For all sorts of reasons, men shy away— some absurd, some justifiable, some absolutely mysterious. Here’s what can turn off a guy when it comes to dating.
Yeah, this one crosses genders: “I want to be able to hug, kiss, and hold hands without wondering how much bleach I’ll have to use on my next laundry cycle,” jokes single photographer and model Michael Freeby.
Nick Fresolone, a divorced dad in New Jersey, confirms that hygiene is crucial: “Good teeth are important,” he says, “as are clean fingernails. In fact, I consider those non-negotiable.”
“No one likes to be talked down to or belittled,” Rami says. “If you’re into that, don’t expect him to stick around for long.”
If the purpose of constructive criticism is to get a man to change something about himself, then is wasted breath. “If you badger him about changing something, the one thing he’ll probably change is you.” It would be nice if women could stop believing men can change, psychotherapist Delboy observes. “Men can change and many of them may want to, but it’s a turn-off when someone is actively trying to turn them into someone they’re not.”
All that shallow stuff
Age? Shape? Hair? You better believe— they are all on the male deal-breaker list. Although few men would cop to the facts, matchmakers had a different story to tell, naming the three following men deal breakers:
Too old: Men want younger women— even if they had relationships with women of their age or older in their past, says a Chicago matchmaker, Stefanie Safran.
Not fit enough: Isabel, a matchmaker who founded Elite Dating Managers, told Reader’s Digest that 90 percent of her male clients call this a deal-breaker. “They just want a woman in good physical shape who is not overweight.” Safran concurred: “Men want women that work out, eat healthily, and generally take care of themselves.”
Short hair: “More often than not, men want women with longer hair,” Safran says, “especially since most of the women on TV have long (and some with very long hair extensions) hair these days.”
At the same time, Safran also notes that men consider “being high maintenance” to be a dating deal-breaker. “They want someone who spends some time getting ready, not hours and hours.”
Dating and life coach Jonathan Bennett says that “if a woman can’t stay off her phone while on the date, that’s it. It’s a non-starter.”
Ryan, the single model, actor, and businessman got very honest with us about bad bathroom manners. While acknowledging that men also should put the toilet seat down, he also stated that if a woman can’t be bothered to wrap her used tampon in tissue paper, it’s a deal-breaker.
Playing hard to get
“I’m trying to go to lunch, not on an Indiana Jones adventure to unlock the secrets of some tombstone,” Freeby jokes. But he strikes a chord for a lot of men: “We like a challenge, but if a woman plays hard to get, it’s a deal-breaker.”
Dating coach Bennett points out that the availability of other women through online dating platforms and apps makes it much more important than a woman doesn’t appear to be closed off.
Most non-smokers will tell you that this filthy habit is a deal-breaker. “With all that we know about smoking’s harmful effects, there’s no reason a woman needs to light up,” says Wayne Rodgers, a writer for Info Group Media who specializes in relationships and other issues that affect men.
“It’s amazing to see how many people agree to date a smoker with the hopes of getting them to quit,” notes Concepcion. “They tolerate bad breath and second-hand smoke just to be in a relationship. It’s a waste of time, bad for your health, and starts the relationship off with the need for someone to break a habit. Make it a deal-breaker and move on!”
“Texting is a crucial part of pre- and post-date flirtation today,” says dating coach Hoffman. And it’s true no matter what the age-group. “If you’re not good at keeping up a conversation over text or you simply refuse to text, you are limiting your chances with modern men.”
“This is a generation where people are glued to their phones for Candy Crush and FarmVille,” says Freeby. “If I can’t get a quick answer to my texts or call within a few hours, I’m going to assume we’re done.”
And that brings up ghosting, which is having someone you believe cares for you vanish without any reason or explanation. No email or phone call, not even a text. This isn’t new, but the development of dating apps has attracted quite a bit of attention, which makes it easy to vanish without a trace on someone.
“Few things are more confusing and potentially damaging than just disappearing, especially after several dates,” according to Santiago Delboy, MBA, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Chicago. In this day and age, if you drop out of sight, your date is going to assume you’re ghosting.
It’s true, says dating and relationship expert Lisa Concepcion. “There’s nothing more unappealing than empty water bottles, wrappers, papers, pens, and other unnecessary junk cluttering up the seats and floors,” she says. “Whether it’s a Mercedes or a Kia, clean it up and take pride in your ride.”
Excessive drug use or partying
Party girls do not need to apply, say the single men and the dating experts we spoke to. “I’ve learned that no matter how open-minded you are if you let people who have toxic addictions into your life, you’re inviting a lot of other issues as well,” says Freeby.
According to licensed New York mental health counselor, Tom Kearns, LMSW, “a woman who still wants to party and not spend time at home, clubbing every night, and worrying only about the next party can be too much. If a movie night at home is a deal-breaker for her, then that’s a deal-breaker.”
