It’s perhaps not the stuff of Shakespearean love sonnets, but romantic relationships are arrangements. And some deals—before they lead to lease-signing, ring-wearing, knot-tying or aisle-traipsing—are best broken. Herewith, a top 10 list of deal-breakers. Be warned: if you answer yes to most of these questions—that’s a deal-breaker, ladies.
1. Do you want children and he doesn’t? Or vice versa?
The kid question is the most popular deal-breaker of them all. “In many cases, the older person in the relationship doesn’t want children,” says Toronto-based psychotherapist and couples counselor Kimberly Moffit. “They may already have children and feel that they’re done with the child-rearing chapter in their lives.” If you want little ones but you’re reluctant to break up what might otherwise be a solid relationship, you may convince yourself that he’ll eventually change his mind. When he doesn’t change his mind, remorse and betrayal will follow.
2. Is he a spender and you’re a saver? Or the other way around?
Money is the close runner-up in the deal-breaking all-stars. “It’s about different habits. You need to have a synchronized view of spending money. A saver, for example, is most compatible with another saver,” says Moffit. On the other—more troublesome—side of the coin: one party may be perpetually squirreling away his pennies while the other is busy spending them. When the spender likes to spend the saver’s money, debt and resentment are likely to accrue in equal measure.
3. Does he have a habit that you can’t stand?
Habits—from smoking to excessive video-game playing—are legitimate relationship squashers. “If he has a habit that you can’t live with now: that’s a deal-breaker,” says Moffit. Repeat the following relationship commandment: “Never tell yourself that he’ll change.” Toronto-based life coach Joanne Del Core agrees: “Sixty-nine percent of people’s behaviour is perpetual.”
4. Does he stonewall you whenever you want to have a “relationship talk”?
Consistent stonewalling—a refusal to address difficult subjects—will eventually escort any relationship to its demise. “If you bring something up that your partner is not willing to talk about and they go into paralysis mode, this points to a human nature response of fear,” says Del Core. Although not by choice, in their avoidance your partner is cancelling themselves out of the relationship. “They’re hoarding power, unable to participate in the partnership,” adds Del Core. You’ll be left feeling punished, abandoned and alone.
5. Does he have an addiction that he’s not dealing with?
“If your partner has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, that’s a major red flag as it may reveal unresolved emotional issues,” says Moffit. Disclaimer: if he’s a recovering addict, and is making great strides in overcoming addiction, that should be both a comfort and a potential green light. Conversely, if he’s not confronting an addiction, it will necessarily force you into a variety of weighty roles like worrier and/or therapist.
“Relationship Deal Breakers” has been edited for FLARE.com; the complete story “Deal Breakers” appears in the June issue of FLARE magazine.