Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seven Deadly Dealbreakers

by Jeffe Kennedy

I've never been much for the concept of sin. Blame it on the fallen Catholics who raised me. I don't worry about the corruption of the soul so much as the deadly flaws that undermine relationships and a happy life. These are the dealbreakers, the things I try to root out in myself and will only take so much of from other people.

Jeffe's Seven Deadly Dealbreakers

1. Guilt

Did I mention Catholic family? Yeah, we left the guilt behind when my mom flunked theology. (She stormed out of class when the nuns insisted that even innocent third world babies who'd never heard of Catholics would languish forever in Purgatory because they weren't baptized.) Guilt is how we feel when we do something against our beliefs. But other people like to make it be that you should feel guilty if we do something against their beliefs. Or self-interests. No no no.

2. Jealousy

I actually used to tell boyfriends that jealousy is a dealbreaker for me. I've always believed it's a sign of insecurity, not affection. Even in all those 80s romance novels I so loved, I hated it when the hero's love was revealed through jealousy. He went into a jealous rage! Ergo, he loves me! Again, no no no.

3. Score-keeping

We all trade favors. We trade dinner-party invitations. Critique Partners trade reading. Among friends, this requires parity - you try to keep the balance. If someone does a lot more for you than you've done for them, you try to keep track and pay them back. Sometimes though, a person will try to hoard "points" and turn that into what you owe them. Let me do it out of love for you, not because you demand it.

4. Displacement

Please don't take it out on me. Whatever it is. I'm truly sorry if you've had a terrible day and I'll listen to your woes, but if you turn that emotion on me, what a dreadfully unfair thing to do. We all are emotional beings, so don't tell me you're just moody and can't help it. I try really hard to control my emotional atmosphere. This is how we manage not to kill each other like over-crowded rats.

5. Emotional Blackmail

This results from the above. "I feel this way, therefore you must do such and so for me." "If you love me you will..." "A good wife never..." Our love for each other was never meant to be a tool to control their behavior. Which leads to

6. Manipulation

I'm realizing that all my dealbreakers have to do with manipulation. I suppose it's human nature, to try to make other people do what we want them to. It seems easier to line the people in our lives up like good little ducks than to try to find peace and happiness inside ourselves. Easier isn't better, though.

7. Absolutes

Still and all, I'm a grey area girl. I probably have no real absolute dealbreakers, nothing that I wouldn't forgive, if it didn't happen again. I have this consuming belief our ability to change. I suppose that makes me an idealist at heart.

If a lousy Catholic.


  1. Lousy Catholic? You and me both. :)

    This was lovely.

  2. Lousy Catholics unite! And thank you.

  3. I consider myself a recovering Catholic. I think most faiths have some solid ideas behind them, but they are implemented so badly that the very implementation undermines the core of the faith. Sad.

    I will say one thing about 4--a lot of people (me being one of them) don't always realize they're displacing. (I know part of mine comes from not always recognizing my emotional state--a hazard of growing up youngest in a family where emotions were more often ridiculed than empathized with and learning to hide said emotions instead.) My husband does it too. We've reached the point where we make sure to whack each other over the head with an imaginary baseball bat when it happens.

    All that means is I'm a lot more forgiving of that one than I am the others you mentioned.

    Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, are there really very many *good* Catholics out there? (Most I know don't believe in at least some piece of the dogma--my family included.)

  4. *Raises hand* Another recovering Catholic.

    Great post Jeffe; I hate when people keep score, of all the things on your list that bothers me the most. If I do something for you I do it because I want to, not because I expect anything in return. So I guess the only thing I do expect people to reciprocate is good will.

  5. One of my favorite sayings of all time: "Do wrong or feel guilty. Life's too short to do both."

  6. 3. Score-keeping
    That one is soo on my list as well!
    I had a friend who did this all the time. Hate it!!!
    I do not do nice things because I expect others to do something for me. I do them because I like to do them.

  7. I so agree on many counts, Seleste. I said to someone on Facebook who commented there that true love is matching your dealbreakers. That's what I need - someone to call me out, to hit me with the invisible baseball bat when I screw up. Displacing is so easy to do and, unfortunately, those we love most often take the brunt of it.

    As for good Catholics - I've known one. My Kennedy grandmother truly lived all the best parts and none of the nasty ones.

    Wouldn't that be nice, Jeannie? Good will is a wonderful gift in itself.

    Love it, Marcella. So true.

    Me too, Sullivan - I do it because I want to. When someone then turns that into a "score" - ergh!!

  8. #6 -- agree on the grrr. Sometimes, there's tangible awareness of it happening, like tar oozing over your skin. That's when it utterly backfires on the person applying it. Holy how to summon the ruthless ice queen hiding not-so-deeply within me. ~bares fangs~

    You want me to do something? Ask. Plainly. Simply. Then I can be nice when I decline. ~flutters lashes~

  9. Ooh, nice analogy, KAK. That *is* how it feels - sticky and nasty. I totally agree. Ask me. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. But if I get a whiff you're trying to manipulate me? Automatic won't. ~flutters lashes back~

  10. GREAT post, Jeffe. I'd like to embroider these and hang them on a wall where everyone can see them.

  11. Ha! I would *love* to see these in cross-stitch. With a few little forget-me-nots.

  12. Ah, displacement. I am SO guilty of this one. My kids call me on it when they see it. As for sticky and nasty with the manipulation? An apt description for sure. Great post!

  13. I'm using your list as character development. As in on the page characters. Hee hee...

  14. Thank you, Laura!

    We need our people to call us on the displacement, Kerry.

    We didn't think you meant real character development, Linda. ;-) I'll be interested to hear how it works!

  15. Great list, Jeffe. All deal breakers over the years for me, too. Thank goodness I'm done with all that mess. =o)

  16. Sounds like you've got your life nicely handled, B.E.!