Deal Breakers.

There are certain things that put me off immediately in a guy, and that guarantee that I will certainly not get involved with him. My deal breakers. It is a fluid list, and sometimes I’m not consciously aware of a certain deal breaker that I have. The main ones that come to mind as I write this are: Racism, homophobia, and violence (including or especially towards animals).

I had a discussion with some people at a brunch recently, and we posed the question about whether open-mindedness should include being open-minded towards closed-minded people. I mean, should we accept people’s views no matter how offensive we might find them? I don’t know, but I know I can’t. I get mad and sometimes so frustrated that I turn red (not the good type of blushing) and stop knowing how to express myself. Anyway, during that conversation, my friend’s husband B (mentioned in the insomnia post) made a good point. He said that the idea is to try to make an effort to at least listen and try to understand the other’s point of view and the reasons behind it. I told him about this quote we learned in high school: “Je ne suis pas d’accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me batterait toute ma vie pour que vous ayez le droit de l’exprimer”*, or something along those lines, by Voltaire I think, which I always found noble. And difficult.

I mean obviously these deal breakers I’m talking about don’t just apply to romantic relationships. I frequently have very animated fights in my Spanish class, using a mix of very loud Arabic and Spanish, with one of my classmates. Yes, I have a bit of a temper in some situations. I’m happy and positive but can get mad fast and sometimes stupidly. Just today I went to a gadget shop looking for a ‘Get well soon’ card, and they said they had packed away all cards not Christmas-related during the month of December. I snapped. “Are you serious? You think no one gets sick or has a birthday during the holidays??” And stormed out. But I’m not really mean; I don’t swear, and I usually forget all about it a few minutes later. And in some situations, I’m extremely patient.. And I’m trying to work on my temper- it’s hard to be in love with humanity if you’re yelling at them all the time.

Anyway back to this classmate of mine. He throws slightly racist remarks around, and once said he supports men’s right to ‘physically discipline’ their wives. Everyone in class is always trying to calm me down, trying to get me not to leave when they see I’m already packing my stuff and muttering. The funny thing is, I think he’s actually faking it. He’s a nice guy, and last week one of my classmates told me that when I’d been absent they’d had a discussion about gay marriage and he’d been the most open-minded one in class, and that the teacher had said to him: “You know J, I’m sure you would have expressed the opposite view if … (me) had been here”. Yep, he apparently knows exactly how to push my buttons, enjoys doing it, and is amused by how easy it is to get me worked up. Well, I guess it makes class entertaining. And maybe my temper is actually just passion; My dad always used to say: “I’m not raising my voice, I’m just passionate!”.

Last week I wrote about great dates. I’ll tell you the story of a horrible date my friend D had a month back, which will illustrate the deal breaker thing. This is a seriously horrible date and a seriously offensive guy.  I’m hesitant to even type it up, weirded out by reproducing this person’s words, and hesitant to throw this out into the universe… feels like putting oil on the flame, especially since I believe that one must not ‘fight’ against the bad stuff, but pursue the good stuff, like violence breeds violence, so you should pursue peace, not ‘fight’ violence. Don’t know if that makes any sense, and yeah, I guess I’m a hippie in that way. And proud!

But here goes. Tribute to D who had to sit through this guy’s tirade.

So. D gets introduced to this guy at a party and he asks her out for a movie. They meet and sit for a coffee before the movie and start ‘getting to know each other’, and here is the charming story he decides to open with.

“I was travelling through Africa last year, and this one night we were sleeping in a hostel-type place on the floor in sleeping bags, and I get woken up by something nice”. D looks at him, not really getting it, waiting for the explanation, and he says (and this is a direct quote), with that smug upward nod guys do, that’s kind of like a wink, when they’re proud and showing off: “seems like you didn’t get. It was a BLOWJOB” Is that really a word you wanna use or what you think a girl wants to talk about in the first five minutes of a first date? As if that wasn’t enough, he continues “I looked down, and saw a black face”… and… now comes the worst part… “I kicked her away and broke her jaw”. Even if he made it up, it’s nearly just as bad.

This person managed, on a first date, in nearly a single sentence, to convey that he is vulgar, racist, and violent. And rude. And insensitive. Needless to say, she didn’t continue the date but rather made an excuse to leave. I could barely believe the story was true. DEFINITELY a deal breaker. One with very bright blinking red lights. More like a run-for-your-life-er.

To end on a more positive note, I also have lighter deal-breakers, which aren’t really deal-breakers because they can be worked on. These include smoking, wearing too-short trousers, and wearing sports socks with suits. I think that in contrast with the above horror, I can definitely give a nice guy who has these little bad habits or bad taste, a chance.

*  I don’t agree with what you say, but I would fight my whole life for you to have the right to say it.