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Dealbreakers: Behaviors that Destroy Relationship

Updated on September 29, 2012

I will be honest, there were times in my life where I let people I have been in relationships get away with everything short of murder. And it took me time to realize that not every behavior should be tolerated or accepted simply because I felt powerless in comparison to the other person.

Sometimes I think it has to with the dynamics of the relationship. I think this is especially true in situations where you are younger, physically weaker, subordinate (mainly in terms of co-worker relationships) or just plain shy. However, it does not mean you should put up with someone else's lack of respect for you.

Take for example the Penn State scandal. The whole thing was swept under the rug for so long because people were so afraid to speak up to the power structures existing within the football program. If someone had only been bold and compassionate enough to think of the children who were exposed to such depravity and perversion instead of the money, greed, and power of college athletics-the story would have been completely different.

However, if anything I wan this hub to speak for those who are finding their voice, lost it in some way or just plain do not know how to take it anymore. You have a right above and beyond anything else to be respected by anyone you choose to enter into a relationship with.


Dealbreaker #1: Verbal Mistreatment

I will be honest I think the most common type of abuse is verbal abuse. However, the sad part is since it leaves no physical wounds you cannot always explain or elaborate why words do hurt. But as someone who was bullied, I know the power of words and the way that others use them. So below I am listing a few examples of verbal mistreatment that you should not let anyone use towards you.

Yelling: Understandably so, no one should raise their voice at you. I do not care what situation it is, it is one of the most humiliating things someone can experience. Not only that, but I consider it noise pollution. I understand that the stresses of life can get to everyone but the last thing that should happen is someone taking their frustrations, anxieties, and shortcomings on you by talking in a completely inappropriate tone. If someone yells at you, I say walk away while calmly saying, "I will not tolerate anyone treating me in this way. I deserve your full respect, regardless of what you are experiencing."

Condescending Tone: For me personally, I believe this is a huge dealbreaker. While it is necessary to be firm or stern with someone, you do not belittle them in your choice or lack of choice of words. To me what constitutes a condescending tone, is someone who speaks to you about something in a manner that lacks understanding, compassion, or empathy. And in simpler terms, treating you like a child in a situation that while you may not comprehend completely- you would like to. I think the best way to determine if someone is talking to you in a demeaning way is to evaluate their word choice. If their sentences lack please, thank you, or any other common courtesies and sounds like something you would see in a Twitter rant then I think you know how you are being treated. The solution to this is just to say, " I don't like your tone, it makes me feel..."

Insults: While this is a hub on dealbreakers, this is something you have to tread lightly around. Some people are very sensitive about how you talk to them. Something that one person considers a light jest or joke can be completely harsh to another. An insult to me is when someone takes a pointed jab at your intellect, abilities, interests, appearance or lifestyle without considering your feelings. If someone insults you it might be best to take five and walk away before responding.

Sexual Harassment: It's sad to think in 2012 this still exists but it does. Sexual harassment constitutes any inappropriate sexual propositions, remarks, or innuendos directed at someone else. And if this occurs, the best thing to do is to avoid this person and any relationship with them or if you are subjected to working with them, report it to Human Resources.

Discriminatory or Bigoted Remarks, Slurs, or Stereotypes: Anytime someone says something that can easily be attributed as discriminatory or demeaning to any group of people falls in this category. Again, if you are at work head straight to HR but if not I say leave the person alone unless you really feel like the relationship is worth maintaining.

Bottom line if someone makes you feel uncomfortable with what someone has said to you, it is best to let your voice be heard than be a shrinking violet. The more you let someone take advantage of you in this way- the more power they can hold over you in the long run and relationships should never be about power.

Dealbreaker #2: Bad Attitudes

Your attitude determines a lot about you: how you feel about others, how you see the world, how you get out of bed everyday and so much more. That's why whomever you decide to have a relationship with- in any manor should possess an attitude that will make you feel at ease.

There are many different bad attitudes so again these are just a few examples of attitudes that you should not have to put up with.

Debbie or Denny Downer: I understand that life is not always pleasant but every moment should not feel like you are in the middle of an Italian Soap Opera. Sure it is fine to commiserate every once in a while but once it becomes an everyday affair, you may want to consider telling Debbie or Denny to find another way to release their anxieties, fears, tensions, and problems. And if they decide to not to follow your advice, you might want to consider finding another relationship with someone who is not as down about life.

