Are you too picky?


How do we know our type?
Without even realising it many of us carry around a list in our heads which details the characteristics of our ‘perfect’ partner. This is as true for men as it is for women. This list was probably formulated when we were very young watching our parent’s relationship and other significant adults around us. Add to this the influence of TV, media and the social situation we grew up in and our list of qualities that make up Mr or Ms Right can be deeply entrenched by the time we reach our mid-teens.

This is an unconscious process for the most part and many of us have had the uncomfortable experience of finding ourselves dating someone who is uncannily like one of our parents. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if our parents had a loving, supportive relationship but it can lead to problems if we are continually drawn into relationships that are unhealthy or even abusive.

We might automatically dismiss a prospective partner on the grounds of their height, build, nationality or even their hair colour even though in every other way they may be compatible. The old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover is very apt in this case but don’t be too hard on yourself if this is something you do very easily, we all do it to a greater or lesser degree and often it is more of a knee-jerk reaction than a conscious dismissal.

Find out what your non-negotiables are
As with all unconscious processes the best way to change them is to make them conscious. What are your non-negotiables? A good way of finding out is by actually writing the list. Write a full and detailed description of your ideal partner, don’t worry, no-one else needs to read it. If you don’t like writing maybe choose a friend and talk to them about everything you want in a partner and together formulate a list. Try to cover every aspect, how they look, what type of personality they have, their values, even the sound of their voice, appetites (for food, activities and sex) and personal habits. You will probably see that no-one in the world could ever fulfil your dreams but it is important that we know what our dreams are.

Then add to the list the negatives, the things a partner should not be, do, believe or ways they behave. Have fun with this exercise, think of people you admire and the qualities they possess as well as the people you don’t like and the reasons for that. There is no right or wrong answer, you are just doing some detective work that will help you to be more open-minded and open-hearted in the future.

Prioritise your list
Once you have your list start to go through it asking yourself how important it really is on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being ‘set in stone essential’ and 1 being ‘desirable but not at all important’. Any which are rated 7 and over transfer to another list. Now with each of these ask, Why is this important? Where does this belief come from? Is this something I can bring to a relationship myself? Am I ready to let it go?  Your aim is to get down to 3 non-negotiables, more than that and perhaps you are being too picky.

Our lists may have stayed the same most of our lives yet what is non-negotiable when you are 20 is different when you are 40. Our needs change as we change and it is important that we adapt ourselves accordingly. We may also have shut down due to being hurt in the past and made some rules about dating that we believe will protect us eg. I will never date someone with red hair again because they have bad tempers! Of course not all people with red hair will have bad tempers but are you ready to open your heart again and let it go?

What are you bringing to the table?
They say that you need to love yourself before you can really love someone else. There is some truth in this and sometimes we may look to others to make us feel things eg. sexy, confident, safe, lovable.  Maybe it would be better if we bring those qualities into a relationship ourselves as then we won’t be dependant on that person to ‘make’ us feel that way, we are that way and they get to enjoy and appreciate it. Don’t look for qualities in someone else that are ones you want to cultivate in yourself – as Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world.

Once you are clear about what your non-negotiables are you may find yourself with a lot more freedom when it comes to dating. The things you come up with probably won’t be apparent on a first date, they may involve getting to know someone a little first. This is because when it really comes down to it what most people want is a partner who is attractive at a deeper level, with qualities that will stand the test of time. Good looks, clothes, habits, even political and religious beliefs can, and do, change with time but some things are integral parts of who we are.

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