The 13 Biggest Deal Breakers for Marrying a Potential Partner

Katie Rothman's Photo
By Katie Rothman Updated July 7, 2023


vector illustrating the various stages of a relationship struggling marriage deal breakers

The sun is out, birds are chirping, and love is in the air. Wedding season is officially upon us once again! However, according to a recent study, there may be more people saying "I don't" than "I do" this year.

Over the last 50 years, the marriage rate in the U.S. has decreased by a whopping 60 percent according to the news website, Axios. In a wide-ranging survey on Americans' feelings about marriage, Clever Real Estate found that nearly one-third of currently unmarried residents have no desire to get married at all. Moreover, 25% of those surveyed think the idea of marriage is outdated.

Eligible singles nowadays are tying the knot less and less. Sometimes, it’s because potential partners don't see eye-to-eye on critical aspects of their relationship. Some of these reasons may be obvious, while others may surprise you.

Take a look at the 13 biggest deal breakers couples face when deciding whether or not to walk down the aisle.

1. You don't get along with your partner's family

They say when you marry someone, you marry their entire family. Suppose you've got beef with your future mother-in-law. In that case, these unresolved issues can create significant tension between you and your partner and, ultimately, change the dynamics of your relationship.

According to the Clever survey, nearly 40% of Americans say they have regrets about their marriage. If you foresee your partner's family being a potential roadblock on your journey toward marital bliss, remember to establish healthy boundaries and do what's best for you and your partner.

2. Opposing political beliefs

Marrying someone with opposing political views can lead to a successful marriage. Still, there's a good chance you'll encounter a few hurdles. Over the last decade, more and more people have become less willing to date or marry someone with differing political ideologies. According to research from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, only 3% of all American adults are married to someone from the opposing political party.

So, next time you open your dating app, you may want to ask, "Right or Left?" before swiping right or left.

3. My family doesn't like my significant other

We all want our families to love who we love just as much as we do. Unfortunately, not everyone you bring home will be met with rave reviews. Women tend to prioritize their family member’s opinions more than their male counterparts, with 65% saying it's a deal breaker if their family doesn't like their significant other.

4. My friends don't like my partner

If you've ever watched a dating show, you know it's a bad sign when your friends don't like your new beau. Studies show that relationships tend to be more successful if they have the support of friends and family. Women are 39% more likely to consider their friends' opinions about their partners.

It's easy to miss a lot about a person when you're dating someone new and blinded by love. However, introducing your new partner to your friends may highlight missed warning signs.

5. Poor finances

Most people getting married do so for love. However, financial stability is another motivating, albeit much less romantic factor in people's decision to tie the knot. According to the Clever survey, nearly 66% of married couples report improved finances after marriage, and 28% of respondents say a partner with poor finances is a potential deal breaker, while 65% consider it a definite dealbreaker.

While 50% of first marriages end in divorce, it's also important to note that 45% of divorcees attribute poor finances as a reason for divorcing.

6. My significant other has too much debt

Regarding poor finances, the last thing you want to do is hitch your wagon to someone carrying thousands of dollars of debt. According to survey respondents, the median amount of acceptable debt for a potential marriage partner to accrue is between $20,000 and $30,000, with the most common limit falling between $10,000 and $20,000.

Whether you're looking to get married or not, financial experts recommend that single adults, in general, should not have upward of $10,000 in non-mortgage and non-student loan debt.

7. You want children, but your partner doesn't

There are a lot of big life choices you and your partner have to agree on, like where to buy a house or how to handle finances. But, having children is arguably the biggest decision you'll have to make in your lifetime. If you and your partner have opposing views on wanting children, that could be a huge deal breaker for marriage.

Nearly 30% of all survey respondents said that having children was one of the main reasons for tying the knot. For individuals who never want children, the most common reason is simply not wanting them (35%), followed by how much work children are (29%), the cost of raising children(29%), and feeling like they wouldn't be a good parent (27%).

8. Different religions

Interfaith marriages are not uncommon. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 American adults grew up in an interfaith household. But, what may deter people from marrying someone of a different religion is just how religious they are.

According to Pew, "those in mixed marriages are generally less religious than those married to a spouse that shares the same religion." If religion isn't a big priority in your life, then finding a spouse who shares your beliefs may not be a priority. But, if you consider yourself more religious, a partner who doesn’t share that sentiment may be a deal breaker.

9. Opposing views on pets

This one goes beyond being a cat person or a dog person. Having a pet is a commitment that not everyone is willing to make. Animal lovers may be wary of marrying a partner who considers a goldfish a household intrusion.

Author and licensed marriage and family therapist, Kiaundra Jackson, says the decision to get a pet as a couple "should be based on responsibility, finances, clear communication, maturity, and desire." If those elements aren't there, you may find yourself making a hard decision between your partner and your furry friend.

10. Different lifestyles and hobbies

Just because you're considering getting married doesn't mean you have to find a partner that likes everything you like or lives precisely how you live. Maintaining independence within a relationship is healthy and encouraged!

But there's a big difference between having everything in common and having nothing in common. Nearly one-third of survey participants said having different lifestyles and hobbies would be a deal breaker.

11. You don't trust your partner's friends

Things can turn sour quickly if you don't like or trust your partner's friends. Trusting your significant other's friend group is essential because you want to feel that their friends respect and support your relationship. If your partner's friends are talking negatively about you behind your back, are unfaithful in their relationships, or are simply a bad influence, you may want to evaluate what that means for your relationship in the future.

12. Your partner is rude to service workers

If you want a glimpse into your possible future with your significant other, pay attention to the way they treat servers, sales associates, or flight attendants. A person who is rude or bullies any service worker is likely, sooner or later, to display that same type of aggressive behavior in their relationship.

Baby Boomers care the least if their significant other treats a service worker poorly. In contrast, Gen Z is a whopping 58% more likely than millennials to view rudeness to service workers as a dealbreaker.

13. My partner won't marry me

If your partner continues to make excuses for not being ready to marry you, it may be time to move on to someone who is. If you've both agreed to wait until you've finished school or saved up for a down payment on a house, that's one thing. But if your partner knows you want to get married and they can't fully commit, then that's a deal breaker.

Most couples tied the knot after at least three years of dating (64%). Baby Boomers move swiftly and are 55% more likely to have gotten married within one year or less of dating. Younger generations tend to be slower off the jump and prefer to have their finances and career path in place before legally committing to another person.

On average, men seem more lenient than women regarding how long they're willing to date before marriage. Women are 119% more likely to consider ending the relationship after two years and 102% more likely to end it after one year if marriage wasn't on the table.

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