“No one likes negativism,” says single 40-something Ari. “If your profile leads with the things you hate about men or what has frustrated you about online dating—before you even mentioned your positive qualities, you won’t make the cut even for a first date,” says dating coach Hoffman.
Another way people show negativity is by saying negative things about others. “There’s no one less attractive in any given room than the person who feels the need to put others down,” Freeby says.
“In my coaching practice, I’ve noticed that quite a few men won’t date vegans,” says dating coach Damona Hoffman. “Aside from being unable to take you to their favorite steakhouse, saying you’re vegan sometimes gives the impression that you are too rigid to date.”
Men will never want a woman with substance abuse issues, but they do want a woman with substance. And there’s another form of addiction that can get a man running in the other direction: selfie-addiction.
“When a woman takes selfies compulsively, it diminishes my view of her intelligence and maturity (especially the duck face),” says Ryan. Similarly, “it can be off-putting if a woman spends inordinate amounts of time on social media,” says single dad, Michael “particularly if it involves posting numerous selfies and frequently changing her profile pic.”
The problem with this kind of behavior is that it translates as “attention-seeking” as well as narcissism, potentially. And this definitely means “deal-breaker.”
Being a teetotaler
Although not always accurate, many men prefer a woman who is willing to imbibe. “I like to have a drink every once in a while,” says single man Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, which has been described as the “Uber” for lawn care. “Although I’ve tried dating women that don’t drink, I find it makes me feel uncomfortable if they are not having as good a time as I am.”
Being too easy
As Freeby says, “men like a challenge.” Men also like sex, reminds Ryan, but there has to be a balance. “If a woman sleeps with a man too soon on the dating journey, it’s a giant red flag,” Ryan says.
That said, if a woman displays no affection whatsoever (not sexual affection, but just general physical warmth), for divorced dad Fresolone it is a complete deal-breaker. Hand holding and cuddling are important,” he says. “I don’t want to date a woman who’s cold.”
Single New Yorker William has no tolerance for racist women. Since William is a black man, one could assume any woman he dates is not a racist. Not true. “I’ve dated women who are fine with black guys, but dislike Hispanic or Jewish people.” And for William, any intolerance, racial, religious or otherwise, is a deal-breaker.
Expecting a mind-reader
A woman who wants her man to be a mind-reader will not only be disappointed but will end up dumped. Dating For Geeks coach Rami Naseir wants every woman to know: “Men don’t read minds. If you’re unhappy about something and don’t say so, don’t expect it to magically be fixed.”
Men also can’t tell when you’re sad or mad. “If we cross a line, you need to tell us. If we apologize, you need to accept it. If you get your apology but still carry venom, that’s a deal-breaker.”
Too much drama
Being too emotional in any relationship is going to be a deal-breaker, says Matthews, whether it’s a girlfriend, friends, family, or therapist. Likewise, it’s overwhelming if there’s too much drama in her life, whether from family members or an ex, Bennett says.”No quality guy has time or energy for that.”
Failing to give enough space
“Men need man-time at least once a week,” says geek-coach Rami. “I’m talking about leaving us alone to watch television, read, or do nothing at all.” If a woman is unable to give at least as much don’t-interrupt-man-time, then that will be a problem.
It’s not really shocking, particularly in these times, that failing to see eye-to-eye on political issues might kill the mood. “My main deal-breaker for the first few dates is having a girl who talks about nothing but politics. Some is fine, but if it’s the main focus for each conversation, I usually end it,” says single guy Sterling Graham.
A woman with no opinion
“A man enjoys someone to volley with him on ideas. The play is the thing!” according to Kearns. “To simply agree or not have their own view is boring.”
Likewise, says psychologist Matthews, being incoherent or wishy-washy is unattractive for a man. It may be reflective of a lack of ambition, which isn’t OK with Bennett as a future dater and dating mentor. “Successful men engage in self-improvement constantly. They don’t want to settle down with someone who lacks any sort of personal drive and ambition.”
According to New York psychologist Kearns, creating separate lives based on completely different desires is not a positive path forward. Having differences of opinion is okay, says psychotherapist Jesse D. Matthews, PsyD. “Differences in beliefs are okay to some extent, but in the long run, big differences in values are going to be a deal-breaker.”
Some people are up for monogamy, some just aren’t. “If I commit myself to you and believe monogamy is important to growing our relationship, then I expect the same from you,” says Matthews. Anything less would be a deal-breaker.
Wanting kids—or not
“Where you stand on parenting is a very important thing to clarify in a preliminary phone call before even going on the date. If you don’t want kids and the person has two children this is something important to learn about quickly,” says Concepcion.
Loving pets—or not
Some men don’t like cats. Some are actually allergic. Single New Yorker William says “after two cats, it’s a deal-breaker.”