Woman disinterested with blind date outdoors

(© Prostock-studio - stock.adobe.com)

LONDON — Rejection can sting, but the not-knowing why you were rejected can sting far longer. New research is shedding some light into the various reasons that people suddenly end relationships. The strangest reasons people have called it off with a partner include them having dirty fingernails, being rude to a waiter, ugly tattoos, and being too clingy.

The poll of 2,000 British adults finds that over half (65%) have ended a relationship because of an “ick” — trait that turns them off — and 88 percent of them have ghosted someone completely. For example, one in seven men (14%) would  happily break it off with someone who wanted to share food on a first date. Sixteen percent of women find wearing a tacky watch is an “ick,” while 15 percent judge someone else for referring to their favorite sports team as if they were part of the actual team.

It seems as if superstition may not be so welcomed by singles. Nearly one in six (15%) have called it quits with a romantic interest because they were obsessed with astrological star signs.

And if you’re traveling with your new partner, beware giving the pilots around of applause for not crashing. For many, that’s apparently an instant dealbreaker as 14 percent have ended it with someone who clapped when a plane landed.

The study, commissioned by upscale dating site Seeking and conducted by OnePoll, finds that simply smelling bad is the top ick, selected by 24 percent of those surveyed. This was followed by pretending to be more knowledgeable about something than they really are and being rude to a waiter (both 21%).

However, 20 percent left their would-be paramour totally in the dark and didn’t explain what they’d done to deserve it. It also emerged 58 percent believe they have given someone the ick themselves, turning them off totally.

Are people too picky when it comes to dating?

Nearly half the poll (44%) describe themselves as at least somewhat picky when it comes to finding a partner, with 33 percent being “very picky.” Four in five (79%) believe they deserve the best, so they try to up their standards when looking for a partner, showing the prevalence of the “dating up” trend. And of course, the best dating apps make it easier than ever to assess a potential partner.

“People are very set on what they want, which is empowering,” says Emma Hathorn, spokesperson and in-house dating expert at Seeking, in a statement. “Online dating has opened a whole new world of singles, which means people can afford to have higher standards. And if an absolute deal-breaker for you is someone who never wears sunglasses indoors or chews with their mouth open, that’s absolutely fair enough.”

However, the study revealed 35 percent believe there is no such thing as being too picky when out on the dating scene, further showing the growing popularity of trying to find more aspirational relationships. Adding to this, 48 percent believe their dating standards have gotten higher as they have gotten older — with those 65 and up most likely to feel this way.

dating turn-offs

Going Dutch on a date is still a no-no

The research also uncovered that 73 percent are likely to judge someone negatively if they wanted to split a food bill — particularly if they suggested the date. Meanwhile, 72 percent would critique a first date location choice if it didn’t meet their standards.

When it comes to looking for a potential partner, 33 percent say salary is most important, followed by 30 percent who go for a good sense of style and fashion.

However, 40 percent of adults feel dating does get harder as you increase in years — despite 37 percent being completely set on dating someone who matches their preferences exactly.

“The current trend in dating at the moment is ‘dating up’ – finding someone who can better and elevate their own lifestyle,” adds Hathorn. “So, the goal for all singletons is to not only be someone who can help someone else ‘date up’ — but find someone who can elevate themselves at the same time. As with all things in life, it’s about finding that exact balance that works for you, and this can be tricky if you are totally inflexible in who you date. Keeping an open mind is key, and you may find someone who elevates your life in every way possible – even if they wear terrible shoes.”

The List: Top 40 Dating Dealbreakers

  1. Smelling bad
  2. Pretending to be more knowledgeable about something than they actually are
  3. Being rude to a waiter
  4. Living in a mess
  5. Being overbearing and rude
  6. Having dirty fingernails
  7. Being too clingy
  8. Having bad teeth
  9. Double texting (sending a secondary text if you’ve not responded after the first one)
  10. Talking too loudly
  11. Chewing with their mouth open
  12. Oversharing on social media
  13. Having long fingernails
  14. Referring to themselves in third person
  15. Still living at home
  16. Not wearing socks with shoes
  17. Having shoes that are too dirty
  18. Putting on a baby voice
  19. Breathing heavily
  20. Having a bad tattoo
  21. Eating and talking at the same time
  22. Being obsessed with their star signs
  23. Wearing a tacky watch
  24. Wearing shoes you don’t like
  25. Wearing too much makeup
  26. Wanting to share food on the first date
  27. Not paying on the first date
  28. Clapping when an airplane lands
  29. Talking longer than you to get ready
  30. Referring to their football team as ‘we’
  31. Wearing bad jeans
  32. Having an Instagram account for their pet
  33. Saying pet names like ‘honey’ or ‘baby’
  34. Using emojis in texts
  35. Not being able to drive
  36. Wearing a weird colored lipstick
  37. Wearing sunglasses indoors
  38. Having too many shirt buttons undone
  39. Wearing creased clothes
  40. Wearing socks to bed

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 single or actively dating Americans was commissioned by Seeking between November 18, and November 28, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink


Chris Melore


Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor


  1. Emory Kendrick says:

    Wow. Someone could spend the next year or so trying to live up to the list of ‘don’ts’ or…..you could just be yourself and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. Eventually, you will find someone who doesn’t judge you on your watch, jeans or shoes. Who would want someone so shallow?

    1. JH says:

      Someone is a incel, If you’re a toxic person and it shows I don’t want to be around you end of story. Life is short

      1. C. Rhodes says:

        Sometimes it’s a challenge to clean up nicely, to the inspection of many approved & trusted venues, the one that gets me most is the intimate ones, I’d say there is a special mastery to getting magic to happen.@Smashing grapes