So I entitled this latest post with a tagline from one of my favorite shows, 30 Rock. In the show, Tina Fey is a writer for a sketch comedy show and one of the sketches that has become most popular is one in which Jane Krakowski plays a "relationship expert/talk show host." She advises her guests about matters of the heart and when she recognizes a peccadillo that could be considered a fatal flaw, she bellows "That's a dealbreaker, ladies!" in a grating New Yawk accent. Now, I'm not from the NYC, although I do have a lovely accent I can put on, but I do know a thing or two about deals and how they become irretrievably broken. So in the spirit of the Millionaire Matchmaker meets Tyra Banks, allow me to indulge my ego and share with you a few of the things I feel are dealbreakers all around and those that can be overlooked or tolerated with time. Or as I like to call it, The Great Compromise. Or the 80/20 Rule if you're a Dr. Phil follower. That is to say, 80% of the stuff your significant other does is fine, the other 20% you can get over or deal with or isn't going to end up causing you to scream at the top of your lungs "for the love of GAWD, STOP IT!" I've seen plenty of relationships, some of my own and some of other people's, go down like the Hindenburg because they didn't think it through. So here's my advice. Take it or leave it, but don't say I didn't warn you.
1. Don't get your wagon hitched to someone not on your spiritual level. Now I'm not talking about both of you clearing your aura or having good karma, unless that's your thing, but I'm talking more about religious views (or lack thereof). I happen to be a Christian girl with some pretty strong convictions about certain things, and while I don't expect everyone to agree with me on everything, I do expect the person I share the rest of my life with to have the same basic values and beliefs. I don't care so much that you're a Baptist or a Methodist or Catholic, but we have to see eye to eye on what's happening after we shuffle off this mortal coil and how it is we come to that post life party. This is a tricky thing sometimes, because you don't always know what your potential mate is into until a little further in the game. And sometimes it's tough to extricate yourself from that situation. I spent a good 2.5 years with someone that I knew in the first 6 months wasn't on my plane, but I fought it with every ounce of my being. I wanted him to be different. I wanted to be a positive influence. All I got was somebody who consistently mocked my faith and made me feel like an idiot. I'm telling you now, it doesn't matter how hot he or she is, if you're "unequally yoked" (to put it Biblically), you're going to have problems. Especially if you want to have kids. Because everybody knows that Brooke Shields and Tom Cruise do not a happy couple make. And nobody wants to be glib about post-partum depression.
2. You think he/she will change. Sure, you can vote for it all you want, but let me let you in on a little secret--people don't change. They may change behaviors temporarily, but they don't change who they are at their core. Sometimes the things you think will change are serious issues, sometimes they're little idiosyncrasies you wish would go away. But they won't. Thousands of people go through a lot of shit in their lives and they either rise above it or they sink down in it. But it's not your choice, it's theirs. And marriage/"a good talk"/promising to do better is not going to make it any different. Those 12 step programs have a little saying--you are always in "recovery." You're never a "used to be an alcoholic." You are always a "recovering alcoholic." Because once you think you have it licked, that's when the beast rears it's ugly head and strikes back ten times more forcefully. Same concept for anything you consider to be a problem-- if you see something that's a red flag now, get it taken care of now and get out. Don't wait until you're sitting around alone and lonely wondering what in the hell happened. I know that sounds a little serious or overbearing, but I'm telling you, even a tiny string can unravel an entire cocktail dress if you pick at it long enough. And nobody wants to end up being the one wearing the Emperor's New Clothes.
3. If you don't trust them, don't date (or marry) them. I don't know how many stories I have heard from people (women mostly) who should be in a Peanuts strip because they are so Snoopy. They hack into emails, social networking accounts, wallets, cell phones, etc etc and then get all upset when they find something they didn't want to see. Well guess what honey? If he had nothing to hide, you wouldn't be looking in the first place, so what are you doing with him? Think about it! Why are you digging around in his personal effects? To find a missing lotto ticket or some gum? NO! You don't trust him. Either he's done something to make you mistrust him, or you're paranoid. Who wants to go through life like that? So quit snooping and move on. Or get some professional assistance for your trust issues. Because you will never rest at night feeling like there's something he's hiding.
4. Naggers and Clingers never win. This is where you have to decide if the 20% of stuff that irks you is worth dealing with 95% of the time. So he doesn't take the garbage out like you asked him, or she doesn't put the dishes in the dishwasher. You know this. It's not news to you. But what do you do? You get in a fight once a week about the effen garbage. That's not what the real issue is, and you know it. So either figure out what your problem is and really address it, or put the dishes in the dishwasher yourself. Nagging is not going to get you anywhere except out on the street on your lovely hiney. Right next to the garbage.
Clinginess can also be a real drag to deal with, and a lot of times it has to do with rule #3. I don't know how many people smother their boyfriend/girlfriend because they don't trust them. If you are constantly suctioned to the side of your inamorata like our old seafaring friend the remora, then you're going to earn the resentment of your significant other if they value their independence even one little iota. Guys like to go out and have drinks with the boys; girls like to get together and drink cosmos and have Pure Romance parties. Let 'em go. I promise they'll come home if they really like you. Just don't go snooping through their stuff when they do.
There's another form of clinginess I'd like to address briefly as well; I call it the "Body Bubble Boundary." If you're anything like me, you're a pretty cuddly person when in private. I enjoy piling up on or crawling under the Snuggie with my significant other while lounging on the couch, and I have been prone to episodes of smoochiness on occasion. But when in public, please, for your own dignity and the digestive health of those around you, keep it clean and keep it in your pants. Holding hands, an arm around the shoulder or waist, fine. Maybe even a light peck on the cheek. The hands in the back pockets, spit bathing one another, and generally icky schmoopiness that's best reserved for a grossly overweight gal and her uber-skinny, bemulleted amour at the fair, NO. Save it for the trailer park folks. You don't want to earn the reputation as one of the worst races in all of intergalactic history: The Clingon.
Alright, that's it for this week folks. Send me your rants, raves, comments, and questions. Happy Dating!