About the Author

Honey's main interests are online dating, long distance dating, and long term relationships. She met her boyfriend on MySpace and they have been exclusive since their first date over three years ago. Currently they live in Tempe, Arizona. Honey graduated with her PhD in Composition and Rhetoric in May 2009. You can contact Honey via email here or online here.

The Art of Being Picky: What’s Negotiable and What’s Not

If you’re not a total player douche like Lance, then the purpose of dating for you (as it was for me), is finding the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with. In order to be successful at this, you have to accept a few truths:

  • This is not an overnight process. You will have to go on a lot of dates in order to find someone who’s right for you.
  • You will also have to take an active role in the process. You can’t wait for dates to come to you.
  • In fact, this active role needs to begin before you go on any dates at all. You will never find what you are looking for if you don’t know what that is.

Call me a Virgo, but making lists was the most effective means for me to decide what I was looking for. So as a first step, list everything that you’d ideally want in a permanent romantic partner.

This first list is a rough draft, so be as picky as you possibly can. Age, body type, education level, activity/fitness level, food preferences, sexual preferences (I’m not just talking gay or straight, here. I mean do you need it twice a day, or twice a month? Do you like it rough with biting and scratching, or are you a tender lover? Do you like bondage? Water sports? The Poly lifestyle?), pet preferences, alcohol/smoking/drug use, religious preferences, how many kids you want (if any), the activities you like to participate in your free time, your stance on firearms, reproductive rights, politics, etc. The point here is don’t skimp–list every single thing you can think of. As you create this list, you’ll probably find yourself adding to it over a week or two. Give yourself that time to let it simmer so you know you’ve listed everything. You absolutely cannot rely on chance, the numbers game, other people’s perceptions of you, or any other crazy random system to find “the one.”

Now comes the fun (and most difficult) part. You need to divide your list into categories:

  • Must-haves: things that are absolutely non-negotiable in order for you to be happy.
  • Strong preferences: things that would probably bother you if you weren’t on the same page, but that you’re willing to consider compromising on.
  • Weak preferences: things that would be nice, but that you don’t necessarily need to have in common with a significant other.

Once your list is categorized, you’re ready to start looking. I highly recommend putting yourself on at least one of the relationship sites–and do some preliminary searches before you join, because many people are on more than one site and there’s no sense paying for more than one if you’re going to uncover the same people at both. There are lots of sites that cater to particular interests, so you might join one of the more common sites to cast as wide a net as possible and then try to find one that caters to one of your must-haves or your strong preferences. And many of the locations that Lance mentions for meeting people outside of clubs and bars would also work for this purpose. To give you an idea of how your list might break down, take me as an example. I’m a vegetarian, I enjoy yoga, I have a high sex drive, I have two cats, and I love to read science fiction and fantasy. Obviously that’s not my whole list, but here’s how I’d break these things down:

  • Must-haves: Someone who loves having lots of sex and who also loves cats (and isn’t prohibitively allergic to them).
  • Strong preferences: Someone who’s also veggie. I don’t mind if the person eats meat at restaurants, but if things got serious, they’d have to know that I am absolutely not okay with meat in the house.
  • Weak preferences: Enjoys yoga and reading. It’d be nice to be able to talk about those things, but obviously I can do them on my own.

You’d be surprised how many people you might have instant physical chemistry with are your polar opposite on some issue that’s really important to you. And it’s better to find this out in the first few dates so that you can bail before you start thinking that maybe you can compromise on issues that you really can’t. That’s what leads to LTRs where you’re never really happy–and, in many cases, quick marriage and eventual divorce. What’s non-negotiable for you?

  • Lilly

    Now I know what your problem is, Honey, you’re a veggie!! Just kidding!! I have found that making a list is very powerful so I totally agree with your method of finding someone. You should update this list and se it as a means to keep you and your partner moving in the right direction. Even though I’m the same as Lance and dating multiple women, my ultimate goal, I think, is to find the perfect fit for me and live happily ever after, if that’s even possible.

  • http://www.hotalphafemale.blogspot.com Hot Alpha Female

    Hi honey,
    I think a list is really important. Its good to know what you are looking for so you can filter out all the people that aren’t really your type at all.

    The most important thing to me with a guy is mindset. Meaning to say i want him to have an extremely open and positive mindset with similar directions in life.

    For me there is nothing more worse than going out on a date with a guy who doesn’t think as expansive as I do. No matter how cocky or funny he is .. he just doesn’t float my boat and ultimately even if I do see him a couple more times, it will fizzle out because there is no depth to sustain the relationship.

    Having a list is great. You really need to define what your non negotiables are and stick by them. With that being said all the other stuff should be compromisable.

    While you do want a list, you don’t want to be soo picky that it makes everyone hard to make the cut.

    Hot Alpha Female


    Hot Alpha Female’s last blog post..One Of The Most Powerful Ways to Create Attraction – And It Has Nothing To Do With The Way You Look Or What Car You Drive …

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Honey

    Lilly, I totally agree that you can’t abandon your list once you’ve entered into a LTR, though I never thought about it in those terms. I think the list remains important because inevitably, no matter how thorough you think you were, there are going to be things that you didn’t include.

    However, the list also serves to make sure that your relationship is growing in a way that takes both people into account. Obviously your ability to truly compromise (i.e., give up some things YOU want, too) is incredibly important in a LTR.

    Thanks for helping me consider this from a new perspective!

    Honey’s last blog post..By: HoneyandLance.com | Hottiesphere

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Honey

    HAF, I think the problem is that when people make these lists, they have their COMPLETE AND TOTAL ideal in mind and list everything as a non-negotiable. If you do that, obviously you’re going to be disappointed!

    When I was creating my list way back in the day, it helped me to think of my list like a pyramid: there should be a very few TRULY important things that I could NEVER compromise at the top, more RELATIVELY important things that I’d have to have a working compromise** in place to deal with in the middle, and very many things that just aren’t sticking points at all at the bottom. If your pyramid’s upside down, then you’re in trouble.

    I got a lot of flak from friends back in my dating phase because they said I had “too many” non-negotiable things. In retrospect, I think what was ACTUALLY going on was that my non-negotiables were different from my friends’, so my list seemed unreasonable to them. In that kind of situation, it’s important to remember that what is “compromisable” in a friendship is different from what is compromisable in a relationship. I stuck to my guns and ultimately found what I wanted.

    **By working compromise I mean that both partners know where the other stands on a particular issue, and have an actual agreement about what each will do in a particular situation. What I said in my original post about dating a carnivore is an example of a working compromise: he could eat meat elsewhere, but not in our house.

  • Gina

    I like the list idea. I also agree with the fact you need to be honest in what makes you truly happy and couldnt live without (to find happy long term relationship/partnership). It’s not about listing a billion non-neg for the sake of being picky, and if you find yourself having too many you can always compromise and reevaulate your goals.

    I agree with the poster, that is one of my non-neg too with someone who likes lots of sex, you think it’s easy to find but suprising some people don’t have a high energy sex drive… so its important to know whats important and make sure those needs are met, just like you said so you don’t end up marrying someone who is satisfied with sex 1 time a month. ahhhh… lol