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?

  • kth201

    I agree with Susie about gold chains. Usually gold chains come with unbuttoned-to-there polyester shirts and a lot of ego. No thanks.

    Smoking is my deal breaker. One whiff and I’m done.

  • http://www.caloden.com Caloden

    Apparently in the past I didn’t have any deal breakers, that is why I had a string of not so good men. I married one, had two of his children, divorced him, reuninted with him to have another child, only to finally leave him forever behind earlier this summer. Now I spend a part of every day deciding what my deal breakers are going to be.

  • http://www.gypsywandering.blogspot.com MulattaPreta

    lets see: men who use ‘keeping it real’ in their day 2 day bullshit speech. men who have long nails. it sounds insane, but u’d b AMAZED at the number of men u’ll see on the subway with long nails, painted clear. i just want 2 scream – YOU ARE NOT A VAMPIRE!
    oh. and gold teeth. absolutely not.

  • Stacy

    Unmanly Men:
    - body hairless
    - drinks wine but not beer
    - let’s me get the tab on the first date
    - has smoother hands than me
    - is prettier than all my girlfriends
    - lets me hold the door

  • http://www.constantwhiner.blogspot.com Jill

    The worst I remember from my single days was a guy I dated briefly who was a REALLY bad kisser. During the kissing process, he attempted to get the entire lower half of my face into his mouth. After a couple of minutes of making out he had eaten all the make-up off my face, and left me dripping with slobber. Eew.

  • Matt

    Deal breaker? Intolerant liberals.

    What’s up with all of Repulican hating? I absolutely love this blog and usually the comments too. Now I’m starting to wonder if I have some sort of bipolar disorder since I’m a Republican as well.

  • MelissaJ

    Wow I don’t think I’ve had any nearly as bad as that.

    Deal breaker for me is someone who treats wait staff badly.

  • victoria

    Voting Republican.

  • Susie

    I know this is shallow, but here it is: I just couldn’t have a relationship with a man who wears a gold chain.

    Other than that, the major deal breaker is obvious: Republicanism.

  • Daugher In Law

    Guys that assume you want to spend the entire holiday with their family.

  • AprilD

    I refuse to date men with back hair! Any sight of back hair and I’m out the door!

  • http://www.onepartgood.blogspot.com OnePart

    YES! The cell phone! And for the love of all that is holy, stop TEXTING people! We are talking/ eating/ kissing/ whatever.

  • http://mejack.blogspot.com/ mejack

    I went on a date with this one guy who I had a huge crush on in college. Huge. Like in the Jordan Catelano sense of a crush. We finally went out five years later. Once. During the date he proceesed to show me his boner in a cab and say “Look what you do to me” and before the cab ride was over he started reciting Jim Morrison’s “An American Prayer” and when finished asked me if he could put me in handcuffs. My crush abruptly ended. I had another first date where the guy asked me, during getting to know you cht chat, if I liked fisting. I did not see him again.

  • http://mikao.blogspot.com michelle

    Guys who have dogs. They can’t go anywhere for more than a few hours because someone’s gotta be home to feed/water/walk/watch the dog! Lame-o!

  • http://noninfidibulum.blogspot.com El Dorado Jr

    One time, in about 1972, my (so-called) friend and his girl friend set me up with a girl who was on leave from a mental institution. I remember her taking immediate issue with my painting of Jesus as a Cro-magnon-looking dude. Now that’s what I call a deal breaker.

  • erin

    1) guys who are rude to waitstaff or anyone in customer service – by far the biggest turnoff

    2) wimpy hands and/or long fingernails

    3) if I know more about football than he does, he’s out

  • saltlakesister

    The most vivid deal breaker from my thankfully past dating career occurred with a guy who I had previously thought of as just about perfect. We’d spent our first few dates laughing, skiing and hanging out with mutual friends. He was good looking, but not too much. Seemed to have a healthy relationship with his feminine side. And talked about things in the future as if I’d be a part of them, but not in a creepy way. Then we had sex. At the moment it was happening he reached up to passionately caress my face, or so I thought. After a polite stop at my face, his hand continued to the top of my head where he took a firm hold to, as I realized with a combination of amusement and disgust, acheive better leverage to, um, thrust. Needless to say, I screened my calls from then on.

