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Is your partner criteria losing you dating opportunities? By Alpa Saujani

When it comes to finding a partner, in some way or another we all have a criteria of the type of person that we are looking for. Logically, this makes sense. If you do not know what you are looking for, how are you going to know when you find it? But how flexible are you with your criteria? Are you reducing the pool of potential partners by filtering out people for the wrong reasons?

Let’s look at how we come up with criteria in the first place? Mentally, or on paper we start formulating our criteria based on what we find attractive, both physically and character wise. We add to this list our family’s expectations, followed by ideals derived from external influences in the form of friends, colleagues, society and the media. As we start dating and experiencing relationships, we begin to fine tune this list. On the one hand this is great, we believe that we are getting more focused and clearer about the type of person that we would like to meet. But on the other hand, you have to wonder whether we are also doing an injustice by excluding people based on perhaps one bad dating or relationship experience? For example, discriminating against people from certain types of professions, height and caste. Is it really fair to tarnish everyone with the same brush?

So we now have this fine tuned criteria, but if we look at it closely what is it primarily based upon? Assumptions. The reality is that we can never be sure whether these assumptions will live up to our expectations. But somehow we feel more comfortable about entertaining the idea of a relationship when we feel we have control. If someone ticks all of our boxes then we assume to have foresight and anticipate a successful union, versus taking a risk and stepping into the unknown. But if we translate this to other areas of our lives, we seem to be more open and willing to take a risk into the unknown, whether it’s going for a job above our station, jumping out of a plane for charity, or climbing Kilimanjaro. So why are we not as prepared to throw caution to the wind and venture outside of our comfort zone when it comes to love? Is it the fear of getting hurt; but what relationship (or even marriage) comes with a guarantee? Pressure to conform to family & external standards? I’m pretty confident that they will not be the ones waking up next to you every morning. Or perhaps it’s as simple as our own narrow mindedness?

Here’s a question that I would like you to answer honestly. If I could introduce you to your ideal partner who ticks every single box but is 2 inches less than your criteria, or one size bigger would you reject them? When you’re searching for a life partner, surely it makes sense to create and explore as many opportunities as possible. If you meet people who do not fit all of your ideal criteria are you really saving time, or acting in haste and missing out an opportunity? I’m as romantic as the next person but if you meet someone who only fits some of your criteria but there’s some attraction and you get along, the reality is that you have just as much of an opportunity to succeed or fail in that relationship, as you would with someone who fits your criteria perfectly.

When it comes to love, the more open we are to different people the more opportunities we will encounter. If you meet someone outside of your ideals, the easiest option is to talk yourself out of it and walk away. It takes a braver person to take a leap of faith and who knows they may just find love in the most unexpected way. I’ll leave you with a final thought to ponder upon from Sam Keen:

"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly"

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Great article, surprisingly enough it has given me some food for thought. But I find often that the Asian Dating scene with itís check list is hard work and a law unto itself!

Great article - just read it! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A question that one must pose to oneself, before finding the perfect checklist person is 'Are they themselves perfect?' No one is perfect, what may be perfect to someone, may be imperfect to others, and vice versa. And so, the circle of life continues...

Hi Alpa, I read your recent article about dating criteria and I wanted to thank you for writing it and mention that it does raise some poignant points. Speaking from past experience when you're seeing/dating someone, despite there being mutual attraction and enjoying one anotherís company, it was very disheartening when you can see the conflict one person is going through as they are convinced it cannot possibly work but they really like you at the same time. What I am at a loss to understand is why certain people in this world deny themselves what could be unlimited happiness due to logic. Does it ever occur to people in this situation that the other person is just as scared of getting hurt or being heart broken, yet they have decided that you are not worth the risk? It takes two people to make a relationship and for whatever reason it may not work, two people do get hurt. If your ultimate reason for not pursuing something is fear of getting hurt as you have mentioned in your article, have they not thought that they are not on their own? The other person in the equation may not show it but are just as scared and risk getting just as hurt, if not more. I would love to hear from other members who may have been in the opposing situation I am speaking of.
Hi I am writing in response to the article and post above from the anonymous female. In the stages when a relationship is forming, we go through our checklist, always from OUR perspective. It's really a selfish approach, if you think about it, since, as this female says (let's call her Tina), it takes two to build a relationship, and thus it's only logical to consider the checklist of the other person. It doesn't seem like the guy did that in this scenario. This brings up a tangential point... you ever notice that people in the early stages of a relationship never (or at best, rarely) actually communicate their checklists? Women tend to go into interview mode with men they meet, and they check the 'yes/no' boxes in their minds - agreed? Men generally have fewer criteria, but they also just look for a 'pass/fail' set of checks which brings them to the determination whether a relationship is feasible or not. This makes me wonder, how many people actually have a legitimate checklist, have put some thought to it, and know how to prioritize things on that list? Tina's assessment of the situation is interesting. She thinks this guy didn't pursue her because of the fear of getting hurt. I'm curious to know how serious or close their relationship was, because in general, men don't fear getting hurt. Even when we do, that fear is far easier to overcome for us than it is for women. We're more quantitative, results-oriented thinkers, as opposed to women, who think emotionally. We get over getting hurt faster, if/when it does happen. And in general, it happens to us less. I think it really breaks down to *why* the guy thought it couldn't work. What's the "risk" she's describing? Tina's very hurt, but in the end, what if his logic for not being in a relationship with her was actually sound logic? Of course, we don't know what the real reason is here, but all I'm saying is, the reason *could* very well be legitimate, and she's just too hurt to see that. But if it is a reason that is a deal breaker from the start, the guy's a jerk! Why show interest and date the girl in the first place if you are aware of a total NO on your checklist? This applies only to the real critical points on a checklist, of course. If he doesn't like girls with curly hair, and she has only curly hair, obviously that's a stupid criteria...
Dear Anonymous PK above makes a valid point that men are more logical, whilst women are more emotional. Neither is wrong but it is a matter of finding a happy medium. Another point to add, which may apply to your situation is that often when people find themselves in conflict, itís a negative frame of mind in itself. Therefore, there is a higher tendency to focus on the flaws or negative points, rather than looking at the bigger picture. Thus, his reasons for not pursuing your relationship further from casual dating may be as a result of a few negative points/flaws. Whilst there may be more positives that outweigh the negatives, his conflicted frame of mind means that unfortunately they may have not been considered fairly, or at all.


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