This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Isaac ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah for her neshama.
By Shayna Hulkower
We all have our wants and needs when it comes to dating. I don't judge my friends' lists - things that are deal-breakers for them are non-issues for me, and vice versa. To each his own. However, we all know at least a few people whose lists are longer than the yellow pages (not that anyone still uses those, perhaps I should say longer than a google search result?). How do we know when our requirements stop being reasonable and start becoming 'picky'?
There are different types of picky. The first is the person who claims to not have a lot of requirements, but after some mild digging you see that what they want is as realistic as figuring out string theory. I call it having a 'When Harry Met Sally' moment. You'll recall the iconic scene from the movie when Sally is ordering lunch in the diner. She says what she wants simply at first - salad and then pie ala mode. However, she then goes on to quantify how she wants everything, dressing on the side, then the pie heated with strawberry ice cream instead of vanilla, and if there is no strawberry then no ice cream but whipped cream instead, but no whipped cream if it's the kind that comes out of a can. The waitress looks at her like 'You have to be kidding.' This type of person starts off reasonable, but then quickly goes into such detail about their basic requirements that you are left wondering if such a person is even possible of existing, even with over 7 billion people on the planet. I had a friend like this - he said his list is basic. After prodding him to actually spell it out we discovered he had over 30 'needs' in a person before he would consider going out with them, including being fluent in American Sign Language and preferring the house be kept on the colder side. I called him out on his impossible list, to which he defended himself by explaining his last girlfriend had all of these qualities (she happened to break up with him, and he was still smarting from it). I helped him whittle down the list to a more manageable dozen, but only after my roommate came over, looked at the list, snorted and handed it back to him. These types are often the most able to change. He called me the next day to thank me for helping him realize that he needed to be more open and accepting that he needs to move on from his last relationship.
The next kind I call Mr. (or Mrs.) Freeze, since this person won't budge an inch from their list. I am the first to say that you shouldn't have to settle in life, and not in a spouse, but sometimes we need to do cost benefit analysis of what we have versus what we want. One of my friends wanted nothing more than to meet a guy with family in Israel, in addition to her other needs. At the end of the day she married a great guy who loves her and she loves, but with no family in Israel. Does she still wish that he has family here? Yes, but she would never trade her marriage with him for that. Another friend only wanted to marry someone whose parents weren't divorced (unfortunately not such an easy thing to find in this day and age). Someone had suggested a particular girl but he was set against it because her parents were not together. After much cajoling she finally acquiesced to go out, and of course, many years later they are happily married with four kids. I'm only listing the happy endings, because of course the people who were too stubborn to try for a beginning never gave themselves the opportunity for any ending.
The last category we'll go into today is the pretend picky. While no one is hopeless, these are definitely the toughest nuts to crack and one should proceed with caution. This is the person who secretly (or so they think) doesn't really want to get married, for whatever reason, and will bend over backwards to avoid going out with someone in the first place, or be very quick to dump when they do. While on the one hand, they are doing everyone a favor by not going out on dates when they aren't serious about getting married, on the other hand, they are really hurting themselves. By not facing whatever their fear is about marriage they are depriving themselves of a happy future with their potential spouse and family.
So there you have it. The next time you turn down a potential date, first ask yourself if you are being too picky. At the end of the day the only person you hurt is yourself. No one is going to be perfect, and by being realistic with your expectations and needs you are giving yourself a chance to meet a great person - who will hopefully also not be too pick.