At the launch of my book, How to Woo a Jew, I was asked by a man if JDate was more of a hindrance to his dating life because of The Paradox of Choice. The Paradox of Choice is a book written by Barry Schwartz; it states that having too many options heightens anxiety and that having less choices will help your chances of achieving success and, therefore, happiness. The man who asked the question wondered if people don’t look at the great prospect in front of them because they think there might be someone better around the corner. Could there be too many fish in the sea?
My answer? No. People should poly-date in order to make sure they are not falling for someone too quickly, and they can make sure they aren’t settling by having options to compare. It’s easy to overlook faults when you don’t have anyone else to consider. It’s easy to convince yourself to accept less when you’re feeling desperate.
A little competition is good, it’s healthy, it keeps people on their game. But you also need to really know what you want — by having your short list of priorities — so that when you do find it, you aren’t doubting yourself and wondering if you could meet someone who meets some items from your longer, more nit-picky, less realistic list.
My girlfriend Lauren has dated the same type of man over and over and over and finally realized after having her heart broken and being disappointed for the upteenth time that she was going after the wrong type. So she referred to her List and decided to only go for guys that actually fit her preferences rather than the guys she was instantly attracted to. And she found him. The guy who was perfect. He fit her List to a tee and she was hopeful that she had finally found her beshert. Except that’s all he was… good on paper. Something was missing, something she couldn’t put her finger on. He fulfilled all her requirements yet she wasn’t falling in love. What was missing? Being able to satisfy all your requirements and preferences on a checklist does not love make.
Your List is supposed to be helpful in keeping you away from people who aren’t right for you but that doesn’t mean that someone who hits all the marks will be right for you either. Don’t stay with someone just because they’re good on paper, but do give them a fair chance before you cast them by the wayside. Lauren continued to date this guy who was supposed to be her Mr. Right for nearly six months hoping that it would evolve into something more before finally pulling the plug. Lauren felt a bit lovelost as she thought that a man who checked off her non-negotiables would be “The One” but she recovered and set back out to find someone who both checked off MOST of her preferences while also giving her butterflies.
When I was 16 my best friend and I made a checklist of what we each wanted in our ideal man. There were about 75 items: 25 physical and 50 emotional/mental/spiritual. It was incredibly comprehensive, especially for teenagers. About 10 years later I edited the list and added point values. It may sound silly, but it kept me grounded. Being Jewish was worth so many points that if a man wasn’t Jewish then he wouldn’t earn an “A” (90%) and therefore wasn’t for me no matter how many other categories he fulfilled. Many other items were either deleted or edited including increasing or decreasing their point value as the item gained or lost priority in my mind. You may not need a 75 item list but it is worth your time to write down what you want in a mate and ranking the items. When falling in love we tend to become blind to their faults… or we see bad signs and choose to ignore them… but if you have a comprehensive list to measure the prospect against then you can keep on the right path.
Hint: the physical traits should NOT be ranked high on your priority list.
Everyone has a list, whether they consciously know it or not. There are about 13 items on my own list. “The List” comprises of your non-negotiable, must-have requirements and characteristics that you look for in the person you will hopefully one day marry. So whether or not you’ve actually sat down and written it out like I have, you most likely have a sense of what you’re looking for. And if you haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, finish reading my own and don’t do anything else until you’ve come up with a few requirements of your own. I realize that everything I’m saying sounds like a self-help book assignment, but trust me, I would never subject you to something I wouldn’t do myself or tell my best friend to do. In fact, two of my best friends were present when I made my list on a scrap of paper at a dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen back in the fall of 2010. They even signed the bottom as a vow to never let me end up with a guy who even fell an inch short, a promise I will hold them to until the day I say “I do”.
All of the items on my original list are still there in one shape or another, although some have become a little clearer and more defined as I’ve made my way through the dating world. Instead of just loving his family, I want the guy I fall for to have a strong sense of family values. I once went on a date with a guy who didn’t even know what his own sister did for a living. I mean, really? It’s not like he’s a Duggar. He has one sister, which to me made him seem self-involved and hard to relate to. That’s why I’ve decided he needs to not only love his family, he has to really know them and have a strong sense of family values. That’s important to me, so important that it made it on my list. This is why I think you need to make one of your own. You can’t know what you’re looking for unless you have a clear vision. Here’s what has made my cut:
The man I will marry must…
1. Be a good guy. The kind of nice guy who doesn’t realize just how much of a mensch he is, but he is. His natural instinct is to do the right thing.
2. Be able to make me laugh in unexpected ways.
3. Keep up with my sarcasm, fast talking, and craziness. In other words, he can bust my own chops
4. Be silly. He can handle game night with my family and doesn’t mind corny fun.
5. Be Jewish – OR – willing to raise a Jewish family.
6. Be able to pull off a good suit. Seriously, there’s nothing like a man in a suit.
7. Not care that I’m a picky eater and that I’m not very nice until my first cup of coffee.
8. Be ridiculously smart. The kind of smart that watches Stewart, Colbert, and can calculate basic math for me (I’ll take any required writing if he will figure out 20% of our check).
9. Be crazy about his family…a healthy crazy. He must have a strong sense of family values and know where he came from.
10. Enjoy a healthy balance of normal guy activities and hobbies (music, sports, etc.). I need a real guys guy.
11. Have a solid group of friends. I want to know that he would understand how much I love my friends and they are important to me.
12. Be extremely ambitious and focused on his career. Goal oriented. Have a vision for what his potential is and the future.
13. Love me without holding back. He can’t be afraid to say it out loud, or want to take it back when he needs space. It’s all or nothing.
How do I figure out who is the right type of person for me? I have dated many over the years. I’m in a relationship with a wonderful man who does nothing for me when it comes to conversation or sex anymore. I settled. Shame on me. Ready to get out and move on……soon.
Dear Having the Confidence to Get Out of a Bad Relationship,
I applaud you for recognizing you aren’t in the type of relationship you want, but I will ask of you to try and find the spark that brought you together to begin with. If after trying to make it work you still don’t feel anything except that you settled, then cut your losses and move on to give both of you the chance to find someone new. It’s only fair to let your partner know how you feel and it’s only fair to let your partner go if you’re no longer emotionally invested in the relationship.
Back to your first question: in order to figure out what your type is I have always recommended to make lists. Write down everything you want in a mate and don’t want. Write down what you bring to a relationship and while you’re at it, write down the things you want to change about yourself as a partner that you’ve learned from past relationships – these two lists will help in filling out your JDate profile. All four lists are ever-changing and should be edited often as you learn more about what you want and who you are.
Once you have a list you need to prioritize. Figure out which traits are the most important and most valuable. There should be less than ten non-negotiables. Way less. Between three and seven”must-haves” is more than enough and will actually make finding your Beshert easier. Once you figure out what those must-haves are, then you have your type. Everything else is just an added bonus. Already you have found out through experience that conversation and sex are a necessity, so what else makes the cut? Good luck!