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Ditching Your Love Checklist

As a professional matchmaker and dating expert, I am bombarded with requests to find women the “perfect” man—that guy who checks off every box on the list. “The List,” as we often refer to it, is essentially a list of demands or—in more polite terms—requirements for a potential match. You probably have one too. But does The List actually help you find the right person or is it detrimental to the whole process?

I understand why women create checklists: It’s absolutely natural and necessary. Some people come to us with very reasonable lists including just a few “must-haves” such as seeking someone who is both ambitious and masculine. These requests are completely achievable and can provide guidance for us as matchmakers who are looking to narrow down suitors.

However, we’re often confronted with versions of The List that are, well, overwhelming. We have women approach us with over 30 requirements, including extensive deal-breakers. 

For example, here is an actual list of requirements we received:

  • Perfect teeth
  • Blue eyes
  • Broad shoulders
  • Income over $500k/year
  • Must love yoga
  • Originally from the Midwest
  • Triathlete
  • Donates to animal-related charities
  • Must work in finance

Some of these qualities, on their own, are not outrageous. But this many bundled together are highly limiting, meaning that—however unconsciously—the woman is focusing on the negative, not the positive. Most of these requirements are surface-level too and not the type of traits that make a difference over time.

Let’s examine some of these: 

Appearance

Considering appearance can make a lot of sense. If you’ve historically dated men who are tall, dark and handsome, then you likely have a physical type. Physical attraction is extremely important when it comes to dating, and it’s not something we ignore. 

The challenge is when a preference becomes a requirement. We’ve had clients require blue eyes, for example. This is a problem because making a physical attribute a necessity means you are closing out all other options. You are severely limiting yourself statistically. In fact, blue-eyed people make up only about 8% of the population. And half-Asians? Only about 1% of men in the United States. And, believe it or not, only 14% of people (men and women) are over 6 feet tall. So, by restricting according to height, for instance, you are eliminating 86% of the potential population, and one of those people who is 5’10” might be your soulmate!

Income

When working with women, especially women who are independently successful, we often see a List that includes a certain financial status. Sometimes, there is a specific amount: “I’m looking for a man who makes over $500k a year.” And other times, this request can be more abstract: “I want someone who is ambitious enough to afford a nice house.” In this case, the word “ambitious” is thinly veiled as a replacement for wealth.

Financial status is important when deciding on a mate. You have to know that your partner will be able to support himself, and potentially you, if something were to come up. We get that. Here’s where people go wrong: Sometimes, it’s the woman who is going to be the main breadwinner. And that’s okay!

Even now, in an age where women can be CEOs and powerful attorneys, we have a societal perception that men must be earners. Successful women want men who are at least as successful as they are, and, as women become increasingly successful (Go, women!), that can be statistically limiting.

It can also be incredibly hard for a relationship when both parties are working long hours, fighting for promotions and trying to reach the next step in their careers. It can be nice to have someone to come home to who isn’t always trying to get ahead. At the end of the day, money alone isn’t going to make you happy, but having a healthy relationship can, so be open and give that possibility a chance.

Education

Women often list good schools as a requirement for choosing a mate. Of course, higher education denotes intelligence, and it can also denote wealth or social status.

But, does a great-on-paper college equate to a great-in-person partner? Our experience suggests not always. If your list includes a great school, perhaps consider going on a first date with someone who went to the University of Indiana, who maybe will make you laugh. Chances are that person is just as intelligent and will keep you more entertained than an Ivy Leaguer. 

Hobbies 

It’s completely okay if your partner doesn’t have the same hobbies as you. To require that he goes to yoga and spins is not only limiting, it’s highly unlikely. In fact, it’s important that you have activities that you can both enjoy separately. Instead of specifying their day-to-day habits and behaviors, parse out what you really mean by including these hobbies. By adding “yoga” to your list, do you mean you’re looking for someone who is mindful, or someone who is contemplative and thoughtful about the world around him? By “triathlete,” do you mean someone who is disciplined in his athletic pursuits? Take a step back and figure out what these specific hobbies are meant to imply and replace the specific interest on your list with the personal trait.

As you can see, the elements of your list might seem harmless, but they can really limit your ability to find love. Most of the qualities we see are unrelated to what women are really looking for. Take a look at your own list and measure it against your long-term goals. Does your checklist relate to real values? Does your list include important traits like kindness, thoughtfulness and the ability to make you laugh? Because those are the things that make a difference in the long run. No couple in their 80s will tell you that it was a graduate degree that made their lives together happy. Think of your list (of four or five things, maximum!) as needs, rather than preferences.

Through that lens, keep your heart as open as your mind, and you’ll be much more likely to find love. — Talia Goldstein

Talia Goldstein, CEO and founder of Three Day Rule, has been featured by Good Morning America, Fortune, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post. While working as a TV producer at E! True Hollywood Story in 2012, she quickly became the resident dating expert and, recognizing her hidden talent, began offering matchmaking services and hosting popular singles events. Leveraging her extensive network of successful, attractive singles, Three Day Rule was born. She and her team have since found matches for thousands of clients including top executives, entrepreneurs and celebrities. Goldstein is thrilled that her work allows her to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them find true love. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.