Food is one of the great joys of life. Or it is for most people. And when I say “most people”, I mean me.
For my ex, food was fuel, nothing more – something to be burped down between video games, beer-drinking sessions and advancing his engineering career. While studying for his degree, his dinner would routinely consist of half a loaf of bread, two packets of cookies and a large bottle of Coke. Seriously.
That’s okay when you’re a bachelor (as long as your cholesterol can take it) but can you imagine how difficult it is to keep a relationship going when your interests in food are so unbalanced? We’d go to grab dinner and a movie, but be finished with our drive-thru so soon we had hours to kill before the opening credits rolled. And it’s hard to get really romantic over a meal without wine… or a table.
When your partner won’t sit down for a civilized meal, it’s a challenge to keep the love alive. No candlelit Valentine’s Day dinners for us, no sharing secrets over sushi or rapping over egg rolls. It’s just not as easy to bond over a Whopper at Burger King. (Although for special occasions, he’d take me to Pizza Hut, which at least has silverware).
Not to mention, a mismatched interest in eating out is incredibly inconvenient: we’d go to nice restaurant and I’d be in heaven while Burger Boy moaned about the lack of greasy food and the abundance of fresh vegetables — the kind of meal our wartime grandparents could have only dreamed about, in other words.
Because we had a long-distance relationship, and I was a student back then, I would go and stay with him for week-long stretches. (I can trace my weight gain back to this point; I’m sure my thyroid flat out gave up). One day, bloated from take-out and high on MSG, I went shopping for actual food. Nothing too dramatic: just the fixings for a stir-fry. Burger Boy was many things, but he wasn’t prejudiced against international foods, so I thought I was playing it safe. But when he found out what I was making, he just looked at the bean sprouts and shook his head in disgust. “I don’t eat twigs,” he declared.
I’d love to say that I carried on regardless, ate my tasty twigs and high-tailed it out of there. But that’s not true. Weak from hunger, I submitted to another belly-busting dinner and carried on dating the Man Who Wouldn’t Eat Real Food for another year and a half.
Because we were never in the same city for more than a week, I always got the chance to detox. But maybe if we had lived in the same place, or wanted to, we would have realized that the fact that we both had digestive systems was too tenuous a reason to stay together.
If we had been meant to be, of course, our differing tastes wouldn’t have mattered; we would have worked around it. But when you really shouldn’t be together in the first place, it doesn’t matter what you eat, or where you eat it: your relationship, like so many of our dinners together, will end up in the dumpster all the same.