Is Your Checklist Getting Too Long?

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It’s a fact that most of us have checklists describing the qualities of our ideal mate.

I’m not going to say whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m just going to acknowledge that it’s real. When you’ve been on the planet for close to 40 years, you probably have a pretty good idea about what you’re looking for in a man.

I don’t blame you for a second, and I’m not going to tell you which things you should give up in order to find the man of your dreams.

What I will do today is illustrate to you how even your simplest list of non-negotiable dealbreakers is the very thing that is keeping you from finding love.

Take it from a guy who has a pretty high sense of self-esteem and wanted a woman who was his equal and more: holding onto the idea of a person prevents you from seeing the real person inside.

Even though I’m not a big advocate of lists, I think an ideal mate checklist can be a useful exercise and teaching tool. But because I don’t want you to work too hard, I’m going to make your list for you. Please forgive me if I get a few things wrong. I’m a guy, after all. 🙂

Even when you’re getting 17 out of 18 of your needs met, you’ll pick the ONE that makes you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

You want a man who is:

Attractive
Honest
Intelligent
Kind
Funny
Financially Stable

This is entirely normal. Then again, you probably ALSO want a man who is:

Loyal
Family-oriented
Sexy
Generous
Interesting
Confident

Solid list, huh? Except the list gets longer when you really think about it…

Fit
Chivalrous
Charming
Ambitious
Tall
Creative

You like the fictional person that we’re putting together? I sure do.

I want to be him for Halloween.

In case you’re wondering, there is nothing wrong with this list.

Except that it can keep going and going and going. For each quality you add, there’s another justifiable reason that a man is not suited for you.

Maybe he’s got 17 out of 18 qualities, except he’s…

Not close with family. That’s a big one. After all, you’re tight with yours and you think it’s strange that he doesn’t enjoy spending time with his brothers every Thanksgiving.

Not funny. The ability to laugh is paramount, isn’t it? And even though this guy is perfect in every other way, that’s not something you can live without.

Not confident. He’s an amazing guy, but he just tries so damn hard to please that you can’t even respect him. If he just grew a pair, he’d be perfect!

Not tall. You can’t go out with a guy you can literally see eye-to-eye with. No matter how amazing he is. It just doesn’t make you feel feminine or turned-on.

Not sexy. You know what it’s like to feel lust and you just don’t feel it with him. You can’t go the rest of your life without that chemical rush.

We can continue, of course, but I think you see the point. It’s not that any of these desires are unimportant. It’s that, no matter what, you’re ALWAYS going to find a deal breaker.

Even when you’re getting 17 out of 18 of your needs met, you’ll pick the ONE that makes you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

End of relationship. Back to the drawing board.

Does this resonate with you? Do you always find fault in the men you’re dating and dream that somewhere out there is a man who gives you everything on your ever-expanding list?

If so, join the crowd.

My 60-year-old, twice divorced client, Katherine, did the same thing for many years.

She’d most recently had her heart broken by a charming, but commitment-phobic man from Match.com, and she turned to me for guidance through the dating process.

I quickly wrote her a new profile and started getting her more responses.

Next thing she knew, she had a bunch of options from quality men.

Do you always find fault in the men you’re dating and dream that somewhere out there is a man who gives you everything on your ever-expanding list?

One guy even reminded her of the heartbreaker.

They went out once. He said he’d call her again.

He didn’t.

But this other man did.

He wasn’t the most compelling candidate in the bunch, but he just kept asking her out.

Every time my client would go on a date with him, she would have fun. And then she’d complain on the phone that he wasn’t what she was looking for.

A sample of our conversation:

“He’s 5’7”. I’m 5’7”. And I like to wear boots so that doesn’t work for me.”

Okay, I told her. What else doesn’t work for you?

“He’s not exactly the rugged type. That’s what I’m attracted to. Men who can work with their hands. Fix things around the house. Saddle up a horse. You know, manly men.”

Got it. Apart from those two things, how is he? Is he cute? Is he thoughtful? Does he make an effort to see you? Does he have the same values as you? Can he keep up with your upscale lifestyle?

“Yes. Yes, to all of those things. He’s actually pretty great. It’s just — he’s not what I’m looking for. He’s not my type.”

