Please, Put Down Your Dating Checklist Already


A Christian woman discusses how to keep from settling, yet still be open minded.

Lists: we all have them.

For some, it is a mental list tucked inside their brains of the things they quietly hope to find in a future romantic partner. For others, it is a physical checklist they've been compiling over the course of their dating lives, a masterpiece of sorts that becomes more specific and detailed as the years go by. Take for example, the list generated by a young blogger named Jessica Doyle. It's titled "What I'm Looking For in a Man," and it features 129 qualities—starting with intelligence, and moving quickly into the ever-important world of computer preferences. She wants a guy who uses Macs, as opposed to PCs. She wants him to be five foot ten, or taller. She wants him to have full lips, to be in shape and out of debt, to love his family and friends.

Many relationship experts and dating websites advise people to make similar lists so they might understand exactly what they are looking for in a mate. The goal, perhaps, is to add a bit of logic to an otherwise illogical process of falling for someone, and a little logic never hurt anyone, right?

But what happens when even the lists become illogical? What happens when they become, dare I say it, unrealistic? Narcissistic? Larger than life? When the lists start bearing an eerie resemblance to those Build-A-Bear Workshops in the mall—only, instead of building toys, you're building fake human beings inside your head—fake human beings that you hope and pray actually do exist because THIS is what you want and expect, and the more you think about it, you just won't settle for less!

Because nobody wants to settle. And nobody especially wants to be seen as the type of person who settles, because those people are kind of pathetic, if you're really being honest. Those are the people who have given up on life—given up on their dreams. No, you do not want to become that person.

If you're a Christian, this burden of not settling carries an extra weight because settling is seen as indirectly proportional to faith. The common Christian narrative claims that true faith exists when we settle for nothing less than "God's best for us." However, pinpointing what exactly that is can be a bit tricky sometimes, and I would argue that even for non-Christians, what we think we want and need is not always what's best for us. In fact, holding too tightly to an idea of what our lives should look like can often be debilitating and actually keep us from finding happiness.

As important as it is to have standards and self-respect when choosing a mate, it is equally important to recognize how your steadfast adherence to lists may be more of a hindrance than anything else. 3 Mistakes You May Make When Looking For Love

When I consider the millions of single people in this world who are searching for love, yet never able to find the right person, it makes me wonder if those lists don't have something to do with it. Are all of these lists and the fantasies they create actually keeping us from happiness? Have we given them too much control? Have they made us far too picky and narrowly focused?

When I first considered these questions, my initial thought was that being picky might be a newer phenomenon—a generational thing, so I asked my mom if she or any of the women she knew in the 1970s ever had lists of the qualities they wanted in a man. She told me she didn't, and that she'd never heard of such a thing—even when she thought back to all the young, single women that worked in her office. None of them had lists. None of them were overly specific.

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