It’s practically my favorite line. I hear it quite frequently among my best friends. Because when we our friends regale with stories of the insanity and perpetual drama in their relationships, it’s human nature (or female nature) to one up them and say we would never deal with that kind of bullshit. That’s a deal breaker! Also like saying, “It wouldn’t be me.” But not so fast!
The problem of drawing a hard line and naming these deal breakers is simply that most times we don’t actually follow through when a partner cheats, lies, or goes completely AWOL for 3-6 weeks every 3-6 weeks. (Yes, it happens. And you’d think disappearing acts would be a deal breaker.) All of these deal breakers seem pretty absolute in theory, but then you get a boyfriend and things are so good that you get married and you can’t be one of the 75% statistic of divorced couples in the state of California so you overlook a few dozen infidelities in the name of love and appearances.
I haven’t figured any of this mess out. Luckily, there’s no rush. I’m single. I have a list of deal breakers because I want to be prepared for the worst when I know I’ll be weak, vulnerable and still very much smitten when my future boyfriend breaks my heart and breaks the deal. In my almost three decades of life and I love, I’ve consistently learned:
- to be patient &
- that nothing is as black and white as the ink and paper we use to write our list of deal breakers
When I find myself veering towards one extreme or the other, not making room for both realities to peacefully co-exist in the boxing ring, then I need to steady myself in the truth. It takes two to tango, and it takes two to break it. (Unless of course, he really was the one to break it and everyone knows you didn’t have a hand in it. I’m being serious here. Some people break the relationship all by their lonesome).
But mostly, when you love someone and you’re in a committed relationship with them, and both of you are doing everything to stay in that relationship all the time, the notion of having a dealbreaker list is absurd. Yes, the rewards of a happy, loving relationship are enough to make you feel like you can jump the cow over the moon. But it’s still a lot of work. It’s as burdensome as actually getting that cow to jump over the moon. Now, if you’re dating someone and the relationship is fairly new (define fairly new in your own terms, I can’t do everything for you) and you find out he’s cheating, that’s a deal breaker. It should be. Because when you’re dating and on the track towards commitment, neither party should be doing anything to jeopardize the trust and foundation of the impending relationship. (He also shouldn’t be going MIA for 3-6 weeks, every 3-6 weeks.) Sigh.
Now, if you’ve actually jumped through hoops and hurdles and this man will finally call you his girlfriend, don’t rest easy. (Never rest easy) but especially in this case because you probably shouldn’t have had to jump through hoops and hurdles to get someone who likes you to want to be with you exclusively. I’m not saying that the act of jumping and hurdling is a dealbreaker, but consider it an indicative measure of things to come. Now might be the time to start your deal breaker list so that when he starts to break the relationship, you don’t backslide against your gut reaction to leave because of your hopes of living happily ever after.
With everyone divorcing in Hollywood (and in regular wood) these days, it’s hard to sit here and say there are legitimate reasons to divorce. But there are. I wondered what had gone wrong with Heidi Klum and Seal. Now I know. He has a horrible temper. That’s a no no. Besides the fact that they have young children in the house who don’t need to be exposed to the kind of unpredictability that comes along with a volatile temper, she shouldn’t have to live in a home like that either. Actually, Seal shouldn’t either. He should want better for himself, his soon-to-be ex-wife, and his children. But if he doesn’t, that’s a deal breaker. I’m sure they’re still very much emotionally enmeshed right now. Seven years of marriage will do that to the worst of us. However, if he doesn’t think he has anger problems it creates an enormous obstacle to getting help to resolve those issues.
It creates an atmosphere where you actually start to think one or both parties is crazy because the truth is staring you in the face and if the other person can’t see it and you love that person, then maybe it’s all in your head. Except, you know it’s not. I hate to see yet another Hollywood couple divorce, but at least it’s not over infidelity or someone’s career taking off and other’s plummeting like the DOW.
Want my list of deal breakers? It’s short and sweet and straight to the point:
- Refusal to communicate about relationship hiccups
- Unwillingness to love me.
Truth be told. I wouldn’t get a divorce over infidelity, either. Unless the person was a serious polyamorous guy like Newt Gingrich. Having a bad temper isn’t exactly the equivalent of being violent natured, but I’m definitely not going to sit around and wait for things to get violent. And if I said, “Hey, honey. I think you’re angry and you scare me. Can you go get help. Can we go get help. I want us to work.” And he replied with a violent temper tantrum, I view that as an unwillingness to love me.
So there we have it, three of the four are for real for real deal breakers. Because love isn’t a feeling, or at least it’s not just a feeling. It’s actually a whole lot of action and conversation and work behind the scenes. The hugging and kissing and hand holding and yearly nuptial renewals is actually the easy part. It’s the part about talking about hard stuff and working on individual issues and listening to your partner and getting over yourself and attempting to meet their healthy emotional needs that’s fucking hard.
I wouldn’t know. Not really. But I do know a deal breaker when I see one.