Which guys are your types?

“My two ex-husbands. And the Match.com guy who broke my heart.”

Do you see a pattern there?

“Maybe. So what do you think I should do? I can’t help what I’m attracted to.”

No, but you can help the choices you make. Instead of investing your energy in another charismatic Marlboro man with a lot of money and a wandering eye, keep seeing this new guy and getting to know him. Maybe you’ll find that being tall and handy isn’t as important as you think it is.

One month later, Katherine had made her decision.

Her new boyfriend would meet her children and they’d all take a trip to Portugal together.

This is one of my favorite success stories because the solution was so simple.

Drop the checklist. Give this amazing guy a chance.

You can do the same.

You’re so close to having that relationship you truly desire. Time to make it happen.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Jennifer

    Laura, I’m curious about why you won’t have sex until his house is built. Do you mean until you move in with him there?

  2. 22
    Laura

    He doesn’t want to move forward with sex until his house is finished.     He is staying at his mom’s house since his house burned down last winter.     I have my house which was my marital home, my teen daughter lives with me.     My house has never been home to me, I bonded with the land, not the house.     I understand  this man  not wanting to make love to me in my ex’s bedroom, that’s the kind of man he is.

    Meanwhile, we make out for hours.   First it was in the hay barn listening to the rain on the tin roof.   We kept getting interrupted by hired hands, hay customers and even his mother.   (teenage flashback!) Then his greenhouse, but his cat got jealous and obnoxious.     There are walls and a roof on his house, we make out in the kitchen, the bedroom or the living room.   WE GET INTERRUPTED THERE!

    It isn’t all making out, either.   We walk across the meadow to the river, talk to the cows, inspect the experimental trees, watch  the ducks, eagles, elk, raccoons  and enjoy the peace.     He is most content in  his house with his arms around me looking out the window openings seeing another calf be born.   We talk and we laugh and I tell him how scared I am sometimes.

    He has said things that lead me to believe he will be asking me to live at his farm in his house.   When I ask, “Huh?”   He says, “Nothing.”     He hasn’t asked me yet and I don’t know how I will answer.   I don’t know if it will be a marriage proposal or a shack up offer.   It’s his in his time.     The only thing  concrete he has said is there is more when the house is finished.

    All I know is the most romantic time in my life is with him.   His smile lights up my world and he just glows.     He does it for me, he can make me beg for it and no other men are willing to do that.   I love him loving on me and I trust him enough to let him love me.   I trust him to be the man in this relationship.   He wants to wait for the house.   We’ll wait for the house.

  3. 23
    J.A.

    @Nia and Helene:

    No offense but your posts reek of arrogance.   I don’t know how old these guys were that couldn’t get/stay hard or finish but that sort of thing is fairly normal, and I don’t think it’s a alpha male/beta male issue.   I’m sure Evan would agree with me here…it’s funny how all this pressure is on us men to perform and get and keep it up and the women have no pressure at all and can just lay there and be critics.   Sex is a 2-way street.   It’s not a performer/judge situation.   Maybe that’s why a lot of guys have trouble getting it up the first couple oftimes with a new girl because the girl is judging his performance rather than just having a good time.   I’ll admit it- when I first started having sex with my current gf, the first couple times I had ‘performance’ issues, but they stopped because she’s a nice girl and non-judgemental and didn’t make me feel bad about it.   Now we have a great sex life and neither of us have any complaints;)   I bet if given the chance I can do more things in bed than any of these ‘alpha males’ you love.   Most ‘alpha males’ when you break them down are actually insecure and not ‘manly.’

  4. 24
    RH

    @J.A.- Amen Brother!!!!

  5. 25
    Annie

    @25

    I tend to agree with your alpha male comment. They actually do come across as insecure to me…at least the ones that seem overtly “alpha”. It’s the quiet confident ones, that show their vulnerabilities…those are the real lions underneath 🙂

    And yes, a little less harsh judgement on the erection concerns. What if you couldn’t relax enough to have an orgasm the first couple of times for some reason? What if a man said “Oh she isn’t sexual because she can’t orgasm on demand…NEXT”…

    I hear of men making similar comments. If a woman won’t put out, or go off like a freight train straight away, she must have sexual issues. It’s like there are  all these damaged people, judging the next encounter even more ferociously than the last…damn  defense mechanisms 🙁

  6. 26
    Jennifer

    Laura #24
    Thank you for coming back to clarify

  7. 27
    hunter

    J.A., You are right, most women don’t know how to keep us up…..and longer in bed…..

