Should You Make a List of Requirements for Dating Someone?

Making a dating requirements checklist

If we’re being completely honest, most of us have a checklist of requirements for dating in the back of our minds when we’re approaching someone. This list might be real and tangible, or it could be something we’re mentally keeping track of at all times. 

In college, I had a list of my to-do list and my not-to-do list. The boys on my to-do list were my dream boys, and those on my not-to-do list were the boys in my life who were trouble. While it helped me keep my standards straight, it was pretty awkward when one of the boys on my not-to-do list came into my dorm and saw his name on an unflattering list. But that’s my problem. 

In general, it’s good to know what you’re looking for in a partner and what you want out of a relationship. Especially when you’re online dating and presented with thousands of different offers, people, and choices. One of the best ways to find success in the jungle, often called online dating, is to narrow down what you want and what you’re looking for.

But something to keep in mind when you’re thinking about your priorities in dating is that everything can change. You might think you want something or someone now, but when you’re faced with it, it might not be all that you’ve built it up to be. 

So, should you have a requirements for dating list, whether physical or not, of everything you want to find in a partner? Or should you leave your options open and let love surprise you? We’re here to help you decide. 

The Benefits of Making a Requirements for Dating List​

There can be a number of reasons people make a list when trying to find their perfect partner. Most of us have dreamed about finding our one true love for years, so when the opportunity presents itself, we can often get a little trigger-happy and start making all of these assumptions and aspirations for them. 

Here are some benefits to making a clear and concise list of all you’re looking for in a partner.

1. It Helps You Feel Excited​

Dating can be tricky and take a toll on your mental health. There are many options out there, and it can be a bit draining to go through all of those options constantly, especially if you don’t have enough direction as to what you’re looking for. 

Rhian Kivitis, a sex and relationship therapist, tells Stylist, “It can be extremely helpful to have a list of qualities you seek in a potential partner when dating.” She explains, “Making this list helps you feel clear about what you’re looking for and what you’re available for, and you may therefore feel more positively focused as you navigate the dating game.”

By making a list of what you want to find in a partner, you’ll become more open to finding your love and be excited when you find someone that fits your list.

No, not everyone will check off everything on your list of requirements for dating, but it can make you more excited for those who tick off a lot.

2. It Can Help You Eliminate the Wrong People​

We’ve all made mistakes when picking out potential matches for ourselves. Some people seem perfect, but then you get to know them and realize that they are not the kind of person you want to spend five minutes with, much less fifty years. 

By listing the qualities you find the most important in your match, you can weed out some of the people you know you won’t match with. This saves time and heartbreak.

Dating coach, Kate Mansfield, says that making a list “Is the fundamental thing that I teach my clients to implement. The benefits are endless, such as making sure you have a system to eliminate the wrong people as soon as possible and a set of standards that reflect your vision for what you want and need in a relationship.”

The list makes it pretty clear what you want when you’re looking for a partner, and it can help you in the long run, especially when you’re suffering from the decision fatigue that many dating apps cause

3. It Establishes a Bare Minimum​

Yes, some people may be a little too ambitious when creating their list of requirements for dating and map out many more qualities than what would make the bare minimum. Still, once you look at your list with an editor’s eye and see what really matters, your dating list can help you find the few and exact key qualities you’re looking for in a partner. 

When creating your list, look for fundamental themes sprinkled throughout it, and find a partner that fits those key factors. It’s not wrong or rude to know what you’re looking for; just make sure you know what that is before you start turning people away. 

4. It Saves You Time Endlessly Scrolling​

As previously stated, there are many options for people you can match with online. Thankfully, most online dating profiles allow the person to fill out some basic information that usually helps potential suitors match with the people they think they could share a future.

But on the other hand, the seemingly endless possibilities for matches can become stressful and take a lot of time out of our days.

When you have a list of the qualities and requirements you’re looking for in a partner, you’re able to scroll through all of the people you know quickly won’t mesh well with you, and you save yourself and them from wasting time on the app and a relationship that will likely go nowhere.

The Drawbacks of Making a List​

As with everything in life, there are benefits and drawbacks to all of your decisions.

While making a list of the qualities you want your dream person to have can be great for your dating life in some aspects, it can also stunt its growth and cause you to idolize something and someone who doesn’t exist while turning down people who might be your perfect match but don’t tick off some things on your list.

Here are some of the biggest potential downfalls of making a list when you’re deciding on who to date.

1. Your Priorities Can Change​

While making a list of the traits we want in our potential partner, most of us can’t help but allow our minds to wander to the more superficial aspects of people. 

Yes, having a good sense of humor, being a good person, and having some things in common will more than likely be present on the list. But you might also sneak in that you wouldn’t mind if your partner was tall, successful, handsome, and other qualities that don’t necessarily make a good partner or match.

