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“Check, Please!” The Big 5 Dating Deal Breakers

During the first few weeks of the year, online dating sites like this one see their highest levels of traffic, as many single people resolve to start or resume their search for a partner. So in terms of sheer numbers, it’s an optimal time to dive into the dating pool. The challenge, of course, is maintaining that New Year’s resolution even if you haven’t met your one-and-only by Valentine’s Day.

With so many options, it’s easy to become overwhelmed—or burn out. So it’s important to be able to politely extricate yourself from a bad date. I asked single people from around the country to tell me about their top dating deal breakers.

If any of your 2018 dinner companions exhibit the following behaviors, you have my permission to bail.


Scott, a bar owner in Kansas City, Missouri, watches a lot of awkward first dates. From his vantage point, the number one indicator of a go-nowhere date is a pair of people looking at their phones. Corinne, a lifestyle blogger, agrees. She recalls the time she went out with man who compulsively checked his phone every two minutes. “I really wondered what he was like when he wasn’t trying to make a good impression,” she says. “After about 20 minutes, I faked an excuse and left the restaurant early. Honestly, I’m not sure if he even noticed or cared.”


Taunya, a financial expert, is recently separated and plans to start dating again in 2018. She says she’s hoping to meet a man who is authentic and takes responsibility for his decisions and actions. Men who kvetch about their exes will not be considered. “Nothing sends me running the other way more than hearing a man play the victim card or blame game,” she says.


While it’s nice to keep a first date casual, you still want to meet up somewhere with more ambiance than a bus station. “I don’t need to be wined and dined in expensive restaurants (although it wouldn’t hurt), but if he would like to meet in a run-down diner or pizza joint, then my answer is no,” says, Susan, a New Jersey life coach. “She also makes note of the way men dress—designer apparel and jacket and tie isn’t required, but she does need a sense that the man made an effort. “If they show up in a hoodie and bed-head, then no,” she says.


Andrew, a college professor from Florida, says that if a date cancels on him, he is unlikely to reschedule. “Yes, emergencies happen with family, friends or work, but if plans are made, don’t break them,” he says. “Breaking your plans is rude and shows poor manners, but worst of all, it is disrespectful. When you break your plans with someone, you are saying to them, ‘Something better than you came along.’ And if they are already prioritizing something or someone else over you, this will only continue.”


Julie, a matchmaker, recalls the man who felt compelled to express his dissatisfaction with her appearance. “He looked at me with an unsmiling face and said, ‘Hi. So when were your online photos taken? You look a lot older than your photos.’” While Julie admits that one of her many photos was a bit dusty, his brazen rudeness told her all she needed to know. She excused herself and left. “Felt like a I dodged a bullet,” she says, “imagine how the next hour would have gone?!”

its not you sara eckel

Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.