in: Dating & Relationships

How to Analyze Your “List” to Date More Mindfully

Kristen Hick

Dr. Hick tells us how to look beyond the dating “list” to find a deeper, uncharted way of dating. Let’s look beyond what’s on paper and date more mindfully.


Everyone has either shared or heard a tragic dating story that starts with, “He/She looked great on paper.” You’ve probably even created—perhaps rewriting many times over—a “list” of your own, outlining all of the qualities you desire in a potential mate.

While these lists are, in theory, a pretty good starting place for honing in on what it is you are looking for in a partner, they can only go so far. Once you have a “list,” it’s easy to get hung up on finding someone who satisfies every little aspect of your laundry list of traits. This may make your dating process more frustrating and limiting.

Additionally, getting stuck on your list can limit what you are able to see beyond the confines of the list, causing you to miss out on potential love in a pretty powerful way.

Mr. and Mrs. Not-So-Right

As a client once exclaimed, “F*ck what’s on paper!”

The thing is, when you get wrapped up in finding Mr. or Mrs. Right who looks great “on paper,” you may unknowingly miss the all-too-important and hard to see traits that make that Mr. or Mrs. Right look far-less right for you.

Again, it’s important to have a good idea of the qualities and deal-breakers you find important, but tune in to see why it’s time to start dating beyond, “He/she looks great on paper.”

Your “Looks Great on Paper” List

Create and/or Review Your “List.”

These are the qualities that you either consciously or less-consciously look for in a potential mate. This usually includes some of the following—and don’t be afraid to put every little detail down (even the secret ones you don’t advertise).

  • Physical: Height, weight, body type, hair color, eye color, posture, body features, ethnicity/race
    Background: Family make-up, birth order, socioeconomic background, nuclear, single or blended family, close or distant to family, region he/she grew up in
  • Personality: Extroverted/Introverted, funny, outgoing, shy, quiet, etc.
  • Religion/Spirituality: Agnostic, Atheist, Specific Religious Affiliation, Spiritual, etc.
  • Occupation: Gainfully employed, making ends meet with several jobs, specific industries (e.g., medicine, law, finance, business, teaching) or less specific, works long hours or works fewer hours
  • Education: College or postgraduate education, Self-taught, trade school, high school diploma, enjoys self-directed learning
  • Activities: Yoga, meditation, outdoor vs. indoor activities, group vs. solo activities
  • Interests: Philanthropy, volunteering, craft brewing, travel
  • Lifestyle: Diet, health behaviors, activity level (active vs. homebody)

Chances are good that you created this list from years of being influenced by your family, culture, community and society in general, including the not-so-real-fairy-tales you’ve been told and shown your whole life. It may help to reflect on the origins of your list a little further for your own purposes.

Now analyze it. Take a long, close look at it and ask yourself these questions.

  • How did you arrive at this list?
  • Was it previous bad, good or not-so-good dating experiences?
  • Was your list influenced by other people?
  • How has your list served, enhanced or limited your dating experiences and relationship choices?

Reality check time. If there are aspects on your list that don’t seem to be serving you, think about letting them go. For example, if you’re attracted to dating someone who has a high-paying job, chances are they work long hours and will likely have less time to spend with you. Of course, this is a broad generalization and will not apply in all cases, but is worthwhile to think about whether or not these “ideal” traits actually fit with the relationship you are intentionally seeking.

Look Beyond What’s “On Paper”

What’s Not on Your List That Should Be?

All too often, it it is the content of a person that lies outside of the lines that is the less tangible, but far more essential ingredients to making he/she an excellent match for you. Here are a few things to consider:

  • How does he/she make you feel?
  • Do you feel your best, most authentic self around him/her?
  • Do you feel calm and balanced with him/her in your life?
  • When you are upset, do they comfort you or tend to his/her own needs and goals?
  • Does he/she make time and space for you in their life?
  • How does he/she treat him/herself and others?

What Do You Disregard Because “He/She Looks Good On Paper?”

This is the point where a good list can go bad. It is my experience that when someone “looks good on paper” it leads people to ignore, disregard, and/or avoid looking at how this potential mate doesn’t look good on paper.

So often, I hear clients tell me that “he/she looked great on paper” and feel confused about how things went wrong. They often find that when they looked back to evaluate the relationship a little more closely, they see the little-but-very-important ways they were not a good match, but proceeded down love’s trail because of the first-glance fit. It is akin to putting on the emotional blinders, where because he/she look good on paper in some ways, you disregard all the ways they don’t.

Redefine Your “List” By Using Your Intuition

Enough with hiding behind a list that does little to advance your dating experiences and keeps you from facing your fears about the unknown—of dating outside the box.

This is your chance to ditch and redefine your list by realizing what’s really important to you in a relationship. Never mind the list that was predetermined for you.

Tune into your ultimate dating compass—your intuition—to determine the type of partner you want to attract and how you feel (in your mind, body and soul) when you are and are not with someone who embodies your new list.

Having an idea of who you are looking for is essential to guiding you through the dating mazes of life. However, it is far more important to look beyond your list to see what is either hiding until you are in too deep or what you may someday regret missing out on.

About the Author:

Kristen Hick Kristen Hick

Kristen Hick, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in the area of awakened dating and healthy relationships. She is the founder of Center for Shared Insight, a private psychotherapy practice in Denver where she and her clients focus on Individual Relationship Therapy. Dr. Hick’s expertise lies in helping individuals create healthy, meaningful, and loving relationships with others through healing, strengthening and transforming their most essential relationship, with themselves. When not helping clients fulfill their personal relationship goals, she enjoys the Colorado outdoors, capturing life through photography, practicing yoga and hopes to one day manage her first unassisted headstand. You can connect with Dr. Hick on her site, Facebook or Google+

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