Having dated walking red flags

My friend, Maggie, recently had a book published. It’s called No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog, and it’s filled with suggestions (oddly, 100 of them) of things you could write a blog post about. I thought that a good way to celebrate her success with this publication would be the practical application of one of her ideas. So after reading the book — a quick 122 pages that read exactly how Maggie speaks in person, as charmingly as humorously as if describing something unpleasant (maybe bone spurs, or four-hour erections?) as judiciously as possible to the President of the United States — I went back and picked a suggestion that I hadn’t ever used before. Today’s blog post is written in response to Maggie’s Idea Number 32: Break It Off.

“What are your relationship deal breakers? Some folks are annoyed if a date shows up ten minutes late. Others look for something weightier, like a felony record. Have you ever rejected someone over something that seems insignificant to your friends? Or do you have selective blindness for red flags?”

Only because this suddenly made me remember a certain guy who said to me on our second date, “You mean, you like elephants, too? I THINK THIS IS WHAT THEY CALL DESTINY!”

I don’t even remember his name, not a single letter of it, but I remember telling him upfront that I did not want any part of a long-term relationship. His response was along the lines of, but I already called my mother in New Jersey! And she’s knitting you a sweater! I went on a third date because he was a nice a guy, and I didn’t think it was fair to tell him that I didn’t want to marry him over the phone, although looking back now that is exactly what I should have done because he was so upset he wrapped his arms around my neck like a giant spider that wanted to eat my face off. For those of you who don’t know, that is not the most successful way to say to a woman, hey, wait, aren’t you being a little hasty?

I also dated a guy who said he couldn’t bring himself to sleep with women who had big butts. I didn’t take that stipulation very seriously because an ass is not a physical characteristic that I will ever possess, much like boobs or manageable hair. It wasn’t until I realized that his aversion to butts was just Chapter One in his memoir The Innumerable Ways I am Out of My Fucking Mind, and by Chapter Four: I Cannot Bring Myself to Sleep With Women Who Have Vaginas, I knew that I had stumbled into the wrong section of the library, if you know what I’m saying.

There was the guy who was perfect in many ways, loved the right music, voted for the right person, said the most wonderful things when I most needed to hear them, and (and!) he was an amazing kisser. It was just all the stuff that happened after the kissing that made the relationship more and more difficult to rationalize, and here is where I experience a lot of hand-wringing for all my Mormon girlfriends who got married without ever having slept with their men. It’s admirable, very admirable to enter into the covenant of marriage as a virgin, but what if smack dab in the middle of that first-night passion he starts quoting Al Pacino in Scarface? Or starts yodeling? Or says, “Do you mind if I turn on some Yanni?” IT COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN. This is indispensable research you have to conduct, or else you’re going to spend the rest of your life faking headaches.

And finally, the very good-looking blonde, athletic type who could fix things. He was the first guy I ever dated who could change a tire, and he was always offering to take care of the broken things around my apartment. When that sort of expertise comes into your life it feels like you’re seeing a blue sky for the first time. Like, you mean I don’t have to live with a shower door that won’t close? I HAVE NEVER KNOWN SUCH BEAUTY. But then I had to go and ruin everything by asking him to open his mouth and form a complete sentence, by asking the very difficult, complex question of what he thought about homosexuality. He shrugged and said, “Homosexuals are stupid.” Which, let’s give him credit, is as educated and informed of an opinion as that of an eight-year-old in a coma.

What are your deal breakers?

  • http://doctortongue.com doctor tongue

    How could I forget no sense of humour? Or the wrong kind? (I’m twisted and Monty Python rules all – deal with it)

  • http://www.fudgeit.org bushra

    everything about my mister is a deal breaker, but here we are.

  • http://www.sailorsaid.blogspot.com brandy

    If I were to go back on the dating scene now my deal breakers would be:

    Upside down boners.
    Bad breath
    Sticking of the tongue in the ear.(ew,ew,ew,ew)
    Being racist, homophobic etc.
    Bad taste in music
    Hated cheese.

    Before I met my man 7 years ago I made a list of things I wanted in a boy, one of them was:
    Bring me fruit.
    He brought me a strawberry poptart.
    So I kept him.

  • DottyDi

    White pants.

  • http://redneckdiva.blogspot.com RedneckDiva

    Gratuitous lack of teeth. And trust me, around here, this is a very, very high possibility.

