Some words are oddly likable. Their meaning may not stick, but the sound rolls around your mouth amiably.
I pictured Spanish food, with meat and olives. But no, that wasn’t it.
Then I visualized thin paper bands in gold and red – the kind my father used to slip off his cigars and place on my finger. But that wasn’t it.
Texas? Arid land and armored animals?
No. Not picadillo, not Tiparillo, not armadillo. It’s peccadillo!
And the meaning flew into focus – a mistake, an indiscretion, an error in judgment. For some – a sin. For others, perceived offenses.
The past is the past?
Why do some of us relive the past over and over, and others move on more quickly? Why do some dismiss their faux-pas, but can’t get over the flaws in friends and lovers?
Why are some of us compelled to tell all, to spill our faults, to disclose too much and too readily? Why might you want some quick “historical data” when getting to know someone new?
We all sin from time to time, though that isn’t a term I use. I prefer transgressions or missteps – you know the sort – shooting our mouths off at the wrong time, handling a sticky situation poorly, making a mistake in judgment that hurts another, or possibly giving in to a vice.
As for the word itself, Dictionary.com defines peccadillo as:
a very minor or slight sin or offense; a trifling fault
Its origin is Latin (for sin), and synonyms include both failing and indulgence. (It’s worth noting that the antonym is virtue.)
Looking for love in all the wrong places
So what of it? If you’ve just met someone you like, should you get to the nitty-gritty of perilous past deeds ASAP? Not just the fact of them, but mitigating circumstances if they exist?
If you’re divorced and dating, isn’t it reasonable that the other party might want an inkling of what caused the rift? The umbrella answer “We grew apart” may roll off the tongue, but if the reality is more specific? Addiction, abuse, infidelity? What about “lesser” sins – like lack of libido, value systems gone awry, money problems, or being work obsessed?
And if the issue of your peccadilloes comes up in conversation, do transgressions in your twenties matter when you’re in your forties? Must prior offenses in love carry over into something new? What if you find yourself faced with a disclosure that comes out of left field?
Do you believe in confessionals – even of trivial transgressions – a white lie, a minor misjudgment, a moment of meanness?
Psychology Today speaks to the everyday resentments that routinely build in long-term relationships. After all, who can air each potential grievance that may occur, and talk it out immediately? Don’t we all tiptoe through contextual reasons (and excuses) for our own faults, and those we observe in others?
The article describes everyday resentment as:
a perception of unfairness for not getting the expected help, recognition, appreciation, consideration, praise, reward, or affection.
I believe we carry unrealistic expectations into relationship and frequently find fault where it doesn’t exist, or blow small incidents out of proportion. But I also suspect that when we’re sexually attracted (or feeling needy?), we bend the other way, discounting problematic patterns – peccadilloes that stand as significant indicators of differing values, divergent goals, or disrespect in relationships.
Personally, I’m not looking to ferret out any deep-seated dramas on a first date, or even a second. But I will seek to understand why a marriage ended if I’m sitting across the table from a divorced man. I will also be attentive to character clues – not sins, exactly, but warning lights flashing “caution.”
I’m still learning to speak my mind when something concerns me – diplomatically, appropriately, in a timely fashion – if I can. I don’t want resentments to build in a relationship, and I do believe that communication is key – along with maintaining rational expectations.
- Do you know your own peccadilloes – and excuse them?
- Do you dislike faults in others that you recognize and accept in yourself?
- Are mistakes in your youth more forgivable than mistakes when you’re older?
- Do you expect a degree of performance perfection from others that is unreasonable?
- When meeting someone for potential romance, do you look to their past for clues to your future?