  • http://misstraceynolan.blogspot.com/ misstraceynolan

    He was cute, funny and nice and then he pulled a bible out of his backpack.


  • http://bloomingyou.typepad.com bloomingyou

    Jenn Jenn you hit it right on the nose with the low self esteem stuff. My ex used to call himself names all the time. And all the propping up in the world didn’t help. What really funny, is after we broke up and I made the mistake of trying to remain friends, all of his shortcomings were suddenly the reason why we didn’t get married.

  • http://www.ilovelittlepea.blogspot.com Annagrace

    Dealbreakers? Hmmmm…

    1)Completely shaved. Don’t knock body hair–it gives you something to hold onto. And who wants to be with someone that feels like they’re 14? Oh sorry, I know who…just not one of ‘em.

    2)Has a fiance but doesn’t think you need to know. Trust me. When she finds your number and calls you it will be extremely awkward.

    3)Is anything other than protective of and loving to children and anything smaller and more helpless than they are. Bullies do not make great dates, partners or spouses. Again–trust me.

    4)Grillz. WTF????? Please tell me no one really finds this sexy…

    5)Kevin Federline.

  • Tanya

    grammarqueen: Sounds like you narrowly dodged a bullet.

    Alaska Chick: I know a girl exactly like that. They got married last year, and he told her *at their wedding reception* that he’d had a vasectomy ten years earlier. Enchanting.

  • http://fluttercrafts.typepad.com goddesschristine

    oh dear….destiny. Yes, that is just about as bad as my foray with the guy from the church of bees.

  • http://bornfamous.com bornfamous

    Based on past history, my dealbreakers apparently are: Nice guys. Guys with jobs. Guys who like me.

  • http://www.deardiesel.com Diesel

    I once dated a guy who I found out dabbled in amateur wrestling. He even had a stage name and everything. I broke it off before he could get a chance to invite me to a match.

  • http://www.ilovelittlepea.blogspot.com Annagrace

    Dealbreakers? Hmmmm…

    1)Completely shaved. Don’t knock body hair–it gives you something to hold onto. And who wants to be with someone that feels like they’re 14? Oh sorry, I know who…just not one of ‘em.

    2)Has a fiance but doesn’t think you need to know. Trust me. When she finds your number and calls you it will be extremely awkward.

    3)Is anything other than protective of and loving to children and anything smaller and more helpless than they are. Bullies do not make great dates, partners or spouses. Again–trust me.

    4)Grillz. WTF????? Please tell me no really finds this sexy…

    5)Kevin Federline.

  • Alaska Chick

    Congratulations, Grammarqueen. I have a friend who just married someone who despises children so much that he’s had a vasectomy at age 25, and this despite the fact that she’s always wanted children. Now she swears up and down she’s never wanted kids and she gave my children all the toys and books and clothes she’s been buying and saving over the years in anticipation of having her own. Be glad you aren’t so foolish.

  • http://family.masson.us Amy

    Halitosis. I once broke up with a guy over halitosis. I didn’t know how to tell him he was rank, so I just broke it off. Seemed easier that way.

  • http://wealhtheow.diaryland.com wealhtheow

    I continued to date a guy AFTER he told me he didn’t believe in evolution (“Maybe God puts things in the earth already old!”) AND after he told me that he believed women should submit to the will of their husbands. Learn ye from my mistakes. Fortunately, that relationship only lasted a couple months, and I claim my stupid, stupid, STUPID youth as my defense. Those clearly should have been deal-breakers.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/suzannasugar/ suzannasugar

    oh, forgot!
    I have to agree with the gal who said ‘plays video games’ this includes computer games!!

  • suzannasugar

    mine are a little shallow, but here goes:

    - sits down to pee

    - wears tighty whiteys

    - no manners

    - doesn’t eat red meat

  • Alaska Chick

    I broke up with someone because he called my cat a bitch. Because she didn’t like him. I realized she must be on to something.

