Dating dealbreakers

Dating dealbreakers: what singles find essential

Dating  |  May 30, 2022

eharmony research reveals that over a third of British people (37%) in long-term relationships are with someone who isn’t their traditional type, or who doesn’t match their romantic preferences.  Yet, over half of those polled (58%) admit they avoid dating matches that don’t fit all their chosen criteria, meaning that up to 39 million individuals may be missing out on finding real love.  Four in ten love-seekers (40%) admit they have a type when it comes to dating (39% men v 41% women). However, the biggest distinguishers in the desirability league boil down to physical characteristics such a hair colour, height, and body size.


would end a relationship if their partner wasn’t good in bed

Biggest dating dealbreakers

Issues such as a love interest being overweight, not making them laugh or being the wrong age lead the national dealbreakers list.  However, polarised political leanings can also pour cold water over romantic choices. Indeed, one in five would avoid dating an anti-vaxxer, or anyone they considered ‘too woke’. What’s more, around one in five would call time on a date who wasn’t compatible in bed, which indicates good sex is still very much on the national agenda.  

It’s not that surprising that so many people have a pre-conceived idea about their type, but it is unfortunate that this can act as a barrier to finding love. The fact that almost one in four of those in relationships are with partners who do not typically reflect their preferences proves that our libidinous leanings can be unreliable.  In the world of online dating, it’s easy to make snap judgements based on appearance. But numerous studies demonstrate that long after the sexual chemistry has peaked, it’s high compatibility that determines romantic success or failure.  As anti-vaxxers and woke singles do not score well in the desirability league, this suggests most people don’t want to be drawn into polarising debates.

% who agree

I would not date someone who was overweight

I would not date someone who couldn’t make me laugh

I would not date someone who was the “wrong” age

I would not date an anti-vaxxer

I would not date someone who was “too woke”

I would not date someone who was bad in bed

n = 2,000; Percentages rounded; supported

Physical preferences

More than twice as many British people would prefer to date a dark-haired match in place of a blonde (45% versus 20%). Redheads appeal to just 13%. In terms of gender splits, dark-haired singles are more appealing to men than blondes (47% v 25%). This challenges the sexist notion that gentlemen prefer blondes.  However, women generally do tick the stereotype for ‘tall dark and handsome’ with over four in ten women (42%) preferring to date a man with dark hair as opposed to blonde (42%/13%). In addition, nearly one third of women (30%) would opt for a date who’s tall, compared to just one in five men (20%). Interestingly, the presumption that men prefer women with long hair appears to be a myth, with just 2% citing it as a preference. 

% who agree

People that wouldn’t date someone overweight

People that wouldn’t date someone that couldn’t make them laugh

People that wouldn’t date someone the “wrong” age

People that wouldn’t date an anti-vaxxer

n = 2,000; Percentages rounded; supported

Most desired traits 

Trustworthiness is the number one desired trait for both genders overall (68%), with females prioritising it more than men (73% versus 63%).  This is followed by kindness (64%), and sense of humour (61%).  What’s more, almost one in five of those in relationships (21%) say their partners shares key traits with their mother or father. 

% who agree

People that consider trustworthiness to be a most desired trait

People that have partners that share traits with one of their parents

n = 1,001; Percentages rounded; supported

Celebrity types

Of those polled, a healthy chunk (39%) say they aren’t romantically interested in any celebrities, which may signify how much the cost-of-living crisis has dampened the usual showbiz fascination. However, Johnny Depp is the most appealing type according to just under one in ten women (9%), whereas ex-wife Amber Heard is the desired type for just two per cent of men. This demonstrates when negative personality traits are associated with a person – in this case due to a roll of unfavourable publicity for Ms Heard – their perceived attractiveness takes a hit.  

Size and spend

In terms of body size, a third of men (32%) would prefer to date someone of slim build, compared to just under a quarter of women (22%).  When it comes to finances, the genders are split. Around a third of women would prefer to date a financially secure match (29%) versus 16% of men. This could be partly due to evolutionary instincts that encourage women to find partners who can provide for children. 


of men would prefer to date someone who is slim


whereas under a quarter of women prefer their partner to be slim

Study information
  • Study typemember survey, representative survey
  • Sample Size2,000
  • Reference PeriodMay 2022
  • Instituteeharmony
  • Region/City/CountryUK
  • LanguageEnglish