What no-go zones have caused you to end a previous relationship? Maybe you can’t stand smoking and the smell of a potentially-beloveds cancer sticks makes you literally gag. Or is it that hints of jealousy and possessiveness were a sure-fire sign a relationship wasn’t meant be?
According to a study released by matchmaking website eHarmony recently, it turns out that our age, gender, how much we earn and even where we live might be more behind our decisions to start or end relationships than you’d think.
In the national Relationship Study, over 1000 men and women over the age of 18 were asked why they’d call things off when they were thinking about starting a new relationship. And while some deal-breakers were consistent, others varied wildly.
“The three top deal-breakers that are consistent across all ages and sexes are poor lifestyle habits and choices, for example drug and alcohol abuse, a lack of compatibility and baggage from previous relationships,” says eHarmony’s Annemarie Gallard. “They’re perfectly reasonable ones for anyone to have as they are issues that could easily hinder the development of a healthy relationship.”
“(But) though both sexes are in agreement over a number of deal-breakers, more than half the women surveyed consider long-term unemployment and lack of intelligence a deal-breaker, compared to only a quarter of men,” Annemarie continues. “With more women pursuing higher education than ever – and at a higher rate than men – it’s unsurprising that they value intelligence and employment in a partner.”
And it’s not just a lack of brainpower that’s a bigger turn off for women. Differences in religion, poor personal hygiene, possessiveness and a large age gap were cited as cause for concern far more by the fairer sex than their male counterparts.
“I have worked hard for everything I have in my life,” says Sally*, 34. “I’m proud to be independent and to have a full and varied social life too. So when I started dating a guy who wanted me to only spend time with him and his mates and was really jealous of all of my male friends it set off massive warning signals. I ended it before I fell too deep as I’d watched girlfriends go through similar situations with men and I didn’t want to become another broken hearted statistic.”
So what differences matter to men? A difference in political affiliation, taste in TV shows and, more often, a partner who earns more than them were named as no-go zones for guys.
“Some men identify with the ‘traditional’ male role of provider and they may feel intimidated by women who out-earn them,” Annemarie explains.
It’s a sentiment that Daniel*, 45, understands. “I’m a little embarrassed to admit it but I like being the one who provides for my family,” he says. “When I was in my late 20s I had a girlfriend who was much more successful in her career than I was at that point. She not only wanted to spend more money on things like going out, holidays and so on but it made me feel inadequate that I couldn’t provide her with all the things she wanted. It made me feel like ‘less of a man’.”
As we age our deal-breakers continue to change. For example, we’re less likely to call things off because of smoking yet much more likely to call things off over annoying habits like talking about the same thing over and over again, indecisiveness or nervous tics.
“It’s not really surprising that older Aussies are more tolerant of smoking as it was more common a decade or two ago than it is today,” say Annemarie. “(But) as people grow older and gain more life experience – including going through divorce – they learn more about themselves and what they need in a partner. A lot of our success couples report a deeper connection than what they experienced in their previous relationship.”
While the girl and bro code are fairly universal – near equal numbers of both men and women said that if someone had dated a friend first they’d walk away – what was surprising to see was that this statistic rose as the respondents income level did. Eighteen percent of those who earned under $40,000 cited it as a deal-breaker compared to 25% of those whose earnings were between $40,000 and $100,000 and 36% of those who earn over $100,000 per annum. However on the opposite end of the spectrum a lack of success in love is less important to those on a higher income bracket as is a difference in values.
The State you reside in also showed some surprising differences. A previous divorce? More than twice the number of those surveyed in Tasmania said they’d call things off as opposed to those from NSW. West Australians say they have less tolerance for a difference in values while Victorians are most likely to struggle with a big age gap.
But Annemarie says that while there were some State-based differences, at the end of the day geography’s impact was minor. “At the end of the day, no two people anywhere are the same,” she says. “Everybody looking for love has a unique standpoint on what’s important in a relationship.”
By Tiffany Dunk
What is your relationship deal-breaker? Tell us in the comments below!