On January 15, 2009, I started a blog with my friend Dave about all the reasons not to date someone. On September 28, 2010, Dealbreaker: The Definitive List of Dating Offenses was released. On March 30, 2013, I got married.
Now, for our readers, with whom I have so carefully curated an anti-love arsenal, I owe you a story. A happy ending. And perhaps some perspective on the whole dating thing. It’s bleak, I know. I was single for like four years (and cheated on for two years prior) before meeting my husband. I had every reason to be cynical, as I’m sure you do. It’s rough out there, it’s really fucking rough. Dealbreakers feel empowering. Instead of worrying about why you might not choose to date me, I’m going to not choose you first. And I had a list long enough to fill a blog and a book about why I wouldn’t want to be with you.
I met my husband in March of 2009. He wore (and still wears) athletic sneakers with jeans. His headboard was (and still is) a mirrored panther that he found on the street. He was (and still is) a very skilled rollerblader. On paper, or more ironically, the paper that filled the book I wrote about people I don’t want to date, he was all wrong. He had a beach towel of three thong’d butts hanging over his couch for christ’s sake! It’s like something out of a bad sitcom (or a very good sitcom that Dave and I wrote). But for some reason, and nobody was surprised more than me, I didn’t care. And then I started to realize some dealbreakers about myself.
I ate chocolate chips for dinner and didn’t do my taxes. My power would get shut off because I hated to check my mail and never paid the bills. I love the Real Housewives franchise and I’ve thrown dishes away instead of washing them. More than once. These aren’t great qualities in a potential wife, and I’m not petite enough to play the manic pixie dream girl card. It dawned one me: I was undateable and I didn’t even know it. And I didn’t know it because neither of us cared. We enjoyed each others flaws, and we liked that we made each other better.
So I scrubbed his dirty bathtub and he took my car in for it’s first oil change in years. I got him a new couch and he made me eat vegetables. He listed the headboard on craigslist (“PRICE 250 FIRM”), and it’s still in our bedroom. I still watch Real Housewives; he watches them with me.
I didn’t do anything special to find my happy ending, and a lot of it probably has to do with luck. But if you’re single and don’t want to be, I know it’s easy to get caught up on the superficial stuff. Don’t let those little things (like how he cuts his own hair and puts the hair in the toilet but then doesn’t want to flush it because he doesn’t want to waste water so it looks like a pube monster) distract you from someone’s character, or authenticity, or good heart, or sense of humor. We could probably have boiled down the whole blog to “Dealmaker: You’re Awesome.” That’s all that matters. Someone who is awesome, even with their flaws, who doesn’t pay too much attention to yours.
And if anyone is looking to buy a mirrored panther headboard, the price is $250 firm.
I really love that this story includes a mirrored panther headboard. Which feels like a metaphor I can get behind.
I don’t think getting married has a ton to do with what do you or don’t do well (I mean honestly, all sorts of dummies and assholes get married all the time, while some amazing, Oprah-Magazine-cover-worthy men and women end up dating jerk after jerk. Smug marrieds have nothing to be smug over but good timing, a lot of luck and hopefully being a decent enough human being that someone thinks “yeah, I could wake up next to you for the next lifetime or so.” You didn’t necessarily DO anything to get here; you won a lottery. So don’t get too self satisfied.), but I LOVE the idea of relaxing into greater grace and humility in a good relationship, and cranking your head around to take a second look at your own dealbreakers.
Marrying a guy who fairly regularly imagines aloud what accents and intonations animals would have if they could speak and dances inappropriately at formal events and yes, wears tennis shoes with jeans, is the single best decision I have ever made. I’m so glad I didn’t end up with a Perfectly Poised guy. Because somewhere along the way I realized I’m the lucky one — because he doesn’t make me feel schlubby for wearing sweatpants to bed instead of lingerie, or dumb for wanting to see This is 40 before Beasts of the Southern Wild. He humors me when I’m bossy and add parsley to our morning smoothies (the worst) and nag incessantly about what time he should leave for work and why violent video games are killing his heart. He doesn’t mind that I wear flip flops instead of heels, have an inevitably soft belly and could care less about sports (but love sports bras!) or being a lady.