  • http://theatricalmilestones.blogspot.com grammarqueen

    Reading all y’all’s comments is amazingly therapeutic. My engagement just went down the drain, as I was booking the hotel for the wedding, because The Man decided suddenly that he’d never EVER want to have kids–none of his own, no adopted ones–because he didn’t want to get emotionally involved in child raising and teenage pregnancy issues. And that after 3 years of either enthusiastically agreeing or ho-humming at the issue. And while he’s really hot and has a nice muscular hairy chest (yum!), he also calls his mother “sweetheart.” Just like what he calls me.

    And the worst thing is: Somehow I can’t understand why I tolerated this for 3.5 years. Was I *that* desperate? Can someone please knock some sense into me?

  • Alina

    Hmm so many things come to mind, but since recently my number one deal breaker – and boy do I have to use it a lot, since it seems that only THOSE men ask me out in the first place – is that I am done with Returned Missionaries. Mormon returned missionaries. Yes living in Salt Lake the pickings are slim, but from now on I am just over it.
    Also men who are about as intelligent as a tuna can drive me nuts and I cannot even go on a second date with them, and on the other side of that – guys who are too smart, or deem themselves too smart, or get way too much into the political and philosophical arguments drive me nuts as well, and so the list grows – I am now officially refusing all RM’s, geniuses and dumbasses..

  • Jill

    I nodded my head in agreement with alot of the dealbreakers listed above. But this one guy popped in my head when I first read what this entry was about.
    I thought he was cute & overlooked the fact that he was shorter than I would have liked. I even overlooked the Camaro – Ha! But I couldn’t get past the LEOPARD THONG UNDERWEAR! That was the end of that one.

  • http://www.mothergoosemouse.com mothergoosemouse

    I think the big deal-breakers are fairly well-defined. But my small, petty deal-breakers? Ah…here we go:

    - White socks/dark shoes or dark socks/white sneakers
    - Doesn’t read except on the toilet
    - Any man who doesn’t have the balls to call bullshit on me

  • miaou

    I won’t date the following, all through past experience: extremists (of any sort), conservatives, militant vegans, men who think that vegetarian food is not a valid dining choice, anyone who enjoys contemporary country music, “practicing” christians, guys who don’t own any nice clothing, anyone who only drinks crappy beer, anyone with a car worse than mine (which is bad), anyone who won’t ever splurge on a fancy restaurant or anyone who will only ever eat at the fancy expensive restaurants, people with diagnosed mental illnesses that don’t treat it, alcoholics, drug-addicts, cat and/or dog haters, anyone who can’t be friendly to the family that I even hate, and anyone my mother does not like.

  • Jane Southwood

    No sense of humour. I really like a guy who can be funny. But I recently told my current boyfriend (God, can’t someone come up with a better word than “boyfriend” and put all of us who are not married and older than sixteen out of our misery?) that he was funny and he looked momentarily chagrined. “Funny like in what way?” he asked me. “Funny as in a ‘you say humorous things that make me laugh way,’” I replied.

    “Oh,” he said, visibly relieved, “okay, then. I thought you meant funny as in odd.”

  • sasha

    Bad hygeine.

    Religious. Especially the Jesusy ones.

    Can’t bring self to shut up and listen.

    Hateful or unkind.

    Under the age of 18.

    Over the age of say, 65.

    That’s about it. Historically, I’ve been known to shag just about everyone else.

  • Michael

    I always knew where the “right” section of the library was for me, but I could never take out a book because I was never allowed to have a “library card,” so there were no deals to break. Pretty much any woman who said hello was marriage material to me. Not that I was ever desperate or anything.

    But there was one time when an attractive woman ended a promising line of research in the 1970s after I laughed out loud at her assertion that the CIA was spying on private citizens. I mean, how strange would that be, am I right? I’m not stupid, you know. This is America and Richard M. Nixon was protecting us all.

  • Spacecasie

    Socks with sandals dude, socks with sandals. *HORK*

    That and naked lady mudflaps.

  • kristin

    Hmmm…deal breakers…these are hardly the tip of the iceberg for me:

    Arms that are soft…TOO soft…I like my men to be MEN.

