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relationship deal breakers

Relationship Deal Breakers: Know When to Walk Away

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Starting a new relationship is incredibly exciting. But on the journey to finding the ideal partner, many people end up in abusive relationships.

What’s worse – some may end up staying in these abusive relationships for a very long time…reliving the abuse day after day, while their self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence are pummeled.

In most cases, people aren’t aware that the person they’re falling in love with is an abuser. That’s why it’s important to go into a relationship having a strong list of non-negotiable relationship deal breakers.

This list is not something you should take lightly. Having this set of standards clearly defined can help save a lot of heartache.

Protect Yourself with These 7 Relationship Deal Breakers

A lot of people have a relationship deal breakers list for things like laziness, messiness, no sense of humor, or being tech-obsessed.

These are based on personal preferences.

The relationship deal breakers that should be on everyone’s list, though, have nothing to do with preferences – they have to do with emotional and physical safety.

1. Physical Abuse

You would probably never dream of hurting another person, but not everyone feels the same way. Some people have so much anger inside of them that they have a hard time controlling their temper. While everyone loses it every now in then because they’re frustrated, that doesn’t mean they have a right to take their anger our physically on their partner. Violence is never justified.

2. Verbal and/or Emotional Abuse

Degrading you, talking behind your back, making fun of you to their friends – these are red flag warnings of verbal and emotional abuse.

This type of abuse is often used in conjunction with physical abuse, but not always.

The difficult aspect to this type of abuse is that people can’t see emotional bruises. But these internal bruises and scars can last a lifetime.

Verbal and emotional abuse is often used as a form of manipulation and is common in situations of narcissistic abuse.

3. Financial Abuse

If your partner doesn’t like to work or contribute to the financial well-being of your family, this is a major red flag.

Not everyone likes to work – usually because they don’t like their job. But there are some people who simply refuse to make any effort to get and keep a job. They look for partners who are hard workers and rely on them.

Eventually, partners find themselves feeling frazzled, drained, and frustrated because they’re doing all the work – inside and outside the home. All the while, their partner is at home playing video games, hanging out with friends, or browsing social media all day.

Another form of financial abuse is manipulating a partner with money. How does this work?

The abuser controls the purse strings. They don’t allow their partner to work. Or, if they do, they demand that they give all their money to them to be kept in a joint account – an account which the abused partner is not allowed to access.

This abuser is intent on controlling and manipulating their partner.

4. Child Abuse

This one doesn’t need a lot of explaining. If someone ever lays a hand on your child or starts using manipulation, threats, or any other type of verbal abuse with them – get your child out of there!

5. An Affair

Some people are willing to forgive their partner after an affair. In some scenarios, a partner will forgive the cheater, who acts remorseful. Down the road, though, there’s another affair and then another. Serial cheating will only wreak havoc on your self-confidence. No one deserves to go through that, let alone continually put up with it.

6. A Partner Who Is Emotionally Unavailable

One of the wonderful elements of a healthy relationship is having someone that you can lean on. It’s hard to do this, though, with someone who is emotionally unavailable.

Some people act this way because it reflects the environment they grew up in. This doesn’t mean it’s right, nor does it excuse them from not trying to be there for their partner.

If you explain your concerns about their emotional unavailability and they refuse to even try to make some changes – it’s not worth your time to stick around. You should never be the only one to care in the relationship.

7. Cluster-B Personality Disorders – Including Narcissism

A lot of people deal with mental health conditions and diseases and are still able (with a lot of work) to be in a healthy relationship.

There are some, though, who have personality disorders that endanger your emotional and physical well-being.

Some of these fall under the category of cluster-B personality disorders. These can include:

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic, many of these disorders can be recognized by the overly emotional, dramatic, and often unpredictable behaviors. Those who have narcissistic personality disorder engage in narcissistic abuse of their partner, which can include manipulation.

If you have a partner who has a personality disorder and is refusing to get help, it’s healthier for you to leave.

Protect Yourself with Your Deal Breakers List

No one is going to be the perfect partner. Everyone does or says things they’re not proud of. And at some point, you’re going to hurt your partner’s feelings and they will hurt you. That’s just a part of being in a relationship with an imperfect human being.

But this does not excuse abuse.

Make a list of absolute deal breakers before entering a relationship.

If you want to have a safe, healthy relationship, it needs to be full of love and respect. You need to show that to your partner, and they should show these with you.

It’s also important to show those things to yourself.

By creating a relationship deal breakers list, you’ll be less likely to stay in an unhealthy relationship and more likely to keep your physical, mental, and emotional well-being intact.

Get My Boundaries Worksheets!

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Get your boundaries worksheets and start living a more empowered life TODAY! A useful tool for anyone, but especially Empaths!

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Me says July 16, 2019

I set my deal breaker early on: if you ever cheat, I’m out. No matter what the circumstances!
He listened and seven years later this dialogue repeats in my head because he quoted it back to me so many times. I believe he did cheat and many times, so so many stories didn’t add up and his rage when I questioned him? Well, that was something else and VERY telling in itself. Before I left, he kept asking me “do you trust me?” And “hand on heart, on my children’s life…” etc. You get the picture? A sure sign of blatant lies. I would never swear on a child’s life – that’s what pathological liars do!