  8. 28
    Laura

    We all want sex, but jumping into sex before any trust and intimacy is established is going to cause performance anxiety for the man.     I believe men need trust and intimacy too, unless they’re ass clowns performing only for themselves.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

  9. 29
    Gem

    Helene has a good point in #5:

    I need a man I can ADMIRE in order to really fall for him, and I just couldn’t admire this man, with his tupperware and his towels.

    I think many if not most women want to feel this way about their man.

    So whatever the personal qualities are, of any given man, which allows a woman to fall for him doesn’t matter, so long as compatible people find each other.

    But I’m with Helene, I just couldn’t fall for said man either. His difficulty with his erections is just one small piece. The towels on the bed, the crying at the drop of a hat, the coddling of the cat. Just not enough masculine energy for me (not even close). And plenty of masculine energy isn’t something I’m ever crossing off my list.

    But hey, there’s a lid for every pot and he’ll find a woman perfect for him just the way he is.

  10. 30
    J.A.

    Thank you Laura…I agree.

  11. 31
    Nia

    JA – I *clearly* pushed a button for you… And you made it clear why…. My apologies, it was not my intention to offend. I would appreciate if you went easy on the judgement though – in all 4 cases I was very, *very* gentle when these men had issues – I do know how much of a sensitive issue it is for men (and women) – and so didn’t go stomping in there with size 11’s… I could have gotten annoyed, I could have made them feel inadequate/like there was something wrong with them, I could have turned it around on to me and gotten upset that they thought there was something wrong/unattractive about me… I could have. I didn’t. I reassued them it didn’t matter, I asked what they liked / turned them on, to the guy who said he liked things to go slow and build up, I spent two hours massaging him (non-sexually) and teasing and kissing, to the guy who said he liked head, I gave head, I reassured I was fine with just playing and not having actual sex, I patiently waited for the guy who wouldn’t ever acknowledge there was a problem to do so – and empathized /went along with each new excuse (I’m tired, I took painkillers earlier, I drank a beer…), to the nutrition guy I said I’d help them figure out ways to ‘naturally’ help through diet/supplements – then spent hours looking stuff up, at his request, only for him to then tell me he didn’t have time to read it… What I’m trying to point out here is I feel I put in my fair effort of trying… But each time to no avail… And my point was, in 15 years of dating (the last 14 of which I went for ‘alpha male’ types) this didn’t happen to me. Co-incidence? Possibly. Mean much? Possibly not. I’m gerting the impression you thought I was saying there was something awful about beta male types – I’m not – I’m genuinely trying to give them a go after fully accepting that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome rings true… But this is new to me, and I need a little reassurance too; that a life with a beta male is not going to lead to me feeling like I have to be his mamma and soothe him into wanting to have sex with me… Forgive me if that offends, I just feel it shouldn’t be like that.

  12. 32
    SS

    @Karl R 19
    If I want to discuss books, I’ll spend an afternoon with my buddies who have read many of the same books. It’s much easier than insisting that my fiancée share my taste in literature.
    If you’re taking evening classes, it makes you less available on weekday evenings. The classes enhance your career potential, but men date women, not résumés.
    I don’t care what clothes my fiancée wears. I’m more interested in seeing her without  them on.
    How does travel qualify as self-improvement? I see it as entertainment (just like playing sports or Nintendo). And unless you’re an exceptional storyteller, I’ll be just as bored listening to you talk about France as I will be listening to a guy talk about softball or Guitar Hero.
    It’s easy to see how you’re overpricing yourself. You’re taking a number of traits that have little or no value to men, and you’re placing a very high value on them.
    You know what a lot of men hear when you talk about being well-traveled? We  hear that you like to t$r$a$v$e$l. You’re not  increasing your apparent value  if a man  believes you’ll be draining his bank account with your hobbies.
      
