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.
Some people are never happy
17 hours ago