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Dating and Deal Breakers: What’s the Thing You Won’t Accept in a Relationship?

If they'd met years ago, Margery Berger's boyfriend wouldn't have been interested in her due to a physical imperfection. That still hurts.

My boyfriend and I have been together for a year. In March, we quarantined due to COVID-19. It was just us, all the time. We were getting along well until I made him watch Love is Blind, a Netflix reality show.

On the show, the participants meet for dates in rooms divided by an opaque screen. The idea is that they can fall in love through conversation, and then decide to get married, sight unseen.

I would not have fallen for David through an opaque screen. We met on a dating website. After a few texts and one phone conversation, we met in person. I liked what I saw. He was tall and his eyelashes were long and thick. He was well-dressed, and I noticed his flowered socks when we sat down. I liked his style.

It seemed that he liked how I looked too. His face lit up when he saw me. He said, “You look so youthful.” I don’t know what he had expected. I had posted current photos of myself, and had not lied about my age, 61, at the time.

That night, the conversation was decent, but I can’t say it flowed. It’s not what made me go out with him again.

Read More: Relationship Deal Breakers: The Anjelica Huston Epiphany And Others

The Second Date

I went on a second date with him because I thought he was handsome.

It didn’t go as well. At dinner, I asked him lots of questions about his family and upbringing in his tight-knit Jewish community in Colombia. He talked, a lot. I didn’t. When he asked me to go out again, I said no thank you. He texted me a cute multiple-choice test asking why:

I talked too much about myself.

I talked too much about politics.

Too tall?

Too handsome?

I said, “All of the above.”

He asked if we could be friends and suggested a non-date date. We went to dinner. I had a good time, so we went on a few more non-dates, to a movie and a play. I started to like him when he asked me the questions I had asked him, about my parents and my kids and my marriage. And he always offered me part of his entrée.

Slowly I fell in love with David. When he told me his wife left him after 25 years of marriage, and then, didn’t say anything bad about her, I knew he had more going for him than height, eyelashes, and cute socks.

During quarantine, we’d fallen into a routine that made me feel loved. He vacuumed the house a few times and didn’t seem bothered when I re-vacuumed. Often, he had passion fruit popsicles delivered for me because he knew how much I loved them. When he told me he didn’t have to watch soccer, he handed me the remote control. I clicked on on Love is Blind.

The Fateful TV Show

Had David forgotten how I feel about my hands or was he trying to hurt me?

As David and I watched the couples meet each other face to face for the first time, I was nervous. My heart beat rapidly. What if they didn’t like each other? I was relieved when Amber and Barnett embraced and kissed passionately the moment they met. David said, “She’s really pretty.” I agreed.

But I thought, would Barnett have been attracted to Amber if she weren’t so pretty? Would she have been attracted to him if he weren’t so tall?

I paused the show. I said, “Pretend you’re a contestant and you’re seeing your match for the first time. What would your dealbreakers be?”

He said, “Now, at 60, I don’t have as many deal breakers. I find certain imperfections attractive.”

I was liking this answer so far. I thought about my imperfections, the spider veins on my legs and the deepening creases on my face and even on my knees.

Then he said, “But when I was young, if I met someone with ugly hands, I wouldn’t have been attracted to her.”

I went silent.


I have ugly hands. David knows how I feel about them. A few months into our relationship, he asked me why I keep my nails so short and why I don’t wear nail polish. I told him that I don’t like to draw attention to my hands.

I don’t have long, elegant fingers with pretty nails with half moons at the base. My nails are wide. No matter how often a manicurist cuts or pushes my cuticles back, my nails never grow beyond my fingertips and my hands never look sexy. My palms are wide too. A physical therapist once asked me if I had been a gymnast. She said gymnasts have wide palms. She may as well have said, “You have man hands.” And now, with age, my hands are wrinkled and veiny with lots of little brown age spots.

Had David forgotten how I feel about my hands or was he trying to hurt me?

I said, “So if you had met me 30 years ago, you wouldn’t have been attracted to me because of my hands?”

He said, “I don’t think I would have been.”

I slid away from him to the other end of the couch. My throat tightened and my chest felt heavy.

He said, “Come here. Give me your foot.”

He likes my feet.

He said, “Really, you’re mad at me?”

I kept my feet planted on my side of the couch. I didn’t say a word. He tried to backpedal. He said, “There’s nothing else ugly about you except your hands.”

That didn’t make me feel any better. I can call my hands ugly, but he can’t.

What Are You Calling Ugly? 

Was I going to let one mean comment ruin our relationship?

When he said he wouldn’t have been attracted to me because of my hands, I discounted his compliments about my face, my legs, and other body parts. Maybe if he didn’t like my hands, he wouldn’t love me.

I’m no better. I have dealbreakers too, I know that love really isn’t blind and that I wouldn’t have liked him if he were a foot shorter.

When we got into bed that night, we didn’t cuddle like we do on most nights. The next morning, he pulled me to him. I stiffened. He said, “You’re still mad?”

I told him what I thought everyone knows—if a woman asks a man, “Does my ass look fat in this dress?” The answer is always no.

David told me he was surprised about how upset I was. I told him that I would think about how ugly my hands are every time he looks at them. He told me he loves my hands because they’re part of me. I didn’t believe him. But was I going to let one mean comment ruin our relationship? That felt petty, but also possible.

In a perfect world, I want love to be blind. It’s not. I need my man to love every inch of my body, and if there’s something else he doesn’t love, to keep it to himself.

Read More: Holding Splendor: Celebrating Beautiful Hands That Have Truly Lived

By Margery Berger


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