But that’s just me – I hate surprises! It did get me thinking though about the way we all have those points of no return where relationships are concerned. The things that women’s magazines now like to refer to as ‘deal-breakers’. Just last week, flicking through one such magazine in the hairdressers, I read a ‘valentines special’ suggesting that the things we dislike about people are far more important than the things we like about them. I’d always naively imagined that if you like someone it sort of cancels out the rest but it seems not. Apparently more relationships break down as a result of annoying laughs or irritating eating habits than infidelity.
The more I think about it, the more I imagine that this might be true. I’m not known for my easy going tolerance, which is no doubt one of the reasons behind my own state of singledom. Over the years though I have to say my romances have usually soured over things that to other people may seem irrelevant. Often it’s something you can’t quite put your finger on but somehow the person who, mere hours before may have been Mr Right, suddenly becomes Mr Repugnant. What’s more the poor man’s fall from grace could be caused by something as trivial as the way he blew his nose. Basically, in a matter of seconds he inexplicably plummets from sex-God status to complete wanker.
I remember when I first started teaching in Brighton and my friend and I, who fancied ourselves as political activists, joined Greenpeace. Whilst attending a meeting, I met the man of my dreams, a full time activist who lived in a squat and spent all of his time either campaigning or engaged in outdoor pursuits such as climbing and sailing. I have to confess, the warning signs were there from the get-go, that we might not be a perfect match. Every date felt like an appearance on Question Time and I took to watching Newsnight so religiously it started to feel like I was revising for an exam. It was stressful, yes, but his long hair and fisherman’s jumpers more than made up for it. That was until the one time he turned up at the pub after a camping weekend, unwashed and dishevelled beyond political activist-chic wearing the distinct scent of eau de sweat. My amour was snuffed out immediately and I dumped him before he’d even finished his cheese and onion crisps.
I like to think I’m a little less shallow with the passage of time but I’m probably just deluding myself. Fair enough, I’m no longer picky enough to judge someone on their sticky out ears or double chin (glass houses spring to mind here) but, when I really stop and think about it, I’m still as shallow as I ever was. I think there’s a saying that you can’t judge a man by his clothes but I’m sorry, you really can. I have an aversion to anything with even a whiff of leisure wear about it and I don’t care how expensive it was. The same goes for cheap jeans and those long shorts. I find grown men who dress like overgrown schoolboys to be utterly ridiculous and don’t even get me started on the folly of ¾ length trousers.
Another habit I find thoroughly distasteful in men or women is an obsession with ‘working out’ the bill. It doesn’t matter whether or not you had a starter or only two glasses of wine to everyone else’s six, trying to divide a bill any other way than by the number of people present gets right on my nerves. The second someone whips out the silly little calculator on their phone or worse yet, starts doing mathematical sums on a paper napkin, I’m silently thinking – never again.
A similar theme now I’m starting to warm to it, are the couples who share a dessert or a snack. Thank God I’ve never experienced this first hand but I’ve observed it on many occasions. Couples in cafes with one piece of cake between them or who buy a chocolate bar to share. It beggars belief and I’ve even conducted some unofficial research on the subject. It seems to me that these couples are the ones where one of them adopts the ‘parent’ role. During my surveillance, I’ve noticed that this tends to be the woman who plays ‘mum’ and this behaviour transcends age. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the men seem to enjoy the ‘child’ role, succumbing easily to the half each rule. I have to say I don’t respond well whenever anybody tries to ‘parent’, the very phrase ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough?’ guarantees a food or drink orgy of epic proportions.
Annoying laughs seem to be a big deal-breaker for a lot of people but for me it’s the cause of the laughter rather than the style that matters. I hate most comedians, I don’t find them even remotely funny and watching people howling with mirth at some smug, unfunny twit makes me want to punch someone. Even worse are people guffawing at the adverts in the cinema which they surely must have seen a thousand times before. It makes me want to stand up and shout, “Haven’t you got a television, you moron?”
Obviously I don’t because that would be rude which brings me nicely onto my final gripe – bad manners. I know we live in an age where fortune is supposed to favour anyone willing to trample everybody else to death to get to the top but I don’t like it. Let’s face it the word ‘assertive’ just puts a positive spin on ignorant, bullying git. In my opinion anyone who thinks it’s attractive to prosper at the expense of other people should be kneecapped.
Sadly, I could go on and on and on. I feel I’m only just starting to scratch the surface as more and more ‘deal-breakers’ are suddenly popping into my head. Needless to say, I think my destiny is to die a spinster. I realise, of course, that I’m not perfect myself but then I don’t have to date myself so surely that’s irrelevant – isn’t it?