A friend of mine recently sent me this comment, "You really need to learn to pull back at the first red flags... You might want to think about setting your parameters for men a little narrower, because while this wide net you're casting is great fodder for the blog, it's not catching you much in the way of quality men to spend your life with. I'm worried about you." She also sent me a FB message that she is worried that I am lowering my standards and settling, out of fear that I will be single forever, and that I should make a list of what I want. I feel like I can't win. If I give every guy I meet a chance, I'm "lowering my standards and settling", and if I write them off based on reading their profile, I'm "judgemental and too picky"... I feel like I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't... The old adage "you can't please everyone" really IS true!
I actually have a list. When I was young, I participated in the True Love Waits program through my church, and we were encouraged to make a list of what we would look for in a future mate. My list has changed over the years (in large part, thanks to things I learned from past relationships), but the basics have stayed the same. Now, my purpose in trying online dating is not to find a husband... There are a lot of things I want to do in this life, and I want someone there to share those experiences with. Eventually, I would like to get married and have a family, but I am also content in my single life. There are a lot of things I have been able to do, and a lot of freedoms I have enjoyed, that would not have been as easy or possible if I were raising a family. My friends comments (well-intentioned, and out of genuine concern), have started me thinking... Am I too picky? Or am I not picky enough?
For your amusement, I have included "The List", partly because I am hoping for feedback to tell me if I am way off base here, and partly because I am proud of my "parameters".
3. Good with money
4. Adventurous (likes to do/try new things)
5. Wants/likes/is good with kids
6. Ambitious/Hard working
7. Adaptable (not stubborn & stuck in his ways)
9. Good listener (and can carry a conversation)
12. Down to earth/Laid back/Easy going
13. Positive attitude
15. Committed to meeting me halfway
16. Has goals and a plan to meet them
17. Wants to spend time with me, but is okay being apart & having space
20. Great smile
21. Makes me excited to be with him
22. Non-smoker, non- drug user, not a heavy drinker
23. Not a “party animal”
24. Big family is a plus, but not a requirement
The problem with having "a list" (besides the fact that if any potential date knew about it, I'm sure he would run for the hills), is that it's hard to know when to give someone a chance, and when to make a snap decision that they are not what I am looking for, and to pass them by. In the online dating world, this is especially hard. It is easy to judge a person based on a few sentences on their profile. If they don't fill it out, they seem "lazy", and if they write too much, they come off as "desperate". Someone who enjoys video games is written off as a "slacker", but someone who enjoys clubbing is too much of a "party-animal". When I first started this experience, I was being very selective as to which messages I responded to, and which person I would contact. I was being very picky. Then I read an article that highlighted the risks of writing someone off too soon, stating that overlooking them because of something they wrote (or neglected to write) on an online dating site does not guarantee they are not a good match... at the very least, this person could teach me something about love, life, or even myself. I agree that every person to cross our path does so for a reason, and that there is something we can learn from every individual we meet... The article made me re-think how I was approaching online dating (and dating in general). I started responding to anyone who sent me a message, since "you never know"... Doing so has been even more depressing than being selective. And while my friend is right, I do gain experiences that make for a fun blog, I feel increasingly more and more convinced that a genuine, regular, normal boy-next door just simply does not exist, especially not online. I'm including the article I read below... what do you think? Is it better to quickly weed out potential dates based on a brief introduction to who they are (and meet a LOT of frogs), or to stay open to *almost* everyone who crosses my path, in hopes that I don't overlook a prince, disguised as a frog?
Why You Shouldn't Write Him OffBy Rori Raye, Author of best-selling eBook Have The Relationship You Want and free newsletter.
It's all too easy to decide a certain man isn't for you - we make such quick judgments from those first impressions. And if you're on Plenty Of Fish, you might think that there's plenty of choice, which means you shouldn't have to settle for someone who doesn't measure up.
But giving a man a chance isn't settling - it's opening yourself up to the man who may ultimately be right for you. Here's why...
MAKING SNAP JUDGEMENTS MEANS YOU COULD MISS YOUR MR. RIGHT
Remember Charlotte and Harry on Sex and The City? The bald, sweaty, often brusque man was not Charlotte's ideal suitor by any stretch of the imagination. If Charlotte had met Harry at a bar and he had asked her out, she probably would have rejected him out right. But, as you may know, Harry was Charlotte's lawyer, so by default she was spending more and more time with him. Before she knew it, she was swept away by the "wrong" guy who was absolutely right for her and adored her like no other. Likewise, the perfect guy for you might not come in the package you've imagined... but you won't know that unless you give him a chance.
The other thing to remember is that you wouldn't want a man to make a snap judgment about you. Think about the times a man has written you off without taking the time to discover all the wonderful things about you. So, if you find yourself thinking "he's too this" or "he's too that," stop and ask the very same questions about yourself. Are you the perfect height? The most desirable weight? Are you without flaws yourself? Remember that any man who dates you will also have to overlook your "imperfections"... and focus instead on what makes you who you are.
YOU COULD BE SHORT-CIRCUITING YOUR CHANCES FOR TRUE LOVE
Every single man who comes into your life - regardless of how long he stays or what kind of an impact he makes - will teach you something you need to know to get you to the next stage of your love life... and help you identify the right man when he does show up.
Maybe this new man will turn into the best guy friend you ever had, maybe he'll open your eyes to parts of you that are more attractive than you've ever considered. Or maybe there's something about him that will clue you in to something you need in a man.
Ask yourself: is there something I need to find out here? For instance, maybe he's an artist and you've only dated business-type guys, and this guy shows you how to appreciate the sensitive side in a man. Or it could be that this new man treats you so well that you'll realize you deserve so much more than what you've been settling for.
BREAK THE PATTERNS OF YOUR PAST... AND FIND TRUE LOVE
If you've been making bad choices in your love life until now - if you've had your heart broken too often or you seem to pick the same kind of men who aren't good for you - then you need to let a man grow on you in a different way. You need to learn to feel the pleasure of being loved and appreciated by a good man. And the only way to do that is to push yourself past your usual comfort zones and give different kinds of guys a chance - namely, the men who are pursuing you.
Here's a quick little exercise that will open your eyes: write down the qualities you're looking for in a guy, then write down the qualities of the last four guys you dated. Are they similar? Are you repeating a pattern? Only by expanding your view of what constitutes a worthy date will you finally be able to break the patterns that have been holding you back.
Before you write off a new man, give him six dates. Yes, six (unless he makes you feel uncomfortable or is disrespectful.) But if you find him pleasant enough, look past the initial lack of fireworks and simply spend time with him on a get-to-know-you basis. Forget the pressure of dating, and just get to know another human being. True chemistry only happens over time and when you feel safe with someone; this is the kind of chemistry that stands the test of time and plants the seed for a lifelong romance.