Photo by Priya Marie
Photo by Priya Marie


We’re talking about relationship deal breakers here at A Desi New Yorker.  My first post in the series defined what a deal breaker is and explained how it can be a tool to improve your relationship.  The second post outlines a step-by-step guide to face your deal breaker so you can give your partner the opportunity to make necessary changes and meet your needs.

But I realize all of this is still a bit theoretical.  So I want to share some concrete examples that may sound familiar to you.

These are from Dr. Bethany Marshall’s book Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away:

Deal Breaker #1: Maybe you partner has decided who you are without consulting you.  She thinks she knows you better than you know yourself.  She never believes you, even when you try to re-write the script that she’s written for and about you.

Work on It: If you correct her, she understands the error in her thinking.  She has the capacity to reflect on the difference between her distorted thoughts and the reality of who you are.

Walk Away: When you correct her, she points out the one time you did fit her perceptions.  She will pull up past events that are not related to the current problem.  No matter how many times you try to explain yourself, your partner shows no signs of seeing your perspective.

Deal Breaker #2: You’re always fighting because your partner is always misunderstanding you.  For example, if you ask for space, your partner thinks you’re trying to control him.  If you explain that you’re trying to control your own life, he insists that you’re wrong.  Each misunderstanding snowballs into the next.

Work on It: Your partner shows a willingness to understand each misunderstanding from your perspective even if he disagrees and can reach out for professional help because losing you is not an option for him.

Walk Away: He is unable to change his way of thinking, he is always right no matter what you say.

Deal Breaker #3: There is a bridge in your relationship that your partner won’t cross because he refuses to give in.  Maybe he won’t take part in an important area of your life.  Maybe he refuses to say I love you.  Unless he crosses the bridge, your relationship will fail.

Work on It: Despite how scary crossing the bridge is, your partner wants to reach the other side.  He realizes that without making the effort, he will never be closer to you.  He prioritizes the relationship above all, even his personal agenda.

Walk Away: It makes no difference how many times you ask him to cross the bridge, the arguments are always the same and the answer never changes.  He just wants to resist you (“I don’t love you because your boobs are too small”).

Deal Breaker #4:  Whenever you assert your needs, he gets offended and attacks you.

Work on It:  He realizes that he feels offended because you have triggered his anxiety.  Even if you end up asserting yourself in a harsh manner because at this point you no longer believe he cares, he tries his best to listen and respond.

Walk Away:  He is unable to listen without feeling criticized so he gets defensive and attacks.  The relationship makes no progress and nothing is ever resolved.

Deal Breaker #5: The life that the both of you share is more rewarding for her than it is for you.

Work on It:  Even if her life may seem to be more successful than yours is, she is proud of your accomplishments and recognizes your contribution.  She is willing to make changes on valuable goals or projects in her life so that they can be more fulfilling for the both of you.  When you realize that your life is not as satisfying as you would like it to be, she can step up to the plate and create an environment for you to be able to pursue your own dreams.

Walk Away:  No matter how hard you work to make her life amazing, there is no personal reward and the relationship is at a standstill.  No matter what you do, it’s all about her and it’s never about you.

Deal Breaker #6:  He won’t take a break from his personal interests to spend time with you.  There is no feeling of a deeper connection with him.

Work on It:  You ask him to take a break and he starts to work on it.  You see signs of change.  He shows a willingness to connect that gives you real hope of something to hold on to.

Walk Away:  You are the only one interested in a deeper emotional engagement.  When you ask for more, all you receive is frustration.  You realize that, with nothing shared, you have no relationship.

Deal Breaker #7:  She refuses to hang out with your friends.  You need social interaction with other people but she does nothing to help the cause, makes excuses and disengages from the group if she does bother to socialize.

Work on It:  She may have difficulty understanding your need to socialize with family and friends, but if you explain to her how important it is to you, she starts to show an interest and engage.

Walk Away:  She makes every possible excuse to avoid having to socialize with them.  She wants to be a recluse and you can’t fix that.

Deal Breaker #8:  He lacks ambition, refuses to ask for a promotion, advance himself in his career or make enough money to support himself or the family.

Work on It:  He’s doing the best he can and takes advantage of opportunities by asking for help and working on whatever obstacles he may face.

Walk Away:  He passively gets by because he’s used to being taken care of by others.  You work harder than he does to improve his professional opportunities.

Deal Breaker #9:  He does not plan financially for the future.  He has some savings but never thinks about having to provide for anyone other than himself, even his future children.

Work on It:  When you bring the subject up, he can see how his self-centered perspective has been skewed.  He also realizes that failing to financially plan for the future would never work in a long-term relationship.  He makes the effort to go see a financial adviser at your request.

Walk Away:  He doesn’t plan for the future financially because he unconsciously hopes that you will take care of him.  When asked about his financial plans, he becomes angry and defensive.  He believes the future will magically take care of itself.

Deal Breaker #10:  He punishes you whenever he is upset by withholding affection, threatening to leave, attacking you, questioning your devotion, getting angry, etc.

Work on It:  Punishment is never an appropriate solution to interpersonal conflictWhen you point out that he is immature because he cannot appropriately communicate his unhappiness, he can acknowledge it and work on it without constantly being reminded to do so.  He demonstrates a willingness to change.

Walk Away:  He punishes you because bullying is how he has learned to communicate.  He doesn’t know what meaningful dialogue is.  He knows that when he shouts, becomes mean or discredits you, he is preventing you from sharing your feelings or disagreeing with him.  If you point this out, he refuses to listen.  The relationship becomes stagnant.

Have these opened your eyes?  If your partner is aware of how he’s being perceived, is willing to change and shows signs of improvement, your relationship can succeed.  Anything less and you will never get what you’re looking for.

Can you identify what your relationship’s deal breakers are?  If you’re willing to share, please comment below.  It would be immensely helpful for others.


Resource: Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall

This post is part three of my series on The Art of Relationship Deal Breakers.  To get the full series, watch for future posts on A Desi New Yorker.

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