How Your Dating Checklist is Keeping You Single

How Your Dating Checklist is Keeping You Single

A little while ago, a Doctor took an original approach to dating and wound up on CNN because of it. He also found himself the hated target of girl-blogs everywhere. What did he do? He made a list.

Oh, it wasn’t just any list: it was a dating checklist. Now’s the time when you can protest “but everyone does that. I do that!”. Yes, but what this guy did was produce a list of requirements for his future snuggle bunny which was so specific, so impossible, it became the laughing stock of all who saw it. If they weren’t laughing, they were calling him names (“douchebag” seems to be the most popular).

The Famous List-to-End-All-Lists

Here are a few choice tidbits from his now-famous list:

1. skinny- dress size 0-2 (very skinny)

2. no kids but wants them in exactly 1-2 years

3. not black, not Hispanic, not Asian

4. no smoking

5. no drugs

6. no hard drinking

7. good diet

8. age 27-35

Now, keep in mind our good doctor stated that he was absolutely not flexible with these requirements.

Here are the preferred characteristics- not required.

• Christian

• Graduate degree or very good undergraduate

• Spent significant time overseas or born overseas

• Likes animals

Finally, there’s a third-tier set of qualities our list-maker would like to see in his future partner:

• Attractive (an “8” but not a 9 or a 10…and not a 7 or lower. Just an “8”)

• Nice

• Normal

• Stylish

• Hard-working

• Real career, full-time job, achievement-oriented

• Highly functional Type B (not a Type A and not a Type B)

• Easy going

• Never does bad things

• Good family

• From a nuclear family

Well That’s it, Girls- Any Takers?

Yup, it’s just one big joke, isn’t it? What was this guy thinking? Is he some hermit, unaware of what the real world is like, stuck in his dark cave somewhere out of touch with reality? Has he ever met a real woman? Where does one even start, with the ridiculousness…

The contradictions: size 0, real career and easy going? Good luck!!

The impossible: normal, never does bad things

The too-specific: Not type A, not Type B…only “highly functional Type B”

The uncontrollable: from a nuclear family

The subjective: stylish

So, yuk it up, ladies, this guy is obviously a fool! No wonder he has to offer free cosmetic surgery (that’s his profession) to anyone who can get him a date (“third date = $300 or free botox”).

Before you laugh too loudly, however, take a look around you. “Dating checklists” are everywhere- you may even have one. Consider this: could your very own personal dating checklist seem just as ridiculous as the unfortunate surgeon’s?

Laugh at Mr. Picky, But Not Too Loudly

This is a good time to mention that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks. Chances are, you’ve made your own list. Chances are, there are items on your “man list” that are equally contradicting, impossible, too specific, uncontrollable or subjective.

A Few Choice Items From the Web

Sure enough, with only a few seconds of your basic internet browsing you can find examples of all these types of list problems. Here’s a good one:

• must have an athletic body (like a soccer player’s build)

• must not be a gym rat

Seriously, just search on those phrases and you’ll find it too. How, on God’s green earth, can a guy end up with a soccer player’s physique without spending a major portion of each week at a gym? Bodies like that don’t just appear naturally (ever seen a soccer player’s leg? gargantuan). Leg muscles like that require at the very least 4 trips per week to the gym, which pretty much qualifies as gym rat status.

Here’s another “dating checklist”, snatched up from the wilds of the Internet:

• Fancy Toys

• Sensitive

• Stable Job

• Jet Setter

• Loves his Mom

• Athletic

OK not bad but “jet setter”? What does that mean- lots of travel? Travel in style? Spends lots of money on travel? Is it possible that the person who made this list doesn’t even know?

“Fancy Toys” …is that just a cryptic way of saying “Rich”? If not, then you’re asking for a guy who’s bad with finances…spending money you don’t have on “fancy toys” is pretty darn stupid if you don’t have tons of extra cash.

Here’s another one that may have a hidden meaning: “Sensitive”. Again, that’s vague. What it really means is a guy who will put up with anything a girl throws at him. What is really means is “submissive”.

Some more good ones:

• must have good manners

• must have gone to an ivy league school

These two are downright snobbery in action, although very common. There’s even an ivy league dating platform for incurable snobs.

Now this is an interesting collection:

• must be willing to bake cookies with me

• must say “I love you” often

• must be able to slow dance with me

• must watch love story movies with me

• must take a bubble bath with me

• must go on a Starbucks date

• must learn Origami

• must learn to play piano with me

To whomever wrote this list: do you want to date a man or yourself? Because if any man fit this list, he’d either be gay or a girl. Seriously, you can’t ask a man to go to Starbucks if he doesn’t want to…or any other of these girly things. Are you trying to emasculate your potential new boyfriend? These activities are little girly things that many men simply do not want to do. Ever.

Finally, there’s a Social Media checklist for potential dates, which goes something like this:

He must have lots of Facebook friends. But not too many (1,000 would be too many).