  • http://doctortongue.com doctor tongue

    Thanks, fiddlehendrix – I was getting depressed about my back hair after reading the first 100 or so comments, and thinking “I’ll be alone forever”. I’m already overly self-conscious about it (and have waxed it for GFs). Trust me, I make up for it in other ways (the first of which is that I come by my nickname honestly).

    One of the hot women at work, who is my own age and seemed fun, when I was telling her about one of many great concerts I had been to this year, said “I don’t go to concerts.” Buh-bye. Not that we were going out, or going to go out, but my interest (and her hotness) took a definite nose-dive.

    Unwarranted selfishness. It’s OK to put yourself first in a lot – if not most – situations, but come on. The world does not revolve around you.

    Lack of hygiene down there. See end of first paragraph above. Certain things require nose-breathing, which makes unpleasant aromas ten times more unpleasant.

    Cheapskates, be it tipping or what have you. Budget-conscious is good, economical OK, but not tipping AT ALL on two drinks because “I like to keep my money.”? See ya.

    Lack of knowledge of the “outside world”, AKA current events or the news, because “it’s boring”. How’s life in your cave?

    I’ve made many compromises in the past because I liked other aspects of someone’s personality, and it always ALWAYS came back to bite me in the ass.

  • http://www.pumpkinjuice.com Jen Mahler

    Oh and I just remembered one more: Any man who trys to move towards the bathroom door, open it, sit on the toilet to take a poo, WHILE CONTINUING TO CONVERSE WITH ME WITH THE DOOR OPEN, especially in our first week of dating, MUST go. (Yes, this happened to me.)

  • June

    Dealbreakers –

    a) Let’s see, there was the guy who planned our future together without consulting me first…

    b) And there was the guy who let me know his career and his hobbies were more important than spending time with me…

    c) I’ve always been very leery of men (white, usually) with Asian fetishes (I call it “yellow fever”). Someone once told me that it’s no worse than preferring redheads, but when you walk into a white guy’s place and see bonsai plants everywhere and calligraphy scrolls on the wall, and he enthusiastically says that he wishes he was Japanese because they have such a fascinating culture and beautiful women… Gah! I can’t get out of there fast enough.

  • kntaylor77

    When I think of deal breakers, I think of my sister’s husband. She was an innocent little Mormon virgin when she got married, yay for her, and when they started dating, he would listen to the worst woman-hating horrible music ever in the car with her. Stuff that made me, who curses like a sailor and was NOT an innocent little Mormon virgin, want to go home and wash MY mouth out just for hearing it. She never said anything. I always thought that was a bad sign. Sure enough, on their wedding night, she goes into the bathroom to change into pretty lingerie for her first time with him, and when she comes out, he’s buck naked on the bed with his legs spread waiting for her. I bet it made her feel real special.

  • Laura

    I had a massive list and married a guy who, according to that list, had to be perfect. We are now divorced.

    I’m now married for years to someone who probably ticks 5 of the 10 boxes. Best relationship I ever had.

  • kth201

    serena burrows, it sounds like your guy had some weird feet issues.

    One more thing: guys who LOVE LOVE LOVE to talk about themselves, their opinion on every topic, everything they have done and how awesome it is, and why they are so cool. To be fair, I guess that goes for people in general, not just guys.

  • TexChic

    My dealbreakers are:
    Guys who think they’re cowboys or bikers; anyone with bad table manners (chew with your mouth closed, and stop that smacking!), poor hygiene or grammar; telemarketers or spammers; guys with obnoxious or psychotic relatives (including parents); and horndogs who “have to have it” more than once a day.

  • http://www.pumpkinjuice.com Jen Mahler

    I’m right there with many of the other post’s: back hair, bad politics. Closemindedness and an inability to be fun are major dealbreakers for me. And bad teeth.

  • http://www.cleopatraqueenofdenial2.blogspot.com gypsy

    Must be breathing.

    Must find my friends and me delightful and funny.

    Must be willing to carry me around on a little satin pillow.

    Must be comfortable talking about poop.

    Must be tolerant of my messiness.

    Must not be a racist or neo nazi.

    Anything else goes.

  • kth201

    Oops! Sorry for the double post!

  • ktjane

    I have a long list, most of which has all been posted here already, but mainly: CHEATERS.

