Paul Simon crooned there are “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and Megan Rosati claims there are 52, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg when you’re talking about reasons for dumping someone. Take the lovers who insisted on getting really bad tattoos, or the boyfriends who sang constantly in public. Then there are the dates who complained about your underwear, the dates with questionable hygienic practices, and the dates who simply couldn’t understand the beauty of Roseanne. A couple of our exes even stole things. We break up for all sorts of reasons, ranging from failure to communicate, to “just not being ready,” to realizing we want different things in life. But sometimes the straw that breaks the relationship’s back isn’t even the worst — or most expected — thing that a significant other has done. Maybe it even seems a little bit ridiculous. But who are we to judge? In a relationship, to each his or her own. Here, 21 people reveal what made them finally cut the cord.
1. He criticized my pajamas. I dated a French guy a few years ago whom I dumped after he complained about my pajamas one night. They were cute, pink Forever 21 fake silk PJs with Eiffel Towers on them (ironically enough). I put on my PJ bottoms and walked out into his living room to watch TV and he said, “Oh, noooo. It’s not cute.” He didn’t want me wearing loungewear around his house because it was too informal/sloppy/ummm American maybe. I read him the riot act and stormed out of this apartment; the next day I dumped him.
2. He was a thief. He stole cufflinks from Burlington Coat Factory.
3. He suggested we eat at the Olive Garden. I met and got engaged to a man when I was living in Turkey. Given political strife in Turkey and general malaise with my life there, I had moved to New York in September 2007. My fiancé came to visit for a couple of weeks, but I was already having serious doubts about the relationship: I had realized that the love of my life would be someone with whom I could eat Chinese takeout and have a dog, which is not really feasible with someone who is nationalistically Turkish. In fact, pretty much the only food he would eat was Turkish food or crappy Americanized Italian.
We were at a bookstore in Soho, where he was perusing books about coding — he had this quixotic start-up plan for a Turkish online real-estate website. And a voice in my head told me, “If he suggests eating at Olive Garden, dump his ass.” Two minutes later, without a touch of irony, he suggested that we eat at one. In response to the look of pure derision on my face, he retorted, “What! I like their salad!” The one American thing he embraced was literally one of the country’s most disgusting exports. He returned to Turkey. I dumped him via Skype some two or three weeks later.
4. He was pop culturally illiterate. I once stopped seeing a guy because he told me he had “just discovered a wonderful television show called HBO’s The Wire.”
5. He insisted that my bras and panties match. I dated a very self-assured, a.k.a. cocky, guy who told me that I should always match my bra with my underwear. He then proceeded to show me how his socks complimented his shirt. After that comment, I made sure to purposely not wear matching sets. He might have known how to dress, but he didn’t know how to express any emotions other than discontent. I compared him to a robot when I broke up with him.
6. I was not into his panties. I discovered pics of an ex’s selfies of himself wearing women’s underwear (pre-smartphone!).
7. He was a cheapskate. One of my exes used to buy only children’s movie tickets, even though we were clearly adults.
8. He kept getting $5 tattoos. He was a bartender — and I’m amazed, in retrospect, that he had gotten through so many years as both a Brooklyn bartender and a guitarist without getting any tattoos. Then a tattoo parlor opened across the street from the bar where he worked, which had a cheeky $5 special on a particular (usually hideous) tattoo design. And suddenly he kept showing up for dates with new tattoos. Hideous ones he clearly had only gotten because it was the $5 tattoo special. It wasn’t until a few weeks into this spree that he showed up with new ink in the shape of a shrimp wearing a top hat. And that, for me, was the last straw. It was a pretty vivid sign that as much as I loved him (and I really loved him), he had an impulsive and self-destructive streak that I couldn’t change. Obviously, it extended well beyond shrimp in top hats and it had been tearing at our relationship for much longer than the tattoo parlor had been offering $5 specials, but seeing a well-dressed crustacean inked on his arm kind of made it hit home.
9. He hated Roseanne. If he couldn’t see the brilliance of Roseanne, then he’d never be able to begin to plumb the depths of my soul.
10. He liked The Mindy Project. This one guy wanted me to stay over and watch The Mindy Project, which I hate. I left and never called him again.
11. He hit on my friend. After a long day, I left an after-work party a little early. I said good-bye to a friend who worked with us and then winked good-bye across the room to the guy I had recently started dating from work. We had kept our romance a secret, except that I had confided in my friend. Later, at home, I woke up to my phone ringing — the guy insisted on seeing me. He walked into my apartment, wringing his hands nervously, pacing, and then he blurted out that he’d hit on my friend after I left the party. She shot him down and said she planned to tell me what he did. He said he wanted to be honest, that he regretted it and wanted to make it work with me. I told him he could spend the night. On his way out the next morning, I broke up with him.