    I’ve said this multiple times on this board (and others), but understanding the male mindset on this topic above probably made the biggest positive impact on my dating life.
      
    I’ve found that some of the worst advice that women give to each other in regards to dating is to fill up one’s schedule with activities. The idea is supposed to be that a man will love a woman who is full of energy and living life, rather than sitting around and waiting for “him.” While I do believe that men like a woman with a fulfilling life, that doesn’t mean he wants a potential partner to be involved in a million activities!
      
    No man has ever asked me if I had gourmet cooking skills. As long as I’m capable of putting a meal on the table (which could mean boiling pasta, heating up sauce from a can and microwaving some vegetables), then that’s good enough. Oh, and the men I dated were able to do the same.
      
    Men with a good sense of intellectual curiosity have liked that I have shown an interest in travel and have traveled in the past, but being “well-traveled” didn’t make me more of a catch to them. And no, they didn’t want to hear about my year in Spain/France/Portugal and see my photo albums, even if they had been to the same countries themselves!
      
    Clothing? Well, my husband likes it when I look nice when we go to a fancy event. Otherwise, as long as I have some decent-looking, flattering shirts, pants and skirts, he couldn’t care less about my wardrobe in general. When I did buy new clothes for dating purposes, I just went to JCPenney or an outlet and bought a few nice sweaters and skirts from a clearance rack. Not much of a major investment.
      
    And yes, I cut back on the activities once I realized that I was cancelling dates or unable to set dates in the first place because all of these supposedly self-improving activities actually took away from time I could have used to actually date! So I simply focused on one or two things that I liked to do and got rid of the excess activities that didn’t necessarily add value to my life (whether personally or in terms of my potential appeal to a mate), cut DOWN on solo or girlfriends travel and actually stayed around town more so I could have time to cultivate a relationship.
      
    To this day, I hear some of my male friends talking about a woman they know, find attractive and would consider dating, but she posts every single thing she does on Facebook and they say they don’t even know where they would fit into her life. One day it’s a political organizing meeting, the next day it’s a work-related “networking” social event, the next day it’s volunteer work, then it’s girls night out, then it’s a vacation, then yoga/pilates/zumba… you get the picture.

  13. 33
    SS

    Oh, and to address the actual post, the best advice I’ve heard about checklists is that “must-haves” or “dealbreakers” should be no more than three things. Others can fit in the “nice to have” list, but a potential partner shouldn’t automatically be eliminated because he doesn’t have one of the “nice to haves.”
      
    The man I married does not share my political views (and I used to make shared political views a “must have”), is not over 6′ (but he’s still much taller than me), is not “fit” (although nowhere remotely close to obese), is not “charming,” but is sweet, kind, honest and caring. The things I thought were super-important, I found in other men… and those relationships did not work.
      
    When I trimmed the checklist, I found myself falling in love with someone I probably would have rejected after the first date just a few years ago.

  14. 34
    Joe

    Amen, SS.   The ladies who Evan helps with his services seem to be generally older than 30, and barring cougar-hunters, most of the gents who are after ladies like that have been around the block themselves once or twice.   They’re usually not looking for someone who can cook better than they can, or who have been to more foreign lands than they.   A guy who’s been around that long can cook for himself, and for others, and has been to different places.

  15. 35
    Jadafisk

    “I’ve found that some of the worst advice that women give to each other in regards to dating is to fill up one’s schedule with activities. The idea is supposed to be that a man will love a woman who is full of energy and living life, rather than sitting around and waiting for “him.” While I do believe that men like a woman with a fulfilling life, that doesn’t mean he wants a potential partner to be involved in a million activities!”
      
    I thought that they involved themselves in these activities in the hopes that they would meet men with which they shared qualities and interests. Going outside of the more well-worn venues for meeting dates isn’t beneficial?
       Re: Traveling. There are men in other countries. Lots of them. Women who travel get an opportunity to meet them that women who don’t, well… don’t. Due to some cultural differences, the men may be family-focused at a younger age and/or be more interested in commitment. There are also variations in piety/lack thereof, educational attainment level, gender role conformity/non-conformity, beauty standards, percentage of singles in a certain age range, etc, that may also expedite the process/increase a woman’s odds of finding an appealing partner. There’s native residents as well as fellow travelers and/or expats who have an interest, affinity or tie to the culture. If a woman doesn’t take advantage of her time abroad, it can be merely a red flag for budget-minded single men upon her return, but it certainly isn’t a given that it would be pointless.   
      
