Monday, January 24, 2005

Tips for the Boyfriend-Impaired

Just read an article on the "17 Warning Signs of a Bad Boyfriend." Well, wouldn't two or three signs be enough? Do we really need 17 separate indicators that we're dating Mr. Wrong? Okay, I suppose we do. Those first 16, well, we made excuses for him. But Number 17 was the real deal-breaker. It's sort of like the Top Fifty Signs You're About to be Run Over By a Car: If that persistent horn noise and squealing tires don't get your attention, we don't know what will. But like most people I can't help rubbernecking after a crash, so let's take a look at these signs and see if they make any sense. 1) Your family hates him. Comment: It doesn't have to be actual hatred. It could be the fact that they keep trying to fix you up with others. Or they say how lucky he is to have you. Or when you talk about your future they emphasize you have "plenty of time" to think about that. Put it this way, unless you have a Crappy Family, you should pay attention to family doubts. 2) He is alway bad-mouthing his exes. Comment: Well he probably shouldn't be going on and on about exes to begin with. But if ALL the exes are horrible, well, who's picking them, anyway? 3) He has little contact with his children. Comment: Whether this is by his choice or theirs, it is not a great sign of his Family Man potential. 4) His credit history ensures he will remain mortgage-free for the rest of his natural life. Comment: Anyone can run into money problems at one time or another. But if they aren't able to responsibly straighten things out and develop better spending habits, then you risk being one step from bankruptcy for the rest of YOUR natural life, too. 5) He has a checkered job history. Comment: We all try different things and are finding ourselves in our teens and twenties. By the time you are in your 30s the game should have evolved from checkers to chess -- it doesn't need to be the world's greatest job (and maybe it's grad school or an internship) but there does need to be a strategic design behind it. 6) He has a few fixable flaws. Comment: Men are not home improvement projects. People generally don't change, they become "more so." (Unless it is an improvement project they have embarked on themselves.) So decide if you can live with the current version of him. 7) He has no friends. Comment: This may make you laugh, but really, it's true. And it may be FUN to be the only important person in his life. For a while. Then things get weirdly claustrophobic. He may not understand why YOU have, or even want, friends. 8) He hates all your friends. Comment: At a minimum this should cause you to take a long look at either him, OR your friends. Because something is out of whack. 9) Multiple DUIs and Still Drinking and Driving. Comment: Youthful Indiscretion becomes Middle Age Madness. If he hasn't learned to designate a driver or call a cab, then plan on heartache and maybe even trips to the emergency room. 10) Split Personality. Comment: He shouldn't be a totally different person when he's at work or with friends. You may see another side to him, but he should still be the same basic person. If he's not, then you're dating An Act, not a Boyfriend. 11) He Hates His Family. Comment: This of course comes with a big caveat -- maybe he has a good reason. If so, it would be worth finding out if they are the problem, or HE is. 12) He is Mr. Know It All and/or Can Do It All. Comment: Even if he is wildly talented, a little modesty goes a long way. Or maybe you're the only person on the planet that can put up with Mr. Insufferable. If so, maybe you will do the world a favor by taking him off the market! 13) Emotional or Verbal Abuse. Comment: This would seem to be obvious, but then I see people put up with stuff I wouldn't spend much time with. If I see someone being nasty to waitresses or parking lot attendants, that right there tells me this is not a nice person. Even he is supremely nice to me. 14) Physical Abuse. Comment: I am not good at understanding this level of communication, because for me my eyebrow goes up at rudeness, my back gets turned at name-calling or verbal abuse, and GUESS WHAT...I'm no longer in the room by the time someone is contemplating physical abuse. Really. 15) He is Perfect, so you never hear the words "I'm Sorry." Comment: This is really a good thing to practice saying, "I'm Sorry," because it is so darn useful. The more you say it, the easier it becomes to say. If you are dealing with someone who NEVER says it, well, ick, then I guess they've never accidentally burned your food or forgotten to run an errand for you. Personally, I'm sorry if I hurt someone's feelings even if they took what I said the wrong way and I never intended whatever they felt. I'm sorry if I forgot to do something even if it's one of my remote brain cell's fault for not remembering. I'm sorry if I didn't anticipate something because I could've been more helpful. How about this: "I'm sorry" is simply "I love you" disguised as an etiquette term. Got that? 16) He does something wrong but somehow it's always Your Fault. Comment: I prefer to play Fix the Problem rather than Assign the Blame. As an aside, I am always willing to take the blame for anything on Thursdays. It's my gift to the world. 17) He is mean to children, pets or animals. Comment: Eh, if you make it this far go ahead and marry him. He'll change just for you. I swear!

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