I do not remember the exact words that were used, and apart from the faces of two of my friends, clear as the picture frame hanging on my bedroom wall, most of the other details are a blur. Details like whether we were in the lecture theater or in a dilapidated hostel room, or even in one of those noisy cafeteria halls, idly chatting away after a bland meal. What I know, by way of the memories that awoke with me on Tuesday morning was that we talked about deal breakers in relationships, with the urgency and naivety of 19-year-olds. I’m not sure we even used the term deal breakers, at least not in the specificity of the word itself, but I know that the conversation, angry and bordering on riotous, was about no-go areas from men, things and aspects of humanity we would never, ever-ever, see ourselves compromising on.
It is strange that my mind chooses to reassemble these thoughts on valentine week, a season fueled by adoring, sometimes drunken affection, where people are almost mindlessly connecting over cakes and wine and chocolate and sex. Yet, I sit on my bed on a Tuesday morning when I am already running late to work, thinking about all the hell-no, not-on-your-life aspects of my love interests. Of course, one could argue eagerly, that this is why I am morbidly single. This grating penchant for scrutiny, where I busy myself with judging people and thinking of deal breakers instead of simply falling hopelessly out-of my-mind-in -love.
But for what it’s worth, these things can be life changing. Love in my idealist perception is too much of a cementing, solidifying process to enter into simply on a whim, on the impulse of something as flimsy as emotions. Love has never been blind, at least not to me. So I like to ask, at least in my head, what are your holes, where are you broken? Because yes, we are all dented one way or another, but I have to be able to live with your imperfection, hence, the constant scrutiny for deal breakers, and the honesty to say no, life is hard enough, I cannot cope with this treatment too.
So if you are in love, and in one of those soppy, post valentine, I-can’t believe-he/she-is-this-sweet moods, let me remind you that there are holes and cracks to watch out for, and that everyone has deal breakers, even you, so deeply in love. You only need to be lucid enough to find out what yours are. I have a few I could share, like how, for instance, it is a complete flat liner, to watch a man waste my time. I do not mean this in the general sense of lateness, breezing into events and venues one hour after it has started, or getting caught up in traffic, or in a personal lack of compass and composure. Some people are naturally careless, and that in some way might be fine, but when a man measures your time and his, and determines that his time is more important, when he consistently fixes appointments, only for you to learn, 20 minutes after calling to remind him, that he is locked in some office, or at home; you know, when your time is something he is deliberately picking, like sand from a tray of beans, then you know that he is not someone to invest any aspect of your life. So yes, time wasting ranks as one of my top deal breakers.
Then there is all that act of unabashed superiority. I have never understood narcissism. I personally have to wrestle myself into a measure of self belief and confidence, so I do not get how people navigate life thinking they are God’s gift to the human race. And so, in conversations that constantly self directs, and self praises, and condescends people and their art or their work, I find myself momentarily praying for immediate deliverance from such obnoxious, pedantic persons. Arrogance might be a point of attraction for some, but it is a toxic repellent for me, definitely one of my top deal breakers.
The absence of commonality is another one. I get how people think opposites attract, but I really just want someone with whom I can share my life, not by way of explanation, as in a teacher-pupil moment, but by way of mutuality. Someone who understands my interests and my politics, someone with whom I can disagree, from the same point of exposure and understanding. So when a friend set me up with a guy who asked me to explain the meaning of creative writing, I pretty much just picked myself and walked away, mentally.
But as far as deal breakers go, there is one that sits on top of the list. And it is this, men who dismiss me so casually, who laugh at my fears and echo my doubts, who, after listening to me pace about uncertainly round a project, sit me down and tell me I cannot do it, because as shaky and as cowering as I tend to appear, I give no space in my life for people who tell me no. I guess in some way, I can overlook anything, but a person who looks me in the face and despises my dreams or efforts, for whatever reason, is someone who belongs nowhere in my world.
However, don’t pay me much attention. This may just be me, after valentine, looking for someone’s soppy love story to ruin.