The Biggest Turn-Offs for Women

What women get turned off by depends on a woman’s personality and culture. But after putting the question out there, I found that there are a few common turn-offs (or “icks”) for women.

Here are a few of the biggest turn-offs for women:

Poor Communication

Most of the women I spoke to said poor communication is a big turn-off.

Someone who is inconsistent and unclear in their communication loses their appeal pretty quickly.

Women want to know what’s going on, where they stand, and how things will progress.

Uncertainty can cause anxiety, especially for women who are already prone to experiencing anxiety in relationships (e.g., those with an anxious attachment style).

Katy said, “I really like this guy, but his communication is so on and off, and sometimes he just doesn’t seem interested. It’s starting to put me off because I don’t want to waste my time!”

What to Do Instead

You don’t have to text or call a woman all hours of the day (they don’t like that either) but show an interest – make a woman feel like she’s wanted as a person, not just an object of your desires.

If you play it too cool, she’ll think you’re not interested and move on.

Send a flirty message, ask her how her day’s been, remember and ask her about something she told you previously, tell her you’re thinking about her, or share something interesting that happened in your day – a few thoughtful words go a long way!


Indecisiveness or not knowing what you want is another major turn-off for women. 

It can manifest as hot-and-cold behavior, e.g., being in touch a lot and then suddenly going quiet; telling her you like her but then acting distant; or saying you want to meet up but never following through.

Being unsure can also mean you don’t put energy into building a relationship and expect her to do all the work.

Claire said, “Going from hot to cold and then hot again is exhausting. You can’t fully relax or move forward because you’re constantly wondering what he’s thinking. Initially, that might make him more attractive but eventually, it’s just annoying.”

What to Do Instead

No one likes to feel like they’re being messed around. Be clear about your intentions, and if you’ve changed your mind or want to take things slow, just say so.

If she has a bad reaction to you speaking your mind and expressing yourself honestly, maybe she’s not the right person for you, and that’s good to know!

A woman wants to feel that you’re invested in building something with her, so your actions and words should show her that you’re committed.

That could mean:

  • Arranging dates and talking about the future
  • Making it clear that you enjoy spending time with her
  • Being in touch consistently
  • Asking questions that show you’ve been listening
  • Showing an interest in her life

Poor Hygiene

Bad smell, bad breath, dirty fingernails, messy home, and general uncleanliness were all mentioned as major turn-offs.

The advice is simple: start caring about your hygiene if you want to attract a partner.

Game Playing

Game playing like hot-and-cold behavior, ghosting, negging, booty-calling, gaslighting, and playing hard to get are a turn-off for many women.

People play games to influence another person’s feelings and behavior. That can be benign, like waiting a certain amount of time to text back.

You do it to make yourself more attractive in the eyes of another by being (or at least appearing to be) hard to get, knowing that a sense of exclusivity makes a person more desirable.

So a bit of “soft” game-playing is attractive to many women, but as the relationship goes on, playing games becomes a turn-off.

If you play games intending to control or humiliate another person, that’s never okay. Playing malicious games (like gaslighting) or taking it too far is firstly, toxic, and secondly, a turn-off.

Sexist Behavior and Language

Many of the women I spoke to said that sexist behavior and language are a major turn-off.

That includes saying things like “She was asking for it dressed like that” or “Boys will be boys,” or asking, “Is it that time of the month?” if a woman expresses her emotions

It could also mean making sexist “jokes” or preaching about the importance of stereotypical gender roles; treating and speaking about women as sex objects; and “mansplaining” (explaining something to a woman in a condescending or patronizing way).

What to Do Instead

Most women today expect to be treated as an equal, rational human being.

Misogynistic or chauvinistic attitudes, behaviors, and language are the result of male insecurity that has been transmitted over generations. So, if you don’t want to give women the ick, address your insecurities and learn about the benefits of treating women as your equal.

Additionally, do not play along with sexist jokes that men around you make about women, especially in the presence of the woman you are interested in. You can control your own jokes, but you cannot control those of others.

Instead, call out your male friends on their sexist language and state it is not funny. Changing your response to these attitudes against women can help set a good example for others as well as make women feel supported. 


A few women mentioned that boasting about achievements, status, income, and sexual prowess is a turn-off. For example:

“This guy I met just kept going on about how cool his group of friends were at university – how much banter they always had and how they played tricks on girls. He kept bragging and talking about these people I didn’t know. It made me want to throw up.”

“A man I went on a date with told me “I was chosen to do this amazing research project in South America and I’m going to be away for a while. I’m just so busy at work you know, everyone always needs something from me.” But later, I found out he was unemployed and made up the whole thing…”

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you’ve achieved, but bragging and telling endless stories of how amazing you are turns many women off. They might think you’re trying too hard, are self-centered, or are making up for your shortcomings.

Many women are looking for an authentic and humble person who is confident in themselves, rather than someone who wants to be seen as more impressive, successful, or important than they actually are (i.e., a pretentious person).

What to Do Instead

Instead of trying to impress a woman by how much you earn or how much you can lift, impress her with your ability to listen, care for her, and your willingness to be open and communicate honestly.

Over time, your achievements and successes will naturally come up in conversation, there’s no need to force the issue.

If your self-esteem is low, it might be helpful to see a therapist and invest time and energy into working on yourself.

