The danger behind a checklist for dating

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As a matchmaker, I learn about dating expectations people have for their future partners every day. Now, I’m not talking about dealbreakers, but a detailed checklist for dating that guides their dating lives.

Recently, I worked with a client who sent me three pages – three! – outlining her “essential” partner qualities. This highlights a common issue: Dating checklists can be helpful tools, but it’s important to avoid building walls that no one has an opportunity to break.

I advocate for clarity, but not rigidity.

Here’s the difference:

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Knowing yourself vs. limiting your options:

Understanding your values, goals, and self-worth will guide you to make better choices. Vs. Fixating on specific, inflexible criteria can close you off to compatible individuals who might not perfectly tick all the boxes but bring happiness to your life.

Healthy self-worth vs. entitlement:

Setting healthy boundaries for relationships. vs. Viewing yourself as automatically deserving of a specific partner without self-reflection or compromise can create unrealistic expectations.

Remember, dating is a journey of discovery. Embracing flexibility and open-mindedness alongside your clear intentions can lead to more fulfilling connections. When someone approaches dating with a rigid checklist, there’s often an unspoken attitude behind it. Some people often say, “I don’t have that attitude,” but the truth is, the energy of your checklist mindset is communicated on the date. Remember, people often pick up on undercurrents, even if you don’t realize you’re projecting them.

Instead of a checklist, consider creating a wish list for your future relationship. This list should be open-ended and focused on your desire, not your demand. For example, So it might look like this: I would love to live a family life and I’m open to having children with a loving partner, ready to invest in a relationship and we have amazing communication.

When armed with a checklist:

Dates become expeditions to quickly assess if the other person checks off your predetermined boxes. Some clients claim they do this subtly, but it shows. This is because your focus shifts from creating a connection to ticking boxes. Even minor deviations can lead to harsh judgments and dismissive pronouncements like, “That was a waste of my time.” This fuels negativity and blameshifting, painting dating as a terrible experience.

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Your checklist might be blinding you to the person right in front of you. Often, people don’t feel connected because your focus is on ticking boxes, not building chemistry. You might think you had a good time, but they might leave feeling drained as if they had to prove themselves rather than connect authentically.

Ready to break free from the single life on your terms? Here are some empowering tips:

Ditch the checklist and embrace a wish list. Instead of rigid requirements, focus on qualities that truly matter: kindness, shared values, affection, shared interests, and willingness to invest time and energy.

Open yourself to diverse possibilities. Expand your circles and be open to meeting different kinds of people. You might be surprised by unexpected connections.
Focus on fostering positive connections. Make people feel valued and appreciated in your presence. Even if they’re not your “one,” they might introduce you to someone who is!