Like many people who have been fruitlessly dating for well over a decade, I am deeply and profoundly tired of it. I saw a tweet a few months back that captured my feelings on the matter pretty accurately: “Dating at 25: is this person the one?? Dating at 35: just hope he ruins my life in an interesting way.”
I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when my feelings transitioned from the former to the latter, but somewhere along the line, I began dwelling on an idea: What if everyone had a binder, filled with everything that’s wrong with them?
Think about it! No more wondering when the other person’s flaws will finally seep like sweat from their pores. (Maybe that’s it! Maybe they’re really sweaty, and you met them in the winter so you wouldn’t know.) No more wondering if they’re compulsive liars or murderers or dislike dogs or are allergic to something inconvenient, like watermelon! It’d all be right there, in the binder. Your only task would be to determine whether these flaws are deal breakers, or sufficiently minor that you’d like to keep on truckin’.
It’s not like you’d be forced to look at anyone’s binder, nor could anyone force you to hand yours over, either. Etiquette of some sort would emerge eventually, I’m sure. Maybe you ask for the binder after a week of dating someone. Maybe you ask for it after a month. Maybe you never get to the binders at all, because you believe in fate and love and other intangibles that my brain has long since crushed under a relentless tsunami of cynicism.
I realize not everyone is as ruthlessly systematic as it would seem I am. On Friday night, I pitched the idea of the binder to my friend Kristen as we knocked back overpriced Coronas in a bar designed to look like a trailer park. Outside, frigid rain shot like bullets from the angry sky. Kristen is set to be married later this month, and as we waited for her fiancé, Joe, to join us, I told her how beneficial I thought such a tool would be.
“But that’s the thing about relationships,” she said. “By the time those things reveal themselves, you’re already in it. The bad traits sort of melt away into the overall picture of who the person is.”
That’s beautiful, but also: No. Why squander months, and, in some cases, years of our lives entangled with people who inevitably turn out to be narcissists or sociopaths or home kombucha brewers? Certainly there’s a better way!
What do you think? Binder, or nah?