What’s the Deal?
CapU students weigh in on their biggest relationship deal-breakers
Megan Orr // Contributor
Picture this: you’re waiting at a bar for your date who’s running late. You’re patient, sipping on a drink quietly from your table in the corner. You glance down at your phone – no messages. The longer you wait the more you start thinking that it’s kind of rude of them to keep you waiting and isn’t this one of those red flags people are always talking about? What are you supposed to do: give them the benefit of the doubt and keep waiting a little longer or finish your drink and delete their number? Is this… a “deal-breaker?”
According to a study of university-aged students published by Psychology Today, some of the most common long-term relationship deal-breakers are things like infidelity, inattentiveness and anger issues. The study, which was conducted by Peter Jonason and colleagues from the Personality and Social Psychology bulletin, aimed to explore deal-breakers in long and short-term relationships, as well as purely sexual relationships and friendships. Their research indicated that undesirable traits, either physical or personality, “Made people less inclined to have any type of relationship with the person, including friendship.” However, differences in dating intentions were not graded as being a huge factor. Basically, dating is weird and hard, and people make some strange decisions based on what they do and don’t want, or rather what they think they want.
As university students, then, it seems to be the complicated intricacies of dating that hold us back from finding “the one”. That’s what we’re here to talk about, the absolute bullshit that people are unwilling to put up with: the deal-breakers. We collected data in the form of an online survey from Capilano University students, asking them to choose three from a list of 15 options of common deal-breakers. Options included things like stubbornness, politics and income. The top three, according to CapU students are: smoking, laziness and being a know-it-all. We also asked students to comment on a time when they’ve ended a relationship because of a deal-breaker or the strangest deal-breakers they’ve ever heard, and CapU did not disappoint.
Some highlights include one story of someone ending a short-term relationship with their boyfriend because “he was so messy that he had rats living in his room”. Yikes! There was also an incident of ruined sheets when the guy got a nosebleed during sex and they never saw each other again because it was too awkward. Some additional interesting deal-breakers were things like: the significant other not eating McDonald’s, not liking girls who chew gum, not having enough tattoos and, a personal favourite, the size of their earlobes. Of course, the size of another appendage was mentioned as well.
For the most part, these are all seemingly silly things. If you were to meet the right person these little annoying habits could be dealt with as a couple. However, if it really is the right person maybe they will be the one willing to work on their nicotine habit or laziness. Ultimately, the old adage that relationships are about compromise rings true for these issues. While the importance of acknowledging when two people just aren’t suited to each other is vital to a healthy and happy relationship, it’s also important to note that no person you’re going to meet is perfect. If their biggest flaw is really that they can sometimes be a know-it-all, it’s maybe you that has some growing up to do. After all, in the two-way-street of relationships, you just might be the problem, too. It’s a classic comedy trope, think Seinfeld’s George Costanza, a dopey curmudgeon who always finds himself with unrealistically beautiful women, that he without fail finds a flaw in that he just can’t get over. Of course, this is a farce, but it is one that we see perpetrated time and time again and reflected back into our own relationships.
The same article in Psychology Today noted that there is an important distinction between how we emphasize our deal-breakers and deal-makers (the traits we find desirable). The study Jonason conducted noted that people found deal-breakers to be more important than deal-makers in most instances, and that, “When it comes to evaluating potential mates, we don’t ‘accentuate the positive,’ as the old song goes, but rather, we put more weight on important negative traits.” The take-away from this then becomes determining how much weight we are putting on our partner’s negative attributes rather than their positive ones. This can lead to settling for someone who is less than what we deserve, or even want, just because they don’t smoke and have regular sized earlobes.
While it is undoubtedly crucial in any serious relationship to be straightforward with what your expectations are and establish clear definitions of what respect means to both partners, it is also valuable to work on appreciating the good in people. By all means, trust your instincts and end things if it really doesn’t feel right, though as cliché as it may sound, people can surprise you when you try to focus on their positive qualities. Yes, sometimes it is easier to be the jaded pessimist who claims to not believe in love, but if you’re really looking to make one of those relationship-deals work, then it’s probably better to put more emphasis on the deal-makers rather than the deal-breakers. After all, in the end, George Costanza wound up alone.