This Is What Science Has To Say About Your Dating Dealbreakers

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Even the most open-minded dater has dealbreakers. Maybe it's bad manners. Maybe it's selfishness. Maybe it's talking too often about an ex or refusing to put the toilet seat down.

Most of us could make a list of the positive qualities we're looking for in a mate and a list of the negative qualities that will send us running. If you've spent any amount of time reading dating advice, you've been told that the best way to find a partner is to focus on what you do want rather than what you don't.

But now, new research suggests that people give more weight to their dealbreakers than they do to their deal makers. According to The Wall Street Journal, this tendency is essentially “the relationship version of the economic loss-aversion theory, which holds that people prioritize avoiding risk over acquiring gains.” People pay more attention to what's wrong with a potential partner than what is right.

In a series of six studies published together in October in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers from several universities found that women have more deal breakers than men. This is most likely because the stakes are higher for childbearers, who must be pickier about choosing a mate.

The studies also found that people who believe they are a good catch have more dealbreakers, and that everyone has more dealbreakers when considering a long-term relationship rather than a short-term one. One of the studies found that, though women tend to have more dealbreakers than men, there are more similarities than differences between the sexes.

The biggest dealbreaker for both was “disheveled or unclean,” followed by “lazy” and “too needy.” Women place greater importance on having a sense of humor, perhaps because humor is linked to intelligence. Men aren't as concerned about brains in a mate – in fact, one study found that men prefer not to date women who are smarter than they are.

When it comes to hitting the sack, the sexes are divided again. Women consider “bad sex” to be the biggest dealbreaker. Men, on the other hand, are more turned off low sex drives and talking too much. It's a classic dichotomy – men want quantity, women want quality.

A discusssion of dealbreakers begs the question: are you too picky or not picky enough? And which is better? Psychologists and dating experts say it's smart to set reasonable standards and expectations, but relying on irrational ones could mean missing out on a great mate.

If you want to know if a dealbreaker is reasonable or ridiculous, try this tip from Michael Boman, a licensed clinical social worker in Magna, Utah, who counsels couples: “Ask yourself what your best friend would say. It helps you to become objective.”