He’s all yours. But he comes with some surprises.

You liked. You messaged. You dated. And now…you’re exclusive. Cheers! You officially have a boyfriend. But what happens when he does something that’s a turn-off? You know, that small (or glaring) thing that makes you roll your eyes, put down your drink, or gives you the dreaded “ick.”

While some people may say love is blind (a certain reality show is all about it), things can’t always be perfect. Studies have shown* that same-sex couples are more upbeat in the face of conflict. But there are turn-offs in any relationship, and it helps to recognize them so you can determine whether or not they’re relationship enders.

Let’s dive into what common turn-offs are, and what you can do about them.

What are Turn-Offs in a Relationship?

As therapist Ken Howard says, “Experiences with our partners guide us.” We all have things that our boo does that annoys us or affects us in a negative way, and sometimes that’s no biggie. Turn-offs can be subjective. Your chemistry with your boyfriend is unique to the both of you. What other guys can’t stand, you might actually be fine with. 

On the other hand, a turn-off can be the sign of something seriously unhealthy for you and a major red flag. The important thing is that you recognize it, are aware of how much it happens, and from there can decide how to approach it in regards to your relationship. 

So before you run for the hills or back into his arms, let’s go through a list of common turn-offs in a relationship.

What are the Biggest Turn-Offs in a Relationship?

  1. He talks about his ex

Talking about your past is one thing. But if he’s prone to bringing up men he was with (and what went wrong), there’s a chance he’s bitter or simply not over it. But you know who will be over it eventually? You.

  1. He’s got no ambition

AKA he doesn’t have a job and doesn’t seem to be trying hard to get one. 

  1. He plays the victim card

The world is always out to get him, and nothing is ever his fault. Don’t get sucked into his perpetual pity party.

  1. He doesn’t show interest in your life

You do stuff. You go places. You serve. He should wanna know about it.

  1. He’s clingy

When it feels like you only get alone time when you use the bathroom. As psychologist Gregory E. Koch says, “Learn how to take space for yourself and give space to your partner. Coming back together will be even sweeter.”

  1. He’s dishonest

The lies! Big or small, he shouldn’t be telling them. This is a major turn-off in a relationship.

  1. He’s never wrong

Good luck finding someone in this world who has never made a mistake. He needs to own it.

  1. He’s selfish

It’s not like he needs to pay every dinner check, but would it hurt to at least give you a bite of his dessert?

  1. He’s rude

You see the way he treats service staff or your bestie. And everybody gets rubbed the wrong way. His attitude problem will become yours. 

  1. He gets angry

Constant anger can be the sign of deeper, more serious problems. Daddy, chill. 

  1. He has low self-esteem

Our lord and savior Rupaul said it best: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? 

  1. He flirts with anyone who has a pulse

Those eyes are wandering wayyyyyyy too far. If you’re in a monogamous relationship the only person he should be hitting on is you. 

  1. He has bad manners

Please. Thank you. Basic human kindness. NBD.

  1. He’s judgey

No matter how much fun you’re having, he kills the buzz by being a walking, talking critic on everything. 

  1. He doesn’t compromise

Meeting in the middle is a big part of relationships. If he never budges on anything, you’re probably not getting your needs met.

  1. He’s paranoid

Unless he just finished reading 1984, there should be trust. Psychotherapist Gino Cosme says “Building trust with your partner is crucial for enabling vulnerability and nurturing a profound connection. A healthy relationship relies on honesty, integrity, and loyalty, demanding openness from you and your partner.”

  1. He’s always on his phone

There’s only so many times you can remind someone that there’s an actual human being sitting in front of them. 

  1. He still uses other dating apps

Sure, you can make friends on dating apps (we know a really good one 😉). But if you’re in a monogamous relationship, you should discuss what is and isn’t allowed on the apps.

  1. He gossips

TMZ with legs? No, ma’am. Add it to the turn-offs list!

  1. He’s messy

Not THAT kind of messy. The kind that loves to eat saltines in bed and keep his Andrew Christian jocks on the kitchen counter (and no, they’re not clean).

  1. He’s always agreeable

He’s totally fine with whatever you want to do. Nope, no opinion on anything. Meanwhile, you’re wondering if your boyfriend is a pre-programmed robot.

  1. He doesn’t listen

You’re telling him about your day and pulling up that viral TikTok. He’s somewhere in the outer reaches of the atmosphere, pretending he’s about to board the International Space Station. Are you having a conversation with yourself?

  1. He shows microaggressions

Being discriminatory should never be tolerated. Period. This is about those small moments in between: the off-handed comments and “I’m just joking” quips that signal a bias sitting just under the surface. 

  1. He’s insensitive

If you’re up in your feels (right or wrong), then those feels should matter. 

  1. He tries to control you

Trying to dictate how you do you is never a good thing. Your socks, your choice.

  1. He can’t make up his mind

There are bigger things in life to figure out than whether to order the maple-glazed brussel sprouts or the red beet hummus.

