If you use dating apps or have ever been on a date in the 21st century, you’re probably exhausted from swiping left, and dodging “u up?” from fuckboys or “hey” from boring matches. You don’t feel like you’re too picky (it’s called having standards!!) and when the average dating pool looks like overgrown frat boys suffering from Peter Pan syndrome, it can be easy to blame your lack of a love life on a lack of options, rather than there being something wrong with you.
However, in a world where we make two-second decisions to pursue someone (or not) based on a profile picture, and finding a life partner is like online shopping for a pair of shoes, our standards and expectations have drastically changed over time. Has online dating made us judgmental (I wondered, in my best Carrie Bradshaw tone)? And even worse, is being judgmental hurting our love lives?
What’s the difference between being too picky and not settling?
So you refuse to settle for less than butterflies, a hilarious sense of humor, 10/10 looks, an organic (and orgasmic) sex life, a passion for volunteering with animals, (oh, and a successful career and a musical talent wouldn’t hurt either). Of course, I’m not suggesting you settle; I am a Libra, after all (romance is in my star chart). But there is a huge difference between not settling and being too picky. Not settling means you’d only consider dating people with the qualities that truly make you happy while being too picky means expecting perfection, not a partnership.
You should have expectations, and you deserve to get your needs and wants met (you’re a total catch, after all). However, chasing the idea of what your ideal person could be is not the same as settling for who someone already is. Remember that no matter what, love requires compromise. In a good relationship, compromise will feel equally reciprocated and will make you better in the long run. If you’re settling, it might feel like you’re giving up a piece of your identity, and maybe giving up more than your partner has to. If you’re still unsure, here are seven signs you should be less picky (while still not settling!).
7 Signs You’re Too Picky in Your Dating Life
1. You can’t put your finger on why they’re not good enough
If someone you started dating is “just not your type,” but you can’t come up with any actual reasons why not, that means you’re picky because you don’t know what your type is. Write down a list of the non-negotiable qualities, AKA the traits you know you’ll need to be happy (fun personality, a good sense of humor, compassionate heart, treats you well, etc.). If someone doesn’t have those qualities, then they are not your type. But if someone has all the qualities that matter the most to you, why not give them a second date? Either you’ll realize you liked them more than you initially thought, or you’ll learn a trait that you don’t like to look out for in the future.
2. You want every box checked or no relationship at all
All-or-nothing thinking is a red flag that your expectations might be too high. If you believe first impressions are everything, and you won’t give someone a second glance without the intense, instant connection you see in romantic comedies, you might be missing out on matches that could be a good fit. Also, if you’re expecting to fall in love within a month of meeting and get married under a year (or whatever the timeline of finding “The One” looks like to you), you’re putting too much pressure on yourself and the people you meet. Dating should be enjoyable, not an interview process.
3. You haven’t had a long-term relationship in a while (or ever)
Maybe you just haven’t met anyone worth your while, or maybe you haven’t been open to a relationship at all. Non-picky dating (while keeping high standards) might look like going on a few dates and realizing you’re not a good fit after getting to know someone better, or even dating for months until a fight or incident makes you realize you’re not compatible (or you just get bored. It happens!). However, if you haven’t gone on a second date in months or years, you might be too picky.
4. You believe a perfect person is out there
Here’s what rom coms got wrong: no one is going to be perfect for you. Real life does not include a flawless Prince-Charming or a Happily Ever After once the wedding is over. As Hannah Montana so wisely stated, nobody’s perfect. No matter who you wait for, they will have flaws that irritate you, and a lifelong relationship brings fights that challenge you. Instead of waiting for a perfect person, or even a perfect relationship, look for a perfect love. That means you’ll love each other through the flaws, and get better together. Don’t look for a perfect person; look for someone who will work through imperfections with you.
5. You base your decisions on pros and cons lists, rather than what you want
If your love life is starting to resemble a notebook full of pros and cons lists, you’re probably dating based off of what you’re supposed to want rather than what you actually want. Your list of expectations might be so high that it’s impossible to match, or you’re just not in tune with what you’re feeling.
It’s advice so cliché that it was an ’80s pop song (and what your mom and preteen romance novels have been telling you since you were a kid): listen to your heart. Dating doesn’t have to be so complicated; if you enjoyed your time with someone, go for a second date to see how it goes. If you didn’t have a good time, let them know you’d rather be friends (talk about cliché, right?). If you’re overthinking, you’re being too picky.
6. You’re fixated on qualities that don’t matter
There are the big things that should matter to you, based on what you know you need to be happy: a good sense of humor, a kind heart, family values, similar religious beliefs. And then there are the little things that don’t really matter: a bad Netflix queue, a nerdy appreciation for Star Wars fan fiction, or the fact that they’d rather go hiking than take a beach vacation.
If you only consider dating people that have all the same interests as you do, or won’t date people who are fans of other sports teams, yes, you are much too picky. If a certain trait in a partner won’t make you any less happy decades from now, it’s not worth ruling out now (and who knows, you might even realize you love hiking).
7. You don’t want to be in a relationship
If you’re picky to the point that your friends and family are telling you repeatedly that you were stupid to say no to the cute guy from the coffee shop, or the girl you turned down on Bumble seemed great, think about if you’re saying no to people because you don’t like them, or because you don’t actually want to be in a relationship.
Even if you think your goal is love, past hurt or present fears might be stopping you from finding relationships. Your long checklist of unattainable qualities might be purposefully impossible to meet so that you never have to open yourself up to get hurt, or because you don’t want to give up your single life as much as you think you do. Reconsider if you want to find love or if you don’t want to be in a relationship. Take care of yourself, make whatever changes you need to get what you want out of life, and stop being so picky (but keep not settling).