    I’m just wondering if “exclamation point” deliberately misspelled words like definite & designer because he’s that dumb, or if it was intentional to make you twitch…hmmmm? And if that’s how he feels, why is he reading your blog?!

  • wahrephoenixe

    So – I thought I had deal breakers – and I do. Anyone with addictions, active or inactive, are off limits (it only took me two broken engagements and one shredded heart to cure me of my particular bad habit). But then I met a man whom I never would have considered dating, and fell promptly in love. NEVER write widowed conservative fathers of 5 off your list. I am now one of the happiest married women I know, with 5 step kids and a healthy controvestial political home life. Who knew?

  • Marz

    I refuse to date anyone who:
    1. .. smokes. (Chimney breath is not pleasant to me.)
    2. .. is impolite on the phone. (i.e. Does not say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ or show any semblance of courtesy.) based on experience, I noticed how much that gesture is a reflection of their personality.
    3. .. refuses to make the effort to get along with my friends. I put in the effort, and he should try to do the same.
    4. .. thinks that beauty and someone’s race are in any way related. (i.e. “Only Chinese girls are pretty..”, etc. etc.)
    5. .. is tactless.

    Yeah, I guess that’s it.
    Great post!

  • traca

    Back hair, baldness, Republican, Old Spice after shave, bad teeth, too many muscles, facial piercings, weeping like a girl, small penis, and any drug use.

  • April-Lyn

    After one of my college boyfriends broke up with me, I composed a list that included the following dealbreakers, among others:

    - Must not be a cheating bastard.
    - Must be at least willing to try dancing with me.
    - Must enjoy reading.
    - Must enjoy music.
    - Must not be a cheating bastard (I was really pissed off…)
    - Must have good hygiene.
    - Must know how to call/IM/email.
    - Must not find bare feet gross (I ended up getting married in bare feet. :)
    - Must not own a gun (this became a bit dicey when my now husband was in the army, but I decided it was okay since he didn’t actually *own* any guns)

    Since then, I would also add passive-agreesiveness, narcissism, lack of respect/compassion for me (like, always blaming me for our fights), and lack of self-confidence to the list.

    Also, must be a gamer. (Of the geeky sort, not the gambling sort.) Unlike one commenter, I like the black trenchcoats. Own one of my own, in fact. :D

    On a related note: earlier this week I was out for dinner with my husband, and on the drive there we passed one of my ex’s walking in the same direction we were going. I prayed that we wouldn’t run into him, because explaining how I’m married now (only about two years after we broke up) and introducing him to my husband might have been more than a bit unpleasant. Fortunately we missed him, but we DID manage to run into my most recent ex, along with several of his girlfriends. Fortunately, he and I successfully ignored one another and we passed without incident. Talk about bad luck, though!

  • mishelliew

    I’m in agreement with the majority, any guy with a Mr. T starter kit has no shot. Also, “tuckers” or any man who tucks their t-shirt into their jeans especially under another open shirt need to go. I think my hell would be sweaty men with gold chains running around singing the Macarena. It’s amazing how the little things are deal breakers, but not things like I have two kids with different women or height insecurity.

  • carynski

    He has to be able to spell. If he spells “a lot” as “alot” and can’t tell the difference between ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’, it’s over.

    Not blowing his nose? That’s annoying but tolerable. Horking back his phlegm on a regular basis (even just once) is a crime and he should be slapped with something blunt.

    Hygiene is incredibly important too. Showering, using deodorant and a toothbrush and most importantly: WASH YOUR HANDS. ESPECIALLY before you touch food (mine, yours or anyone else’s) and MORE ESPECIALLY before you even DREAM of putting your hands anywhere that only my boyfriend and my gyno will ever see.

    I’m not high maintenance though. Pfffft.

  • serena burrows

    I once dated a guy for over a year and I NEVER saw his feet. He always had socks on. We live in Florida, there is hardly ever a reason to wear socks at all!

  • Renee

    Off limits to date: Smokers and addicts of other sorts, and starving artists of all stripes (sorry, I’m a practical girl).

    I once stopped dating a guy because he wouldn’t stop flipping the channels on the goddamn radio and it was driving me fucking nuts. And he badmouthed my best friend, which any guy should realize is treading on thin ice

  • http://www.andiamnotlyingforreal.blogspot.com Jeff Simmermon

    Whenever I hear a lady say “You know, I don’t have many female friends — women are such BITCHES,” that’s a red flag thwacking me between the eyes. If it’s presented around “I hate my mother/father/parents,” check, please. Learned that the hard way …

  • tbrannies

    Guys who wear a hat all the time to try and hide the fact that they’re balding. Just admit it to yourself and find a nice hairstyle that works.

