Partial prezygotic isolation is often viewed as more important than partial postzygotic isolation (low fitness of hybrids) early in the process of speciation. I simulate secondary contact between two populations (‘species’) to examine effects of assortative mating and low hybrid fitness in preventing blending. A small reduction in hybrid fitness (e.g., by 10%) produces a narrower hybrid zone than a strong but imperfect mating preference (e.g., 10x stronger preference for conspecific over heterospecific mates). In the latter case, rare F1 hybrids find each other attractive (due to assortative mating), leading to the buildup of a continuum of intermediates. The weakness of assortative mating compared to reduced fitness of hybrids in preventing blending is robust to varying genetic bases of these traits. Assortative mating is most powerful in limiting blending when it is encoded by a single locus, is essentially complete, or when there is a large mate search cost. In these cases assortative mating is likely to cause hybrids to have low fitness, due to frequency-dependent mating disadvantage of individuals of rare mating types. These results prompt a questioning of the concept of partial prezygotic isolation, since it is not very isolating unless there is also postzygotic isolation.