Drama King or Queen: Royalty pervades many facets of our everyday life, however, if the royalty you associate with only brings about negative energy then you may want to divorce yourself from the monarchy. Now usually drama queens and kings are associated with high school, but let's be real these people can continue to infiltrate our lives long beyond graduation. In my experience, these are people to avoid unless perhaps you are related to this person or work with them. If that's the case, keep all communication honest and necessary so you don't end up part of their drama.

Mr. or Ms. Know-It-All: Again this is a title associated with youth but some people continue to act in this way far beyond an acceptable age. Sure, many people are experts in one subject or another but if someone really knew it all, they would not be where they are at. I mean, not even the late great Steve Jobs knew it all, nor did Thomas Edison but they were wise enough to take what they know and maximize it. Know-It-Alls often have a hard time getting the message, so the best way to deal with them is to let them know is not to say anything. And if that does not work, break it to them in their own language.

Sir or Lady Lazy Bones: I have learned a lot from Saturday Night Live Digital Shorts and one of them includes the joy of a Lazy Sunday. However, there are some people who believe every day should be like that. Hard work in one way or another is very rewarding. And I also think lazy people bring you down by either forcing you to work hard to compensate for their lack of effort or making you think you can be lazy just like them. In other words, if you know a lazy person it's best to avoid them.

While there are several other ways someone can possess a bad attitude, but these are some prominent examples of negative behaviors. That's not saying people with these attitudes cannot change but the way they act affect you and ultimately the decision of who you hang around is yours.

Dealbreaker #3: Stubornness

Every relationship is hinged on compromise. Parents compromise to allow their children to grow up. Friends compromise to continue sharing their lives together. And romantic partners compromise to deepen their bonds. However, compromise is strangely interrupted by something we call stubbornness.

It is okay to be stubborn about certain things such as your beliefs but otherwise there is something that will have to give in order for relationships to flourish. Here are some things that people should not be stubborn about or else they risk not having a real and lasting connection with another person.

Food Choices: I have food allergies and there are some things I cannot eat. However, I still have a lot of options as to what I can eat. And for the most part, I am very open to eating new and different things. That being said, there are many people who absolutely refuse to eat anything beyond what they are used to. And as a former picky eater, I can relate. But the truth is, all food was new to us at one point or another and we only loved it because we let ourselves try it. Besides, variety is the spice of life. If you like to have food adventures and the person you are with does not, it is going to add tension to your relationship.

Music, Movie, TV, and Book Choices: As someone who loves pop culture, this is huge for me. I did a hub sometime back on music snobs and how it relates to relationships and perceptions of others. And it goes beyond music but to other forms of popular entertainment. If someone cannot accept the fact your favorite artist is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or that your favorite book is not a classic- I think you should consider who you are dealing with. I am not saying that you have to like the same things as the person you are with but you should not feel oppressed or judged by what the person likes.

Hobbies and Activities: It always helps to have common hobbies with the person you spend time with (with the exception of co-workers) but not absolutely necessary. But in order to spend time with them, you have to at least know they are willing to try your favorite activities out at least once. And there is always the possibility of developing new hobbies and activities together.

Religious and/or Spiritual Beliefs: This is a dealbreaker that I think especially applies to people who are planning to raise a family together. As we have seen from all of the speculation in the Tom Cruise/ Katie Holmes divorce, this is something that can ultimately divide families. Even if you are not sure about your religious and/or spiritual practices, it is best to share them before kids enter the picture. And if you are in another kind of relationship with someone who has differing religious beliefs, it is important you can understand each other's perspectives.

Political Beliefs: Given the current political climate, you are more likely to learn people's political viewpoints (or lack thereof). And sometimes it can be easy to get in a heated debate without really considering the other person's feelings. But if there's one thing I have learned from the View is you can disagree politically and then have a laugh afterward.

These are just a few things that I think people have to somehow work out in order to have a relationship with each other and flexibility is important or else you risk your relationship becoming one dimensional.