Lynn Mackinson says April 1, 2019

Every one of these Boundaries has been violated in my experience with my ex…it is hard to self relect, to see myself going through the abuse…Yet, having gone through your program I am better equipped to handle future situations. In addition to your program, I love Shahida Arabi. Plus the help of Madeline F who helped me out at the Woman’s Center in Waukesha, who helpef me see that when someone claims that it is always Your Fault, that is is abuse…Paul Kreppal, my therapist…who had seen me on more occasions, however, Jerry went a few times with me..Paul told me, after we were Not together any more that Jerry was the crazy one, Not me..The AODA counselor I saw, because I resortedt to drinking during the relationship with Jerry helped me see that..Jerry was the reason I had turned to alcohol. On top of that, my parents friends saw Jerry pour drinks for me at parties…strong drinks to ensure his comments about me being out of line were true. Jerry also lied to the Police about me, he called the police and lied to them about me!! This has been a complete nightmare. I had downloaded Arabi’s book and had read most of it….therefore knowing about no contact a year before it all went down..Paul Kreppal told me,,,,Call your friends!! Teri Campbell and Cheryl Pikulik, heard Jerry’s discourse with me..including, Jerry saying, “I Hit her because she provokes”.
Havingbeen through your entire course, it hurts my heart to Know Jerry will do this same abuse to someone else. Jerry’s ex-wife even tried to warn me in several ways. I am committed to building a Better life for myself. I have learned so much!! Please, God, help the Next Victim!!

Jerry H. says March 31, 2019

Hi Kim, when I was in my relationship with my narc., she was a master manipulator, and especially with money. The first four years with her she did not work but was getting a lot of financial help from her ex. I was giving her my whole pay check and she was depositing it in a joint account, but I found out late in the relationship she had other accounts with my name on them but I could not access them. My warning to others…….. do NOT let your spouse control the finances! When I read your article about deal breakers, it brought back memories of what happened to me. I wish I had known about Narcs. before I met this woman! Fourteen years lost, but now I can move on. I had a lot of anger from this marriage but have been able to move on. Watch out people, it can happen to you!!

Shirley says March 31, 2019

I have been no contact going on three years. The narc is crazy and a master manipulator. He has no empathy and is a hypocrite. I don’t have time for the pain! He is cheap and twists the Holy Scriptures to his advantage. He wants to be worshipped instead of the Creator of the Universe. I confessed my sins and am looking forward to healing and moving on permanently. Only thing, is there were a lot of pile on narcs in my life as well. Now that I have gone little contact with them, the loneliness has set in.

Adrian says January 23, 2018

Hi Kim,

Thanks for your great website and articles and I’ve been following you for some time.

I just had to ask why you left out the fourth Cluster B disorder the Borderline?
Is it because there are so many versions of it that Councillors dont even want to treat it?

As far as I can tell each Cluster B disorder including borderlines have different internal dynamics but for their victims it always results in some version of the Narcissist Abuse Cycle (Idealize/Devalue/Discard/Replace/Hoover).

And from what Ive seen and experienced personally the Borderline Lovebomb stage is arguably the most powerful of all the Cluster B’s idealizations, and the Subsequent emotional rape of their victims (Devalue/Discard/Replace/Hoover) is often the most devastating!

With the added complexity that a great many of them are Co-Morbid, being both Borderline and Narcissist/Histrionic/Antisocial blends… but nobody seems to know how many, estimates range from 25% up to 60%.

Thanks for the article!


    Kim Saeed says January 27, 2018

    Hi Adrian,

    Thank you for your kind words and for following me 🙂

    As you touched on in your comment, BPD is just too broad and complicated. Additionally, many victims of emotional and narcissistic abuse display symptoms of and are diagnosed with BPD, when they are really suffering from C-PTSD and PTSD. I used to research this stuff quite extensively, but my focus is more on detachment and healing at this point…mainly because it’s better to focus on detachment and healing than to spend one’s time, energy, and focus on trying to figure out disordered/toxic individuals since, in my experience, no amount of knowledge about them does anything to change the outcome of the situation.

    Hope that helps!

    Kim XoXO

Shirley says January 21, 2018

I really enjoyed this article. Relationship deal breakers are real. This information will help me when and if a new relationship comes around. All relationships need boundaries.

Andrea says July 12, 2017

Thanks for this article, but it’s a bit misleading coming here from your email newsletter. It says in the newsletter: On the journey to finding the ideal partner, many people end up in abusive relationships. That’s why it’s important to have a strong list of non-negotiable deal breakers.

I’m on the journey, and this article talks about already being in a relationship with an abuser.

Also, most of the time, but the time you realize you are being emotionally and financially abused (two ringers that are super hard to see at first) you are already psychologically hooked and it’s nearly impossible to walk away. Articles like these are not addressing the serious situation of being brainwashed and what happens to our brains when we are in a relationship such as these for quite some time.

    Kim Saeed says July 21, 2017

    Hi, Andrea!

