There is one thing I would break up over and that is if she caught me with another woman. I won’t stand for that.

— Steve Martin

Have you ever wondered why some men and women will break up with a significant other over something that seems totally trivial to you?

Here you are working through some serious, deep relationship issues and they’re breaking up over one forgotten anniversary?

There’s a simple reason for this. What’s a petty offense to some is a REALLY BIG DEAL to others. Although gender and other issues (e.g. past offenses, emotional health, etc.) can sometimes play a part, the biggest factor is your personality type.

Different personality types have different deal-breakers for relationships.

You’d be smart to know what those deal-breakers are because chances are you are not in a relationship with someone with YOUR personality type. 

Therefore, what isn’t that big of a deal to your S.O. might be a HUGE deal to you. Conversely, what is totally acceptable or maybe just borderline behavior to you, might actually end up costing you your relationship

One minute you’re all cozy and cuddly, the next you’re binge drinking red wine and crying in the shower singing “Careless Whispers.” Or whatever sad odes to heartbreak the kids are singing these days. 

You can avoid this pitiful scene entirely by getting the inside story about deal-breaker offenses, lovingly presented to you below by personality type.

As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so your primary focus is avoiding these situations. I’ll tell you how to fix them in a future post, so definitely sign up for my mailing list if you haven’t yet. 

The personality types you will see below are described in terms of the element of nature that their personality most closely resembles – Earth, Air, Water or Fire. In my personality system that I use when I work with my coaching clients, I call this their Strongest Element. (Click here to take the Quiz and find out which is YOUR Strongest Element.)

The Earth Element

Earth Element personalities are drawn to order, structure and tradition. They are highly dependable, responsible, and reliable. They respect authority. They love crossing off their to-do lists. They are parental. On a bad day, they can be stubborn martyrs. But like the Earth, they are solid and stable.

What They Want in a Relationship:

  • They want to know you appreciate the specific things they do to make your life more comfortable.
  • They want tradition and stability.
  • They want to be proud of the person they are with. Status and privilege are very important to them. 

Deal-breaker Offenses: 

  • You didn’t notice or thank them when they cleaned and organized your entire house.
  • You forgot an anniversary or birthday.
  • You remembered their birthday, but you got them something silly thinking it would be funny and you’d both get a good laugh out of it. You won’t. 

Armageddon Level, Release the Kraken, DEFCON 1 Offense:
You forgot an anniversary or birthday AGAIN.

The Water Element

These people are sympathetic, caring listeners. You feel comfortable confiding in them instantly. They focus on developing potential – in themselves and in others. They are romantic, compassionate and empathetic. On a bad day they are fickle drama queens. But like an ocean wave on a summer day, they are warm and nurturing.

What They Want in a Relationship:

  • They want to feel that their mate sees them as unique and special.
  • They want to feel deeply, intimately connected on a soul level.
  • They want romance.

Deal-breaker Offenses: 

  • You compared them to someone else (maybe an ex) less than favorably.
  • A mutual friend told them something important that YOU should have confided in them directly. 
  • You remembered their birthday, but you got them something practical instead of celebrating the occasion in a romantic way.

Armageddon Level, Release the Kraken, DEFCON 1 Offense:
You lied about something they trusted you to be honest about. Something important.

The Air Element

Air Elements are open-minded, logical, rational people. They consider all sides of a situation before making decisions. They research. They are experts in whatever they are passionate about. They explore big ideas. They are intellectual and academic by nature and comfortable with complexity. On a bad day they can be sarcastic perfectionists. But like a wide-open sky, they are all about possibilities.

What They Want in a Relationship:

  • They want their mate to respect their intelligence.
  • They want to have time to work on things that are important to them without guilt trips.
  • They want you to use their advice to solve your problem so you can be happy and stop complaining (to them).

Deal-breaker Offenses: 

  • You have given them the impression that you think someone else is more of an expert in their field of expertise.
  • You are trying to make them feel bad for spending time on intellectual pursuits instead of with you. 
  • Your way of expressing your emotions is too intense for them.
  • You remembered their birthday, but you got them a romantic cliché (e.g. a teddy bear).

Armageddon Level, Release the Kraken, DEFCON 1 Offense:
You have insulted their intelligence or taken credit for one of their ideas.

The Fire Element

Fire Element personalities are always in motion. They are energetic go-getters. Of all personality types, Fire Elements are the most comfortable with change. They are determined, resourceful and able to rebuild easily. Naturally optimistic and charismatic, they are often the life of the party. On a bad day they can be competitive and self-destructive, but like a roaring bonfire, they are magnetic and dynamic.

What They Want in a Relationship:

  • Someone to have fun with.
  • Someone to try new things with.
  • Someone who is openly and physically affectionate with them.

Deal-breaker Offenses: 

  • You are so concerned with planning that you are never willing to be spontaneous. 
  • You are bumming them out with pessimism. 
  • You remembered their birthday, but you got them something that requires a commitment from them for a year from now when they don’t even know what they’ll want to do tomorrow.

Armageddon Level, Release the Kraken, DEFCON 1 Offense:
You are trying to rein them in and being dishonest about it.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about a time when you had to Release the Kraken over a relationship deal-breaker offense. How did the other person respond? Is there anything you would have done differently? Let me know in the comments.

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