Being Boring

Being boring was another turn-off that several women mentioned. That included having nothing to talk about, not making conversation and only talking about themselves, lacking a sense of humor, and only wanting to hang out at home.

Priya said, “She just spoke about herself the whole evening, and if I didn’t ask any questions, she would just go silent. It seemed like she wasn’t interested in me or anything else that didn’t directly relate to her.”

Tiffany added, “Whenever we would meet up, it would be at his house. If I suggested going out, he would make up some sort of excuse as to why we should stay at home. I ended things pretty quickly!” 

What to Do Instead

Everyone wants to feel heard and be interesting to other people. Learning the art of conversation and listening are skills that will help not only in your relationships but your life in general.

Think of things you can talk about that might interest her and ask her questions about her life – you might even learn something!

Make an effort when you invite her out – do something spontaneous, take her on an unusual date, or ask her what she’d like to do.

Women appreciate thoughtfulness, creativity, and effort. But of course, it’s not only up to you, so if you feel like she’s not putting in any effort, pull her up on that and ask her to plan the next date.

Laziness and Apathy

For many women, laziness regarding appearance, household, and life in general is a turn-off. A couple of women said:

“For me, it’s such a turn-off when a guy is lazy, unmotivated, has no personal goals or interests, and basically just sits around watching TV and scrolling on social media.”

“You don’t have to be rich or super successful, but have some ambition and drive.”

Being unmotivated and having no personal goals could be a sign of poor mental health, so for your own sake and for the sake of attracting a partner, work on your well-being, set yourself goals, and find pleasure in life.

Rude and Disrespectful Behavior and Language

A few women said that someone acting or speaking rudely was a turn-off for them.

They mentioned:

  • Gossiping or talking badly about other people a lot
  • Being rude to service staff and people in general
  • Not caring about other people, things, nature, or the world
  • Intolerant political and social views

Badmouthing exes makes you appear petty and hung up on the past. Your date will assume you’ll later trash talk them too and doubt if you’ve moved on.

The advice is: be mindful of how you speak to and about other people; find something you care about; and practice tolerance and compassion.


Clinginess was a turn-off for several women. For example, Katy said, “When I meet someone and they’re constantly texting me, asking when we can meet up, or always invade my personal space, I can’t stand it.”

If the behavior borders on stalking and harassment, no one likes that. But it could also have something to do with her attachment style, which means for some women, this kind of behavior is a total red flag but for others, it’s exactly what they want. 

If Katy has an avoidant attachment style, that might explain why she finds a man’s perceived clinginess obnoxious. 

A different woman might enjoy the constant calls and texts and validation of how you feel about her, especially if she’s more aligned with an anxious attachment style.

I guess the key is to find the right balance between being “too cool” and being clingy. Consistent contact is good as long as it’s not all the time. Showing an interest is important but take it easy and be patient.

Being Too Focused on Looks

One woman I spoke to said, “It really irks me when someone is obsessed with my looks. I know that might sound like I’m full of myself and obviously, it’s nice to have your ego stroked but if it’s only about my looks, it turns me off immediately.”

Although only one woman mentioned this, she probably speaks for other women too.

Of course, most people enjoy being complimented on their appearance and want to be attractive in the eyes of others, but they want to know that you like their personality too.

What to Do Instead

If you’re looking for a relationship that’s going to last, your personalities should match to some extent. Take time to get to know someone on an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual level (as well as the physical).

Don’t be shy about giving compliments but make sure they include some comments about her as a person, not just as something nice to look at.


There were a couple of comments from women about addiction being a turn-off. That included taking drugs, gambling, drinking excessively, and smoking.

Tilly said, “We went to a classical concert on a Tuesday night (!) with some of my friends and he started taking drugs in the bathroom. It was so obvious, and my friends were appalled – and so was I!”

Addiction is not good for you or your relationships. Seek help from a professional and/ or a 12-step program.

Selfish Lovers

Many women are turned off by selfish lovers, as Tiffany said, “When a guy doesn’t seem interested in pleasing you and it’s all about his satisfaction, that’s a massive turn-off.”

If you want a woman to fall for you, take an interest in her spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. There are plenty of online resources and videos that provide education on how to make a woman happy in and outside of the bedroom. 

Not Making An Effort With Friends And Family

Failing to connect with her inner circle signals you’re not invested in a real future together. This is a major red flag for many women.

What to Do Instead

  • Attend important events like birthday parties even if it’s inconvenient. Your effort speaks volumes.
  • Learn names and key details about those close to her so you can connect personally with them.
  • Show a genuine interest in her significant people. Spend time getting to know them better instead of sticking to small talk.
  • Offer help when appropriate. Look for simple ways to assist friends and be thoughtful of family.

Making these small gestures to integrate into her world shows you care and envisage her in your life permanently. That care and commitment means everything.

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Saul Mcleod, PhD

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Educator, Researcher

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Anna Drescher

Mental Health Writer

BSc (Hons), Psychology, Goldsmiths University, MSc in Psychotherapy, University of Queensland

Anna Drescher is a freelance writer and solution-focused hypnotherapist, specializing in CBT and meditation. Using insights from her experience working as an NHS Assistant Clinical Psychologist and Recovery Officer, along with her Master's degree in Psychotherapy, she lends deep empathy and profound understanding to her mental health and relationships writing.

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