Everyone's got dealbreakers in a relationship. Evolution might be to blame.

How many times has this happened to you? You're dating someone you really like. You've been out a few times. You're absolutely hitting it off. But there's that one thing you just can't quite get over.

Maybe they have bad breath? Or a messy apartment? Or a collection of tiny fiberglass unicorn figurines that's just a little ... too large?



Their sweet precious baby. Photo by rsteve254/Pixabay.

Some dealbreakers are obvious, like if the person lives eight hours away and doesn't own a phone and plays polka music constantly. No one would blame you for ending it over even one of those things.

Other dealbreakers, though? They might make you feel like maybe you're being a little petty. I mean, you could learn to live with those unicorn figurines, couldn't you? There are perfectly logical reasons why they might have so many. In the right light, they're almost ... classy.

And yet, deep in your heart, you know — the relationship ain't goin' anywhere. And it makes you feel like a hateful superficial love ogre.

Good news! You should stop worrying about being a bad person because of your weird or irrational dealbreakers.

"Smells bad" is a common dealbreaker. Photo via iStock.

Believe it or not, science is on your side!

And science wants you to know that not only are you far from alone, your dealbreakers are valuable tools for avoiding disaster.

When it comes to dating, “avoiding negative traits [in other words, dealbreakers] is probably more important than optimizing ideal traits," University of Florida Professor Gregory Webster told Upworthy.

Webster recently published a study looking at the power of these dealbreakers, along with colleagues from America, Australia, and Singapore. The researchers conducted six different studies, mostly through anonymous surveys, to learn the dating preferences of 6,000 people.

What they found was that people tend to give more weight to negative qualities than positive ones. Think of dating like a game: If each good quality is worth two points, each bad one is worth ... more like a whopping negative 17 points.

The game is unbalanced.

Webster and his colleagues found that dealbreakers were stronger for people looking for long-term relationships than short-term, for romantic relationships than for friendships, and a bit stronger for women than men in the short-term.

While it can feel bad to break-up with someone over one or two negative traits, studies suggest that our brain's focus on those bad things might be designed to protect us.

Let's say there's a person you're interested in, but they only eat processed cheese.

Not saying this person is me. Image by PeRshGo/Wikimedia Commons.

If you break up, sure, you might miss out on some good stuff. Fun romantic adventures. Potentially incredible sex. A lifetime of pure companionate bliss. But hey, they're not the only person on Earth. Literally millions of other humans could give you those things.

On the other hand, if you decide to stay with Mr./Ms./Mx. Cheez Whiz, you might end up in a horrible, cheesy explosion while taking the Polly-O factory tour because that's what you do for fun now. Or maybe, upon hitting puberty, your children will end up smelling vaguely, but relentlessly — tragically — like Velveeta.

Very specific bad things can happen.

So why does our brain work this way? It might be an evolutionary defense mechanism.

A pair of gibbons. Image from MatthiasKabel/Wikimedia Commons.

"The study's findings support adaptive attentional biases in human social cognition, which suggests that focusing on the negative serves as a survival function," the researchers wrote in a press release.

In other words, way back before we were modern humans, back when we were little more than apes, it was really important that we pay attention to bad stuff. Because bad stuff wasn't just auto payments and not being invited to the office party or processed cheese. Bad stuff was sabertooth cats and giant eagles.

There's always more fruit somewhere in the jungle, but the ape who didn't pay attention to the sudden suspiciously-eagle-shaped shadow circling above doesn't get to stay around a whole lot longer.

If you're on the receiving end of a dealbreaker, don't worry!

"A dealbreaker for one person may be a dealmaker for another," Webster says.

Just an ordinary, happy, totally real American couple being really real and washing dishes together in a totally real candid moment. Photo via iStock.

In the report on the study, Webster cites impulsiveness, which can be a huge turn-off for some, as being a potentially huge turn-on for someone else who might be attracted to that kind of spontaneity.

The good news? That applies to dealbreakers big and small:

Being only 1% religiously compatible with one person just means you're 99% religiously compatible with someone else. Living 800 miles away from one potential partner just means you live a few blocks away from another. Your significant other refusing to see "Carol" with you for the 37th time just means you have an extra ticket for the next person in your life.

And if it's bad stuff like being too messy, well, there's always Chore Wars.

If you're the one finding the dealbreaker, that's OK too. It's just your monkey-brain trying to keep you safe. You'll find someone else.

Your ex may take it hard — breakups are rarely easy. But in the end, they'll find someone else too.

Turns out #373 was her favorite too! Photo by rsteve254/Pixabay.

There are plenty of unicorns in the field, after all.

Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

via idiehlpare / Flickr and ESPN

An innocent tweet by sports reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques erupted into a great discussion where people tried to describe the indescribable. "There's an unnamed media member in here who has never had a Dr. Pepper and asked what it tastes like," he tweeted.

"I have no idea how to describe it -- how would y'all do it?" he asked.

Marcel Louis-Jacques covers the Miami Dolphins for ESPN and appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and more.

The question feels like a Zen koan such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What do you call the world?"

Keep Reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

Keep Reading Show less