What’s the deal with ‘deal-breakers’?
She eats her peas one at a time — Jerry Seinfeld explaining the reason he broke up with his girlfriend
What a nightmare it must have been to date Jerry Seinfeld. On the hit TV series “Seinfeld”, the ultra-picky main character couldn’t tolerate the slightest idiosyncrasies in his girlfriends.
Many of us can be fussy when picking a partner, but Jerry took fussiness to a completely different level. To him, every minor issue was a relationship ‘deal-breaker’.
I’ve always felt that people break up too easily.
Was it wrong for Jerry to be so picky? Or was he right to ‘stop short’ whenever he spotted something he didn’t like in a partner?
The one where Ross and Rachel were on a break
Ross and Rachel also showed us what can happen when one member of a couple over-reacts to a little adversity.
Fans of the classic 90s TV series “Friends” will remember that their love affair was abruptly cut short when Rachel, after a seemingly minor argument, blurted out that she wanted to take a ‘break’. In a state of shock and despair, Ross later makes a disastrous decision to get drunk and naked with a woman he meets at a bar.
We were on a break! — Ross shouts at Rachel, trying to explain why he had sex with someone else.
The two characters spent the remaining 7 seasons of the show trying to reconcile. Everyone knows that they should have ended up together. In fact, everyone knows they never should have broken up.
As their friend Chandler would say, “could it, like, BE any more obvious?”
It seems to me that Rachel’s hasty decision to end things triggered years of pain and resentment for the pair.
They both could have handled the whole thing better if they just slowed things down.
Much ado about niksen
Niksen is a Dutch word for ‘nothing’.
In our busy lives, we are always doing ‘something’. We are constantly busy. We feel like we should always be active. After all, we make thousands of decisions each day.
But have you ever considered the possibility that, sometimes, even in times of crisis, it is better to do nothing at all?
In her book, “Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World”, author and psychologist Doreen Dodgen-Magee says that niksen is like a car whose engine is running but isn’t going anywhere. Rather than acting and doing and deciding, a person should, on occasion, choose to do almost nothing at all.
This holds true for relationships too. Before you make any rash decisions, take some extra time to think.
Just sit. Just stare. Just breathe. Answers to your deepest questions can come from doing absolutely nothing.
Queen of hearts
In the Netflix docudrama, “The Crown”, Queen Elizabeth is presented with many scenarios where her decisions could dramatically impact the British people. In many cases, she chose to do absolutely niksen.
To do nothing is often the best course of action, but I know from personal experience how frustrating it can be. History was not made by those who did nothing
Even in the more personal case of her own struggling marriage, where it was alleged that her husband may have been unfaithful, the Queen did not immediately abandon him. She let the issue sit. She did not make a drastic decision. After some time, and after some later discussion with her partner, the issue resolved itself.
Given that the Queen and Prince Philip have been married for more than 70 years, it appears that her purposeful inaction was the right thing to do at the time.
Her marriage hasn’t been perfect, but it has been successful, and we can all learn from it.
An ending about nothing
I’ve found, in my own life, that when I’m faced with difficult personal problems, the outcomes are best when I don’t make immediate decisions. They are best when I do nothing about them for a period of time.
Answers come to me in the shower. They come to me after I sleep.
When dealing with something as serious as matters of the heart, it is often worth it to take extra time before making any dramatic decisions.
On Seinfeld, Jerry ended up alone because of his snap judgments. On Friends, Ross and Rachel spent years apart because of one hasty decision.
The lesson here is that we don’t need to make decisions immediately. Most things can wait. It’s OK to do nothing.
If you break up with someone too quickly, you may be making a terrible mistake.
Often, problems will show themselves to be smaller than you first thought. On many occasions, as Queen Elizabeth has shown us, problems will work themselves out in time.
These days, you may feel that you have to make quick decisions and actions. Sometimes, delaying your decisions can save you a lifetime of regret.
Anyway, what’s your hurry?
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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