The first date is often when deal breakers come out, according to a collection of new studies, and it turns out that people have a lot of deal breakers. You can probably think of a few of your own right now. Flossing teeth at the table, the smell of cat litter on clothing and the inability to deal with opinions that differ from their own are just a few past reasons I've jumped ship before it's even left the harbor. (Seriously who flosses at a restaurant table?? But I guess he deserved kudos for practicing good hygiene?)
But while it's easy to figure out your own deal breakers, it's much harder to know what will cause the other person to stop answering your texts. So the researchers set off to figure out what is actually turning off potential mates, as opposed to what we think is causing them to ghost and run. In a series of six studies published together online in October in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers asked thousands of men and women to choose their biggest deal breakers from a long list of possibilities ranging from questions about hygiene to sex to life goals. What they found may surprise you.
... and were more vocal about expressing exactly what those things were. The researchers speculated this was because women, as the baby bakers, have a lot more to lose from a failed romantic encounter than men do. Finding a good, caring, hard-working man isn't just about preference, it's about survival.
I'm not sure how the researchers measured attractiveness (self-report?) but people who have more to offer in the looks department apparently think they deserve more in every other department.
... but it's not what you think. While previous research has found that youth, weight and overall attractiveness are definitely important to daters, these studies found that they weren't the number one issue. Rather, bad hygiene was the ultimate mood killer, as men listed being disheveled or unkempt as their primary deal breaker while women listed it as their second. And if you really press men about what they are looking for physically, according to a 2014 study, the number one response is... good teeth. Seriously.
The number one turnoff for women was perceived laziness. Women, understandably, just could not handle a goal-less man still couch surfing at his parents'. Women further killed the stereotype of the loveable man-child when they listed "neediness" as their third deal breaker, closely followed by no sense of humor, living more than three hours away, bad sexting, low confidence and playing too many video games.
More: How to leave a bad date
Men also disliked laziness, neediness and long-term relationships, but one of the big gender differences was when it came to sex. Men were far more likely than women to list a low sex drive as a deal breaker but not as likely to list bad sex, suggesting that they are more concerned with quantity than quality. (Although what constitutes "bad sex" to a man versus a woman could be a whole study on its own!) Unsurprisingly, men were not very concerned with a potential mate's video game playing habits.
But perhaps the most interesting finding was that deal breakers were far more important to people than deal makers. People were much more willing to forego some of their "must-haves" than put up with their "must-nevers," meaning that a great sense of humor and a nice smile aren't enough to overcome a filthy apartment. While we wish people could focus on our good qualities and overlook the bad ones, apparently that's not how it works — at least in the world of first dates.
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