How about we skip the small talk?
Your responses are anonymous and not associated with your Grindr account
Choose as many as you like
Choose as many as you like
Finding others who fit your search, hang tight...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

The Biggest Relationship Turn-Offs to Beware of in Dating

Learn to spot your biggest turn-offs early on. Delve into the worst relationship red flags and learn which ones you might be waving.
Editorial team
October 9, 2023
June 20, 2024
min. read
Table of Contents

Dating is a lot like a screwed-up game of Twister: One wrong move, and you're face down on the mat, nursing a bruised ego — or worse, a broken heart.

Sure, there's plenty of eye candy and knee-weakening moments out there, but is that enough to make a relationship last? Between the blinding fireworks of new crushes and the quiet steadiness of old flames, it's way too easy to trip over your own two feet.

Hold up and trip not. Here we’ll explore the biggest turn-offs in relationships and dating that you should keep an eye out for. Hopefully, you won’t get stuck with another bum who forgets your birthday.

What are turn-offs?

Picture this: One minute, you're cruising along the highway of desire with a potential partner in the passenger seat, and then BAM! He throws a wrench or says something wacky, and suddenly, your engine goes from purr to sputter.

That’s a turn-off. In a relationship, these behaviors or traits can instantly extinguish your attraction or erode your trust and mutual respect. Whether it's bad breath, bad manners, or just bad vibes, we've all got our list of icks.

However, it's crucial to differentiate between a superficial turn-off and a significant red flag. Little things like poor table manners or a strange laugh might be irritating, but they shouldn't overshadow the more consequential issues. Being too quick to judge based on these surface-level quirks can lead you to overlook a partner's redeeming qualities, potentially causing you to miss out on a meaningful connection.

Differentiating between pet peeves and red flags

So, how do turn-offs relate to red flags?

All red flags should be turn-offs, but not all turn-offs are red flags. A red flag is more severe — a warning that something is fundamentally wrong and warrants immediate attention. If he drinks flavored martinis while you’re more of an IPA kind of guy, that’s potentially a turn-off. But if he gets really mean when he’s drunk, that’s a red flag.

Addressing red flags early on is not just advisable; it's essential. Ignoring them can lead to a cycle of toxicity that becomes increasingly difficult to break.

What makes us fall for the wrong guys?

Why are we so good at ignoring red flags? Often, it’s because our downstairs bits yell louder than their upstairs counterparts, and we mistake lust for love. So next time you're caught in the throes of passion or deep in thought over your Grindr chats, take a hot second to ask yourself: "Which head am I thinking with right now?"

Of course, habitual horniness isn’t the only reason one might keep a man past his expiration date. Many of us are bad at establishing our deal-breakers. It takes some honest introspection to figure out what we aren’t willing to stand for, and that can be tough. These essential boundaries are often overwhelmed by intoxicating chemistry (i.e., hot sex) or the comfort of routine, leading many down a path of toxicity and heartache. 

The unforgivable sins: major turn-offs you can't ignore

When it comes to minor icks, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For example, some find smoking sexy and mysterious, while others gag at the smell of tobacco. 

Instead of litigating every quirk in a never-ending game of Hot or Not, let’s talk about the serious stuff. Here are some common turn-offs for men:

The two-timer: Can’t keep it in his pants

Cheating is often the ultimate dealbreaker, shattering trust and leaving emotional scars. But why do people cheat? A study found eight primary motivations that may lead someone to cheat: anger, self-esteem, lack of love, low commitment, need for variety, neglect, sexual desire, and situation or circumstance. None of them indicate your relationship is in a great place.

The web of deceit: Constant lying

A relationship built on lies is like a house of cards — destined to collapse at the first puff of wind. Honesty is the cornerstone of any meaningful connection. If your partner is a habitual liar, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship's future.

The drifter: No ambitions or plans for the future

We’re all guilty of a little laziness from time to time, but it can’t be a full-time gig. A lack of ambition or future planning can be a significant desire deflator, especially if you value growth and progress. Discuss your goals openly and see if there's room for alignment. If not, it might indicate that you're on a different life path.

The stubborn mule: Never admits he’s wrong

An inability to admit (or at least recognize) fault is more than frustrating; it’s a strong indication of emotional immaturity. A relationship is a partnership, and that means owning up to mistakes. If your partner can't do this, it may be a sign of deeper issues that require attention.

The bedroom neglector: Selfish in bed

Physical intimacy is a two-way street. If your partner is only concerned with their pleasure, it can lead to dissatisfaction and resentment. Open dialogue about your needs and desires is crucial in resolving this issue. Of course, being bad in bed isn’t an incurable condition; the unwillingness to learn is the issue.


The wallflower: Indecisive and lacking opinions

Although flexibility is often a positive, a partner who never takes a stand can be exasperating. A relationship requires two (or more!) active participants. Encourage open discussions and shared decision-making to foster a more balanced dynamic.

