Just read a post on Dooce about relationship deal-breakers, and I can safely say that my dating history is a vivid testimony to the fact that you can have too few. I have friends who spent the better part of two decades slapping their foreheads and saying to each other, "What is she thinking?" when they met my boyfriends. Well, I was lonely. I wanted to get laid. These are horrible, terrible reasons for dating someone, and they are at the top of my advice list to my daughters when they reach dating age, but I was a sloooow learning in the dating department and accumulated more than my share of painful, awkward, stone-stupid moments in my quest for Mr. Right. Here are a few:
1. I, too, dated a Handyman. He was the son of my doctor, who set us up, and if you don't think THAT's wierd--having a boyfriend's father who has already peeked at your nether regions--well, you just don't know what weird is. Mr. Handyman was nice, and gave me a flashlight on our first date. I think we went out three times. What can I say? It was just too weird to last.
2. Then there was the guy who, after an argument, went into my bathroom, raked my nail file across his wrists enough to get a little blood flowing, and then announced that he would die before he would live without me (or some melodramatic pronouncement to that effect). I dated him for several months after that. Yes. I know.
3. The psychologist who grabbed my hand as I was gnawing on a thumbnail during a movie--this was our first date--and said, "Don't do that" and then couldn't for the life of him figure out why I never wanted to see him again. Operating principle: You can slit your wrists in my bathroom, just don't tell me not to chew my nails.
4. The sweet Jewish guy who told me on our first date that he was was willing to talk about marriage providing I converted to Orthodox Judaism, where I'd keep kosher and have a ritual bath every month after my period was over so we could resume having sex. Which, mind you, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with. But I was raised a Southern Fundamentalist, and the culture warp this represented, not to mention the thought of our families in the same room, threatened to fry my synapses like a mess o' squirrel brains. Plus: first date??
5. The genius writer who slapped me around, cut me off from my friends, routinely humiliated me in public and once threw a public tantrum because he had caught a band member in a nightclub looking at me. (My eyes were closed at the time; I was sleepy.) Operating principle: you can slap me around, humiliate and isolate me, but DON'T, goddamn it, tell me not to chew my nails.
Finally, like an alcoholic, I reached a point where I realized that my dating life was out of control, that I couldn't fix it, and I asked for help from a Higher Power: i.e., a dating service. Here I rapidly learned that a) the Washington, D.C. metro area is full, I mean FULL, of approaching-retirement civil servants who have ditched Wife #1 and are look for a newer model; b) most of them live at least 40 miles outside the Beltway; and c) they really think they can get away with lying about their age and weight. This was an old-fashioned dating service (Internet dating was still in its infancy), and the way it worked was that after I'd signed up and put my profile in their books, anybody who saw your profile and was interested in you would tell the dating service, which would then send you a cheery little postcard in the mail that said, "Somebody wants to meet you!" The first time this happened I schlepped down the road to the dating service office, opened the book to my admirer's profile number, and was greeted with a 60ish looking guy with a combover and a truly enormous beer gut, whose profile said he weighed 180. (Yeah, but which half?) Another time, I was leafing through the book, looking for a particular number, happened to see a really odd picture and thought, "Well, thank God, at least it's not the guy in the Star Trek costume." Oh, yes it was the guy in the Star Trek costume.
Finally, after I'd gotten completely jaded, I got one more card in the mail, put off going to see who it was for a week or so and finally went down to take a look--expecting, maybe, a Klingon this time. When I saw the picture my first thought was, "This guy is much too handsome to have a Ph.D." (the old "nobody good looking has any brains" bias, though usually it gets applied to women). The second thing I noticed was that he was five years younger. My third thought was: "Too young and too good-looking to be interested in me. There must be some mistake."
He was my first dating service date; I was his second. Exactly one year later, we got married. Today, after 12 years and two kids, he still puts up with me and my manifold neuroses. And he's still better looking.