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Dating Checklist: How to Make One & Why It Can Benefit Your Life

Having a dating checklist may sound high maintenance, but is it actually beneficial to helping you find your ideal match?

Dating Checklist

What is a dating checklist? It is just like any other checklist! It is the list of the things you need. Your grocery checklist is what you need from the store, and a dating checklist is what you need from a partner.

Now, some people think having a dating checklist makes you an unrealistic snob– refusing to date everyone who doesn’t adhere to every ticked box. In a way, they are right, but you’re not being snobby, just a person who knows what they want from a potential partner. 

The way to do it right is to make sure that your checklist contains realistic, emotional, and personal traits,  as opposed to superficial things like height and weight, eye color, etc. [Read: Should you settle for less when you can have so much more?]

Should you have a dating checklist?

Not everyone needs a dating checklist, but it definitely has its benefits. If you find yourself in a pattern of dating people who are wrong for you,  a dating checklist can help you identify what traits aren’t working and find a relationship that does.

If you can identify the qualities of your exes that led to the breakup, you can work from there when listing what you need from a partner. Again, these are things like personal motivation, empathy, and honesty. If you just want a partner that is physically fit, it would be better to hit the gym yourself. After all, you can’t expect your partner to do something you aren’t willing to do.

It is very important to approach the task of making a dating checklist with a lot of room for flexibility. The list is just supposed to act as a guide, and being overly rigid will work against you, not for you. [Read: How to find your soulmate: 30 practical tips to keep you from giving up]

Making a checklist for dating can sound critical and profoundly unromantic– like a math problem. But the reality is that dating is hard, and even smart people find themselves repeatedly seeking partners with qualities that are bad for them. Making a list is a good exercise to break that cycle, and seek someone who is better for you.

When you know that someone ticks off all the things you need from a relationship, you can focus on the good parts. You can enjoy the passion and romance because you don’t have to worry about things that may have caused rifts in the past.

The relationship may still end, of course, but no amount of list-making can prevent that. Even if it ends in a breakup, you can take the relationship as a valuable learning experience for next time. [Read: 15 signs of a healthy relationship you should always look for]

What should you have on your dating checklist?

A dating checklist is only useful if it is realistic, practical, and kind. If you find yourself angrily scribbling all the things you hate about your ex, that’s venting, which is not list-making *though venting can be beneficial too, just in a more cathartic way*.

Your dating checklist should contain attributes you look for in your ideal partner, how you want your partner to make you feel, and what kind of good traits your partner would bring out in you.

Keep fantasy and vanity off your list– you might like to date a supermodel billionaire, but unless you are one yourself, that’s pretty unlikely.

A dating checklist should be helpful and bendable, not harsh and specific. You are not picking a car, you are picking a life partner. People are complicated and constantly changing. You can require heated seats, a sunroof, and good gas mileage in a car, but a dating checklist needs to be made for people.

This list about your deal breakers that could truly affect your potential future with someone. [Read: 17 relationship deal breakers to watch out for]

Do you only see yourself with someone that shares your religious beliefs? Do you know you want a family? Are you attached to your hometown, or willing to move?

These are the kind of deal breakers that are often cast aside in the first blush of new love, only to come back and haunt you at the 5-6 month mark. That’s why it’s important to establish deal breakers early–they prevent wasted time and heartbreak down the road. [Read: Starting a new relationship? Your checklist to a happy romance]

Again, allow room for the human element. You have to be able to bend and change. For example, you may not be able to picture yourself with someone younger than you or from a different background–but that could be what’s perfect for you! You just have to make sure that you are compatible enough to make it in the long run. 

Potential dating checklist items

If you are struggling to think of some good dating checklist items, here are some common “deal breakers” that can cause trouble in relationships.

1. Religious and spiritual beliefs

The younger generation tends to be less religious, but it is still important to many people.

If your religion is highly important to you and having someone share your beliefs is vital, it should be on your dating checklist. Otherwise, you could struggle with a less secular partner, or one devoted to a different faith.