    “…it’s funny how all this pressure is on us men to perform and get and keep it up and the women have no pressure at all and can just lay there and be critics.”
      
    But that’s utterly false. There’s a ton of pressure on women to look perfect and be the freakiest freak to ever freak… without being seen as a freak.
      
    “At the end of the day, the point of having criteria is to end up with someone you like and who suits you — if you drop your criteria, you might as well say you could just date and marry ANYONE.”
      
    I do wonder. I mean, isn’t this person supposed to be your *friend*? If he’s less physically attractive and adept in bed than you’d prefer/are used to, the other aspects (intellect, personal philosophy including but not limited to religion and politics, interests) would GAIN importance. Those aspects determine who people voluntarily choose to be around in non-romantic situations. There’s got to be more than “he wants a commitment, he’s a good person, and he ardently pursues you.”
      
      

  16. 36
    Teresa

    now it seems women have to limit their interests and acitivities to those that will help her catch a man?!??!    

    So if a women likes to travel she better not talk aboutit because   then men might get bored or worse yet think she’s a goldigger geez.   I love to travel I don’t do it to impress anyone.   If I ever was to be in relationship again it would be nice if my companion shared my love of travel.   My ex h did not like to travel unless it involved lots of alcohol consumption so   I traveled with family or friends.

    I have other interests/activites   I dunno I don’t think of them in terms of how they effect my ability to date or have a   relationship.   I am not going to suddenly drop everything if a man was to come into my life anymore then I would expect him to give up sports, golf, car clubs or whatever he was into,

  17. 37
    Chivon

    @helenbe #5  
    I used to be like you, so I’m going to say this honestly….
    I’m physically attractive, funny, well travelled, and have “feminine ” qualities and abilities — I’d like to meet a man who is attractive. funny, well travelled and has “manly ” abilities.
    It’s time for you to stop analysing men as if they are a bag of qualities. They’re not. They’re human, and part of being human is to be fallible, make bad choices, have flaws, quirks, etc. Would you date someone with the same perfectionistic, self-entitled expectations ie you?? I don’t think so, cos it would be so tiring to need to be perfect all the time!
    HAPPINESS NEEDS TO BE FOUGHT FOR. YOU need to be responsible for your own happiness; YOU need to PULL YOUR OWN WEIGHT in your own life. That’s the simple truth. It’s an uncomfortable truth, but please face it.
    If a man is good – ie treats you well in spite of his other flaws ‘not manly enough’ – give him a chance. Don’t blame your lack of good men if you’re not even looking for a man, cos it sounds like you want someone who is your TICKET to unconditional love and happiness, and not a partner (a real life person) to build a life with. And it’s such a tall order to be that ‘ticket’, no man can possibly do that for you. Unless he’s God.
    She keeps in shape, buys new clothes, develops her social network, takes evening courses, travels, learns new skills, reads, takes up tango and exotic cookery classes… but what do single men do? Play nintendo DS with their mates… or immerse themselves in mind numbing amounts of sport.
    I agree with KarlR #19 on this – the activities you’ve listed above aren’t exactly increasing your ‘datability’. I mean, it’s good that you have many talents and interests, but they are time-wasters cos 1) they take up your free time and do not expose you to more single, available men (read?! travel to a foreign country?! cookery?!! how many single avaialble men are there in these classes??). You’re trying to be what you think is ‘perfect’, but have you ever considered that what a man, (and a woman) wants is someone you can trust, and makes you happy, someone who will be a great father/mother, someone who want on your team, you want in your afmily? I think fulfilling these criteria are more important than….say how well you cook or dance or how many books you’ve read.
    I recently tried dating a man who was “good on paper” even though I wasn’t madly attracted to him and he wasn’t the confident alpha male type.
    Being bitter & negative doesn’t help, it just keeps you in the frame of mind where you’re constantly on the lookout to avoid the next man who’s going to let you down. Why not focus on looking for someone who can make you happy? I say if he can do that, he’s worth a second shot, list or no list.
    Also, please be brave enough to look beyond the surface, and NOT to dismiss the fact that there are GOOD men out there. Not all men who don’t meet your stringent criteria are flakes, and not all men who do meet your criteria are great men.
    Live a little. Toss your list in the trashcan and just go with your gut for a change.

