Does He Have a Habit That's Driving You Nuts?

Whether it's being finicky about food or drinking his coffee off-kilter, there might be more to your frustration.

woman being ignored by two men
(Image credit: Joseph C Justice Jr/iStock)

Does your partner have an odd habit that doesn't really affect the quality of your life and doesn't adversely affect you, and yet is so grating you're considering breaking up with him over it?

That's the dilemma that a certain Slate reader is having. She contacted the site's advice columnist, Dear Prudence, to ask her for some help with an unusual issue: The man she's engaged to is too finicky about food.

As the advice-seeker writes: "He eats only about 10 things, all stuff you'd see on a kids' menu, such as chicken fingers, fries, plain pizza, and grilled cheese. He doesn't have a good explanation for it. He just says he doesn't like the textures of other foods. … This bothers me for several reasons. … [His] refusal to eat like a grownup is a turn-off, and I see this trait as childish and stubborn. His eating habits severely limit where we eat out. We'll never dine at an interesting restaurant, which I can get over, but it would be nice to have a special dinner somewhere other than a pizza parlor."

My father once had a girlfriend (whom I really liked) who would complain whenever he drank Heineken straight from a bottle at a restaurant — which he did quite often. He claimed that it stayed colder and therefore was more pleasing and refreshing that way. Although I often think my father's slightly off his rocker, I get that.

Another quirk of his, however, used to make me want to run for the restaurant bathroom and escape out the window. For no reason that I could ever figure out, for no reason that he could ever explain, he liked to keep his coffee cup oddly tilted in its saucer — so that it didn't sit properly in the groove, but rather at a jaunty angle. For years, every time we went to a diner, he'd adjust his cup, and keep it that way throughout the breakfast, refills notwithstanding — and the nonsensical nuttiness of it irritated me to no end.

Of course, it probably pissed me off in part because he and I weren't getting along too well during that period (i.e. approximately the first nine-tenths of my life), and almost anything that reminded me of how irrational he could be would've probably ticked me off.

Which makes me think maybe this engaged lady isn't bothered quite so much by the finicky eating as much the childishness and stubbornness that she seems to think underlies it.

Can you guys think of a time in a past or current relationship when your partner had a habit that bugged the hell out of you? And did you eventually realize that it was getting on your nerves because it was a manifestation of a character trait that you didn't like?