Dating 101: Is a Checklist Necessary?
Avoiding red flag-worthy issues
A great romance is one of the purest pleasures in life. As a single woman, finding the person who makes your heart truly sing, and who feels the same way about you, is one of the most astounding experiences of life. Dating with purpose, and finding someone who you make sure wants the same things you do, is one of the ways that you find your lifetime mate.
So should you create a dating checklist to enable your search? Experts ring in on whether it’s a smart idea or a bad idea to create a checklist.
Avoid wasting time
Creating a dating checklist is a streamlined way to avoid wasting time on the wrong men. Stef Safran, founder of Stef and the City, a Chicago-based dating service, said she recommends that all of her clients develop such a list. But she said it’s important to keep the list small, and to not write down superficial items such as washboard abs or piercing blue eyes. It’s more about listing your dealbreakers – addictions, poor money management, similar life goals – and eliminating those men early on who don’t match your needs.
Safran suggested considering the following items for your list:
Children - Do you want kids? Does he? This answer should match up to proceed.
Marriage and relationship goals - Does this person want marriage? Do you? This answer should match up to proceed.
Friendships - Does this person have friends both long term and short term? You want someone who is able to maintain relationships and add new ones.
Adaptability to life's situations is important.
Fitness - Does this person take care of themselves mentally and physically? You want someone that cares about themselves as you want a partner that knows how to deal with life in a mature fashion.
Finances - Do they have a healthy outlook on their financial future? A guy who will spend tons of money on fun things but looks at planning for the future as something that doesn't matter, may not be the guy for you.
Consider what's important to you
Allen Wagner, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, added his items to the potential checklist:
Ambition - Thinking about lifestyle in the future is important. Obviously we don’t all make the money we would like, but that does not mean we can’t. For many women, a man is not seen as a finished project, but rather a work in progress. The problem occurs when there is no growth, but instead an acceptance of life standing. Many women find it hard to respect a mate who does not seek promotion, or upward mobility in their careers, aside from the monetary concerns. Personal growth can feel stunted, as one partner may be satisfied with the lifestyle, while the other envisions something more.
Shared activities - Being together during the honeymoon phase can feel intoxicating or fun regardless of the venue. As relationships move forward and people move in together, the novelty of one another wears down, and the frequency of being apart from one another is reduced. This time apart may have been the time you spent with friends, or participated in clubs. When the dust settles, what do you like to do together?
Religion - You are not religious you say? Fair enough, but despite many people choosing to lead a secular lifestyle themselves, religion commonly plays a role in how they envision raising their children in the future, even if it’s just seen as tradition within the family.
Family - Some partners are more family oriented, and may want to allocate more time with family per month, than the other partner may feel comfortable with. In the beginning of a relationship many people spend a lot of time with their partner’s family, seeking acceptance. Unfortunately, norms regarding frequency and participation are being established and with that comes future expectation, and this can play out in either hurt, unintended messages, or resentment. Understanding your partner’s philosophy regarding his family can be helpful in looking at compatibility. Are you okay with his mother moving in with you?
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of “The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again”, shared her suggested items as well:
Anger and addiction - If your date is able to drink a lot without showing it, that's alcohol tolerance, and indicates your date is used to drinking. You may be dating an alcoholic whose drinking doesn't show readily, but who still has serious problems. More than one or two drinks in an evening, or two glasses of wine with dinner, should ring a warning bell. Out of control behaviors, such as rage (perhaps at the waitress, or while driving the car), too much drinking, missing work, or being depressed can be clues about serious problems that
can make a healthy relationship impossible. If you get such clues, go slowly until you see if there are real problems.
Control freak/ Possessive/Abuser - A date who has it all together, makes the arrangements, can't wait to see you again, phones frequently, is intense and persuasive in discussions, always knows what he wants to do, sends cards or flowers, and arranges things to perfection often feels very good, at first. The attention is nice (especially when you've been alone), you may not notice how your date has to have things go his or her way. Jealousy can be flattering, especially if your date wants to be exclusive right away, but it may be emotional instability, and become a chronic lack of trust and suspicion.
Controlling people can be very smooth until you commit and bond when the control can intensify and lead to stalking or abuse. Be careful of the “too perfect” lover. What feels good on a date can be very oppressive as every day behavior. Anger, control, and possessiveness are all warning signs that your date may have a control issue.
One of the best ways to avoid getting into a relationship with the wrong man is to take it slow when you begin dating. Don’t fall too hard, too fast. Keep your eyes open and if his actions don’t match his words, then consider ending the relationship before your heart gets too involved. No matter how much you like him after dating a few weeks or a few months, it will be easier to break up at that point than it will be years down the road.