  18. 38
    jack

    It amazes me how many women act as though the universe owes them the “man of their dreams”. Long lists of must-have attributes are the sign of someone who thinks of men as some sort of consumer product that one orders up, and returns if they are less than 100% satisfied.  
      
    The problem is that the male desire for female companionship diminishes with time, even as female attractiveness wanes.
      
    Most men desire female companionship. But not at any price. It is sad to see women entering their 40s who keep adding to the checklist instead of subtracting from it.
      
      

  19. 39
    NN

    I have  not  met an older couple that is satisfied – they just have seemed to give in and both they do their own thing, and die alone in a “relationship” as sort of room mates – as they chose wrong to begin with someone who is secure? Without proper good sex life that has left women wanting for generations here.. I am not willing to give in to that yet to get a man.

    And secondly…  Difference between men and women is out. Almost all men get O every time. Women don’t and I just don’t see the point why I should settle.
    I have never ever had sex just because someone is hot, I need to trust him enough to answer the next question “would I loan that man 1000 euros without second thoughts”.. when answer is no, then I don’t.
    Which why I have passed all the hottest ones? So I don’t know what you are talking about, as you say that those relationships don’t work.
    I have never tried that yet, but I guess I should… for not to miss that experience what all talk about so much =).. I guess I can handle that crash at the tender age of 40+ as I have survived the end of relationships with those non-attractive men too.

  20. 40
    SS

    @Jadafisk 37

    I thought that they involved themselves in these activities in the hopes that they would meet men with which they shared qualities and interests. Going outside of the more well-worn venues for meeting dates isn’t beneficial?
    I think there’s a difference between what you’re mentioning and the phenomenon I was speaking of. I like to run, for example, and I frequently joined running clubs for the social camaraderie and yes, the chance to meet single men.   🙂   It did work that way sometimes!   There were other activities that I took on for the purpose of meeting new people, single men in particular.
      
    But if someone suggested that I take a gourmet cooking class, for example, and I had no interest in doing so, I was not going to do it simply because I was single and had Wednesday nights free. Plus, maybe a cute guy from the running club wanted to meet up on Wednesday night for a date, and oops, darn, I’m busy that night because of that cooking class I’m taking. Oh, and I’m working on Thursday… and going out of town on Friday for a wedding and won’t be back until Sunday. Wanna try next week? Except for Wednesday, of course!
      
    With me having a job as well that had me working all sorts of haphazard hours, the scenario above happened quite a bit to me (and friends too in similar situations).
      
    I think the idea that a woman becomes more appealing to a man the more activities she has on her plate is misleading.
      
       Re: Traveling. There are men in other countries. Lots of them. Women who travel get an opportunity to meet them that women who don’t, well… don’t. Due to some cultural differences, the men may be family-focused at a younger age and/or be more interested in commitment. There are also variations in piety/lack thereof, educational attainment level, gender role conformity/non-conformity, beauty standards, percentage of singles in a certain age range, etc, that may also expedite the process/increase a woman’s odds of finding an appealing partner. There’s native residents as well as fellow travelers and/or expats who have an interest, affinity or tie to the culture. If a woman doesn’t take advantage of her time abroad, it can be merely a red flag for budget-minded single men upon her return, but it certainly isn’t a given that it would be pointless.    
      
    I certainly don’t think travel is pointless, since I did a fair share of it (and not just the whole 8 countries in 10 days tours… I lived in Europe). I also dated overseas and had fun with it.
      
    But 10 years later, me being “well-traveled” didn’t make me more appealing to men as a mate. It was a nice personal quality to have, but women think that men value being “well-traveled” in a potential partner. I simply don’t think they care. If you are, great, if not, fine. Travel is self-improvement for the purpose of the traveler, but it’s not something that makes a woman’s dating value rise, so to speak, to the opposite gender.

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