Thursday, 26 August 2010

In which I contemplate the deal-breakers

Ahead of India Knight’s appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning, she took to Twitter to ask the twittersphere what would constitute a deal breaker in a relationship.

Ha, easy, I said, as I fired off an email to JournoGal. An attachment to the ex; an over-attachment to the mother; political apathy; political daftness; poor spelling; bad grammar; pronouncing it ‘expresso’; horrid fingernails. For starters.

But actually, having given the topic some thought (nothing like shutting the stable door after the horse has sent the email), I’ve come to the conclusion that my assumptions aren’t particularly accurate.

Despite having come into contact with the majority of those charming attributes at some point in my dating history, they’ve never actually constituted ‘deal breakers’. They’re unpleasant, definitely, and one too many “expressos” is likely to result in a withering look and a link to that Mitchell and Webb sketch (and, very possibly, a copy of Nancy Mitford’s Noblesse Oblige. Where an expresso lurks, there’s likely to be a serviette). But not a termination of a flirtation (unlike Best Mate, who once refused to go on a date with a chap she met in a club on the basis of the poor spelling in his text messages).

In fact, previous dalliances have survived most of the above, including over-attachments to the mother (though how, I don’t know. Phonecalls from a man’s mother when you and he are in bed at 7.30am on a Saturday are not welcome things).

What they’ve not survived have beenthings I wouldn’t necessarily have anticipated.

The first is being a picky eater. There was a while, some time ago, where I had a few tentative lunches with Him Upstairs – a chap who worked in one of the other offices in the building. He was sweet enough, but there was something I just couldn't put my finger on.

"Eventually," I said to JournoGal over dinner, "I worked it out. He was a really picky eater."

She looked at me. "Blonde, you're a vegetarian."

"I know. I have no explanation for it, and I sure as hell can't justify it. But it just added to his general demeanour of exceptional wetness - he wouldn't eat meat; he refused to go anywhere near bread... I want man to order a steak, and order it bloody. And anyway, if he doesn't have a proper appetite when it comes to food... Well, it doesn't bode well, does it?"

Of course, a good appetite isn't what you're after when that appetite is for large amounts of coke. I never thought I'd find myself in the position where substance dependence made it onto a list of things that'll end a relationship for me, but then life's a funny old thing.

And when someone's fondness for the stuff results in the irritability, unpredictability and paranoia that ultimately manifests itself in a row to end all blazing rows; a girl genuinely frightened of the person standing in front of her, then it's probably time to call it a day.

Something else I never thought would make the list, but did in a very real way is the making of terrible, terrible career choices.

As a general rule, I'm not a fan of the ultimatum - it amounts to little more than blackmail, and if you're having to employ such tactics in any relationship then you're better off out of it.

But when Minor Celeb was offered some work that made every fibre of my being shout 'No! Don't do it! It's a terrible, terrible idea!" I told him exactly how I felt.

I laid out the facts as I saw them, and explained that I'd be deeply uncomfortable with the situation. So uncomfortable, in fact, that I wouldn't be able to be a part of it. If he wished to do it, he should go ahead, but he couldn't expect me to stick around.

In the end, he chose me, rather than the project.

Selfish perhaps, but even now I would argue it was absolutely the right thing to do - as much if not more for him than for me - and if I were in the same situation, I'd do it again.

None of which means I'll ever be happy about a poorly spelled text message.


nuttycow said...

Have to say I'm with Best Mate here. I too have been known to deny a man because of his grammar abilities (N was forever mixing up their, they're and there - it used to drive me barmy)

Chômage said...

Flirting with someone who sounds pre-pubescent makes my balls invert.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I'd be buggered if I currently judged on poor spelling and grammar. The Boy is dyslexic, so boardshorts often = boredshorts. I quite like it.

My deal breaker is an inability to compromise.

The non-smoking Ex liked to smoke cigs when he was drinking. I hate smoking. I was happy for him to do it when out drinking with his mates, but pleaded with him not to do it when he was out with his mates and me. Right up until and after we broke up, this was an issue with us. He point blank refused to compromise on the issue.

The Boy likes to smoke when drunk too. He knows I hate it. The very fact that he says "Ah, I fancy a fag. Do you mind if I have one?" and would happily not do it if I felt like being a bitch and saying "Yes, I mind", means that conversely, I actually find the whole thing less offensive.

Go figure.

Compromise = big deal.

jman said...

Funny how things like rudeness, selfishness and being overly self absorbed don't make the list but biting one's nails does. Might one find the latter unattractive? Yes. But a deal breaker?

Girl Friday said...

I once broke up with someone who I was very very fond of when I found out he had been grossly negligent in paying his council tax. He was moving and in the process he explained to me that he owed a fairly large sum of money in council tax. That paired with the fact that he did not hire a van, did not have his place cleaned and assumed other people would be on hand to help on the day all broke that deal for me. Sounds silly, but all of that demonstrated to me that he was immature and irresponsible. Us girls are a funny bunch aren't we?

soupemes said...

I agree with Jo, compromise can be a dealbreaker with me. That said, The Designer can be really rigid at times and I seem to let him off.

I'd also like to claim that cheating is the absolute dealbreaker for me but past exes cheated on me repeatedly and I took them back... I like to think I would walk away now, now that my esteem isn't dragging along the ground behind me.

I'd also like to claim that poor hygiene would send me scuttling off, but The Mechanic sometimes didn't clean his teeth and I stuck with him for over 2 years.

I am now feeling ashamed of myself. I'll return if I can think of any dealbreakers that I have stuck to ;)

Blonde said...

NC: I always thought I would be one to do that, but surprisingly, I'm not. Don't know why, as it drives me up the wall.

Chomage: Nice picture there, matey. Ta for that.

PDEWYMO: Compromise is a good'un. Thankfully, I don't think, thus far, that I've been in a situation to test out whether it makes the list.

Jman: Those are attributes that I'm sure would actually break a deal. As I mentioned, nothing on the list that sprung to mind immediately actually turned out to be that important.

Girl Friday: I understand where you're coming from: we're after a boyfriend, not an extra child.

Soupy: Hah - you too! The things we think are really important somehow appear not to be, in the end. Odd, no?

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