2. Political stance

It’s definitely not first date material, but it’s good to have a partner with a similar political mindset.

There are plenty of opposing political opinions in successful relationships, but if focusing on climate change or women’s rights is part of your daily life, dating someone opposed to that would not make sense for you.

It is also a quick way to find out who is educated and willing to discuss these sticky issues with you, and who flares at the mere idea of being challenged *hint– stay away from them*.

3. Wanting a family

Relationships are all about compromise, but this is one issue that cannot be compromised on. You can’t “sort of” have a kid.

If partners differ in their wants for children there are only three options:

1. Have a family and the partner who didn’t want it is resentful

2. Don’t have a family and the partner who wanted it is resentful

3. Breakup.

None of those are great options, so it’s best to get on the same page early on. [Read: 20 questions to ask your love and learn everything you need to know]

4. Where you want to live

People form deep attachments to the places they live. If you want to stay put, or never move too far away from your hometown, that’s an important thing to add to your dating checklist.

Lots of people move regularly these days, either for work or just a change of scenery. If that works for you, fantastic, but it could cause a problem if it doesn’t. 

5. Communication skills

This should be on everyone’s dating checklist. Being able to communicate is vital to the success of any relationship, and everyone has different communication styles. For example, some people share news right away, others have to have it dragged out of them.

Communication breakdown is often the first sign of a failing relationship. If you can’t properly express yourself to each other, it can go downhill quickly.  Of course, people can grow and improve on this, but they have to be willing to try. 

6. Physical compatibility

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many boxes a person ticks, if you don’t find them attractive, it won’t work.

This is not something you need from the first date. It can grow over time and be even better when it grows rather than having major chemistry off the bat. But intimacy is important to romantic relationships, otherwise, it is more of a friendship than a romance. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test your compatibility instantly]

7. Lifestyle

If you love to work out and go hiking, you probably won’t be happy with a gamer who spends 5+ hours a day on their computer.

Sure, opposites can make it work, but as a homebody, would you want to date someone who goes to clubs every night and vice versa? This is definitely something that can be compromised on, but not for everyone.

8. Sense of humor

Humor gets us through so much in life: everyday monotony, hardships, trauma. Humor cheers us up and brings joy to every day.

If you and your partner can’t laugh or relax in that way, it could bring a lot of stress and tension to a relationship. [Read: The 12 types of humor and how it affects relationships]

9. Maturity

A common problem is maturity incompatibility between partners. Maturity differences have nothing to do with an age gap— we all know someone who is wise beyond their years, or way too old to be acting the way they do.

Maturity is more the ability to take care of oneself in a calm and organized way. You and your partner should be comparable, maturity-wise, otherwise one of you may end up feeling more like a parent than a partner.

Expectations of a dating checklist

Creating a dating checklist needs to be an open-minded and accepting practice. Yes, we should all have standards and feel good about sticking to them. We also have to be able to see the bigger picture. People are complex, and no one is perfect. 

Therefore, straying from your checklist is important. It is not like sticking to your itinerary.

Your expectations of having and following a dating checklist should be guidance and knowing your worth. This checklist should remind you that you are worthy of someone that puts in the effort, treats you as an equal, and makes you happy. [Read: 12 relationship boundaries new couples must draw early on]

Your dating checklist should guide you to someone that respects your time and appreciates your company.

If you find this process makes you angry or demanding towards the opposite sex, then maybe you are too emotionally fragile to be dating at the moment.

Take a few steps back and analyze the situation. Don’t let it close you off to opportunities for happiness and branching out of your comfort zone.

Your dating checklist shouldn’t limit you to a “type” of person, but to the level of trust in your potential relationships and yourself. It should remind you not to settle for less than you deserve, but to compromise.

[Read: Why going low only leads to lousy relationships]

Having a dating checklist is something that can guide you to romantic happiness. With the wrong mindset, it can hold you back. So, before making one, remember that rigidity is not your friend, because real life is flexible.

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Edit Team