    Thanks for stopping by! The article could apply to anyone who’s already in a relationship, entering a new relationship, or is simply working on healing themselves after leaving an abusive relationship. In the big scheme of things, any of these scenarios is part of ‘the journey’. Specifically, if any of these red flags are happening in current relationship, it’s time to walk away…or, if they begin to pop up in a new relationship, it’s time to walk away. And for those who are in-between or in the process of leaving, I offer the free “Boundaries Worksheet” download at the end.

    To address the latter part of your comment, I’ve written many articles about narcissistic brainwashing and how long-term emotional abuse affects the brain, backed with scientific data, any of which can be found via the search bar.

    Hope that helps!

Anonymous says June 29, 2017

It is all about BOUNDARIES & YOUR CORE VALUES. You’d think that we all would innately know where our boundaries are delineated, what is acceptable & what is not. But it is well established that the way our parents (or primary care takers) treated us is the way we treat ourselves & others. If we came from abusive homes, our foundation is a little cracked & our sense of boundaries is skewed. Our tolerance & what should be acceptable treatment by others is messed up. Basically, when our interactions with others leave us feeling bad inside, we have to stop, assess, & determine if we were mistreated. For example, if we were called names, personally insulted or belittle or devalued, made into a joke at our expense, lied to or cheated on—- these are abusive behaviors. Draw the line because Life experience tells us that we should operate under the belief that if a relationship undermines your personal integrity, IT IS NOT WORTH HAVING. Some of our core beliefs are should be personal integrity, self regard & respect. These qualities are the basis for your boundaries. You are in charge of you, & maintaining your belief that you should expect to give & receive respect from others. Period. Many other core values are born out of basic respect like trust, caring, sharing, humor. An important partner of respect is empathy. I love this quote, “A strong woman will automatically stop trying if she is unwanted or abused. She won’t fix it or beg, she’ll just walk away”.

    Bea says July 3, 2017

    Thank you for a reminder of that quote. I do consider myself and strong woman but these situations create self doubt beyond belief. I support. I give. Someone takes very knowingly . It is so hard to walk away and do not contact. I am pathetic. But a short mantra can help “I am a strong woman….” .

    I should also run from the lack of emotional unavailability “You should never be the only one to care in the relationship” – there is knowing, feeling and acting. This is so hard.

    Angela says January 21, 2018

    I met a man who I felt after lunch was a male version of me….strong, intelligent , funny..but also soft, gentle and kind……I wanted to see him a second time….first time for me since my husband passed 7 years ago…..I turned all men away…for some reason or another…for 3 years…the rest of those 7 years I grieved and took care of me….got used to being alone…this man also had many years alone and was Ok with it….we had similar upbringings….went to sister and brother Catholic schools…everything seemed like we would walk into at least a close friendship…..10 days later was Valentines Day..I bought him a cool candle, some candy, etc…he bought me a babydoll nightie and robe…I thought maybe it’s time I wore pretty things because neither of my husbands ever were into this type of lingerie…we progressed into wonderful walks everyday..nice talks through dinner..and a phenomenol physical life….BUT…I did have red flags in the first week…….he smoked like a fiend in his house ..I have had lung cancer…he has been separated for 20 years….no divorce because wife is ill and on his health insurance…I get this…he started to smoke outside more and put a house filter on when in the house…this was working with me ….to me……he said one day that in a perfect world I would be 5’2″ and weigh 105…that was me until I went through menopause and have gained a little ..but am far from obese….I look 10 years younger then I am …and dress conservative….but in fashion…he was surprised I was as old as I am….I don’t think I ever got over the conversation of being called a LARGE WOMAN>…he was a skinny, little man…I am used to men over 6′ and 200#…but I liked him….a little at a time I started noticing things that were weird..he was OCD , a hoarder and procrastinator….took impeccable care of the outside of his property but the inside ..I was cleaning all the time because he never did…at times he would put a suit on just to run to the store for 2-3 things….I noticed a big phony show outside of the house …but turning into a real boring, creep who never wanted to break his schedule inside the house….shared none of my life…I am rid of him now..every once in awhile I want to call him..but I think about who he really is….and have no interest and nothing to say……..SO by the time I saw these signs ….I was already emotionally involved, tried to break it off..but I couldn’t stay away….never met anyone like this…..so HOW do you prevent getting hooked into this game of deviant drama..

Karen says June 23, 2017

Mine stalked women online while I worked. He rarely worked.

    Angela says January 21, 2018

    Mine was 67..had sex for pay with 2 Junkie young girls on his street..one was his best friends daughter..was addicted to porn…..and just really did some weird things to himself ..alone with his porn…..I started to learn all this towards the end…..

Dee says June 22, 2017

With my spouse,concerning the financial aspect of our marriage, he was only satisfied if I had a retail job. At the same time he would complain to his family that I didn’t want to work. When I went back to school and began counseling others and especially when I was awarded Counselor of the Year he was furious. The sabotage game began any time I held a position that was considered more than a retail job. So much to say but I will end it here.

    Dee says June 22, 2017

    I forgot to mention in my previous comment that the reason he did not want me to have anything more than a retail job was that he did not want me to have anything near his pay. He was a computer systems engineer.

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