    And game players. Hate em! If you wanna f*ck, just tell me. Don’t play me with lines like “I’ve never met anyone like you”. Some single women actually like sex too and sometimes we don’t want an attachment either. So, and here’s a novel concept, try being a little bit honest. It’s when you play the lines that you get a bad rep.

  • kth201

    serena burrows, it sounds like your guy had some weird feet issues.

    One more thing: guys who LOVE LOVE LOVE to talk about themselves, their opinion on every topic, everything they have done and how awesome it is, and why they are so cool. I guess that goes for people in general, not just guys.

  • Momma

    I broke up with a douche in college cause he had gnarly feet and always wore Birk’s even in the winter. He sang old country songs when he was drunk and would play music instead of speaking on my voicemail. Yeah. He had to go.

    I broke up with somone recently when he said, “you remind me of a younger version of my mother”.

    I could never date anyone who drove a low-rider or suped up street car.

  • flytrixie

    Republicans. Visible tattoos or piercings. Permanently tethered to their i-pods, crackberries, or laptops. Dog haters. Politicians. Wears jewelry other than a watch. Bad hygiene. Non-readers. Lacking an excellent sense of humor.

    Yep, I’m demanding, and I deserve to be.

  • http://www.pluckthepetal.com/blackdaisies daisies

    I would never date a musician especially a drummer and I can’t tell you how many times I was asked out by a drummer. If I found out he was a musician – I was outta there.

    And then a few weeks ago I up and married a musician and yes you can guess it – he’s a drummer. I guess my deal breaker was a broken … :)

  • Melissa

    If I could take him down in a wrestling match, if he cries more than I do, if he hates sports, if he doesn’t drink, if he does drugs, if he can’t wait to plan a wedding, if he doesn’t like animals, if he does yoga, if he gets manicures or considers himself a “metrosexual,” if he still thinks keg stands are cool, if he answers every single question with a one word response, if he cares more about making money than loving his job, if he rolls his eyes when I cry, if he constantly tells me, or tells his friends in front of me, what girls he would “do,” if he worries about his body fat percentage rising above some set number, I WILL NOT SLEEP WITH HIM.

    He must not be a Jesus freak, a Buddhist, a Mormon, etc. I do not like religion; I don’t care how “earthy” or “spiritual” or “enlightening” his religion is, I will not like it. I know this sounds horrible, but, why bother pretending to care? I don’t.

  • http://www.srah.net/weblog srah

    Thought they would be deal-breakers:
    - Beards
    - Can’t write a logical sentence to save his life
    - Doesn’t get my jokes

    My boyfriend is all of the above and I love ‘im! It turns out there’s all kinds of good stuff to make up for what I thought I wouldn’t like (and the stuff I thought I wouldn’t like is all pretty endearing too).

  • http://agirlandherlife.blogspot.com TuesdayGirl

    Bad hands.
    I once dated a guy with small fat hands, I thought to myself, I could NEVER mary those hands. So I broke it off.
    Oh, that and he had a terrible Staten Island accent.
    Those two things combined are a potent coctail.

  • Joe Romano

    Struck a nerve here did we Heather?

  • http://heatherbarmore.blogspot.com Heather Barmore

    Men who don’t understand what the word “moderate” means and I once dated a guy (actually boy) who dipped his fries in Mayo and we weren’t in Europe. Oh and this same ‘boy’ also thought my best friend was hot and told me so, multiple times. Awesome.

  • whisper_lover

    I won’t date anyone who:

    1. …can’t spell or type coherently.

    2. …is an online/console gamer.

    3. …is obsessive about cleanliness to the point that a well-made bed or crisply ironed shirt gives him a hard-on.

    I broke up with my last boyfriend because he decided he was a woman inside… her name change went through this week, she’s on HRT, and she’ll probably have her surgery in the next two years. We’re still friends, but I realized when he came out to me that I can never date someone who doesn’t want to keep their penis. Same thing goes for someone who doesn’t want to use their penis *with* me. As often as possible (after the long, eye-gazing conversations, of course).

