Six studies on relationship deal breakers were published last month in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. They were conducted by researchers at a number of US and foreign universities. Across the board they discovered that men and women share a number of top deal breakers but differ on a few that each considers important. The top ones in rank order include; unclean or disheveled, lazy, too needy, no sense of humor, lives far away, bad sex, lacks confidence, too much TV, games, low sex drive, stubborn, talks too much, and is too quiet. Given the unique culture here in the Nation’s Capital; it’s useful to examine these deal breakers and which ones would rank the highest and have the most influence in the dating and relationship choices made by Washingtonians.
Here are the top ones and why they apply:
Washington has an intense culture of long work hours and a primary focus on career. Anyone who aspires to maintain a 40 hour weak raises eyebrows and is often suspected of not being hard working and/or ambitious enough. If someone is too available to meet for that first date or focuses on the importance of maintaining a good work/life balance, they often don’t make the relationship cut. This is important to both men and women here in DC, but for women, it is probably at or near the very top.
- Lives far away
Due to those long work hours and one of the worst commutes in the country, proximity ranks high on the list for Washingtonians. For men, distance is an even bigger deal breaker than for women, who will compromise if he ranks high in her other top desired qualities. But for him having to travel in order to arrange time together is usually just not worth it, unless she is “the one” in every other way. Even then, he will want her to move closer in if the relationship progresses, or expect her to come to him. Living in the city is most desirable but increasingly unaffordable, which really adds to the cache of anyone who can swing it.
- Unclean or disheveled
This is an obvious one and holds the same for both sexes. However in this town, it is not just about hygiene—it’s about looking the part, and fitting in. Washingtonians often joke about the conservative nature of our dress and appearance, and there is great truth to it. The conservative suit, shirt, tie and haircut for men—and the dark suit or pantsuit, conservative blouse, and hair style for women. Nothing too out there like in New York or LA. The power suit says you have the right job, you fit in, you are a Washington Insider or on your way to being one.
- Bad sex and low sex drive
Depending on whether you are a man or a woman, one of these will be on your list. For guys in general, low sex drive is a turn-off. In this town, it may be an even bigger one due to all the very good reasons that working women have to say “not now.” For women who work long hours and who cherish their down time, if the sex isn’t fun and fulfilling, what is the point? After all, it takes energy and why waste it if it isn’t doing anything for them?
- Too needy
This one goes along with laziness; in that having the time and energy to spend on pursuing additional time and attention from others can be seen as not having anything really important going on in one’s career. It also speaks to how a person’s self-confidence is viewed based on a belief that if someone is not too available and needs to squeeze in time for dating and relating, they value their time and don’t worry that it could impact their relationship because they feel they are a good catch.
- Talks too much or too little
In this town, it depends on what you are talking about and what side of an issue you fall on. For men, women talking on and on about topics they find unimportant or talking too much about themselves is a turn off. For women, when men don’t have enough to share or don’t hold up their end of a conversation, it might appear to her that he is boring, lacks passion, doesn’t have strong views or anything of real interest to share. She also might think he is just not that into her.
- Too much TV or online games
Who has time for TV? Certainly this is a luxury that is only indulged in on weekends, and even then, he or she must have something more important or interesting to do with their time. If they don’t, they must be uninteresting. unmotivated, or lazy, right?
There is one more deal breaker that should be on this list—an individual’s political party affiliation. There is a great divide in this city between Democrats and Republicans and when two singles meet, this topic usually comes up in the first couple of minutes. Why is it so important? Because it is viewed as a clear marker of their values and where they stand on the many issues that will impact their family, lifestyle, financial and other choices going forward.
These deal breakers are neither right nor wrong, they just are. For anyone out there who is single and dating you may want to keep them in mind when you are trying to figure out why that guy hasn’t called, why she keeps avoiding your suggestions to get together—or why the relationship seemed to get off to a good start, but fizzled out without warning or explanation.