It has occurred to me recently that some of my standards are rather off the norm. For example, I find myself dating a disproportionate number of fixer-uppers, people who are still getting over troubled pasts, people who trail hurt and disappointment behind them like a bouquet of deflated balloons.
I don't see warning signs the way other people do. He used to shoot heroin? That's interesting. My Chicagofriend snorted cocaine once, through a hundred-dollar bill, off the breasts of his girlfriend, the porn star, the one he dumped to date me the second time.** That's interesting, too.
And the thing is, Chicagofriend is someone I greatly admire. He's got his shit together. But he has stories. He has a checkered past, legally, romantically, etc. We went to high school together until the time he put a bomb on a school bus and got taken away in handcuffs. And so when I meet someone with stories like that, I'm not alarmed. I've known amazing people with stories.
The problem is that not everyone is Chicagofriend. Some people are sad-balloon people, but I don't see it. And when I start to see it I'm so busy understanding and not judging that I still don't see the balloons.
When I tell people that I broke up with my boyfriend, they ask how he took it. And I think, he's miserable. But he didn't threaten me with a knife. That's something, right? Because my fiancée did that once. I think he wanted to be someone who might do something drastic more than he actually wanted to hurt anyone. But he had a knife and he was sobbing and hysterical and I was scared. This is the standard I judge breakups by.
*A real competition at the Iowa State Fair.
**And, by the way, he dumped a porn star to date me. I should remember that more often.