not willing to do the hard work that is generally needed to keep a relationship functional and healthy. That is, until it just becomes too late.

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