Kivitis advises people who are creating their dream list to make their deepest values clear on the list and possibly skip over their more shallow wants and desires. She says, “The qualities on your list tend to reflect your core values, priorities, standards, aspirations, and desires, so your list can help you recognize the potential partners who are most likely to be compatible with you.”

The list should be less of a map and more of a guiding pamphlet to use when navigating the dating world. Don’t let it steer you off certain clear paths, but also don’t let what’s on the list deter you from exploring other options that you might have glossed over if you stuck to every category.

Man not enjoying date with woman

2. They Can Be Superficial

Our priorities, wants, and desires change as we grow and evolve. What we want in one stage of life can be completely different from what we want in another. When you make a list of requirements for dating, you’re more than likely in a stage dedicated to preparing yourself and meeting people. But once the rubber hits the road, you might be in a completely different place, and your priorities could have changed. 

All of a sudden, you have a list of all the qualifying factors you’re looking for in a partner, but it’s severely outdated, and the categories on it no longer matter to you.

You can continue to update your list. It might be beneficial to see how your wants and needs develop and change throughout your life, but you should never let something you wrote about your past self dictate how you approach your future.

Allow yourself to change and grow and allow your list to do the same. 

3. Just Because Someone Matches Your List Doesn’t Mean They’re a Good Match​

You might have taken hours to make the perfect list and found all the best qualities you want in a partner. And you might find someone who ticks off every single one of those qualities. But just because they match your list doesn’t mean they’re a perfect match. 

Ultimately, your perfect person probably won’t be everything you’ve hoped and dreamed about. They’ll be more than that. You don’t always know what you want, and sometimes, the perfect person for you isn’t someone you want, but someone you need. And I would argue that that’s more important and special than ticking off a list.

Also, just because someone you’re talking to fits into every category you’ve asked for doesn’t mean you’ll have chemistry with them or feel a connection with them. Odds are, if they’re perfect on paper, they might be flawed in real life.

On the other hand, you might have created the perfect list of requirements for dating, and someone might fit all of them. If that’s the case, you are insanely lucky, and you’ve predicted your own future. Way to go; we hope nothing but the best for you.

4. Your List Might Not Be as Accurate as You Intended​

At the end of the day, we’re all just flawed people looking to make a great connection with other imperfect people. When creating a list of all the elements we want our future spouse or partner to have, sometimes we’ll get tunnel vision and write down requirements that we don’t necessarily need.

Ness Cooper, a sex and relationship expert, suggests looking at the requirements on your list and exploring why they’re there. She says, “Rather than being 100% focused on a tick-box list, sometimes looking at the motivation as to why you feel you need certain qualities in a partner can give you a better understanding as to why it’s important to you.” She continues, “You may find when you assess your internal beliefs, thoughts, and feelings around a particular quality that it isn’t the quality you’re looking for in someone as such, but rather the shared motivations behind the quality.”

For example, if you put on your list that your partner should be wealthy and successful, you might really want a partner who is driven, ambitious, and passionate. If you say that you want someone who has everything in common with you, what you really want could be someone who shares the same core values as you or one overarching interest.

Allow yourself to be more flexible than the list while also allowing what you put on the list to help you find your truest desires.

5. It Can Prevent You from Meeting Your Person​

If you’re stuck on the idea that you must wait for someone who meets all of your requirements, you’ll never find them. While you should stick to some of the core values and boundaries that you discover are essential to you from the list, don’t worry about finding the perfect person who checks every box. 

Kivits warns against this by saying, “The risk of a list is that you may end up ruling out the potential partners who are ‘wild cards’ — those who might not appear to be a match on the surface but who could have pleasantly surprised you had you given them a chance.” She says, “If you’re struggling to find dates because you’re looking for perfection or your list is so long  that nobody seems to fit the bill, you could be taking an approach that’s too rigid.” 

Don’t let the list that ought to guide you in finding your match ends up blinding you from them. Allow yourself to be surprised and see what the dating apps’ algorithms find for you.

Who knows? Your prince charming might not have anything to do with your initial list, but they could still be everything you’ve ever wanted.

To Make a List, or Not to Make a List​

If you’re still unsure whether you should make a list, here is our final opinion on it. Knowing what you want or don’t want in a relationship is good. Having priorities and boundaries isn’t bad; it can help you remain focused while you’re endlessly swiping on dating apps. 

But suppose you start to idolize the imaginary person on the list rather than allowing yourself to find someone who is real and potentially better for you. In that case, the list is now hurting your opportunity to find true love. It needs to either be paired down or thrown out. 

If you want more guidance and focus in your dating life, we suggest making a small list of three to five non-negotiables. Once that’s done, start exploring and having fun. Who knows? Your true love might be the person you least expect. 

Abigail Langton
Abigail Langton

Abigail Langton spends her time deep diving into the facts readers want to know about current dating apps online. You'll find her breaking down the latest price points and how to stay secure dating online.