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Fussy & Picky When it Comes to Dating? By Alpa Saujani

Whether you've been single for a while, or you're a serial dater the chances are that at some point you've been called 'picky, fussy' or berated for having 'high standards'. In the cold light of day how true is this? Are you really fussy and picky, or do you simply believe that it really means that you know what you want and are not prepared to settle for anything less? Let's assume that it's the latter. You've been holding out for what you perceive to be your ‘ideal mate' but it's been 2, 5 or even over 10 years and you've still not met the one. Everyone around you is getting engaged, married or having babies, they make it look so easy, so why is it not happening for you?

Last week I was speaking to a single (never been married) Sikh guy, aged 46, who I will call Bobby. He was telling me that he is serious about meeting someone and whilst he has been looking for a number of years, he hasn't had much success. Despite being introduced to various women, the ones he liked, did not like him and vice-versa. As the years have passed by, he has found his search more challenging. He is currently seeking women aged 30 to 36 maximum, as he wants to have children.

Meena is 35, works in the City as a Business Analyst. She has her own place, eats at nice restaurants and enjoys the finer things in life. Her ideal man is 5'11, works in the City, preferably in banking or the like, and earns at least £80K. She's not interested in dating anyone who falls short of this, though would perhaps compromise an inch, or so on his height. I asked her why she felt that she had not already met a man like this, considering she has been searching for the past 10 years. "In my 30s I have found that there are not many guys out there who meet my criteria. The city guys that I have met, are either self-centred, divorced with kids, more interested in having a casual relationship, or just threatened by successful Asian women..."

At 31, Jeet is a conventionally attractive and a successful professional holding out for his ‘type'. She's got to be tall, slim and fair. Her face must be symmetrical, her eyes should be a certain shape and basically the list goes on but in a nutshell she has to be a stunner! If her physical appearance does not match this – reject, reject and reject! In his own words "I won't settle for anything less, if she does not meet my type physically I have no interest and it's a waste of everyone's time".  He started his search 5 years ago.

Are Bobby, Meena and Jeet being picky or fussy, or is it that they simply know what they want and are not prepared to settle for anything less? Thus far, where has their respective criteria & mindsets got them in their search? The common threads shared by all three:

  • The people that they want to date, do not want to date them
  • The people that they are seeking to date are in the minority and therefore hard to find
  • They have formed beliefs about the type of people that they are compatible with, with no real evidence to substantiate their assumptions.

The harsh reality is that if they do not start challenging their beliefs by compromising and adjusting to the dating pool available to them, they may just end up with an ‘indefinite stay to remain in singledom' visa.

To illustrate this further in Bobby's case, based on the number of women that I have interviewed in the past 9 years for personal matchmaking, the majority do not wish to date men who are more than 5 years their senior. Whilst Bobby may have better luck conceiving a child with a 30 to 36 year old, women all over the world are still having babies into their early 40s. With each passing year, the age gap is getting greater. Perhaps he needs to take stock and consider whether his primary goal is to be in a loving relationship with someone with whom he can grow old with, or is it more important to continue seeking a younger woman to bear his children, at the risk of remaining single for the unforeseeable future. Whilst I‘m not suggesting that he can't have both, the reality is that he is going to have much better luck fishing in a dating pool of women aged late 30s to early 40s. If the penny drops sometime soon, he may well just be able to have his cake and eat it.

There are more single Asian men out there, who are educated professionals in good careers that earn between £35 to £50K, compared to the high earners in the City. Just because these men earn less, it does not make them bad life partners, or less successful in their own right. If Meena is serious about meeting someone and settling down sooner rather than later, the reality is that she is going to have to give these non-city guys a chance. If a guy is threatened by her success, or what she earns then he's not the right match for her anyway. A relationship is supposed to be an equal partnership, where you contribute your fair share based on what you have, rather than it being a battle of the sexes. Perhaps Meena needs to go back to the drawing board and consider whether her primary goal is to get married and live happily ever after, or to keep chasing the dream of Mr City Hot Shot, who has already failed to materialise in the last 10 years.

Given the choice, what man wouldn't want to have a stunning supermodel type on his arm? At the risk of stereotyping, you've either got to be super hot yourself, or have a really really big fat bank balance. The reality is that this only applies to a small percentage of people in the world. At 31, whilst Jeet may arguably have time on his side to hold out for his Miss Universe, he risks missing out on some amazing women in their 20s that are currently in his dating pool. In a few years time, his pool is going to look a lot different and as he ages, so will he. Whilst physical attraction is important, a successful relationship is built upon much more than this, ultimately it's about the package. If Jeet were to let go of his limiting beliefs by compromising a little on looks, he may just discover that beauty is skin deep and looks are not the sole indicator of compatibility.