Dealbreaker #4 Questionable Behaviors

Everyone has their idiosyncrasies and quirks but some behaviors are less appealing than others. While everyone can change, but some behaviors and the traits that go with them may not always present that option.

Here are some behaviors that you might call into question.

Lying: I think this is something that is self-explanatory. Lying only hides the truth but in reality all the time you take lying prevents you from ripping the band-aid off of life and addressing what's really going on. Of course, sometimes omitting the truth helps- I mean are you really going to tell your mother her brownies taste like dirt?

Jealousy: Even though jealousy has its place in romantic relationships, it is also quite common between siblings and friends. While it is easy to want someone else's life, you also have to realize you still have live yours and pining after theirs wastes time and causes strife.

Anger: As relationships evolve, anger is common. However, if one little thing tips someone off- they may have a problem that needs addressing.

Backbiting: This is a hard behavior to describe, but easy to experience. What I think constitutes backbiting is the simple act of trying to have the last word at any cost or just trying to get under someone's skin. It's fine once in a while, but if this becomes common-it might signify a bigger issue.

Withdrawn: In light of recent events, I think this is one behavior people need to pay attention to more. Now do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with people who do not feel the need to be out and about or have a lot of friends. But if you notice someone who seems not to enjoy any aspect of life, then you may want to consider why that is and how to help them. This is a situation in which you need to consider not ending the relationship with the person because you may be their only lifeline.

Delusional: This is simply a nice way of saying batty. Some people believe they will rule the world, but unless you really put the time and effort into doing good in the world, it simply cannot happen by auditioning for American Idol. And even though instant fame and success seems more accessible than ever, it does not make you happy or fulfilled. Dreams are good but you have to be realistic about achieving them.

Dealbreaker #5: No Snap Sherlock!

This title pretty much says it all. At least to me, that is. If you don't recognize the phrase, it simply means- no duh. If you know of someone doing these things- you may want to run not walk away.

Drug Abuse: I have seen what drugs do to people and by far it's the most hurtful thing to see happen to someone you love. And while I am a firm believer that drug abuse is a disease of the mind, unless you have the resources to help this person and they are ready to become sober, it is best to avoid them at all costs.

Criminal Activity: We all know this is not the best economy to be in right now, there is no excuse to throw away what could be for instant gratification. That and the fact that turning to a life of crime only ensures you will not have a chance at any other type of life. I do not care who the person is, my sentiment is and always will be- no one is worth going to jail for. It may sound harsh but until someone shows me a crime worth committing, I fail to see the benefits otherwise. Of course the choice is yours...

My Golden Rule: It is not the golden rule like you know it but it works. Go with your gut. That simply means if something makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy about a person- it only means that you may be right. Now do not get me wrong, some people are hard to get to know and it takes a while. But if you have a nagging feeling about someone- then it's best to go with that instinct.

Relationships are never easy, but they were never meant to be. As long as we live we have to negotiate the process of learning about ourselves and others. But one thing remains the same, being yourself is the best way to know who and what you stand for more than anything else. A dealbreaker only helps you see the truth with more insight and clarity.

How Else Can I End It?


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    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I tend to stay away from toxic people and parasites. Life is too short.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Leah,

      I agree working together is better than constantly fighting! Thanks again :0!

    • nurseleah profile image

      Leah Wells-Marshburn 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Right on, woman! Stubbornness is a huge issue for me. I read once that two people do not need to agree on everything, that certainly there will be struggles and strife in any relationship, but one of the best features of a potential mate is someone who is willing to grow with you instead of fighting against you. I have found this to be unbelievably true. I can deal with relationship problems so much better when I know my partner is willing to put the effort in with me to make things better.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I agree Express 10! Thanks again!

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      I agree with Mayodmv. These are definitely deal breakers nonetheless, no matter when they become apparent. Preferably, we make our standards and wishes known at the first offense and they never happen again either because that person truly loves us and is willing to change or we leave their arse in the dust :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi mayodmv,

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • mayodmv profile image

      Jose Matalo 4 years ago from Philippines

      These dealbreakers would be realized after the effects of dopamine in a relationship would diminish. I agree with what you've written. Great hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi MissJamieD,

      I agree- looking before you leap makes a big difference. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • MissJamieD profile image

      MissJamieD 4 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

      Fantastic hub!! I agree with everything you said. If more people would think about these things when getting into a relationship, the divorce rate wouldn't be so high.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi prasadjan,

      Thanks for your input and for coming by!

