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Dealbreaker: He Didn't Go to College

As my vocabulary expanded among my academic peers, the shared language of our relationship narrowed.


In our Dealbreakers series, exes report on the habit, belief, or boxer brief that ended the affair.

I went to college because high school ended, and that was what people like me did. At 18, I moved out of my parents' house in the country and into a dilapidated three-story Boston duplex shared by an opera singer from San Francisco, a classical guitarist from Florida, art students, writers, and a colony of mice. Our perpetually unlocked door meant the house’s population was regularly supplemented by a straggler passed out on a wine-soaked couch, or—late on New Year’s Eve in our communal kitchen—an androgynous punk rocker named Duke.

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Dealbreaker: She Always Agreed With Me

Lauren was agreeable. About everything. And as we hung out more and more, her unswerving acquiescence only grew—and so did my urge to push back.


In our Dealbreakers series, exes report on the habit, belief, or boxer brief that ended the affair.

My mom always told me that I could argue with a brick wall, but I prefer healthy debate with other humans—like when I argued with her for two days over whether pine straw is mulch. I insisted that pine straw is a particular sort of yard furnishing that should not be lumped in with mulch, while she was content to live in a world with imprecise definitions for flowerbed fillers.

When I spotted Lauren—a slender blonde in a smart purple dress I met at one of the not-quite-fancy alumni events my university was always throwing in D.C.—she struck me as the type of confident and independent girl I’m always drawn to. Just shy of a semester out of college, she’d moved straight to the capital in lieu of settling in one of the southern towns that net too many of our fellow grads. A few open-bar Yuenglings and several passes of lackluster hors d’oeurvres later, I sidled over to talk to her. I don’t remember anything I said, but she smiled a lot and l aughed. I made sure to get her phone number before leaving.

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Dealbreaker: He Was Jealous

In our Dealbreakers series, exes report on the habit, belief, or boxer brief that ended the affair. I never really wanted to go out with...


In our Dealbreakers series, exes report on the habit, belief, or boxer brief that ended the affair.

I never really wanted to go out with Josh.

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Dealbreaker: He Held Me Back

I was a social butterfly with a wild streak; he could count his friends on one hand and spent most weekends in.

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Dealbreaker: He Fell Asleep Under a Van

As he lay there, snoring and reeking of fuel, I stared at him wondering how I'd sunken to this point. But I knew how.

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Dating in Los Angeles was never easy. For two years, my dry spell was broken only by crushes on unavailable men and old flames from out of town. I would have worried about my virginity growing back if that were medically possible.

Then a friend of mine emerged from a breakup and joined me in L.A. singledom. But while I sat at home Netflixing Lost in my pajamas, she was out having one-night stands and flings with bartenders. She had embarked, she informed me, on what she referred to as a "World Tour." She had to make up for lost time, she said. She needed to sow her wild oats. After another forgettable Saturday evening, I decided I needed to arrange a World Tour of my own.

I soon learned that having more sex would actually require me to change my behavior—namely, to lower my standards. If a guy asked me out and he wasn't that cute, I gave him a chance. If he seemed a little stupid, I went for it anyway. I had learned by example to talk to strangers and wear tight pants. Soon enough, my dance card was full.

So when I met a friend of a friend at a baseball game one warm summer night and he seemed a little crazy, it didn't stop me from flirting. And when he walked me to my car and kissed me, I kissed him back.

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Dealbreaker: She Wanted Kids

I feel I’m doing our crippled economy a favor by shooting for zero offspring. She wanted four.


In our Dealbreakers series, exes report on the habit, belief, or boxer brief that ended the affair.

“Relationships are very simple,” Chris Rock says in Rock This! “Only two things can happen: You get married or you break up. That’s it. There’s no third thing.”

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