12. Her politics troubled me. She voted for Romney.
13. I wasn’t his “type.” I asked him what his sexual fantasy was, and he said, “Two redheads.” I’m a brunette.
14. I was dating a hot guy with hygiene issues. The first time I gave him a BJ, it smelled a little funky down there, but he was a marathon runner so I thought maybe he didn’t have time to shower before our date. I let it slide. The second date, his breath smelled like a dead body. I was so frustrated because he was otherwise perfect. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I got through the kissing and got myself out of the hooking-up ASAP. Every time, there was another thing — smelly feet, a fart, B.O. — always something stinky. I kept giving him another shot because I liked him very much otherwise. I made some hints, which did not work. We dated for about six weeks. My final straw was … I was giving him a BJ, again, and I went for the rim job because I could tell that’s what he wanted, and I’ve had fun doing that before. It smelled pretty bad but I pushed on. And then my tongue found a lot of crustiness — and ultimately, I discovered hardened shit. There was shit in his ass and I was eating it. Worst of all, I actually stayed there for a minute; I just did NOT want to embarrass him. Anyway, I came back up, no one came, and I casually shut down the fooling around session and went home. I broke it off the next day. I’m as open as they come, but I draw the line at feces.
15. She ate Combos and played with my hair. On a car ride from upstate New York back to the city, she was eating Combos — the pizza-flavored ones — and got super-Combos-y fingers and was playing with my hair.
17. He used ex-sex as an excuse for why we couldn’t go out. This guy I had gone on a few dates with was like, “I can’t hang out tonight because I’m going to sleep with my ex-boyfriend this weekend who’s staying with me.” I was like, Okay, I’m done.
18. He preferred his dog to me. I once dated this guy who was really into his dog. Like, really into his dog. He talked about her all the time. When he wasn’t around her and when he was around her, he was nicer to her than he was to me. It was like I wasn’t even in the room. It was sweet, but also a little weird at times. (I chalked the weirdness up to the fact that I had never had a dog as a kid and just didn’t understand these things.) I even tried to get on the dog’s good side, buying her treats, walking her, things like that. This seemed to make no difference to the guy, but I kept trying. One morning, the guy and I were lying in bed and the dog tried to wedge in between us. The guy pushed me over with his arm so that the dog could get next to him. And not in a, like, joking, teasing, funny way. He legitimately pushed me over for the dog and didn’t say a word about it. Now, you’d think that would be the last straw for me (there were other factors in the relationship that were telling me to get out), but I hung on and tried to make things work, even though deep down I wasn’t happy. Also, I was having some kind of allergic skin reaction to the dog, which didn’t help my morale. A few weeks later, the guy broke up with me, and cited the fact that I wasn’t a “dog person” as one of the reasons for ending it.
19. He sang in public. I dated someone for about six months who had a number of unseemly habits, but the one that made me the most uncomfortable was his tendency to sing, very loudly and all the time, in public. At first, it didn’t bother me, because people sing out loud all the time, and I have a sordid past in musical theatre. I get it. But, singing along to Miguel at a concert so loudly that you cannot actually hear Miguel is inexcusable, at least to me.
20. He was violently opposed to yogurt. I got married right out of college to an abolitionist vegan whose sentiments on the consumption of animal products can best be described as … unhinged. This is a guy who temporarily disowned his own parents after he found a six-pack of Dannon yogurts hidden away in the second fridge they kept in the garage (yes, he had previously insisted that his entire family convert to veganism). So, anyway, yeah, I married that dude. And by now you’ve probably figured out that I was also vegan. Fast-forward a year and things are not going well — I’m in New York starting out my career, and he’s living abroad getting a masters degree. I’m flourishing in a community of new (mostly non-vegan!) people, and actually having fun, as 22-year-olds in New York sometimes do. But physically I feel like shit. I’m too thin, I’m always tired, and I literally cannot stop breaking bones. After seeing several doctors and nutritionists, I make a bold move: I start eating yogurt. First just one, a single container of plain Fage 0%, consumed alone in my apartment. The experience is transcendental. And I can’t stop. This calcium-and-protein-infused elixir is bringing my body back to life! But the lawfully wedded, co-dependent part that can’t forget what he did to his parents when he found that Dannon feels terrified and guilty as fuck. So I call him up and I tell him, shaking, voice barely above a whisper: “I started eating yogurt.” He responded with a barrage of insults including the the words “disgusting” and “immoral.” I file for divorce shortly after. I still eat yogurt every day.
21. He looked like Rumpelstiltskin. In college, a friend drunkenly remarked that the guy I was dating looked like Rumpelstiltskin. I had never seen a resemblance before, but after that, I could never not see him as Rumpelstiltskin, and I had to end things.