Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Why Deal Breaker and Must Have Lists Aren't That Helpful for Daters
Photo credit: cohdra from morguefile.com
A lot folks, when asked about their ideal mate, have a list of particular physical characteristics, set of basic qualities like having a sense of humor or being intelligent, and perhaps something about the person's career or level of income. In addition, many people will have another list (either revealed or in the back of their mind) of similar kinds of deal-breakers. The "I don't want no liars, cheaters, drug users, players, living in mama's basement and smoking pot" type lists.
Now, there's nothing really wrong with these lists per se. But do they really do much in terms of helping us find a quality partner?
When I was doing online dating, I found most of these kind of lists rather useless. A few things, like a check in favor of drug use or smoking, were helpful in weeding people out. However, with qualities like honesty, intelligence, humor, and the like, only time spent with someone can really flush them out.
The modern dating world makes us prone to doing the one or both of the following:
1. Rushing to judgment, usually based on a very limited sample of facts. (One or two dates.)
2. Zeroing in on a single area of a person's life, and failing to take in the whole person.
While there's a lot of good advice these days around rejecting "instant chemistry," the way I see it, many of us replace the search for instant chemistry with the search for someone with "financial stability," "good humor," or "wicked smartness." Others simply expand the criteria to include several "must have" qualities, while failing to realize or remember that great relationships are much more than the sum of some list. Or set of lists.
In addition, a lot of us make the mistake of thinking what we WANT is the same as what we NEED. Or that what we want in our lives will always be the same.
Many of the qualities I want in a partner today would not have been on my list 10 years ago. I can imagine the same is true for many of you reading out there.
At the end of the day, any list can only be a base level guideline. It can't save you from heartache, nor can it really help you reflect deeply enough about someone you're dating, and whether or not they could be a good match.