Book Review – Dealbreaker

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This post restarts my series of book reviews from a Hopeful Romantic perspective. Some of the books are kinda new, some of the books are a bit older – either way, the books offer something (at least partially) for those looking to improve their approach to love and relationships.

Now, most books about relationships fall into three categories.

  1. From a clinical psychologist with a Phd that has done countless studies and therapy sessions. These aren’t much fun to read as they are laden with examples of people that should have known better.
  2. There has been a wave of guys writing a sort of “tell all” book geared towards women to enlighten them on the wayward ways of men. (I’ll get to reviewing those books in time.)
  3. The humorous memoir written by a chronically single woman. It’s great to be entertained and all, but I’m not sure why so many women keep buying these types of books from someone who ultimately hasn’t been successful in finding a lifelong romantic relationship yet.

The book I’m reviewing today, Dealbreaker, seems like it would fall into that last category. Besides having a chronically single woman as a writer, Marisa Pinson, she is joined by a male writer Dave Horwitz. They both perform together at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles and have started writing television episodes together, too. Their authors’ bio on the last page mentions that they started writing Dealbreaker (first as a blog, then into a book) so “they could vent their frustrations about their ill-fated dating lives”.  Alright, so this book will break the mold a little bit and will not just be written by a single lady writing about her relationship woes in a comic fashion, but will be written by a guy, too.

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First, this book is hilarious. It is especially hilarious to those with a varied dating past, as we can likely relate to almost every single Dealbreaker. But here is the thing – while they list and explain these funny dealbreakers (something that makes you not want to date someone), they are all true. Here’s one from a page I just randomly opened:

You Won’t Stop Talking About Your Ex
Wait, I think you’ve told me this story before. It ends with your ex saving a baby from a burning building. No? Oh, it’s the one about how he took you to a private island owned by his billionaire father? Or maybe it’s about how the only reason you two broke up was because he had to go on a humanitarian mission in Africa! You know what, if you like him so much, why don’t you go live with him in his sweaty, mosquito-infested tent? Oh, I get it. That’s how this story ends.

If I hadn’t already made enough incorrect assumptions about this book, I also thought that Dealbreaker would line up with the content from Chapter 5 Differences. But Marisa and Dave span dealbreakers across the gamut of a doomed relationship, listing each dealbreaker when they are most likely to be discovered. Here’s the chapter list (since the book itself doesn’t have one):

  1. The First Impression
  2. The First Date
  3. The Morning After
  4. Three Months Later
  5. Three Months Later (Again)
  6. The Breakup and Beyond

From a Hopeful Romantic perspective, some of the dealbreakers are visible external traits – what they look like, what they wear, and types of things that they like. (You drive a Hummer. Your funny tattoo.) They also list internal traits that you (should) figure out after a few dates/conversations. (You’re a Scientologist. You Don’t Believe In Evolution.) And then the other dealbreakers seem to be caused by a lack of relationship skills or common sense. (You live with your parents. You flirt with other people.)

All in all, for those looking to learn something while they are entertained, this book not only lists some common issues to watch out for, it also reads as a list of things to not do yourself. In relation to The Hopeful Romantic, you will see some of the same themes and topics mentioned in Chapter 2 – Knowing What You Want, Chapter 5 – Differences, Chapter 6 – Growing In Love, and Chapter 7 – Dead End Relationship. Please, stay tuned. In the meantime, buy Dealbreaker and get a jump start on getting out of your next doomed relationship.

Music: The Hopeful Romantic Mixtape

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A few years ago for Valentine’s Day, I compiled a Hopeful Romantic Mixtape – songs from my favorite artists that correspond with each chapter. Well, with the advent of this new website and the streaming availability of Spotify, I thought it was worthwhile to repost. Here’s a link to the Spotify playlist, as well as a chapter and track listing:

Chapter 1 – Being Happy
Heartless Bastards – Be So Happy

Chapter 2 – Knowing What You Want
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Oregon Girl

Chapter 3 – First Contact
Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves – Am I Wasting My Time

Chapter 4 – First Date, First Kiss
Flight of the Concords – A Kiss Is Not A Contract

Chapter 5 – Differences
Wilco – Pick Up The Change

Chapter 6 – Growing In Love, Then Falling In Love
Ben Kweller – Falling

Chapter 7 – Dead End Relationships
Feist – Inside And Out

Chapter 8 – The Art of the Breakup
Loretta Lynn – Mrs. Leroy Brown

Chapter 9 – Recovery
Limbeck – Honk + Wave

Chapter 10 – Is This Person the One?
Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position

Chapter 11 – Appreciation + Compromise
Golden Shoulders – Patience Darling, Patience

Chapter 12 – Being Happy Together
Jens Lekman – Someone to Share My Life With

That last song was Melissa and I’s first dance at our wedding!

I’ll try to update this playlist every Valentine’s Day. So look for a new one next February!

Photo via Flickr user le vent le cri

Movie Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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The recent post about the sad state of affairs for romantic comedies got me thinking. A common plot point in some of these movies is when one (or both) of the main characters has a big secret when they start dating. Now, there are good examples of this – 10 Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed both come to mind. And there are many more that fall short of expectations.

Then I tried to think of a movie that had the opposite plot device, where the lead characters were completely honest with each other up front, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding immediately came to mind. In fact, this movie showcases many good, Hopeful Romantic type traits…

The lead female character Toula (played by Nia Vardalos) begins the movie as a hostess working in her family’s Greek restaurant. She is severely relationship-challenged as her family expects her to marry a nice Greek boy. One day, a teacher named Ian Miller (played by John Corbit) is eating with his friend at Toula’s restaurant, and Toula immediately falls for him. But how can a shy, somewhat depressed hostess ever hope to attract someone like Ian?

Well, Toula devises a plan with her mother and aunt to advance her career by going to college, taking some computer classes, and then work in the family-run travel agency. With her life finally starting to improve, who might randomly walk into the store? Ian Miller, of course! They start dating, and Ian wants to take Toula to this great Greek restaurant he’s been to. Rather than lie because she’s too embarrassed, she immediately admits that it is her family’s restaurant and that she used to work there. And guess what… it’s not a big deal. Being honest, especially at the beginning of a relationship, can save plenty of headaches later on.

Their dating progresses quickly, with a little backlash from her father since Ian isn’t a Greek Orthodox Christian, but eventually Ian comes to propose to Toula. And not just propose; because he’s met her family and knows how deeply they are involved in the Greek Orthodox Church, Ian agrees to become baptized so that he and Toula can be married in her Church. What a guy!

All in all, a great flick for the Hopeful Romantic. She realized she wasn’t happy with her life, changed her career path, was able to attract and start dating a great guy, they were honest with each other from the start, and he knew she was the one so much that he got baptized in order to marry her with her family’s blessing.

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Guys, would you do this in order to marry the person you loved?

Meaningful Quote – Beyond Perls

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Beyond Perls

 

If I just do my thing and you do yours,
We stand in danger of losing each other
And ourselves.

 

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations;
But I am in this world to confirm you
As a unique human being,
And to be confirmed by you.

 

We are fully ourselves only in relation to each other;
The I detached from a Thou
Disintegrates.

 

I do not find you by chance;
I find you by an active life 
Of reaching out.

 

Rather than passively letting things happen to me,
I can act intentionally to make them happen.

 

I must begin with myself, true;
But I must not end with myself:
The truth begins with two.

(Walter Tubbs, 1972)

And so, the Hopeful Romantic follows this premise – not passively letting life (and opportunities for love) slip bye, but instead intentionally creating new opportunities to live life to the fullest, allowing more possibilities of love to enter their life.

[image from here, used under fair use]