09/10/2011 10:14 EDT | Updated 11/10/2011 05:12 EST

When Can't We Afford to Be Picky Daters?


"You're too picky."

What single person hasn't heard that before? People often accuse us of being super-selective if we're is less than snappy about getting ourselves hitched.

But let's be honest, most of us are picky. Is there such a thing as too picky? Well, what do people expect? "Um, you're not exactly what I'm looking for, but I guess you'll do." That's appealing.

We all have a list when it comes to whom we're attracted to. And, again, let's be honest many of the items on the list are physical. I hate to admit it, but I always had a hard time with men who were shorter than I was.

Which is why I recommend have a few non-physical traits on the list, just in case you want to have the occasional conversation with the person you ultimately hook up with, but that could just be me. For instance, I had other things on my list, too, like a sense of humour and gracious spirit. As a result, I went out with some funny, kind short men.

You have to decide what you can and can't live with. If she's gotta be blonde and thin, that's your thing. Don't apologize for it. But if you're frustrated because you're not finding blonde, thin women, that's a problem. You might try adding a few other items to the list.

As we get older, we have a better idea of what we want (theoretically anyway) and get even more picky. Chances are, you've dated enough people to know what you like and don't like and aren't interested in wasting your time on people you know you don't want to spend time with. If that makes you picky, well, so what, right?

As a friend once said to me, "It used to be that anybody with a pulse could ask me out and I'd say yes. Now, he has to have a pulse but he has to have some other stuff going on, too."

Of course, sometimes what we think we want isn't necessarily the best thing for us. Sometimes, the initial chemistry is so strong, our list gets a little more flexible than it should. "Did I say I'd never date someone who tortures small animals? What was I thinking? This guy's perfect for me. I'm sure the animals deserved it."

I can't tell you the number of friends who end up with people they never thought they would. And many a time I've heard someone rattle off a list, only to sit down with them on-on-one to find out that what they're actually looking for is totally at odds with their list. So, it may not be that you're picky, it just may be time to revisit your "list."

Try this exercise:

* Write down everything you could possibly fantasize about an ideal partner.

* Go through you list and whittle it down to your non-negotiables. With each quality on the list, ask yourself, would I rather stay single than be with someone who doesn't have this quality. If the answer is "no," strike it off the list (maybe he doesn't absolutely have to love Neapolitan Mastiffs, animals in general might do).

* You should now have a short, hardcore list of important qualities you're looking for in a mate. Memorize it and leave it at home. That way you won't be tempted to pull it out and check off items when you're out on a date with someone new. And you'll be able to keep your wits about you when that hunk of a guy who is suddenly making your knees melt tells you he hates animals.