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 4 years ago from Tumkur

      A detailed and thoughtful hub.

      Relationship is like and infant. It has to be carefully maintained and nurtured.Otherwise, it breaks up and that memory is a sad one.

      A samskrut quotation says-' Too much lenience and disrespect go together'. So, it is always better to keep some distance with everybody.

      Another important advise is there in Ramayana,the Indian epic-"Every time we meet, we should behave as if it is our last meet.then we will be more courteous to another."

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Thandi!

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 4 years ago from Lagos

      You have said it all. We just have †Φ be strong and fight against these societal evils. Personally, I hate someone shouting at me.

      Thanks for sharing.


    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      HI lovedoctor926,

      The blame game is definitely one to add to the list. It's one thing if it is their fault, but not everything is all one person. You have to be objective. Sometimes I think that's a part of the male psyche, other times I think it's a free pass to tolerate whatever they give us. Thanks for your insights!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      HI ImKarn23,

      I agree- I think everyone is guilty of doing one at some point in time. It's not to say we can't improve, but my thing is if someone has a behavior they expose to you at the beginning of a relationship and you neither address it nor end the relationship but the behavior drives you crazy. That's what I don't get. We're human, no one is perfect but we can at least try to put our best foot forward. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi SkeetyD,

      Your friend sounds like I think. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Awesome hub! How about guys who tell you it's your fault. (the blame game) does this fall in the category of condescending tone? I notice that a lot of men who are compulsive liars tend to think that their girlfriend is lying, cheating or playing games with them. Anger is a form of power and manipulation and some guys use this to control their partner.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      Girl - you know your chit, aren't afraid to speak it - and do so with authority, intelligence - and style!

      I couldn't agree with you more - you've hit pretty much every nail directly on the head - starting with the verbal abuse - which - can kill the spirit and soul just as efficiently as a gun can kill the physical body..

      One thing i must add - just cause i'm

      Here's the problem - these ARE dealbreakers - and yet - i must admit to being guilty of more than one - at one time or another..

      That's not to say that i don't work at it - or improve every day, but - i'm only human...i DO however - apologize if and when i've hurt feelings. Sometimes a person will take a sarcastic or punnacious thing i say seriously or to heart when it's definitely not meant to..

      if we REALLY made this list ALL dealbreakers - we'd be a world full of single, lonely

      hoping you have a warm, safe, and peaceful new year, Alecia...xx

      sharing forward..

    • SkeetyD profile image

      SkeetyD 4 years ago from Barbados

      Another great hub Alecia! Loved your dealbreakers. A close friend of mine always says "you treat people how you would want to be treated". If more people understood that, life would be so much simpler and happier.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks so much stillwaters707 for coming by and commenting!

    • stillwaters707 profile image

      stillwaters707 5 years ago from Texas

      This is crucial information. I love your character names. Withdrawal, in general, is cause for concern. Sometimes, in a relationship, a party can use withdrawal as a control mechanism, another major deal breaker.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you Shawnte87 for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks midget38! The one thing about experiencing these dealbreakers is that you know what to lookout for the next time around.

    • Shawnte87 profile image

      Shawnte 5 years ago

      Interesting read. All of these factors play a big role in the destruction of relationships, especially the discriminatory and bigoted language!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, Alecia, ALL these destroy relationships. I had bad experiences with negative drama queens...they can really pull you down!! And anger, backbiting, etc, really destroy things for you. Sharing this one.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much justmesuzanne!

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

      Great information and oh-so-true! Voted up and awesome! ;0

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Au fait!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Interesting perspectives here on other people's behavior.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks as always Cogerson! At this rate I should go ahead and consider doing a Hall and Oates hub :).

