Love Better

People Tell Us Their Relationship Deal-Breakers

What does it take to stop you from sticking with a partner?
holding hands

A deal-breaker is simple: anything that would stop you from dating someone, even if you were already with them.

Deal-breakers aren’t signs of inherently bad behaviour or abjectly negative qualities in someone – and that’s what separates it from a red flag.

It could be that someone doesn’t share your love of scary movies. If that’s truly important to you, it might have an effect on your relationship, and that means it’s reason enough to end things. You don’t have to have everything in common, but you also shouldn’t miss out on the things you love because your relationship doesn’t allow you to explore them.


Maybe they're vegan and you love meat. You might only want to date someone on their full licence. Perhaps you’re a massive animal person and 4 months into dating someone and they tell you they never want pets.

All of that is totally fine.

To find out what kind of things were turning people off potential partners, VICE NZ asked young New Zealanders their relationship deal-breaker. Here’s what they had to say:

“Making jokes that if I gained weight the relationship would be over.”

“Emotional immaturity.”

“Lack of commitment! Or the ability to keep an open mind and keep propelling forward.”

“Anyone who tells me how to dress or who I can or can’t hang out with or when to be home. It’s okay to ask someone to be home by 10pm because you want to spend time with them, but not to demand it. If someone is trying to control your lifestyle then they don’t really want you to be yourself.” 

“If you still have the same problems you had at the start of your relationship a year in.”


“If they want kids. Because I don’t.”

“Someone who stops trying when communication becomes difficult.”

“Self centred.”

“When someone is unwilling to learn new things and the responsibilities in the relationship become unbalanced. Like, if only I can drive or only I can cook and I’ve said that I’d like to share those tasks, if after 6 months my partner hasn’t even tried to adapt to that then it tells me that they’re not interested in putting in equal effort.”


“Unemployed for no reason.”

“A lack of trust. You need to talk things through and make sure you know what to expect of your partner and what they expect of you rather than just assuming and hurting each other.”

“Treating service people like shit.”

“Lack of respect for boundaries. 

“If she didn't support my dream of being a filmmaker. If she doesn't like Star Wars.”

“If you remove things from your relationship, like money and mutual friends and social status, and it isn’t as appealing then I think that’s a problem. Like, are they only exciting because they can take you to restaurants and gigs or because they have friends that you want to hang out with? If you wouldn’t want to be with them without those things then that’s a problem.”

“If they absolutely can not connect with my close friends in any way.”

“An inability to apologise.”

Being able to align ourselves with certain qualities and desires helps us to find the people we really want to be around – and to protect ourselves from dating someone who won’t nurture us.

At the end of the day, deal breakers aren’t that deep and they aren't “red flags.” They’re just a matter of personal preference and needs. It’s okay to know what you want in a partner – and it’s great to be surprised and discover what really matters to you when the rubber hits the road. 

Own the Feels is brought to you by #LoveBetter, a campaign funded by the Ministry for Social Development.


LoveBetter Youthline support channels:


Or rangatahi can text lovebetter to 234

Rachel Barker is a writer / producer at VICE NZ in Aotearoa. You can find her @rachellydiab on IG and Letterboxd and see her film criticism on Youtube.