  • deeryluv

    I personally love a man with gold chains and an open shirt — sexy as shit. Especially if he’s swarthy in any way, like Vincent Gallo. Or wearing clogs. Yum.

    By my deal breaker is finding out he works in (gasp) retail. Retail? Is that really the best you can do?

  • http://www.snickrsnack.com Snickrsnack Katie

    Okay so I am so excited that your friend wrote that book, because I swear JUST today I was saying to my friend that I wished there were a book out there with ideas for blog entries. This is awesome! I am so buying her book.

    Dealbreakers – I agree w/ the Nascar comment. Also, body odor. I once dated a guy who constantly smelled like Philly cheese steaks and Old Spice, which, apart from one another, are okay, but together? Not so good. Also, if they shave their entire body – bad sign. Once dated a guy who shaved EVERYthing, and that was just a tad disconcerting. Conversely, too much hair is bad. Especially in random patches. (Shudders)

  • Ktkat

    OH… and I completely agree with kth201. Smoking is a huge deal breaker. No question, no argument, no exceptions.

  • http://3e-lab.com/blog/ Rob Poitras

    Drinks budlight or similar crappy cheap beer.
    Talks too loud all the time.
    Can’t move on from the past.

  • Ktkat

    For me it’s anybody who sees something bad happen to an animal and says “It’s JUST an animal.” No compassion doesn’t fly with me.

    Also, someone with really bad manners and/or grammar. That makes me nuts.

    Republicans and/or conservatives are a DEFINITE no-go.

    And lastly, really hairy guys just don’t do it for me. Nor does facial hair. Tho, as I’ve gotten older, I do like the goatee quite a lot… and my hubby IS rather hairy.

    Guess some of those deal breakers go away when you find your soulmate!

  • kristin

    Stacy, I think we might be talking about the same man.

  • http://yonkogirl.blogspot.com/ jozet

    Completely irrational, but if a guy was wearing a necklace of any sort, at some point I’d have to politely excuse myself from the date, usually by pouring a dish of salsa on my skirt. I don’t know why (i.e. never discussed it in therapy) but men + man jewelry = 0 points.

    I also knew that I wanted to have kids at some point – some how, some way, even a la Raising Arizona – and that was a non-negotiable.

    I had thought that a commonality of musical taste was important, but five years into our marriage, my husband admitted that he didn’t much like The Who and although it came as a shocker, with intense marriage therapy and a few nookie sessions while listening to “Tommy”, we’ve gotten beyond this glitch.

  • jeffeners

    Velcro shoes.

    Stupid hats (pretty much anything other than a baseball cap or stocking cap in winter).

    Anything NASCAR on his vehicle or his body.


    Thinking it’s acceptable to intentionally burp/fart in front of anyone.


  • http://www.wanna-cookie.blogspot.com EverydaySuperGoddess

    I used to say that I would never date any man who weighs less than me and/or spends more time on his hair than I do.

    But through unfortunate experience, I have refined that list to include alcoholics, republicans, and guys who have stuffed animals in their bedrooms.

  • http://javajabber.wordpress.com/ JavaJabber

    Deal Breakers:

    Drug/Substance Abuse
    Doesn’t know how to cook, clean, sew, grocery shop (if he can’t take care of himself, how can he take care of me if I need it?)
    Lack of morality
    Lack of personal hygiene
    Doesn’t take charge of his own destiny

    That about covers it!

  • http://adifferentshadeofgreen.wordpress.com Heidi Kostrey

    My deal breaker is when they smell like an old stale fart masked in cologne.

  • http://www.blogeois.com Blogeois

    Deal Breaker for him: I told him I was divorced.

    Deal Breaker for me: He told me women couldn’t do certain physically demanding jobs. I told him what I did for a living. I was a grocery store butcher at the time. He never called again.

  • http://wendell77.diaryland.com Wendell77

    Hmmm, so many possible dealbreakers. On a blind date a guy said to me about my music degree, “So, you actually take classes about music?” Also passive-aggressive behavior is a huge turn off. One man I dated (for far too long) was 45 minutes late to a date, and announced upon his arrival, “Hurry up, we’re late!”

  • Kath :-)

    Just 4 things on my list of ‘NO WAY IN HELL”…

    #1-No Druggies
    #2-No Smokers
    #3-No Felons
    #4-No Kids (that either live with them or with their ex)