A survey of American college students found that apathy and rudeness are the strongest push factors when people are assessed as potential long-term partners. In the context of short-term mating, the most repulsive factors were coarse and sticky. The new study was published in Personality and individual differences.
People consider many different characteristics when choosing a sexual or romantic partner. Some of these factors are more important than others, but some are also deal breakers, factors that completely disqualify someone as a potential mate. The authors of this study identified 49 of these dealbreakers mentioned in the studies and attempted to categorize them.
These categories were unattractiveness, unhealthy lifestyle, undesirable personality traits, differing religious beliefs, limited social status, differing mating psychology, and differing relationship goals. However, they realized that other studies have also attempted to create classifications of relationship dealbreakers and have produced different results.
The researchers felt that a good classification of relationship dealbreakers should group dealbreakers into fewer categories, but also focus on characteristics that impose costs on people, such as producing threats to their sexual health (e.g. example, sexually transmitted diseases), relationships (eg, infidelity), or that create personality issues (eg, insecurity).
They also expected the dealbreakers to be different depending on whether a person is looking for a long-term or short-term mate, depending on the value of the mate, but also on gender and age.
The researchers reanalyzed data from a sample of 285 undergraduate students from a university in the southwestern United States, collected for a previous study. Of the entire sample, 115 of the participants were male, 95% were heterosexual, and half of the participants said they were in a committed relationship. 61% were European Americans.
Participants completed assessments of their value as a partner (the Mate Value Inventory, MVI) and their sexual strategies (the Sociosexual Orientation Index, SOI). Participants were then given a list of 49 potential mate traits that have been identified as dealbreakers in previous studies. They were asked to rate each trait on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how much of a deal breaker it would be in a short-term and long-term relationship. They were told that dealbreakers are “bits of information you learn about a person that could cause you to lose interest in that potential partner.”
Analysis of participant responses showed that, based on statistical criteria, relationship dealbreakers can be grouped into six categories: Gross, Addicted, Clingy, Promiscuous, Apathetic, and Unmotivated.
In the context of long-term mating, both men and women ranked Apathetic as the biggest dealbreaker, followed by Gross, then Clingy, Addicted, Unmotivated, and Promiscuous. Males rated all dealbreaker groups except Gross as greater long-term dealbreakers than in the short-term mating context. The difference in ratings for the two mating contexts was on Apathetic and Unmotivated. Gross was considered equally repulsive to short-term and long-term mating. The women gave similar ratings, with the exception of promiscuity, which they found equally repugnant in both dating settings.
Older women viewed Gross and Unmotivated as slightly more dealbreakers than younger women. Females with higher mate value were more repelled by rudeness in the short-term mating context and this association was stronger than in males. In the long-term context, females with higher mating value were more repelled by characteristics in the Clingy and Apathetic categories.
“Our new analysis yielded six dealbreaker factors (i.e., Gross, Addicted, Clingy, Promiscuous, Apathetic, and Unmotivated) with excellent fit and measure invariant across gender and relationship background,” the researchers concluded. researchers. “Consistent with existing research in other cultures, the biggest deal breakers were apathy (i.e. lack of parenting ability) and rudeness (i.e. say to pose pathogenic threats) in the long term and to be coarse and clingy (i.e. to inhibit a partner’s non-parental reproductive efforts) in the short term.”
“As expected, age was in a weak and positive relationship with dealbreakers, but only among women and not men. Also as expected, openness to noncommittal sex was associated with lower dealbreaker ratings , an effect that was more pronounced in the short term than in the long term (except for Clingy) and partner value was positively correlated with dealbreakers in both mating contexts.”
The study contributes to the body of knowledge about sexual behavior. However, it has limitations that must be taken into account. In particular, the results are based on the responses of a relatively small sample of students. Age differences between participants were limited and results in other populations may not be the same. In addition, the study was based on self-reports. It is possible that participants differed in their interpretations of dealbreakers or were unable to accurately assess how much a dealbreaker would affect them in a real-life situation.
The study, “Six ‘Red Flags’ in Relationships: From Being Dangerous to Rude and from Being Apathetic to Unmotivated,” was authored by Zsofia Csajbok, Kaitlyn P. White, and Peter K. Jonason.