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What Katie did next: In which another man stands trial

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Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

How many strikes before you’re out?

Conventional wisdom tells us that it’s three but can this statute be applied to every situation?

I ask because once again I have become judge, jury and executioner.

The defendant is a romantic interest; he’s being tried for the potential of a relationship and — don’t judge — you’re guilty of doing the exact same thing yourself.

Yes, we’ve all been in this courtroom before. Oh no, this is a place where a man could be convicted for something as tenuous as “I just didn’t like the way he didn’t say...” or executed for questionable footwear. “Did you or did you not, on the second date with Ms Byrne, wear what for all intents and purposes looked like cowboy boots?”

Like most women, I keep a mental dossier during the early days of a relationship. Misdemeanours are logged just as kudos is awarded. Excellent use of punctuation in text message: I award you one point. Reckless use of the exclamation mark!!! I’m afraid I’ll have to revoke that point.

Breakfast in bed: One point. The choice of margarine over real butter: Point rescinded.

Tasteful, good quality bed linen: Good boy. Gold star.

Print of dogs playing poker/construction workers eating lunch against New York skyline/Che Guevara on wall: Go and stand at the back of class and reflect on your poor interior decor choices.

Shakespeare wrote that love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, but I’m sure even he would have to bend that rule if he met a woman whose bedroom wall was emblazoned with a Sex and the City poster.

Yes, sometimes we have to employ a zero-tolerance approach.

A friend recently gave the heave-ho to a gentleman who remarked “a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” when she bought a Dairy Milk bar. And I support her decision.

Elsewhere, I once met a woman who went on a date with an actor we both admired. Unfortunately it wasn’t everything she expected. She lowered her voice an octave and scrunched up her face before she revealed that “he was wearing a puffa jacket”. We sat in silence after she read the verdict, to give the solemnity of the situation the reverence it deserved.

They know. They always know when they have just been judged.

The lights are turned off, the door is locked and they instinctively realise that they’ll have to keep on knocking to get back in.

And God bless them they do. They persevere, in spite of the cold chill and the tight-lipped smile. They keep on trying to hit a target that changes its position depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Because there is no right or wrong. It’s a subjective set of standards that is enacted after rather than before the wrongdoing — we think we know what we like but we don’t really know it until we see it.

 

And what about the unfortunate men who are casually eviscerated over

Elevenses? Do they have any idea what or who they are measuring up to? Do we have any idea?

Remember that our only precedent is previous relationships, and so many of us fall into the comparison trap, looking favourably at the behaviour that reminds us of the better part of our ex and unfavourably at the behaviour that we found challenging the last time round.

Sometimes we have a vague, media-prescribed idea of what a man should be. Sometimes we get lost in a loop of what others might think, forgetting that there are just two people in a romantic relationship.

Sometimes we simply want to  find something — anything — wrong so that we can

exercise a degree of control over the situation.

Yet sometimes it’s just too hard to tolerate the sound of a Velcro wallet being peeled opened, dodgy music collections, mincey dancing and bad jokes. And harder still to tell them that it irks you.

Three strikes and you’re out? I’m thinking three hundred is much more reasonable...


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