Ah, the checklist. That necessary evil of dating where you’re forced to reduce the totality of the human experience into artificial and contrived parameters. Anyone who has ever been asked, “so what are you looking for?” has had to have their list memorized to deliver an elevator-pitch like succinct response. Dating sites like JDate force you to literally check off boxes to describe yourself and search for others. Naturally, people resist being placed into such boxes to the point where saying you “don’t fit in a box” is such a cliché that JDate could probably add that option to their profiles.
The trouble of course is that while websites, singles, and even shadchanim recognize both the utility and limitations of checklists, few people consider what these checklists really mean. Take the popular example of a checklist gone wrong is the “white tablecloth” requirement, where potential mates are rejected based on the content of their linen closet. I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the absurdity correlating tablecloths with maintaining a successful relationship, and instead suggest that the tablecloth symbolizes a personally important religious aesthetic. Anyone who could appreciate someone saying that Hannukah just isn’t Hannukah without Bubbe’s Famous Latkes can understand the value of religious sentimentality.
Remember what I wrote a few weeks ago about dating and hope I think what applies there also applies to checklists. Every item represents a possibility, or based on one’s experience, probability. A PhD usually indicates a person is reasonably intelligent or values knowledge, which yeshivot one attended can be indicative of religious upbringing, etc. It doesn’t matter if any of these sorts of assumptions are true, or if they’re relevant to the essence of the person in the present. What matters isn’t even what people think about the checkboxes, but how they imagine what the relationship would be.
Unless you automatically accept every single dating possibility which comes your way, you’re going to have some standards about the people you date. And if you’re in any way serious about having a relationship, you’re going to want to maximize the potential of the date being “good” however you want to define it. Checklists aren’t about separating the naughty from the nice (it might be, but since this is a Jewish dating website, we’re keeping things clean), but playing the odds to have the best chance of having a decent date.
The question is less about the checklists, but how much of them are dogmatic deal breakers. If you happened to hit it off with someone who didn’t have the right box checked, would you call it off or would you give it a shot? Obviously this is up to you, but every now and again, it’s worth checking in on our checklists.