The Dating Checklist
We are nestled in a society where very few people find comfort in the idea that life is meant to be lived freely.
Instead, we obsess over every detail of our lives. The more we can control, the better we feel. We have a strong desire to minimize our risks and predict our outcomes.
Refusing to allow anything in life to naturally evolve, we manipulate every factor, desperately attempting to create perfection. As a result, dating and relationships have become a pitfall for mental strategizing. We are indoctrinated with the idea that our soulmates must adhere to the challenge in order to deem themselves supreme. Only once they have successfully made it through our calculated maze of challenges, will they be gifted with our love. We use an assortment of tactics to try and eliminate the weak, most of the time disqualifying a potential mate before they have even had an adequate opportunity to pursue us. Tragically, even the most promising contestants can’t withstand, and soon we are left with no contestants to compete in our games.
The further we are transported away from the idea that we will ever find real love, the more unrealistic our dating requirements become. When dating, women especially “clutch their pearls.” The older, more established and more seasoned we become, the tighter we hold on to our unrealistic expectations.
We convince ourselves that we do not have the time or energy to waste on any man or woman who does not have his or her sh*t together. Here is the phase in life where we conclude that we are no longer assuming a motherly/fatherly role in teaching any man or woman how to be in a relationship. Here is where we unknowingly commit ourselves to a lifetime of loneliness, because our uncompromising attitude leaves no room for blemishes, as even the most perfect partner is going to come with some inadequacy.
Here is where we give birth to the “dating checklist.” The internal checklist that is conceived as a result of no longer wanting to give ourselves to any man or woman who will not produce the outcome of a “happily ever after.”
For some men and women, the dating list of requirements needs to be scratched completely. For others, a slight revision will suffice. If you MUST have a checklist, here’s how to draft one:
Detox your mind of other people’s opinions.
This is EXTREMELY important and possibly the most difficult step when completing your checklist. It wasn’t until I started seriously dating that I realized how much of my vision for a relationship was influenced by outside principles and people.
For example, I remember being told from a young age by several close women in my life, “You don’t date someone who can’t do anything for you.” I even dated a man who strongly ingrained the same idea into my mind. The idea of being “taken care of” was always associated with finances. So, for the longest time, I subconsciously believed that if a person could not financially provide for me, they were not good enough for me.
This could not be further from my truth. Yes, I do expect for my partner to create a stable environment for our family and contribute financially. However, now I understand the phrase to mean so much more than finances. While the ability to contribute to a stable environment financially is extremely important to me, it is more important to be with someone with my same ambition, and who contributes value, skills, and resources to our shared vision.
When you are building your dating checklist, you have to have a deep understanding and authentic connection with yourself. The relationship you have with yourself will allow you to clearly spotlight your standards absent of the influence from others.
When you are constructing YOUR checklist, make sure you remove all the requirements that have been added to your list by outside contributors. This is solely about your personal happiness.
Unrealistic expectations are a recipe for failure.
If we could all design our perfect spouse, we would. Admittedly, I would enter the “Build-A-Mate” workshop today, pay my dues, and construct a mocha dipped god. My partner would speak multiple languages (blame Boris Kodjoe and his six different languages for this). He would transport me to Paris on his private jet for weekend shopping sprees. I am sure I would make him a multi-billionaire business mogul by day, a master chef, an exceptional father, and an all-knowing lover by nightfall.
If I could design my ideal husband he would ooze romance, and as the sun peaked through our balcony window, I would be met with a love note and rose on the pillow that was now vacant, because he was downstairs cooking me a gourmet breakfast and making me a fruit smoothie so I could have a powerful day at work.
I chuckle to myself because the fairy tales we draft in our minds of how our partners should behave are leading us straight into a disaster zone. Impractical checklists leave our potential partners feeling depleted and unworthy. It is unfair to believe we are so majestic that another human being should have to jump through hoops of fire for us to prove their value.