The silent treatment: A lousy listener

Just like that bisexual cutie you’re courting, communication goes both ways. Listening is as essential as speaking in a relationship. A partner who listens can understand you fully. Active listening exercises can help improve this skill, but both parties must be willing to engage.

The perpetual victim or hero: Emotional manipulation

A partner who always plays the victim or the hero may be engaging in emotional manipulation. These behaviors can be draining and are often used to control the relationship. Recognize the signs and consider seeking professional guidance if these traits are prevalent.

The puppet master: Controlling behavior

Is he constantly blowing up your phone, wanting to know where you are and who you’re with? Control issues often stem from insecurity, and they can suffocate a relationship. You must establish boundaries and promote mutual respect when dealing with a controlling partner. Or better yet, just don’t get involved.

The green-eyed monster: Jealousy

Jealousy can be corrosive in a relationship, leading to controlling behavior and emotional manipulation. According to experts, jealousy can create unhelpful patterns of behavior and intrusive thoughts that leave relationships reeling. A report from PsychCentral cites a small 2021 study that found people who monitor their partners on social media experience higher levels of jealousy and attachment anxiety.

Rapid-fire review: Deal-breakers in dating

You can’t enumerate every annoying thing a dude could pull on a date in one article. That’s a list best saved for your therapist or memoir. But there are plenty of more minor or vague red flags that also need addressing.

  • Disrespectfulness: Rudeness can manifest in many ways, from talking over you to dismissing your opinions.
  • Excessive talk about exes: “I’m friends with all my exes!” Oy vey. Constantly bringing up exes can indicate unresolved issues or a lack of commitment to the present relationship. It can also indicate a lack of emotional unavailability, a lack of self-awareness, or immaturity.
  • Lack of humility: Arrogance is a major chemistry killer, as it often masks insecurities and can lead to toxic behavior.
  • Lack of enthusiasm: If your date seems disinterested or bored, it could be a sign that he’s just not that into you. Don’t let him string you along.
  • Too intense, too early: Aloof ain’t it, but neither is a stalker-level obsession. Coming on too strong can be overwhelming and may indicate a lack of boundaries.
  • Bad personal hygiene: This one's self-explanatory. If he can't take care of himself, how will he take care of a relationship?
  • Littering: Disrespecting Mother Nature? Yuck! A disregard for the environment often translates to a disregard for other aspects of life.
  • Stereotyping, sexism, racism, and transphobia: Discriminatory attitudes are not just dating faux pas; they’re unpardonable offenses. You don’t want to be with someone who looks down on others.

Trust your instincts

In the end, it's essential to trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is. Paying attention to these feelings can save you time and emotional energy, allowing you to find a more compatible match.

The psychology of ignoring red flags

An article from Psychology Today delves into why people often ignore problematic relationship behaviors, highlighting cognitive biases, like "confirmation bias" and "motivated perception," that make us selectively ignore negative signs.

The concept of "buyer's remorse" in relationships highlights people's regret for missing red alerts after committing to a significant other. Prevent future heartache by remaining mindful of these alarm bells rather than ignoring them or making excuses.

Key takeaways

  • First impressions can deceive: People often present an idealized version of themselves during the first date, leading to skewed perceptions.
  • Cognitive biases are real: After we form a first impression, confirmation bias and motivated perception can cloud judgment, making us ignore turn-offs that might be red flags.
  • And so is fixer-upper fallacy: You can’t fix all your partner's flaws, and he won’t magically change on his own. Being a compulsive fixer can make you overlook red flags, leading to potential relationship problems.

Turned off by old-school dating? Try Grindr!

The next time you're swooning over a perfectly curated dating app profile, remember that his actions speak louder than his eggplant emojis. Although it’s tempting to view a new beau through rose-colored glasses, don't let that keep you from spotting red flags. They're your guide to a healthier, happier love life.

Fortunately, Grindr can help you filter out guys with huge turn-offs before you even meet up for coffee. Now that’s a green flag!

Find your perfect match among the 10 million monthly users on Grindr. Download the Grindr app, or browse hands-free using Grindr Web — the same Grindr you know and love, now available on your laptop or PC with no download required.

Share this article

Find & Meet Yours

Get 0 feet away from the queer world around you.
Thank you! Your phone number has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We’ll text you a link to download the app for free.
Table of Contents
Share this article
“A great way to meet up and make new friends.”
- Google Play Store review
Thank you! Your phone number has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We’ll text you a link to download the app for free.
“A great way to meet up and make new friends.”
- Google Play Store review
Discover, navigate, and get zero feet away from the queer world around you.
Already have an account? Login

Browse bigger, chat faster.

Find friends, dates, hookups, and more

Featured articles

Related articles

Find & Meet Yours

4.6 · 259.4k Raiting