    Small feet are creepy.

    Small hands are even creepier.

    Spiky, sharp hair(anyone from the Jersey area knows what I’m talking about) on their head OR arms.

    Tight black shirts tucked into dark, bootcut jeans with a designer belt and muscles with a hint of tattoo sticking out – in other words, anything that screams Jersey shore.

    Fist pumping.

  • Autumn

    My deal breakers were being a smoker, having red hair, and skinny guys. But my boyfriend now is all three of those, and I adore him because he’s everything else that was more important to me. Funny who you end up falling for. :) (we’re working on the smoking thing, though)

    All of your comments are cracking me up! No gold chains! Amen! My boyfriend used to wear one all the time, and I hated it!

  • jakelliesmom

    The first was very body conscious and asked what I had eaten that day. I felt I had to lie, telling him I’d had oatmeal instead of sausage and grits. The deal breaker, though was when we overheard a family speaking Farsi at the next table, and he mocked them, saying what a disgusting language it was.

    The next was a blind date. What friends saw as a self-deprecating sense of humor was barely veiled insecurity. The guy was a mess and just couldn’t come to terms with his background and upbringing. And, he sang along with the ambient music at the restaurant.

    Following was one who had recently ended a long-term relationship. He had been cheated on by not one, but two ex-girlfriends. He also had a rule that he would never say I love you unless he’d been dating for at least a year.

    One would call me wherever I wasn’t – if I was at home, he’d call at work. Knowing he could reach me at work, he’d leave a message at home. He also had rules – he would never tell how much he made or how many women he’d bedded – and it’s not like I’d asked. It was irritating enough that he assumed all women from Los Angeles were vapid and that he begged for sex. The deal breaker came from him – I gave my number to his friend.

    Thank goodness, soon after I met my chain-wearing, smoker of a husband who wore linen pants in January and attributed his great sense of style to the help of the gay men in his office (whom I’m sure would shuddered at his ensemble). The chain, I’ve kept (at first just to make sure he wouldn’t wear it again), the smoking ended about a month into the relationship, and the linen is reserved for warmer weather.

  • http://spaces.msn.com/mfflood Mary Frances

    Ok, here’s the thing, I had plenty of deal breakers:stupidity, bad teeth, bad hygene, conservative, blah,blah,blah etc. until I realized that as a gender, men will always totally bug me. However, I am totally enamored with them too. It worked better for me to find deal clinchers like, funny, good, honest, loyal…My husband is all these things, and while he still blows his nose on the handtowels and sits on my special desk chair completely naked he is my best friend, better or worse.

  • jenoyd

    For one of my closest friends:
    1. He orders white zinfandel
    2. He takes all the salsa
    3. He brings me legos on our first date.

  • M@

    I love this post! And I’m buying Maggie’s book because my brainstorms have trickled down to scattered showers (considering the Lexapro got rid of the tropical depressions)

    My deal breakers? Other than basic felonies like international terrorism, I have:

    1) Drug use. I refuse to compete with coke or heroin, which automatically negates a lot of the actors I’ve dated. At that point, Hollywood becomes a ghost town.

    2) Instant marriage. (after they say “Pleased to meet you. Will you marry me?” I usually just twitch and fall over. It’s unfortunate that the last thing they hear from me is something akin to a siren)

    3) The closet. I refuse to be kept a secret because I spent years prying open that door and there’s not enough room in there for two.

    4) Chechnian counterintelligence. Don’t ask.

    5) Dependance. I can’t support someone else financially and refuse to be leeched emotionally. Life is tough enough without dating a sloth or a vampire.

  • http://prozac-mommy.blogspot.com NuttyDutty

    -Drives a BIG truck with loud pipes….he’s over compensating for something!

  • http://www.antiquemommy.com Tina Anderson

    I live in Texas and I wouldn’t date anyone who picked me up in a truck.

  • token

    This is a very good idea. Thanks to you and your friend Maggie!

    P.S. And tell little Leta I share her taste in shoes!


  • token

    This is a very good idea. Thanks to you and your friend Maggie!

    P.S. And tell little Leta I share her taste in shoes!