Love Is Not A Grocery List: Why You Should Say No to Checklists For Potential Mates

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Knowing what it's like to be reeling from a Waiting to Exhale -esque breakup is not as foreign as some of us may wish it were. Although we may not have spiraled into a fit of pyromania, there is always that burning feeling that we somehow could have prevented it. And so goes the internal monologue of self-blame:

I should have known better. He wasn’t even my type. What I was thinking? How could I let this happen to me?

After (about) two weeks of chastising ourselves and gorging on cookie dough ice cream, the scale begins to reveal the true pitiable nature of our wallowing. We are then righteously impelled—not to go to the gym, of course—but to claw at any resolution that will ensure that this never, ever happens again. And out come the checklists.

Checklists are a cutesy idea dredged up from romantic films. They are touted as a logical means to organize everything you want out of a partner and sift through prospects accordingly. I have girlfriends who swear by these things. And once upon a time, I did too.

After breaking things off with my first love, I felt awful. I had been gallivanting in a fantasy land for so long that I needed to ground myself in something less frivolous than my own heart. Aha, why not make a checklist? I thought. So, I set about penning my ideal man, expounding on my usual tall, dark, and handsome go-to. I included everything from shallow details like Must be muscular to Must be on the same academic track as me. Satisfied with my list, I decided that I would not settle for anything less.

And I didn't. I found a man that seemed, on the surface, to be everything my imagination had engineered. The problem was, he seemed to intuit this. He knew he was undeniably handsome, clever. His comport was all bravado and this began to repel me. I was sitting at my girlfriend's house one day, pouring out my heart in a stream of consciousness as women do. I expressed that he was everything I wanted on paper but the connection I thought would manifest in person was less than electric. I didn't feel love—I felt logic. And when it ended, I felt... nothing.

I decided to take logic out of the equation and throw out my checklist. My boyfriend now is nothing like what I would have ever thought I wanted. But he is what I needed and is one of my best friends.

People amount to more than what they do or what traits they possess; reducing them to a series of checks or minuses sells them short. Although our logically-inclined brains may be baffled by that notion, our souls recognize that naturally. So, don't allow your mind to exclusively dictate your romantic ventures or drive you to shun wonderful mates simply because they do not meet one of your idealistic standards. The reality is that there is no perfect man, but who are you to sacrifice a perfectly good one simply because he doesn’t quite measure up to X, Y, or Z on your alphabetical catalogue?

When you become neurotic about the qualifications that are mandatory for a guy to even be considered (he must have a six pack, make $100,000 a year and love Broadway), you are not even opening yourself up to the possibility of romance. And isn’t that what “falling” is all about?

Image: Walt Stoneburner on Flickr