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October 18, 1999 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need



Yeah, so last week was National Pet Peeve Week. Next week is, no kidding, National Hug-A-Vending-Machine Week. Don't these things drive you nuts? Anyway, to celebrate/validate, I asked you: what are your relationship pet peeves? A few humdingers:

  • "He plays Dungeons & Dragons. Okay, he's obsessed. He wants to name our (future) kids after his D&D characters."
  • "She spells 'cool' 'kewl.'"
  • "Cats: know when litterbox is being cleaned; come running in from outside so that they can foul it up again as quickly as possible. Dog: waits for doorbell to ring before barking ferociously. Very effective against thieves who ring the bell." (These --  and only these --  from Breakup Mom, who evidently harbors not a single complaint about Breakup Dad.)

In any case, it's worth noting that a peeve is in the eye of the peeved. For all I know, parts of that laundry list might have read like a personal ad for others. I mean., don't you know people with annoying habits, like jaw-cracks or NRA memberships, who make you wonder, "How does [that person's Long-Suffering Red Sox Fan, I mean Partner] put up with them!?" Well, either:

1. Their LSP loves them. ADORES. Healthily, generously, giddily. In which context, peeves are warts. As in "and all."


2. Their LSP loves them. Blindly, wanly, compromisingly. Dealbreakers and all. In which context, peeves are warts. On a frog in a lame prince/ss costume that only the LSP can't see through.

My fave real-life example of #1 comes straight outta Breakup Girl's National Peeve, the Mall of America. A while back, BG had the honor of interviewing the delightful married-at-the-mall couple, David and Elizabeth Weinlick (and you could have too! click here!), who actually taught me a thing or two about dealbreakers.

Long --  and, if you can believe it,  not-as-insane-as-it-sounds -- story short, David and Elizabeth are the couple who got married in what seemed to be an on-the-spot-bride-pageant/stunt wedding at Minnesota's gargantuan Mall of America (booked at the last minute only when organizers began to fear the overcrowded worst). Years earlier, David had -- 100% arbitrarily and 99% jokingly -- set that date for his wedding; when he found himself girlfriendless with only months to spare, his close circle of friends masterminded a "bridal search" that grew from an obscure announcement on the Internet to an international media circus ... and ended with two strangers exchanging vows.

And falling in love. No kidding. I have seen them together. One year after the wedding, I saw David flinch in vicarious love/worry-pain every time Elizabeth, suffering from a sore throat, coughed; why, it was practically barfy. Their thing is for real.

Anyway, see, Dave is an outgoing guy -- and devout atheist -- who likes his beer dark, his coffee black, and his cigarettes often. Under normal dating circumstances, he would have automatically ruled out anyone who wouldn't share similar traits or treats. But his friends --  via interview and application process --  voted resoundingly in favor of Elizabeth: Catholic, introverted, non-drinker ...with asthma. And a no-smoker policy.

But here's what happened --  with the smoking, for a simple example. The couple designated a smoking-room downstairs; that was that. In other words: their marriage-first plan turned potential deal-breakers into, simply, things to deal with. Why? How? Because they had already made a commitment to each other. Because they had to; because they said so.

I'm not saying you guys should stop reading and call the caterers -- or the mall --  and just figure that, as they say, you'll fix it all in "post." I'm just telling you to put your peeves in perspective -- whether smaller or larger focus.

And if I happen to tell you I think something's a deal-breaker, that does not mean break the deal, do not pass go. It just means that you do have license to break; that you are not just being peevish. And that you need to see about fixing that thing -- if at all possible -- if you want to make your deal work.

And that if you don't, what will surely break is your spirit.

In short, keep in mind this matrix: your mind should be as wide-open as your standards should be high. (Totalling an area of, oh, 4.2 million square feet.)

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