Should You Have A Dating Checklist?


I have one, and I’m not about to toss it.

While we are single in our twenties, most of us are still holding on to the dream of finding the perfect guy, having the perfect wedding, and creating the perfect family. By the time we reach our thirties, we recognize the reality: relationships are difficult, and they require work and compromise. Nothing about it will be perfect.

Upon this realization, the set of single women seemingly splits into two groups: the ones who can make significant compromises in order to be married, and the ones who can not.

I was in a very long relationship when I was younger. And as I became an adult, the relationship didn’t fit me anymore. I began to develop my career, I found self-confidence, and I realized that I should be happier. I didn’t know what else was out there, but I had to look. I knew I could be happier than I was in that relationship.

And so it began, the search for that one person. The one.

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I didn’t start with a dating checklist. I didn’t really know what I was looking for. But as I met and dated different guys, I learned what worked for me and what didn’t. I started to recognize the patterns, but still I was afraid to restrict my focus. After all, I heard time and time again, “Be open.” So, I was.

I went on dates with guys I didn’t feel attracted to, hoping the feeling would change. It didn’t. I went on dates with guys I thought were a little boring, hoping I’d uncover some hidden excitement. I didn’t. And I went on dates with guys whose worlds were very different from mine, hoping I’d find some comfort. I didn’t.

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The real struggle for me occurred before I came to the realization that relationships are difficult. I just kept seeing everyone pair up, and I thought, “Why not me?” I tried being open, but I knew I didn’t belong with any of those guys.

Today, it’s no longer a struggle. I realize that I’m the kind of woman who can’t compromise on the important things I’m looking for in a partner, or in a relationship. I know what I’m attracted to, what I find interesting, and what feels like home to me. I know what I think a relationship should be, and how it should make me feel. Although it’s not all written on paper, I most certainly have a checklist. And I’m not willing to toss it.

Some will say I’m looking for too much, or that I’m being picky. But I don’t think we should judge each other on how we choose our partners. We can only decide for ourselves what will make us feel fulfilled in life, relationships or otherwise.

So, should you have a dating checklist? Yes, you should. It should be a list of all the important things you’re looking for, the ones on which you cannot compromise. The list may change over time, but it should always represent your true needs. (And nothing more!)

Forever is a very long time. I don't think there’s anything wrong with holding out for what you really want in a life-long relationship. And in the meantime, enjoy the many freedoms you have being single!

@RebeccaAMarquis is the author of How to Be a Good Boyfriend: 34 ways to keep her from getting annoying, jealous, or crazy, and offers dating humor and advice on her new Facebook page: facebook.com/RebeccaAMarquis.