Arguably, it is each person's prerogative to hold out for what they want in a potential partner. However, after making a concerted effort and trying for years without success, does it not make sense that in order to get a different result, change has to take place? Finding a partner is hard enough, why would anyone want to make it harder by seeking the type of person who exists in the minority of the world, let alone the country's population? If your type is constantly not interested in dating you, does logic not dictate that it is time to get a different type? Whilst it is sensible to know what you want in a partner, shouldn't the main criteria be related to someone's character and values rather than heavily weighted on their youth, beauty, status or profession? Forming beliefs that only X type of person is right for you is after all an untested hypothesis, where one risks searching for a needle in a haystack, potentially for many years.

If you've been searching for a partner for a number of years, perhaps it is time to consider whether being ‘picky & fussy' really does equate that you know what you want and serves your purpose, or whether it's been taking you further away from your goal of meeting a partner. Whatever you conclude, just remember it ‘s never too late to embrace change and compromise...

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I wanted to say thanks for the articles and the comments, it's great to be able to share knowledge as this is the key to striking it right!

I can relate to all the things said in the examples, as I have either personally experienced them, or have heard of others describe such events.

My thoughts say that courtship has been made very complicated. Every time we pursue someone suitable - our sanity is put to the test and more often than not (male or female) or hearts and minds become clouded and thus being on the receiving end of uncontrollable variables we act cowardly (at times intentionally and at others unintentionally). The method of seeking someone suitable may be dressed up differently these days but we have many blessings to share challenging wisdoms at our fingertips, we are far less hopeless then people imagine.  

There are some experiences we have no option other than to repeat, that is the price we have to pay to have a choice. Those who are connected with themselves, their conscious minds and the truth will always see the light even in pressure cooker situations.

Infinity is not imaginary. Eternity is not some far-fetched romantic notion. These things are very real. More real, indeed, than the fleeting lives that we lead and the ephemeral identities that we relate to so closely. How dare any of us decide that there is only one thing that is ever going to make us feel happy? What is the point of feeling fed up about one thing you seemingly can't have or change, when there is such a bigger perspective to be seen?

So for the ladies I share this: If we are born into a mans world we have the power to be a secret force behind every great man that we meet as a boy. we just have to take into account, the fact we can choose - hopefully wisely as well as from the heart.  For the gents; please remember its a two way street. With the right ingredients and the methodology of cooking  (the way you both like it) the product will inevitably taste wonderful!

Lastly for my fellow daters, keep it simple, keep it real and most importantly sharing is caring in this ocean of lost minds, trials and tribulations. Have courage to get connected, even if it's not fruitful, you're helping to build strong foundations. You have to give to get ;)
@DrSGW - thank you for sharing your thoughts, some great food for thought for all!
Bobby, Meena and Jeet are being unreasonable IMHO.

Bobby - the fertility studies you're basing your misguided opinion on are centred around French data 200 years old. Women back then were less healthy and hence less able to have successful pregnancies. So many women in their 30's and early 40's have had successful pregnancies - Halle Berry, Gwen Stefani, Iman, my grandma, my aunt, my mum. I think you need to reset your criteria as older mothers can have successful pregnancies. My little sister is a doctor, as is my mum (who was born when my grandmother was 40 -youngest child) so potential fears of Downs' etc are unfounded. Anecdotally the average age at the Royal Free Hospital antenatal clinic is 43. Something for you to think about.

Meena - I will earn more than most city folk as a hospital Consultant doing private work in a few years time. Does that stop me dating others who earn less? No. A lot of well educated folk have a lot to offer, despite not doing lucrative jobs. I have dated university lecturers, teachers, sportsmen, journalists and scientists and would happily do so again. I respect these folk for what they have achieved/can offer non-materially and feel you should be open to the same, given that you earn well enough to support yourself and the lifestyle you're keen to lead.

Jeet - You need to seriously rethink your approach. Do you really truly like Asian women? Some guys don't and feel pressured into doing so by family or friends. Perhaps concentrate on attributes/hobbies which make people attractive to you .e.g. athleticism and keeping a healthy body and try and attract them that way. That way you can have a life partner with a common interest and bond via this. Whether they're Asian or not remains to be seen...either way, do as Alpa says and open your mind.

Good luck to all three of you. It takes courage to change your perceptions and start again.
@Shayla: thank you for sharing your experiences and best wishes for the future.

@Raaj: thank you for your comments, I agree that whilst there is a difference between what you want and what you can get, the point here is what happens if you have tried for years to get the type of person that you want but you have not managed to find them, or that type is consistently not interested in you. In this situation there are only two options 1) you carry on trying to get what you want and hope that one day it may happen, or 2) you strike a balance of compromise between what you want and what you can get. Just to clarify this does not mean 'settling' for the first person that comes along, or is 'convenient' - it simply means making adjustments and finding a happy medium.
It's about getting what you WANT, not getting what you CAN get...a key difference...you don't want to be in a situation where your with someone who is "convenient" for 2.5 years and still not being with someone your REALLY attracted to...
Great article! It's definitely on point and it is so true that one's beliefs about what they perceive is a good match, is often unfounded and the ability to compromise on this is so important, which I have learnt in the last 6 months. I am dating a guy who is so not like the type of person who I thought was my type. If I had not taken the chance then I would not be in this wonderful relationship.


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