Make sure your checklist is achievable by the average human! The sooner we accept that no one person is going to have everything we desire, the sooner we can advance in our search for love. You have every right to want your significant other to be compassionate, loving, respectful, kind, etc. You can even expect that your significant other be stable and focused, but stay away from attempting to find your partner based on material possessions or qualities of characters we see in movies. Remember, someone else wrote those love stories, and YOU are the author of YOURS.
What are you offering?
Make sure you are asking for things that you are able to offer your partner in return. I hear people ramble off their requirements, and half of the qualities they are seeking in a partner, they themselves do not possess. It’s the very thing that continues to produce an unfruitful harvest in love. This is often the case when people do not want to spend the time improving themselves. Instead, they make their partner responsible for having the attributes they lack.
If you are going to create a dating checklist, understand that some of the same traits you so desperately look for you first should possess. You can not expect someone to be even-tempered and fair, but you have a tendency to fly off the handle when you are angry. To ask that someone be a scholar with several degrees and numerous accolades, but be unwilling to even take a continued education course is reflective of faulty thinking.
Relationships should never consist of one entitled person and another person doing all the maintenance. The more you improve on your character, the more you increase the likelihood that you will encounter and attract like-minded partners.
Differentiate between “non-negotiables” and being “picky.”
I will not tolerate abuse of any kind. I will not date anyone with a drug or substance addiction. I will not date anyone who cannot accept and love my child. These are non-negotiables. Everyone should have a solid understanding of the things that they are unwilling to tolerate in a relationship. The key to non-negotiables is showing no hesitation in leaving when your partner presents themselves with one of these qualities.
There is a blurred understanding between non-negotiables and being picky. Suggesting that your partner must make between 100-150K, must never have been previously married, and must have no debt is an example of being relentless in your standards. When constructing a list of requirements, it is imperative to make sure that you are outlining your non-negotiables and not creating a storybook full of commandments that your spouse must abide by.
It is a turn off.
No one wants to be put under a magnifying glass. Giving a long-winded rundown of all your rules and requirements is the surest way to push a possible mate out of the door. We all look for love to feel natural. We want to click with our partners. No one wants to feel like they are interviewing for a job every time they are in your presence. Learn to relax and go with the flow. If you encounter someone who challenges what you value and what you morally seek out in a significant other, then you have a choice to leave the relationship at that time.
Dating is not for the faint of heart. It demands patience, understanding, compromise, and the willingness to accept another individual’s deficits. Our expectations drastically change as we advance in our understanding of love and commitment. The issue comes to surface when our list of non-negotiables morph into a catalog of stringent standards that no real person can ever meet.
It is OK to have an understanding of what you desire in your significant other. Having a foundation will direct you away from people who mean you ill. However, there are some things to consider when designing your dating requirement checklist. First, make sure that YOU are the one in control of your own vision for love. Secondly, make sure that what you are requesting is achievable. Third, spend some time improving your own character so that you are not making outlandish requests of other people to compensate for what you lack. Finally, recognize that your aggressive communication of your requirements can deter a potential partner. Make sure you are not using your list as a tool to dissect your mate and pick apart their shortcomings.
I pray you that all seek and find everything you need or plus. Move in love. Until we meet again lovers and friends. Be well. Be prosperous. Be passionate.
Jazz Keyes is a community activist, poetess and a nationally certified Life Purpose and Career Coach. Keyes supplies clients with the necessary tools and techniques to awaken their divine energy, heal their open wounds and create an aura of love, compassionate and tranquility. In 2013, Keyes was named “13 People to Watch For” by Rockford Register Star and in honor of Black History Month 2014, Keyes was recently named a“Neighborhood Hero” by ComEd’s Power of One Campaign. Keyes in currently pursuing her Masters in Clinical Psychology and hopes to one day be a best-selling author and motivational speaker. She has devoted a great deal of her time and energy on mastering the art of communication in order to create healthy, dynamic, long-lasting relationships.