  1. He doesn’t include you in things

You’re at home. He’s out and about. “In our busy lives,” says Cosme, “it’s essential to prioritize your relationship by scheduling regular quality time together.”

  1. He’s a drama queen

We all love a fierce queen. Just not the kind that stirs the pot and turns a date into a Scandoval.

  1. He doesn’t respect your family or friends

Your tribe is everything. And they’re not going away anytime soon.

  1. He’s too quiet

Pulling teeth is for the dentist. It’s not for when you’re trying to get him to talk to you.

  1. He gets jealous easily

He should appreciate all of your fabulousness instead of turning green with envy whenever you’re living your best life. This is an emotionally exhausting turn-off.

  1. He’s always talking about himself

Sharing is caring. But always sharing about himself — and forgetting you have a life, too — is a one-sided conversation nobody wants to have.

  1. He’s obsessed with money

Ok we get it, his shoes are expensive. Or maybe he can’t stop talking about how expensive yours are. Either way, constantly talking about finances can cheapen opportunities to go deeper.

  1. He doesn’t have your back

Is he MIA when you need him? Your boyfriend should be one of your biggest cheerleaders. 

  1. He doesn’t want to come out

This is a tricky one. Everyone has their own journey to live their truth, but for many this can be a dealbreaker if they’re looking to live openly. While many in a relationship where the other is closeted can be the support they need to come out, it can’t come at the risk of your own mental health.

  1. He constantly changes plans

You don’t have to be a hardcore planner to be annoyed with this. When you put in the effort to create a special time together, he should be able to respect it. 

  1. He’s a workaholic

Having a work-life balance means knowing when to step away from the laptop and into your bed. He’s got bills to pay, but he also has you. 

  1. He parties a lot

Is he getting home when you’re getting up? It’s hard to be on the same page if he’s always on a late-night schedule that involves hardcore partying. “I always want to know what makes a person vulnerable to using their drug of choice. Often I find they are trying to medicate an issue they are having, such as trauma, depression, or anxiety,” says psychologist Michael Toohey.

What are the Biggest Sexual Turn-Offs in a Relationship?

  1. He has bad breath

This is a big turn-off. A toothbrush should be everyone’s friend. And some mouthwash. Mints are good, too. No one wants to hold their breath every time their boyfriend leans in.

  1. He’s stinky in general

There’s musk, and then there’s stank. The former can be a good thing for some guys. The latter means your man needs to become one with their body wash (more than a few times a week).

  1. He doesn’t keep it clean down there

Everyone knows bacteria grows down there, right?! Putting a part of you in or on a part of him that hasn’t had a nice wash beforehand is like begging to go to the clinic next week for some random ointment. 

  1. He’s not a good kisser

You’re going to be doing a lot of it. So if his skills don’t match yours, everything from saying good morning to foreplay will leave you feeling meh. Hasn’t he been practicing on Troye Sivan posters?

  1. His sex drive is low 

This is a big turn-off for guys. You deserve your candy. You’re not gonna get it if his mood is always ‘not in the mood.”

  1. He has no regard for sexual health

This is a big one. Choosing to use protection, take PrEP, and get tested regularly means you care about each other and your personal health.

  1. He’s selfish in bed

Cool: You like giving, he likes receiving. Not cool: You want to receive, he won’t go more than a centimeter south of your belly button. 

  1. He’s repetitive

The same position. At the same time. On the same day. Zzzzzz…….instant turn-off.

  1. He gives you hickeys

Unless you reallllllly love wearing turtlenecks – including in July – this will not end well for you or anyone you have to get on a Zoom with.

  1. He plays rough

When things keep going from ‘hurts so good’ to ‘it hurts.’ Physical turn-offs like these can cause problems (and bruises). And as a reminder, consent is ALWAYS key.

  1. He’s too kinky

Role-playing, BDSM, fetishes…experimenting can be fun if you’re both into it. As Howard says, “Some guys who seemingly aren’t into anything kinky change their minds once they really have a chance to experience it.” But if you’re craving some good ol’ fashioned lovin’ and he keeps reaching for the handcuffs, then sex can become something that’s more uncomfortable than enjoyable. 

  1. Teeth

IYKYK #ouch

What Should You Do if You’re Being Turned Off in a Relationship?

Communicate. Communicate. COMMUNICATE. He’s not a mind reader, so never assume he’s aware of what he’s doing or that it’s something you don’t like. Having an open talk about how you’re feeling about turn-offs is one of the biggest building blocks of successful relationships. 

It might feel uncomfortable to bring up, but just starting the conversation and engaging him is the best way to get one step closer to finding a resolution is so important. Be honest, be respectful, and make sure you’re giving each other space to share.  Like Koch says, “You can’t always get what you ask for, but you certainly can’t get what you don’t ask for. Take the risk, it often pays off.”

At the end of the day, there are a lot of things that turn guys off in a relationship. But remember this: A healthy relationship takes work. As long as you’re both willing to put the time and energy into it, you can often move past your turn-offs and enjoy all the turn-ons. Just make sure to remember the difference between a turn-off and a red flag.

*Study can be found here

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