Can You Ever Escape “The List”?

Ages 29-36. Has a good job. Gets along well with his family. Is both cute, hot, and romantic, all at the same time.

These are just a few things on my list. But wait, there are more.

Lives alone and keeps a clean house. Is Jewish. Bonus points for being French/being a French speaker. Is not an actor, musician, or nonworking comedian. Tall. Is more alpha than beta.

I’m not proud of having a list. I’m ashamed that once, in a drunken, post-breakup haze, I wrote all of these things (a whopping 33 of them) down. I’m even more ashamed that I didn’t delete the list the next morning. I’m weirded out by the fact that I have a list when I feel I’m potentially not in a place where I see myself entering into a serious relationship. I’m sickened by the fact that I’m looking at this list right now. And I nearly hate myself for writing about it right now.

But I know I’m not the only woman who has one. Even if you haven’t thought it through, your past relationships can only create markers on that list. Many of these things are the same things you’d call dealbreakers. If you’ve broken up with someone, there’s a good chance the reason for the breakup will inform what you know you don’t need in your next relationship, or build on an idea of what you do need. 

Of course, a lot of the things on the list are aspirational and you know they probably don’t exist in real life. But you still hold out hope that maybe there’s someone out there who hits a few of the wildcard categories.

It’s hard to be actively dating and to not reference the list. After all, don’t you want to catch warning signs early on that you suspect will be issues down the road? You know you shouldn’t be analyzing, but it’s almost impossible not to. What’s even worse is noticing the flaws in others that weren’t on your list before, and obsessing over them as potential issues and reasons why this person can’t be the one. 

I’m often torn when it comes to measuring the importance of the list. Because, while there may be more than a few ridiculous points on it, the numbers near the top seem pretty important. Then again, wouldn’t you throw away the list for the right person? If that person didn’t meet your supposed standards, would you really be that bothered by it in the end?