He must not be following too many Twitter accounts owned by girls under 20.

He must not be chatting with other girls on any social media platform.

Does this one even deserve analyzing? The number of Facebook friends a guy has is about as relevant as well…it’s just not relevant. The Twitter thing might be more the to point- it’s kind of a red flag is he’s following tons of teenage girls..unless he’s very young himself.

Here’s the Problem With Lists

Sometimes we get too wrapped up in creating dating checklists- what starts out as a list of standards becomes a full-blown fantasy. Spend too long dreaming about Mr. Right, and you’ve officially exited Reality. You’ve crossed a line and now you’re standing with our unfortunate surgeon, the laughing stock of the internet. Now you’re Ms. Picky, Ms. Unrealistic, Ms. Never Happy.

Not only are you dreaming up an incredibly narrow set of standard which, with every additional bullet point becomes less plausible, you’re also moving into the superficial category. Sure, you want to date a guy who’s fully employed- but he also must be 6 feet tall? Being employed is a sign of lots of desirable characteristics (smart, dependable, grown-up, stable, etc). But being 6 foot tall is something nobody can control, and has very little to do with a man’s personality, his outlook on life, or his future.

Would you want to be chucked off someone’s list simply because you had small breasts?

If you have a dating checklist, look it over right now. Betcha there’s at least one item there which would qualify as superficial. Here are some more examples, just in case you need some help on this one:

Examples of Superficial Things on a Dating Checklist:



brown eyes

good dancer

low voice

college degree

Get the picture?

Here’s the Other Problem With Dating Checklists

One of the great joys in life is the little surprises it brings us. Nothing makes us wonder more about our place in the Galaxy than when strange, unexpected, wonderful things happen to us.

One prime example of this is falling in love when you least expect it.

If your list is causing you to miss out on this type of serendipity that life gifts to us every so often, then you need to change some things- fast. So many happy, long-term marriages have been made between two people who never ever ever would have dated on paper.

Women (and men)fall in love every day with people who don’t even come close to anything resembling their dream guy. By drawing up a list that’s too long, too specific and too superficial, you’re potentially cutting yourself off from love.

In other words, your list is backfiring badly! Instead of assisting your hunt for Mr. Right, it’s causing you to miss him completely.

The “Dating Checklist” Came From a Good Place

Dating Checklists didn’t start off so bad. The original idea was to help women who had a history of putting up with terrible guys. Things like “has a job” and “he’s not psychopathic” or “he doesn’t have women issues” were supposed to be featured on such lists.

Somewhere along the way, women started putting way too much effort into their lists, and began creating Mr. Impossible. You know, there’s a funny image circulating on the web- it features a skeleton all dressed up with her heels and purse, waiting on a park bench. It looks like she’s been there so long she simply dried up and became a skeleton. Know what the caption says?

Waiting…for the perfect man.

By creating the perfect man on paper, we’re creating an impossible set of criteria for the poor boys or men who do find themselves unlucky enough to cross your path in the dating scene. Ease up, ladies, or you’ll never be happy.

Some of Us Do Really Need a List

Now, for those of us who DO need a list…here’s what’s up. Women who need a dating checklist are women who have trouble setting any type of standards at all for themselves. These are women who really need lessons in self-esteem and common sense.

Keep dating derelicts? Then yes, make yourself a dating checklist. Keep attracting emotional wrecks who need years of therapy before anyone should date them? The yes, make yourself a list. Here are a few more reasons to make a dating checklist:

Acceptable Reasons for Having a Dating Checklist

you have a history of dating guys who take advantage of you in some way

you usually date just about anyone (so, yes maybe it’s time for some standards)

you’re now sober, formerly not sober…so you should date sober guys

you’re attracted to the wrong guys for the wrong reasons- make a list and get therapy!

you have a history of dating on a very specific type of guy, so in this case you’re using a list to expand your horizons rather than limit them

Here’s The Only Thing You Should Have on Your List

Now that we’ve warned you about the dangers of keeping a checklist of the perfect man, you may have culled the list so much that you’re left with no list at all. No problem- here we’re giving you back a few items to look for when you’re looking for Mr. Right.

Here’s what you should have on your list:

Must be emotionally stable (i.e. ready for a real relationship)

Must have interest in life, or a passion

Must be reliable (i.e. honest, loyal)

Must be kind (yup, that’s vague but it’s a good one)

The Final Word on Lists

Lists, whether they be for dating prospects, morning routines, or your workout week, are just tools. They’re simply there to remind us of what we already know. They keep us motivated, on track, or organized.

The point of a dating checklist isn’t to limit your options and shut out men who could be wonderful matches for you. The point of a list is that you have some standards, and every woman is at a different level, as far as her own standards go.

So, a word of advice when you’re contemplating your ideal man and writing it all down in a list: simply don’t! Open yourself to serendipity, life’s surprises, and that guy who doesn’t fit your old list but who just might be The One.

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