Sometimes dating success is less about what you do and more about what you don’t do. Deal breakers are the bane of dating, and everybody has them. In fact, deal breakers have a greater impact in terms of attraction than what any one particular woman is looking for in a partner. It doesn’t matter how attractive you may be, no matter how sexy or how cultured, how charming or how whatever you are; if you hit somebody’s deal breakers, then you’re out.
Now, everybody’s going to have their own deal breakers, and you can’t please everybody at all times. However, science has found the most common deal breakers that you want to avoid if you want to find dating success.
5) You’re Lousy In Bed
Bad sex is one of the most common deal breakers. In fact, this comes up fairly often in terms of dating. After all, one of the reasons why women are so uninterested in casual sex isn’t because of some evo-psych BS about cheap sperm and expensive eggs, it’s because the sex is rarely worth it.
Sometimes it’s a matter of two people being fundamentally incompatible in bed; if you like your no-frills fucking and your date wants to swing from the chandeliers, odds are you’re not going to work out. Other times, it’s because people have their one way of schtupping and aren’t going to change for love nor money, no matter how bored their partner gets counting cracks in the ceiling. And sometimes it’s because you’re of the “got mine, fuck you” school of screwing. Regardless of the reasons, if you’re a lousy lay, you’re not going to get a chance for a repeat performance – presuming you even made it to the bedroom in the first place.
Just remember: being a great lover is about being willing to listen and respond to your partner, not about how many people you’ve slept with or knowing how to do the Transylvanian Twist. Even a virgin can be great in bed if they put in the effort to actually pay attention.
And hey, want to show you’re worth a roll in the hay before you even get there? Knowing how to dance helps – especially if you know how to use your hips. If your dance moves consist strictly of upper body motion and side-stepping without getting your hips engaged, then you’re not exactly sending signs that you’re the last of the red-hot lovers. Think more Eddie “Mambo King” Torres, less Michael Flatley.
Can’t dance/won’t dance? Then the best indicator of your skill in bed? Knowing how to give a kiss that’ll blow her socks off. Here’s a free hint: go slow, variable pressure and easy on the tongue.
4) You Lack A Sense Of Humor
Humor is a vital part of attraction. Having a solid sense of humor is a sign of emotional intelligence as well as the social calibration to know what jokes are going to work with which audience. And – more importantly – having a sense of humor that meshes with your date’s is a critical indicator as to whether or not the two of you are going to work in the first place. If her sense of humor lends more towards the droll and dry wit of a BBC show and you prefer Gallagher’s sledge-o-matic… well, unless she’s got a thing for very unconventional Thor cosplay, the odds are the two of you don’t have very much in common in the first place.
Now this isn’t to say that you have to be a stand-up comedian in order to get a date. Not everybody can be the joke-cracking wise-ass, nor should they try to be if that’s not how they roll. Instead, you want to key into the same emotional processes that humor does. When people talk about wanting somebody who makes them laugh, it’s not because they want to date Robin Williams, but because of what laughter does for them. Laughter makes us feel good and the more somebody makes us feel good, the more we want to spend time with them. So you may not be Hoban Washburne, but Simon Tam isn’t necessarily out of the running either. Being funny is less important than being fun. Can you take them on offbeat and unique dates? Can you make them enjoy themselves while they’re hanging out with you and have a good time? Then you don’t need to worry quite as much about having the perfect one-liner for every occasion.
Of course, the other thing you can do to show you have a good sense of humor? Laugh at her jokes. It goes both ways, after all.
3) You’re Too Needy
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: neediness is the Anti-Sex Equation. If women get a whiff of neediness from you, they’re going to NOPE out of there so fast that the only trace will be a human-shaped cloud where they used to be.
Here’s the thing about neediness: it’s almost always a sign of poor emotional health and intelligence – traits thats tend to be strong indicators that somebody isn’t ready to be in a relationship. Neediness implies a number of deal breakers in a person. To start with, somebody who’s needy betrays not just a lack of confidence, but also a lack of personal value. Being needy demonstrates that you value – need, even – somebody else’s validation over your own, because your own simply isn’t sufficient. In short, it’s a pretty strong indicator that you don’t actually bring anything to the table. Why should somebody be attracted to you when it’s clear that you don’t think you have anything of worth to offer?
Similarly, somebody who’s needy tends to be very bad at managing their own emotions. Needy people tend to take up a lot of their partner’s time and energy, demanding that they manage two people’s emotional needs, not just their own. They tend to not have any boundaries and cling to their partners like a love-sick barnacle, which is a bad look on anyone.
Then there’s the fact that neediness can occasionally hide other, more problematic issues. Needy people tend to push for commitment very quickly, trying to lock their partner down before they have a chance to think about it. Abusers also tend to push for commitment very quickly; it’s part of how they start the cycle of control. And believe me, neediness can be as abusive and as toxic as being overbearing or domineering.
So it’s not surprising that neediness is a major deal breaker for men and women.
How do you avoid this? Well… mostly by not being needy. Confident, emotionally well-balanced men rarely come off as needy. But if you’re especially worried about demonstrating neediness in the early stages of dating, then be willing to let your date set the pace. If, for example, you want to be careful about how often you communicate, try to keep yourself to a “reply plus one” level when it comes to texting or messaging. Think of it like playing volleyball; if they reply – bouncing the ball to your side of the net – you can serve it back for as long as the back and forth continues. If they don’t reply back, you get one more response before waiting for them to reconnect. Once you and your date find your particular rhythm and pattern of communicating, you can change things up, but it can be safe to err on the conservative side early on.
