How To Stop Being Picky And Start Being Selective About Your Romantic Partners, According To 'The Love Gap'

The longer you’re single, the more you start to consider settling as a viable life course. You start making compromises about what you once considered "big things." Someone with passion becomes enough, even though he doesn't have a real career focus. Someone with a real career focus becomes enough, even though there’s no spark. Someone who doesn’t share your desire for kids becomes enough, because maybe at least you’ll have love.

Over time, you get jaded. You start to forget what it feels like to be really, truly to-the-core excited about someone — and the great and terrible thing about that is that it’s like muscle memory. Your heart seems to remember the sensations of something greater, but your mind continues to play tricks on you the longer you don’t find it. You’ve cauterized yourself to what greater really feels like — because it was amazing, but it ended. It hurt once, and badly. So everything you come across seems not quite right, even though you don’t know why.

Your heart seems to remember the sensations of something greater, but your mind continues to play tricks on you the longer you don’t find it.

I’m not sure that I believe in love at first sight, but I believe in undeniable connection. It’s the "click." It’s that moment when two people converge in such a way that they were just meant to be. Maybe for a moment. Maybe forever. But that click is powerful stuff and tends to brew the best relationships; it’s based in excitement and a certain "fit" that’s driven by synchronous connection. On the other hand, any relationship where you struggle to connect from the very start is not the right relationship.

The Love Gap by Jenna Birch, $17.10, Amazon

When you’re in a relationship like this and you feel the pull of settling for less than you deserve, I want you to stop and reflect. I want you to remember that our generation is delaying marriage and that you are not alone. I want you to know that you may not find a mate who has all the earnings and success that you have — but you will find a complementary partner with whom you connect strongly, who fills the gaps in your life, and who has the self-esteem to understand how special your dynamic is.

Eventually, you will meet this person, who will shock you back into the reality of your desires. And you want to be single when you do.

Lots of single End Goal women are accused of being "picky"—a label assigned to them by their mothers, their best friends, the men they’re into (men they would date, even though they won’t ask them out). The sentiment is "You’re amazing, and single, so it must be your fault." Meanwhile, you just want a guy to show up for you! (And maybe put the toilet seat down.) Hard to find? You really wouldn’t think so.

Now, it’s not like I’ve never met a picky EG. I’ve met a few. Maybe it is you. Whenever I ask a picky EG why she isn’t going out with Mr. X again, her response is always "His laugh just bugged me" or "He grew up in a small town—ugh" or insert another inane reason here.

Women who are constantly told they’re catches, but who are unlucky in love, have some of the highest walls and expectations I’ve ever seen. No one gets why you’re single. You’ve had your heart broken by men you’ve "settled" on in the past, or ones who were amazing but not at all ready to commit. You think you deserve the best, yet you’re terrified of worst-case scenarios. So you analyze the crap out of every date you go on, looking for reasons to stop the train if there’s the slightest sign it might not reach its destination at some future point.

You think you deserve the best, yet you’re terrified of worst-case scenarios. So you analyze the crap out of every date you go on...

A lot of pickiness is a defense mechanism. The more time and energy you spend on prospects that don’t fit your life, the more you want to create reasons to dismiss someone early, or set up hurdles for men to jump. You only need one man, you tell yourself. Just one. So unless Mr. X fits a very specific list of criteria that indicates likely-forever compatibility, you throw him out. You forget what you need from a relationship, and start creating “if x, then y” rule systems, looking for men who pass a surface once-over. However, many of the factors that can keep you forever-happy are not ones you can gauge at first glance. The "best" person for you might be someone you are not expecting, who your rules do not account for, and you are missing out on him because you’re gauging long-term compatibility with the wrong criteria. You’re being picky.

At this point, I know you are thinking, I have every right to be picky! I’ve earned it! And I’ve told you before that you shouldn’t lower your standards and head down the road to settling. But it’s a fine line. If you want a relationship you’re actually at peace about, you should be selective, not picky.

The "best" person for you might be someone you are not expecting, who your rules do not account for, and you are missing out on him because you’re gauging long-term compatibility with the wrong criteria. You’re being picky.

It’s a competitive world out there. As an EG, you’re not in the market for a man who bleeds you dry emotionally and exhausts you during all the hours you’re not at the office (and even some you are). You want to expend your energy on relationships that might actually be supportive and fun, not dead ends or duds.

I want you to really know the difference between picky and selective. Let’s take a closer look (see Exhibit A).

Picky is critical. Selective is discerning. Picky is obstinate. Selective is wise. Picky is insecure. Selective is confident.

See the difference? I thought so. Throw out your rules (are they really working anyway?), make decisions you can stand by, have a willingness to be vulnerable and open to new ideas and people, and be receptive to love in a form you may not have initially imagined.

I also want you to be a good gauge of personalities that mesh. While I absolutely love the principle behind assortative mating—and psychologists back up the fact that we choose partners who are similar to ourselves, and are happier for it—you don’t want to date you. A good relationship blends similarities, to bond over, with differences, to make your life interesting and growth-oriented. You need to live and breathe growth—both as a person and as half of a future partnership. Let’s take a look at exhibit B.

These are just examples. Your partner could embrace any number of these differences and similarities, creating a unique, interesting, and growth-oriented relationship that will help you self-actualize. You want your partner to “get” you on some level but also to push you outside your comfort zone so you are constantly learning more about your potential. Seek out that right balance of similarity and difference—whatever feels fresh and exciting.

You want your partner to "get" you on some level but also to push you outside your comfort zone so you are constantly learning more about your potential.

But how do you find this person? Good question. I actually believe that you are uniquely designed to recognize potential—your ideal, your spark, your soul mate—if you can get in tune with your own internal guide. Remember, you’re intuitive. You can feel what is interesting, exciting, and complementary. Now, I want you to act on it in a way that seems organic and natural, fostering a connection that could last.

Excerpted from the book THE LOVE GAP: A Radical Way to Win in Life and Love by Jenna Birch. Copyright © 2018 by Jenna Birch. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.