Every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of the thin, thin line that divides bliss from catastrophy. Last night, a girl I dated a few years ago came up in conversation, and was I ever happy to still be single! “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass,” says Alma. If you’re not careful, small and simple things can bring terrible things to pass too.

One such thing is the small and simple difference between being fun and interesting, and being a raving lunatic. Or at least mildly psychotic. In normal reality, it’s usually not too hard to tell the difference. The problem arises when you meet a psycho, hit it off, and start dating before you’ve had the chance to figure it out. Once the hormones kick in, the line starts to get mighty thin and difficult to see.

That’s what had happened with the girl I’d dated. She had some unique and entertaining quirks that made her a lot of fun to be around. What I didn’t see at first was that in the serious parts of a relationship that happen between the fun, the quirks were still there, but they weren’t quite so entertaining. Fortunately, she went home for the summer before things got too serious, and when we got back together in the fall, I caught a glimpse of that thin, thin line before going all the way blind again. We lasted about two weeks, and then called it off.

In retrospect, I should have seen it all along. Without going into detail, there were a few things about her that, if I’d sat down and thought about the long view of things, I would have known would lead to trouble. I’m definitely becoming an advocate of taking stock of what one wants in a spouse, and figuring out beforehand where and how much one is willing to compromise–not that you need to hold out for the absolute, 100% perfect dreamboat–but you do need to know your limits.