This doesn’t mean pretending that you don’t like them or that you’re not excited to see them; it’s good to express interest in somebody instead of trying to play bullshit “whoever cares less has the power” status games. It just means not being pushy. Being pushy is a great way to signal neediness and to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Just remember: one unreturned message could be tech problems. Two could be bad luck. Three means somebody is sending you a message.
2) You’re Lazy
This particular deal breaker tends to manifest in a number of different ways. The first and most common is the fact that women don’t want to date a slacker. There might be something vaguely appealing about somebody whose life revolves around getting high and doing random stupid shit in their early 20s (I guess…) because they’re just that much fun, but the bloom tends to fall off that particular rose pretty damn fast.
The thing that people get wrong about this isn’t that it means that you have to have some prestigious or high-paying job, it means that you have to have something you’re working towards. And I do mean working towards. Ambition is all well and good in and of itself, but it means sweet fuck-all if you aren’t making progress towards achieving it. I don’t care how much you may talk about your novel or your band or your dream job that you’ll get to do some day. “Some day” is the same as “never” if you’re not making a concerted effort to actually achieve that goal. Similarly, financial stability is important, not just on a practical level but on what it says about you as a person. Somebody who’s got their finances under control – as opposed to lurching from crisis to crisis because of poor planning and/or impulse control1 – is somebody who’s demonstrating maturity and good judgement.
The dislike of laziness also extends to one’s lifestyle and living arrangements. Living in an apartment where the roaches have left for some place less embarrassing? That’s a sign of laziness. Being a slob is a pretty good sign that you don’t take care of yourself and an indicator that you’re not ready for a relationship. Not having a bed frame is another shockingly common deal breaker (and one that comes up more often than you’d think) that falls under laziness; it’s an indicator of somebody’s priorities in life – particularly if said person also has an expensive TV, sound system or game console. It’s a sign that you aren’t ready to live like a grown-ass adult.
Similarly, if all you do is watch TV and/or play video games, you’re going to have a harder time finding a date. Yes, there are women out there who also love to binge on TV and video games but that’s not the only thing in their lives. If you want to date amazing, ambitious women, you need to have a lifestyle that they will want to be part of. You need to plug into the world around you, engage your intellectual curiosity and collect stories… which you can’t do sitting on your couch, fine-tuning your settlement in Fallout 4.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying give up the games or the Arrow marathons. I’m saying have things in your life in addition to those, that bring you in contact with other people. Like, say, playing tabletop games…
But speaking of laziness…
The Universal Deal Breaker: You Dress Like A Slob (And Smell Worse)
The single biggest deal breaker is simple: your appearance. Not your looks, but how you present yourself: your clothes, your hair and your hygiene. Our outward appearance is a visual representation of who we are as people and tells others far more about ourselves than when we open our mouths to yammer at them. If you’re dressed like you rolled into whatever happened to be on the floor, if you’ve got a patchy beard, greasy hair and the stains on your clothes seem to be developing into colors mankind doesn’t have words for yet, then it’s not exactly a mystery as to why you’re having problems getting a second date.
Lest you think I’m exaggerating, I’ve seen people roll into first dates dressed like Mr. Stock Photo there. Not “work a manual labor job and haven’t made it home to shower yet”, not “popping out to the convenience store for cigarettes and a Dr. Pepper” but “legit trying to get some ass tonight.”
But even without going to the extremes of stock photography stereotypes, the way you care for your appearance directly corresponds with your dating success. Poor hygiene is the first thing that needs to be addressed; I love my nerd bretheren but oh sweet Zombie Jesus there’s a reason why “nerd funk” is a thing. Smelling bad – whether through body odor, unclean clothes, a smoking habit or halitosis – is a universal turn-off at the most primal level. It’s a deal breaker for a reason: smelling bad is sign of bad health at worst and poor social calibration at best. So before you address anything else, attend to the way you smell. Skin and hair care are next – even just a basic familiarity with some moisturizer and conditioner can do wonders for improving your appearance.
But finally, you need to address your clothes. ZZ Top was right: every woman appreciates a man who knows how to dress. But even if you’re not dressing to the nines at all times, you do need to pay attention to your clothes. The way you dress can make night and day differences in how people perceive you. Start with how your clothes actually fit. This is the most important part of managing your appearance – even if you’re dressed in chinos and a blue oxford shirt, a proper fit will make you look far sharper than somebody in a too-large, shapeless Armani suit. And while you’re at it, make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. You don’t need to have razor-sharp creases that would make your drill sergeant proud, but wrinkles make you look sloppy and that just tells people you don’t care how you come across… and that’s going to be a major deal breaker.
Style comes last in terms of managing your appearance; cool clothes aren’t going to work if they look like they spent the last week on your bedroom floor. But once you’ve got the basics covered, then work on standing out just a little. But once you’ve shown that you care about your appearance and looking like a grown-ass man, going that extra mile can mean a lot.
Avoiding these deal breakers can feel like a lot of work, but it’s work that’s necessary. Don’t sabotage all the hard work you’ve done improving your social skills by triggering your dream date’s hard “no’s”. Steer clear of these deal breakers and you’ll not have to wonder why those first dates never turn into second dates… or thirds.
- This, I should note, is significantly different from someone who’s struggling because the economy sucks and being poor is shockingly expensive [↩]