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When I began eating a vegetarian diet in 2001, my live-in boyfriend at the time did not. We had both come upon information about how much healthier it was to substitute vegetable proteins for meat, the cruelty involved in raising and butchering animals for food, and the environmental impact of our taste for animal flesh. But while I was moved to act, he was content to not change, saying “I just like to eat meat too much to stop”. I found it a huge turn-off, and this was one of a few reasons why he became an ex-boyfriend. To me, it was another example of how rigid he was, his inability to personally evolve.
When I met my now-husband in 2010, he had already been a vegetarian for several years and I was relieved. It is an immense joy to be with someone with whom you can cook and share any meal without there being any compromises or disgust.
Our food choices say a lot about our values and beliefs. If health is important to you, you’ll probably be turned off by the date who orders the bacon cheeseburger, hold the lettuce and tomato, add extra mayo and a side of potato chips, to be washed down with a rum and Coke. If you’re the burger lover, you might find the date who orders the quinoa salad, dressing on the side, hold the croutons, to be washed down with a bottle of Voss, too pretentious.
It goes further than just diet choices, even eating habits can play a role in one’s attractiveness. I was once turned off by a date who ordered spaghetti but then cut his noodles down to bite-sized pieces like he was preparing a plate for a toddler. There was something so childish and weird about it for me. If he didn’t want to twirl his noodles around a fork why didn’t he just substitute penne pasta?
I have a friend I’ve known since we were 3rd graders who used to complain of how disgusting she thought everyone was when they ate. “At the dinner table, I have to excuse myself as soon as I’m done because I can’t stand all the noises my brothers make. All the slurping, loud chewing… they’re disgusting pigs!” It wasn’t until I was eating some macaroni and cheese at her place after school that I discovered the problem was her, not her family. She barked at me that she could hear my chewing, like I had rude table manners or something. I was astonished, because I was chewing with my mouth closed and there is no way to prevent the natural sounds foods make while being chewed. I just looked at her like she was nuts.
Turns out that her problem has a name: misophonia. I’ve never asked her how much misophonia might have affected her love life, but she’s married now and I do remember her saying that when her husband eats cereal she “leaves the room”.
A male friend of mine once dated a woman he was pretty excited about until he suggested the new Mexican restaurant for dinner and she declared her hate for tacos. He said to me, totally perplexed, “Have you ever heard of someone who didn’t love Mexican food?!” But it went even further than that incompatibility; he was an adventurous eater in general and she didn’t want to try any new ethnic foods. She knew what she liked and that was that. It ultimately broke them up because he found her basic tastes so unappealing.
Many people believe how we treat food is an indication of how good we will be in bed. I don’t know if there are any scientific studies that confirm this correlation, but I can see where it comes from. If someone is easily disgusted by foods they didn’t grow up eating and unwilling to even try them, is that person going to be adventurous and free spirited sexually? I don’t know, it’s all very subjective. For example, I would say I’m an adventurous, unpicky eater. I love trying new ethnic cuisines, love spices, love vegetables, and love experimenting in the kitchen. However, I’m disgusted by dead body parts, especially from sea animals. I find it completely revolting that people will eat octopuses or lobsters and crabs (they’re ocean bugs!) and some people would label me a “picky eater” for eschewing animals. But I like to think of myself as a sexual free-spirit, and so is my husband.
When you’re on a dinner date, do you evaluate your companion’s food choices? Have you ever broken up with someone over differences in taste?
Follow Liz LaPoint on Twitter @liz_lapoint