Tuesday, May 24, 2011

make it or break it: how do you tell?

Today's entry is from Quinn Cummings at The QC Report. She asked her readers "What should couples do to determine compatibility before actually dating?"

My favorite replies:
"To determine compatibility, I think nothing beats taking someone to the Emergency Room. You learn a lot about someone when you are bleeding profusely, waiting for them to transport you to the Land of Lidocaine, watching them figure out what to do for you. Are they the kind of person who is decisive enough to know when you need a doctor and when ice and a drink will suffice, and if it requires an ER visit, are they the kind of partner that can locate their car keys, your health care card, and some chocolate for the road, and has the forethought to grab change for the lobby coke machine, a book to read while they wait, and your purse and cellphone, or are they going to let you bleed half to death while they fumble around the house vaguely wondering if you 'need anything'."

"Have Sex First. Nothing like spending tons of time finding out you're mentally compatible and then spending 10 minutes to discover that sexually you are on different planets. Chemistry NOW, compatibility in the morning."

"Take a road trip overnight. Is your partner a nag about driving, speed, directions, etc? does your musical taste jive? can you sustain a conversation - or, can you handle the silence in comfort? what about sleeping accommodations? activities - lots of physical stuff, just eating, see the sites or relax in the room?"

"I recommend attending a large family gathering in the hometown of one of the participants. This combines travel arrangements, dealing with family, dressing appropriately, and handling uncomfortable questions. For illustration: I may not have told the entire truth about how long this family wedding was going to take. But my mother provided a very accurate timeline as we were leaving for the ceremony. Oops. Where is this country church exactly? Oops. No don't wear that, my mother will hate it. Don't tell my mother about that one thing. Or about that other thing. Or that either. And no one mention that thing about my uncle ever. No, I'm not acting weird. Why would you say that? I always act this way around my family. It's fine. Are you sure you want to drink that much? My aunt's been watching how many times you go to the bar. Why does my cousin want to beat you up exactly?"

"Having attempted this feat more times that I would like to count, I am convinced that you should never, ever, choose a long term partner until you have attempted to assemble a piece of furniture from Ikea. Your day begins around 10:30am, by taking a trip to Ikea to pick out a desk, you know..the kind that has 50 faux wooden pieces that are attached together with 100 tiny pieces of hardware. First you must choose a desk, agreeing on the style and function. Once the desk is chosen, you load up your vehicle with the ten (or so) boxes. When you get home, you unload the boxes and sort the pieces, quickly realizing that you forgot to buy the hardware (sold separately). You are forced to take a trip back to the store to pick up the pieces. Now back at home, a full 3 hours since you first embarked on this journey, you prepare to put together the desk. Since it is afternoon, you are both starving but are not allowed to eat until the desk is completely assembled. You pull out the instructions and show them to your potential partner. Both of you look at each other, then back at the instructions which are full of pictures and arrows and confusing diagrams. Finally, you are able to plod through and actually succeed in assembling, oh, about a third of the desk. At that point, after searching and searching for a piece of hardware that is pictured on the instructions, you conclude that it is missing from the packages. You have no choice but to, once again, return to Ikea. When you arrive, you see that there are at least 10 other people in line at Customer Service. You wait and wait and wait. Once you reach the desk, you explain the problem and are told that, because you did not return all the original hardware (by taking apart the parts of the desk you had already assembled), you would have to re-purchase the entire set of hardware. (I am exhausted and grumpy just typing this) Finally, you return home...for the third time...with all the needed pieces now in your possession. Hours later, as the sun starts to set, you fasten together the last two pieces. Feeling a grand sense of accomplishment, you both carry the desk into the room to place it in what was already deemed... the PERFECT spot...only to realize that the desk you chose...and just spent an entire day assembling..is entirely too big for the room."

"Someone must vomit, and not from drunkeness. I thought I was being helpful, and brought him a glass of cold water. Little did I know that I set it on one of those sink-indentations and actually poured cold water down his fevered back. His comment? Is this some weird family tradition of yours, pouring cold water down the back of the sick? Advance a few years to find me pregnant/giving birth. While I vomited, he announced that if I wanted him to, he would pour a glass of cold water down my back. My comment? Is this your idea of 'funny'? Thirty-one years of marriage and counting."

"Spend 10 mins in a two person kayak. it's make or break almost immediately."

"Backrubs. Can they give a good one? A properly thorough one that goes on until you've fallen asleep? and then cover you with something soft and tiptoe out without checking to see if it was "okay"? Are they complimentary about your backrubs, while understanding that really, you need one a lot more than they do virtually always? Do they have warm hands?"

"Garbage Jenga. Oh, you've never played? This is when two people ignore the garbage when it needs to be taken out. If your intended partner is a well-adjusted, rational person, he or she will remove the bag, and take it out to wherever the garbage goes. The other 99% of humans just keep balancing trash on top until the whole thing spills. Battle of wits or battle of twits? Find out in a hurry." 
 Have you tried any of the above? How do you test a relationship? What tips you to make it or break it status?


  1. God, I can relate to too many of these. :) Especially the back rub one. But, yeah, the kayaking or canoeing one is a great test. I can't imagine throwing someone into one of my family's events right away. Holy moley!

    Garbage jenga? Brilliant.

    I can't top these.

  2. I've done most of these in my current 20-year relationship! The ER one was in the first month, I'm pretty sure. Helping you move is a good one (similar to the IKEA test), talking about/picking out what kind of art you'd put on your walls eliminated a former beau (he only wanted hyper-realistic car paintings), planning a house party is a good one! Nice list.

  3. That is a classic. The only situation I can think of that they left out was to babysit a relative's / friend's younger kid with your potential partner for a weekend. If a person makes it through that, without killing you or the kid, marriage material.

  4. Those are great. As for the furniture one...

    I actually had a piece of furniture to put together last night (a wine cabinet). I also have a boy coming to visit this weekend. So what did I do?

    I put it together myself because I didn't want his help. Now what does that say???

  5. Kind of agree with the sex first one. If I'd had sex with Brodkey first, I wouldn't have dated him for a year and a half, wondering why we didn't have any sexual chemistry. It's trashy, to be sure, but in theory, I totally agree.

    The Ikea one just made me laugh. Probably the most sensible one of them all. I could kill my own mother when we try to put together Ikea furniture, so if a guy could do that with me, and manage NOT to annoy the piss shit out of me, I'd say that'd be a great sign.

  6. Great list! I'd add doing house repairs or - better yet - renovations. You not only have to agree on what should be done, the finished effect you're going for, and how it should be done, you have to respect each others' abilities and energy levels. I've used this test. I'm still single.