What Happens To The Non-Deal-Breakers?


A girlfriend (Teri) and I were talking about dating. Specifically, I was asking about the latest guy she dated and doesn’t want to date anymore. “Too many deal breakers,” she dismissed. “Okay,” I pushed, “list ‘em.” And so she did. Half way through, I got a pen.

Here are some:
He swore
He called his mom, “Momma”
He socks were really stained
His breath smelled
He smoked when he drank a lot
He was often late
He was a sloppy dresser
He was sloppy
He laughed out loud at movies
He answered his home phone with, “What’s up?”
He drove too fast
He told her to drive faster
(there were more)

“Stop! What in god’s name are you looking for? A man or a robot? Most of these aren’t deal breakers, Teri, they’re quirks, for crying out loud.” I was sort of yelling and sort of laughing. I mean, can you imagine? She retorted, “What the hell happens to all of the non-deal breaking irritants after you get married, Pauline, huh? From the looks of most relationships, these quirky little nuisances all add up to marriage breakers. They do! I’ve seen it. The big things get fixed, the little things grow until they smother you!”

Well, I had to stop there. I was silent. Had no retort, no reply, no…..ADVICE! I mean, we have to ignore all of these little goofy, untamed, ungroomed, unsophisticated, odd behaviors we have or no one would ever get together. Don’t we? If not, our species would die out, I’m sure of it. We are all too riddled with failings to be scrutinized by un-accepting eyes.

And then it hit me. It is not our little mistakes and flaws that doom our relationships. We all get to have flaws, dammit, and we all should be with someone that accepts them, dammit. This is what I told Teri: we might say that we fight about the small stuff, but it’s still the big stuff/hurts/jealousies/lies/etc underneath that allow us to be bothered with the small. She didn’t know if she bought it, but I smiled.

Listen, if we weren’t upset about something major, I really truly, honestly believe we could actually JOKE about our small failings. Even better, when we’re happy about the foundation of the relationship, we’re willing to change those little irritants that bother one another. Teri looked like this made sense, but wasn’t willing to agree yet!

So we turned back to the list. (BTW - this guy she’s seeing is really a great guy. She does like him a lot.)

He swore (he’d probably stop if he knew it bothered her – if it slips out once in awhile, she could just CHILL, right?)
He called his mom, “Momma” (SO WHAT?)
He socks were really stained (buy him new socks)
His breath smelled (this is a really tough one, we agreed, but worth it to confront. She has to bite the bullet and tell him, no matter what happens, in the end, the guy will thank her for this)
He smoked when he drank a lot (if he drank a lot a lot, I’d be worried, but it only happened once)
He was often late (tell him to pick you up 15 minutes before you need to go, and then work on the on time thing with him)
He was a sloppy dresser (buy him clothes and/or help him dress – I love to help my husband get dressed for a gig)
He was sloppy (this could be a deal breaker, but on closer inspection he really isn’t that bad…she was just on a roll)
He laughed out loud at movies (GET OVER IT)
He answered his home phone with, “What’s up?”
(see above)
He drove too fast
He told her to drive faster (she was really reaching here at the end)

After all of this we were laughing pretty hard. How absurd we can be? How stupid? Teri decided to give the guy a little slack. Maybe he’d even change some of is ways for the good of them.

I learned something, here. I did.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Hey You! Want more of YourTango's best articles, seriously addictive horoscopes and top expert advice? Sign up to get our free daily newsletter!

Next time I am stomping around, pissed, muttering to myself the non-deal breaking list of my husband’s nasty habits and quirky tendencies, I’m going to get out pen and paper. I’ll write down the list and go through them one by one to see how small these problems are – how stupid it is to dwell on them. And to thank the heavens there’s no deal breaker among them.

You know, I bet a lot of the time I’ll find that it will shine a light back at me. And then I’ll see how my husband overlooks, embraces, laughs about, doesn’t care about, loves me in spite of and doesn’t judge all of my little quirks and icky habits.

This concludes another view from my married life.