Emilie Mcmeekan & Annabel Rivkin
There are always warning signs. They say that the thing that worries you within the first half an hour of meeting a new person will be the thing that maddens you about them in the end. Might be friendship. Might be love. either way, never, they say, get serious about anyone you can’t imagine being ‘happily divorced’ from.
But warning signs aren’t always as simple as being rude to waiters, sulking or taking bizarrely intense offence at a flu-fuelled cancellation. They are often delivered via a self-conscious declaration of qualities designed to make the speaker sound more appealing – indeed, intriguing. Beware…
‘I’m very complicated’
This can be easily unravelled to mean, ‘Dealings with me will quickly get difficult, probably rather tiring and possibly maddening.’ People who annouce they are complicated frequently know that they are a monumental pain in the a rse but t hey a re suga rcoat ing. The question is, are they proud to be difficult or a re t hey genuinely t roubled? Complicated means impossible. Which means there had better be a sensational upside to compensate.
‘I’m so spiritual’
Is t here an element of myth-making about this? a shallow self-involvement? a constant concern with one’s position in t he universe and t he ever-present possibility that they might say, ‘This is bad karma. Your angry aura is messing with my chakras,’ and leave? Or they might bore you to deat h. Plus t hey might make you do yoga, together. Do t r uly spir it ual people shout about it over dinner? Just asking…
‘I don’t take life too seriously’
This is the listener’s cue to think, ‘Well done you. Oh, how I admire your lighthea r tedness and good humour.’ But what if this is less a sign of sweett emper–Fun! Fun! Fun !– and more a clear indication of lack of accountability? Fast-forward a month or two (this one is skewed towards dating, but if you are miserably married to someone who used this as an opening gambit – sorry) and there you are, let down, confused. But there is no recourse because, guess what? They don’t take life too seriously. What this person is really telling you is that he( or she, though probably he) will always have the last word in a painful situation. Or the last words. and they will be, ‘I told you so.’ ‘I’m a good person’ Where to beg in… *sighs and makes fourth cup of coffee despite pounding heart*. The self-declared good guy (or gal) is not revealing purity of soul but an unwillingness – in extreme cases a refusal – to be the bad guy. If your brain can’t accept when you a re at fault, if you can’t compute that you are blessed with human frailty and the potential to bugger stuff up, then you become dangerous. Not to mention infuriating.
‘I’m very loyal’
Immediate backstabber alert. Loyalty does rather than says. It feels suspect when we shout about it. Just as ‘this is hilarious’ kills the joke and ‘this is sexy’ kills the mood. Be loyal, be funny, be sex y… If you a re complicated, work towards beautiful simplicity. If you are sweet-tempered, share the miracle of your mood. Be it. Don’t declare it. This is the law of the Midult jungle. We are prepared to be wrong on all of the above. Maybe they are lovely and reassur ing sig ns of emotional t ranspa rency and self-knowledge. Maybe we are nasty women. Maybe. Over to you… themidult.com
‘I’m very loyal’ is an immediate backstabber alert