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      I am right there with soon as I read the title of the hub...I was singing the Hall and Oates song in my head...and then at the end you provided the song....they sing it much better than I

      As for your hub? Lots of great information that is an excellent tool for starting a relationship...which is always why you should wait awhile to see if any of these dealbreakers pop up. Voted up and awesome.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Green Lotus! I don't know if there is a way to end political debates with laughter but I would like to try!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Wow you have covered it all Alecia. I'm pretty good at defending myself but I wish I knew how to end a political debate with laughter!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Jeannie! I can only imagine the kind of dealbreakers you come up with in your dating experiences. But I'm sure they make for great hubs :).

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thank you for including Hall & Oates at the end of the hub. I was hearing the song in my head the whole time I read the hub because of the title. :-) You are so right. There are simply so many dealbreakers out there.

      I've been dating a lot of random guys lately (it seems as if age 36 is the golden age to be hit on all the time on online dating sites!) and I come up with new dealbreakers each day! You have certainly covered most of them. Awesome hub and voted up!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Cyndi,

      Thank you so much as always for coming by and commenting. I wanted to speak about this because I think it happens more than we know. And not just romantically; my experiences come from friendships and office relationships mainly where I felt like I was too young or naïve to stand up for myself.

      And the relationship you have with your husband is definitely something to be proud of :).

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Valuable, valuable hub, Alecia. You know, I loved it when you talked about finding that voice. I remember in some relationships I've had in the past that I didn't speak up when I felt offended or humiliated. I'd eventually find the courage to get out, but it's hard. I can't deal with conflict - I just don't like it. I love harmony and it kills me when there's discord. But sometimes, I realize I have to look beyond that when it comes to the greater good.

      My hubby and I have been married for 10 going on 11 years. But I can say that we are best friends. Some of our tastes are different, but I truly can say that I feel like we have mutual respect and try to really life each other up rather than ever pull the other down. Thanks again for such an awesome hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey Alocsin,

      I didn't know that about yelling. But my perspective is limited to American culture. But you're right different cultures in relationships present interesting challenges. Thanks for coming by and commenting.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I agree with these dealbreakers, except perhaps with yelling. In some cultures, yelling is an appropriate way to communicate with people you love, just as in others silence is more appropriate. The problem occurs when you try these communication styles with people who aren't from your own cultures, which is why relationships from different cultures must be aware of such challenges. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks so much suzettenaples! I agree age and wisdom gives a lot perspective to things.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      You have pretty much covered the whole rhelm of relationship breakers. I agree with this article, which , BTW is very well written and presented. I enjoyed reading this. As we mature and get older we realized what is truly important in life and what is not. Bravo!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi lovedoctor926,

      I agree that boundaries are necessary and that you should always trust what you feel. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much josh3418! I agree- either they can change or they can leave but they can't stay the way they are.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Sunshine! I agree life's too short to deal with a bunch of mess from others and sometimes I think it also takes a fresh view to understand it.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      Voted up awesome and useful information. Boundaries are very important and they should be established at the beginning of a relationship. A woman's intuition never goes wrong so pay attention to that little voice in your head. Many of your deal-breakers here are mine too. You can aspire to be better by working harder to achieve your goals. Envy, hatred, adultery, pride and lust are among the seven deadly sins.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Very informative hub! The kind of people need to be taught a lesson, and if we need to avoid them or show them the door, then so be it! Thanks Alecia!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Alecia! I've missed you more than you know!

      Amen to this deal breaking article. We could all learn a thing or two or three from your informative hub. I agree with so many aspects of it.

      Life's too short to sweat the small stuff. I believe there are more good people than bad in this world. Simply kick the non-worthy to the curb and hold your head up. We "can't go for that!" :))

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks billybuc!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks DanaTeresa! I agree, verbal abuse is real abuse and people need to realize that because like you said the scars are deeper than physical scars. And it takes a long time to know what you should and should not tolerate.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No doubt about it; those are all deal breakers in my book! Any man, or woman, who does these things need to be shown the door as quickly as possible. Very well done!

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      YOU GO GIRL! This is a great hub that EVERY GIRL SHOULD READ! I commend you for putting verbal mistreatment at the top of the list. Verbal abuse is real abuse. It can be just as or even more damaging than physical abuse. Some people get so used to being talked down to that they think its OK or that they should brush it off. This sets that straight.... The other things you point out are also excellent.

      VOTING UP and sharing.