What're the warning signs that let you know it's time to grab your coat and get the hell out of Dodge? More importantly, what's the deeper, underlying meaning behind them, and how can realising it help you in your life?
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A mate of mine was on a date recently and it was all going really well. He was fun, sexy, flirty, interesting, all the smells worked… Until. The date mentioned that he didn’t like butter. Which, apparently, was when my mate knew that it was over. The date wasn’t vegan or anything weird like that, he just didn’t like butter.
How does that even come up? Like, halfway through my mate telling a story about I dunno, cycling or ducks or something, and the other guy just can’t take it anymore and shouts I DON’T LIKE BUTTER! The whole restaurant falls silent. Someone drops a fork. In the distance, a baby starts to cry. Very slowly, without breaking eye contact, my mate stands up and leaves.
I’m not sure whose side I’m on in this one, to be honest. I’ve never really thought about butter as a thing at all. It’s just sandwich lube. Y’know, not really what you’re there for, but it helps all the good stuff happen between the bread and the filling and you’d definitely notice if it went in dry. Sandwich lube.
I wouldn’t say I like it, but then I’m not about to end a promising date because the other guy feels quite strongly against it.
But, for my mate, not liking butter was a dealbreaker.
For the record, he’s a skinny bugger, so it’s not like he sits down with a lump of Lurpack and a spoon…
This got me thinking about dealbreakers, and how small things can quickly indicate that this isn’t going to end well.
Over the many years I've been dating and on the apps, I've started to develop a keen awareness for the little flags, the warning signs that this one’s a nutter, or a messy bitch who lives for drama. They’re often little things, sometimes almost subconscious, that someone will say or a certain way they'll say something that makes a little warning light go off in my brain.
A good one for me is cats. Cats are a proper dealbreaker as far as I’m concerned. I'm explosively allergic to the furry little bastards anyway, but even if I weren't, I know straight off that anyone who has cats is not someone I can be with. They’re dicks. Utter bastards. And yet some people can’t get enough of them. Why would you choose to keep a furry little git in your house, who wrecks your furniture, stinks the place up and will physically attack you if you try to touch them? I know in my bones I can’t be with anyone who thinks that’s a good idea.
And don’t get me started on the ones who start social media accounts for them. I’m not saying all cat owners set up Twitter or Instagram accounts for their cats and wite powsts tawking in a wickle speshul voice from their cat’s point of view, just that I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
Horrified, yes. Immediately heading for the door, certainly. Surprised, no.
Eating with your mouth open is another. How does anyone get to grown-up-land and not know how to close their mouth when they eat? If you do this on a date with me, I will stab you in the throat with your own fork. I would use my fork, but then I wouldn’t be able to finish my meal.
It’s important to know what your dealbreakers are. Think about the things that you would very definitely expect in a lover. It doesn’t need to be everything, but the very basic stuff. Like, I know deep inside that I could never date a gay Tory. Sorry, Richard.
This doesn’t need to be a list like “He needs to be a multimillionaire with a slamming body, ginger hair and a flat in Islington.” Basics, remember. Like “Doesn’t insist on checking his phone during sex”. For example.
But yeah, learn what are the things that would make you say “Nope. I’m out. Thankyou and goodbye.” And if, for whatever reason, potential men don’t tick that box, then have absolutely no hesitation in getting rid. You are not a charity. Dating someone that is not right for you isn’t somehow a virtue. You will not get points for it later on.
Of course, it’s not always that easy. I remember in middle school, I decided I could only have a girlfriend if she met certain criteria. (Shut up, I was ten and watching a lot of Thundercats, and there was a whole story arc where Lion-O has to undergo several trials to prove that he’s worthy of leading the look, shush, not important.)
Anyway. There was a girl I fancied called Amy Varley, but I decided we could only be together if she was honest, and true of heart and whatever, so I set up all these tests in secret, like “accidentally” dropping something of mine where she’d find it to see if she was ‘honest’ enough to give it back and shit like that. She had no idea what was going on, until I triumphantly told her she’d passed all the tests, when she told me I was weird and she didn’t fancy me.
Which was fair enough, really.
What I’m trying to say, is don’t settle. Never settle. If the thought “This isn’t really what I wanted, but it’s this or nothing” crosses your mind, then choose nothing. Clear them out. Because it’s never nothing forever. It might mean you spend some time by yourself, but that’s not a bad thing - you get to learn more about yourself and hopefully learn that you’re actually a pretty cool person, and then you won’t be as likely to let the shitty behaviour slide next time. And there’s always a next time. Make room for something better, something new.
I recently had to go to a family funeral, and I got asked repeatedly “So, have you found someone yet?”. As if you can’t really be having a life if you’re single, because that’s somehow failing. I just roll my eyes and explain that no, I don’t, because so many men are deeply mediocre. My 20-year-old cousin heard me and said to her mum “See? He gets it.”
I asked my little Flick group about this recently. That’s the little podcast group I have. There’s a link in the show notes if you want to join in. Anyway. They had a ton of great examples, like when all of their exes are “Crazy” (mentioning an ex at all in the first few dates is generally a bad sign, in my opinion, but not strictly a dealbreaker), or they use that Facetune app on ALL their photos.
Also, very quickly, “No asians. I’m not racist, just a preference.” Is racist. You are excluding a group of people based solely on their ethnicity. That is quite literally the definition of racism. But I could do a whole episode, probably an entire series on that.
I’m thinking about other dealbreakers now. Any mention of the kardashians will get you binned.
Persistence can be another. Like, I was chatting with a cutie on Grindr, and we were flirting and talking about the things we’d like to do to one another. He described something that he wanted to do to me that I wasn’t into. I said “nah, that’s not my bag” and he replied “You’ll enjoy it when I do it, I promise.” I said no, again, and he replied “Ahh, come oon…”. That’s a dealbreaker. No means no. If he’s not going to hear me on this, and I let it slide and we do the thing he wants to do, then that’s setting a precedent that my preferences can be overriden just by him pushing at it until I give in.
Really the point I’m trying to make is that you teach people how to treat you. If you allow laziness, disrespect, or general shitty behaviour to go unchecked, then all you’ll get is more of it.
Decide what you want from people and how you want to be treated by them, and then hold the people in your life to that standard. If they don’t meet it, you say “Oi.” and have a conversation about how things need to change if you’re to stay in each others’ lives, and go from there. If the situation doesn’t change, get rid.
Almost all dealbreakers come down to a lack of respect, and allowing someone to get away with not respecting you shows the other person that they’re right not to, because you don’t think you’re worth respecting either.
This isn’t meant to be a rant, just a reminder to treat everyone, including yourself, with respect. Life is short. Don’t waste your time on people who clearly aren’t right for you. Dealbreakers can be really freeing. Imagine how relieved you’d feel if you’d been mooning over a lost love for more than a year, occasionally torturing yourself by looking at his Twitter account, only to one day see he’d changed his profile to read “dad to two beautiful furbaby kittens”. It’s a hell of a gear shift to go from “Was he the only man I could ever love?” to “Christ. Dodged a bullet there. Shame, really. He had a lovely bum.” Or I’m sure it would be. If that were real and not a scenario I definitely made up.