Pet peeves

26. 5. 2017

Pet peeves, huh? First of all are we all happy with the word ‘peeve?’ Do we actually know what it means? Yes? No? Not sure? Well, it’s a synonym for ‘annoyance,’ or a maddening situation, such as when your umbrella is doing a fantastic job of keeping the rain off your head until, at the slightest hint of a breeze, it immediately turns itself inside out. Such as when you’re walking along the pavement and some uneducated idiot decides it’s time to clear his mouth of unwanted phlegm and spits right there in front of you. Such as when you’re doing up your shoelaces and one of the laces decides to break. Get the picture? Yep, it’s those moments of irritation that leave you fuming and wanting to shove the umbrella into the nearest trash bin, shoot the spitter, and switch to wearing shoes that don’t need laces. Although most of us happen to share the world’s most common peeves, such as those mentioned above, on top of these we all have our own store cupboard of individual personal pet peeves. If you search the Internet for people’s pet peeves, you’ll find lengthy lists of irritations, you know, the usual kind of mindless rubbish that fills the planet’s electronic highway. For instance, there’s someone complaining about people who use the word ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re,’ but forgetting to add the condition that it only matters in the written version. Yes, it’s a stupid grammatical error, but one that isn’t important and isn’t noticed in conversation. So, there we go, another pet peeve, the incorrect use of grammar! Have you ever stopped to think about your own pet hates, the things that really get under your skin? Yes, of course you have. But have you ever thought about making a list of all these prickly subjects? No, of course not; it’s a pointless exercise. But for the benefit of those of us who can’t get through the day without making a list of something, here’s a short sample of pet peeves from around the world.

Constant use of the word ‘like.’

  1. I felt like you know like no one was like listening to me, like I wasn’t like there.
  2. Public lavatories that are smelly and unclean
  3. People who cough and sneeze without covering their mouth
  4. Dogs crapping on the pavement
  5. People who block the way by stepping off an escalator and immediately stopping for a chat
  6. Kids who yell and scream and run around in restaurants and cafes
  7. Inconsiderate smokers
  8. Smartphones
  9. Dirty cutlery, cups and glasses, in restaurants and cafes
  10. People who say they’ll do this, that and everything, and never do

But wait a minute, what do these gripes have to do with dating? Why am I reading about this sort of stuff on an online dating site?

Good question. And the brilliant answer is that it can be very useful to think about the things that most annoy you so that you’re ready and prepared to deal with them should your date be guilty of any! For example, if people’s inability to be punctual really gets up your nose, find a way of mentioning it in one of your first few meetings, especially if your date makes a habit of being late. As mentioned above, we all have our own personal ideas about what is and isn’t acceptable, the sort of stuff that makes us really mad. Imagine the following scenario:

On your first date you decide to go to a nice secluded restaurant: polite waiters, linen table cloths, napkins, shiny glasses and cutlery, cool lighting, sophisticated music, romantic ambience. Everything is going great: interesting conversation, nice smiles, bright eyes and laughter, smooth, smooth, smooth . . . and then you both start eating. Yup, there it is, the open-mouth syndrome, the visible mashing of food, usually accompanied by grotesque noises, as though the person opposite you has transformed himself/herself into some sort of dog-like cannibal. What do you do? Get up and leave the table? Throw a glass of water over the noisy savage? Ask politely whether it would be possible for him/her to eat with their mouth closed, and explain that it’s something you just can’t put up with? Yell and scream, overturn the table and fly into a tantrum? Or, are you so polite that you turn a blind eye and pretend not to notice, deciding to accept it this one time, but realising it’s definitely something that’ll have to be discussed at the first opportunity?

As mentioned above, we’re all different and have different levels of tolerance and different ways of dealing with all sorts of problems. What sort of person are you? Do you know what your breaking point is? Are you so laid back that nothing ever gets to you?

Here are a few annoyances that can quickly spoil a relationship before it’s even begun.

  • Bad personal hygiene: As well as taking care of body odour, make sure your teeth are clean and your breath is fresh. There’s nothing more off-putting than being in close proximity to someone who smells or who has bad breath.
  • Etiquette: Good manners and polite behaviour go a long way towards helping create a successful partnership. If someone opens the door for you, it’s appreciated when you say ‘thank you.’ Politeness to waiters and waitresses is also very important. No one loves the smug idiot who snaps his fingers and yells orders across the room. When eating and drinking remember to keep your mouth closed, no one wants to see a mouthful of chewed food and no one wants to hear the air-intake when gulping a drink.
  • Criticism: There’s a time and a place for everything, and too much criticism, unless it’s concerning politicians, is never a good idea. No one wants to be with a sour puss, it’s negative and disheartening. By all means criticise when there’s a valid reason, but don’t bore your prospective partner by going on and on and on about everything. He or she will not be impressed.
  • Conversation: Keep it sweet and interesting, don’t get into the deep intellectual stuff until you know for sure that your belle/beau will appreciate it. And try not to interrupt! If your partner is telling you a story, even though it may be the most boring story you’ve ever heard, be patient, look interested, and don’t interrupt. At least, not until you are certain that the conclusion has been reached. While we’re talking about conversation – no pun intended – keep in mind that, on your first date, it’s probably not a good idea to get into the realms of religion, politics or sex. These are pretty personal topics and should be reserved for a time when you know each other better. And . . . keep an eye on your language. No, not that type of language! What we’re discussing here, again, is the element of being polite. On the first few meetings, swearing, even the softest kind, should be kept to a minimum, and preferably should not be used at all. Yes, we’re all adept at swearing, some of us more so than others, but it does nothing to improve our status, and it never impresses anyone.
  • Personal space: Actually, this should come under ‘etiquette,’ as it’s also to do with good manners and respect for other people. Unless you’re aiming to be intimate and leaning in for a kiss, remember to maintain a respectful distance from your date. When talking face-to-face with someone, it’s usually not necessary and not acceptable to come any closer than about two or three feet (about one metre). If your date says, ‘Get out of my face,’ it means you’re too close. Back off. It also means that your date is not backward in saying what he or she thinks.
  • Opinions: We all have them and, whether right or wrong, should be careful about how forcefully we air them. And it’s the same in reverse. When your partner states his or her opinions, we should respect the fact that it’s their right to do so. Most of us live in a free open society, where freedom of speech is guaranteed, where we should be grateful that we don’t get sent to prison every time we speak against the government. This is called democracy – the right to say what we think. At the same time, we should be aware that it’s impolite to impose or shove our opinions down the throats of others. It’s called different strokes for different folks. In short, it’s known as respect. Unfortunately, there are many countries where this basic freedom does not exist.
  • Careless driving: Urgh, not only stupid, but dangerous. The obvious no-no’s include, driving up against the tail of the car in front; texting while the car is in motion; failing to signal (if you don’t know where you’re going, you can be certain no one else does!); driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; showing off; cutting in; throwing rubbish out of the window; trying to read what is written on the billboard; shooting the red light; racing against the other idiot.

So, what do we do about our pet peeves? Should I get them off my chest on the first date? Is it a good idea to let them become common knowledge? The best thing is not to worry too much about them. We all have them and most, if not all, our friends know about them. Yes, perhaps not too clever to mention them on the first date – they can sound a little negative, and first dates are all about being romantic and positive. And, in the course of slowly building your relationship, it’s a given that your pet peeves will come to the forefront before too long!

‘Oh, look at the way that idiot is driving!’ ‘Why are these insensitive people polluting the atmosphere with their cigarette smoke?’ ‘Why does Southern Region cancel so many trains?’

Pet peeves are an everyday occurrence – they can be annoying, they are sometimes amusing, but they are here to stay.

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