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You can be the best-looking guy in the room and have a fancy degree from a prestigous school, but a new study suggests your negative traits—even if they pale in comparison to your positive ones!—may be what stand out most to women. (To be fair, the same applies to you when meeting women.)
In the study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers from the University of Florida, Western Sydney University, Indiana University, Singapore Management University, and Rutgers University examined the effect of relationship deal breakers on budding romantic or sexual relationships to gauge the value people place on them, in comparison to deal makers.
Ninety-two undergraduate students aged 18-53 were asked to complete an online survey for extra credit. Participants were asked: “What would make you reject someone as a potential short-term, casual sex partner?” and “What would make you reject someone as a potential long-term, committed partner?” They were also tasked with listing all the dealbreakers they regarded essential to both scenarios.
Researchers found men and women weigh not-so-favorable qualities more heavily than favorable ones—though the effect is stronger for women. A few chinks in your armor can be enough for her to move on to the next guy, they say.
“We have a general tendency to attend more closely to negative information—things that can harm are generally more important than things that can help you—than we do to positive information,” study author Gregory Webster said in a press release.
So, think of rejection as a sort of survival mechanism.
Not all is lost, though; deal breakers for one woman might be deal makers for another. For example, the researchers say if a person is impulsive, a potential partner might be attracted to that quality, while another might prefer someone who’s predictable.
And since we know you’re curious, here are the top deal breakers for women (and men) deciding on potential partners—in no particular order:
It may not be fair, but perceived attractiveness is the biggest indicator of desire and physical connection. If you’re not her type, attraction can’t be forced and she’s more apt to prevent any type of relationship from moving forward—even if getting to know you could spark some chemistry down the line. If you’re drawn to each other on an intrinsic, even carnal level, odds are the relationship will take off. Just remember: Even good looks can’t mask a crappy personality, so a relationship can end just as easily as it begins. (And that just so happens to be the next slide.)
Undesirable personality traits
Even the most stunning woman can be completely undesirable to you if her personality clashes with everything you want in a partner. The same goes for women. In most scenarios, it’ll take a few dates to pick up on your personality quirks, but if she detects red flags in the first moments of meeting you (i.e. you’re rude to a waiter), it can spell disaster. (But remember, what’s annoying to one woman might be a turn on for another!)
Since you’re a Men’s Fitness reader, you can probably relate to this one. If you spend your free time after work in the gym or pounding the pavement, and your weekends on adventurous excursions like kayaking, finding new hiking spots, and biking, you’re going to want a partner that shares those interests. If her only hobbies include binge-watching reality television and shopping, it’s obvious your personalities will clash. That’s not to say things won’t work, compromise is necessary in every relationship. But you’ll probably find your relationship and life more enjoyable when you can share moments and memories doing things you love with the person you love.
Differing religious beliefs
Religious beliefs are part of your identity. If she’s deadset on marrying someone who shares her religious affiliation because that’s important to her, then you won’t have a chance if you don’t.
Limited social status
Hearing a girl doesn’t want to be with you because you’re not the adult equivalent of the high school Prom King is cold—but it happens. You’re better off cutting your losses than trying to win over the former head cheerleader.
Differing mating strategies
You can learn from your mistakes on this one. Are you that creepy guy on Tinder dropping inappropriate pickup lines? Is your “notice me” strategy to take the same subway line and sit in the same car as a woman until she makes eye contact with you (but to ask her out)? Poor “mating strategies” can seriously throw a woman off. She might find you crass, creepy, and cowardly depending on your approach, so pay attention to how women are responding to your come-ons. You want to attract, select, and retain mates—not scare them all away.
Differing relationship goals
You’re looking for someone to warm your bed at night, while she’s looking for a guy to move in with, get married to, adopt a Golden Retriever puppy and have babies with. See how things can get messy if your goals don’t align? Sure, you can say you’re keeping things casual, but that precious balance will shift quickly if your long-term goals aren’t the same.