Are You Being Too Picky, Or Not Picky Enough?

Are you being too picky, or not picky enough?

You may think you're refusing to settle, when in reality you're settling for less than what you really want.

I recently reconnected with a friend of mine from my single, dating days. Back then she and I were searching for Mr. Right together, and we spent a lot of time discussing the men we were dating and analyzing our various relationships.

This woman is beautiful, talented, funny, very hip and is a lot of fun to be around. She's now in her mid-forties.

She's also single.

Too picky?

It really got me thinking about the idea of being picky, and not settling for less than you want.

We both had our lists.  Not necessarily written lists (although I had various versions of written lists over the years), but we always carried with us in our minds subconscious lists of our must haves that were the driving force behind deciding whether or not to get involved with a particular guy.  And at the top of our lists were always the superficial things like height (both of our guys had to be over 6 feet), weight (I liked slim, she liked brawny), hair color (mine dark, hers blonde), how attractive he was, how stylish, how confident, how athletic, what kind of car he drove, and on and on and on – you get the idea.

We knew we were being very picky, and felt that we deserved to be – after all, we were looking for a partner for life, so he had to be exactly what we wanted, right? So we always held out for our ideal - guys who were tall, dark and handsome, dressed very well, made a lot of money, drove expensive cars, and were extremely charming.

But these same guys also wouldn’t call us when they’d say they were going to, would stand us up and then have a dozen excuses for it, would call us up at the last minute to get together, would leave us hanging for days only to call later on their terms, and often wound up telling us that they were involved with someone else.  Never mind that they would think nothing of the broken heart they would leave us with when they dropped us in a heartbeat as soon as someone they thought was better came along. And we put up with it because we thought they were everything we wanted in a guy.

It turns out we weren't picky enough.

It made me realize that the entire time we were busy being so picky about these superficial things that we thought were so important, we were actually settling for much less than our ideal when it came to the things that really mattered.  Like how he treated us.  Like how honest he was.  Like how ethical, dependable, and trustworthy he was.  Like how good of a potential husband and father he would make one day down the road.

As I recalled our many combined dating horror stories and the many subsequent conversations we had analyzing and over-analyzing everything about the guys involved and what he said or didn't say, did or didn't do, I realized where my own turning point was.  It was when a much older and wiser (and happily married) friend, after listening to my tear filled story of yet another devastating break-up with a guy I had placed so much hope on being the one, said to me, “Think about the qualities you want in the father of your future children, and look for a guy who meets that criteria instead.”

She knew me better than I knew myself, and she recognized what I didn't see at the time – that what was really most important to me was finding a man that I could create a family with, one that would support me in being the great mother that I longed to be, and that would complement me by being the equally great father. It was then that I finally started to evaluate what I really wanted in a partner, and that those qualities started to become truly attractive to me.

Be picky about the right things.

So if you find yourself with your own slew of must haves, or an ever growing list, either physical or mental, of what you want and don't want in a guy, take a good, hard look at what's on that list and see if you're being picky about the right things. Think about what your ideal relationship looks like, how you're treated in that relationship, how you feel in that relationship, and whether or not you want to build a family. Then think about whether each of those things on your list will help you get to that ideal relationship.

If not, it's time to rethink your list.


  1. Lori says

    Yes, this might work if you plan to have children, and are looking for someone who has the "qualities you want in the father of your future children, and look for a guy who meets that criteria." But what if you don't want children, or find yourself later in life, mid forties, and no children and too late to really plan on having any. What then, may I ask? This theory seems not to apply then .... help.

    • Jane says

      Hi Lori - Thanks for the comment and the excellent question!

      While I used the example of wanting a family and looking for a guy who would make an excellent father as my own personal example, there will certainly be women who are not looking for that in a relationship. What really matters is that you evaluate what you, personally, are looking for in a relationship, and define that for yourself, outside of superficial criteria. If you are looking for, say, long term commitment, then be picky about that, but don't be picky about whether he's 5'3" or 6'5". Be picky about finding a guy that's compassionate, kind, and caring, but don't be picky about whether he's blonde or balding.

      So if you aren't looking to create a family, then what does your ideal relationship look like? Do you want a man who comes home every night to be with you, or are you content to go your separate ways and do your own things for much of the week and get together on weekends? I know an older (near retirement), married, childless couple that both have careers that require quite a bit of travel, so each of them are separately jetting off to various far-off destinations much of the time, and when they do connect back up they love sharing in each other's stories - and they have lots of frequent flyer miles so that when they do have times when their schedules overlap they can travel to exotic destinations together. This relationship model works very well for them and they are very much in love.

      The ideal relationship will look different for everybody, but the point is to know what your own ideal relationship is, and look for a man that shares that vision of an ideal relationship. He may look completely different from what you envisioned, but once you realize how compatible you are and that you have the relationship that you want, you'll be amazed at how attractive he'll be!

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