Skip to content

Simply Solo Spotlight: Finding Love Involves Practice, Research and Standards

January 3, 2012

Happy New Year ladies and gentlemen! The first guest post of 2012 is brought to you by C.L. Russell, who writes the dating blog, Did He Really Just Do That? I love this guest post because I’m all about taking your love life into your own hands and doing the necessary homework to help create the life you want. And the timing is perfect: fresh year, fresh opportunities.

Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Contact me at:

Finding Love Involves Practice, Research and Standards

Can anyone find love for you but yourself? Photo courtesy of Franco Folini

I used to believe that love just happens. I thought I didn’t have to do any footwork, research or self-exploration before I found love because no matter what careless things I did, the universe and fate would magically send me The One.

This belief was based purely on laziness, fear and an unwillingness to change.

Today I believe that finding a great partner involves practice and research, like exercise or school. Now I know that it was never about fate sending me The One. Rather, it was about setting myself up to find a good man by knowing what I wanted and having the confidence to go after it.

I was 25 years old when I decided to change my ways and create a “love strategy.” I reached the tipping point when I was dumped by another New York finance jerk with whom I had only gone on four dates (and by dates, I mean eating appetizers in a dark, smelly bar while getting drunk enough to ease the awkwardness). As I sat on my bedroom floor crying hysterically about the breakup and eating a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream, I had an epiphany. I was crying over someone I knew virtually nothing about. And all the things I did know about him, I didn’t even like. Right then, I realized I had no idea what I wanted in a partner. I had no standards and way too much desperation.

That night, I created a “MAN-aging” list, which detailed the non-negotiable traits I wanted in a guy. I listed everything from “must love dogs” to requirements as obvious as “must want a relationship with me.” This list wasn’t at all rocket science, but it was something I had never even contemplated. For instance, I kept dating men who hated pets, even though I wanted a cuddly Golden Retriever running around my house someday. I also kept pursuing men who openly told me they didn’t want to be in a relationship, even though I knew in my heart that I wanted something serious.

Once I created my MAN-aging list of 20 non-negotiables, I rated my exes using the list. My high school ex got a whopping 2 out of 20, while most others got 4 out of 20. The highest score was my best guy friend, whom I had been one-sidedly crushing on for years. He received 16 out of 20 points, but the 4 points he lacked were the most important, including “must want a relationship with me.”

Next, I decided to boost my self-esteem, which I believed was crucial in order to find a worthy guy. The first step was writing down 10 traits I like about myself, which seems like an easy task but is actually quite difficult. After I wrote down 10 traits I like about myself, I sent my closest girlfriend an e-mail explaining what I was doing and asked her to send me a list of traits she admires most about me. Having an outsider’s opinion helped further boost my confidence.

After I finished the self-confidence exercise, I compared my best traits with the non-negotiable traits I sought in a partner. Comparing the lists made me see how much I deserved a man who had 20 out of 20. And so I went out into the world to find him (after also reading enough self-help dating books to fill a studio apartment).

In the six months that followed my research, I dated several more guys who ended up not fitting my list of standards. It was frustrating and lonely to keep searching for a guy who met all 20 non-negotiables, but I finally had the confidence to believe he was out there. Then one ordinary day, I met my boyfriend, whom I’ve been dating for two years and live with. Of course I didn’t immediately know my boyfriend possessed all 20 of my non-negotiable traits. I had to follow my initial gut reaction until I got to know him better, but my point is that my gut reaction had changed. Through my research and practice, I had actually changed my thought patterns and become attracted to nice guys instead of jerks. And instead of waiting for the universe to send me a great guy, I had made a great guy come to me.

I’m not saying that romance and even a little fate didn’t play a part in meeting my boyfriend. When I met him, I instantly knew he was someone I had been waiting for and knew I would fall in love with him. I guess you could even call it love at first sight. But the real reason I knew he was the one for me is because I finally knew myself and what I wanted in a partner. I finally had some standards.

Readers: Do you know what traits you want in a partner? If you are already in a successful relationship, did you find it helpful to establish a list of non-negotiables before meeting your partner? What was your strategy?

Copyright 2012. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Zak permalink
    January 3, 2012 2:26 pm

    While doing my “serial dating experiment” late last year and into this year, I had my non-negotiables, too. However, the girl I ended up with failed to meet some of my non-negotiables, and I’m all the happier for it.

    One of the things I wanted was someone younger. Also, someone without kids. Also, someone with whom I could spend more time with and eventually we could live together. And several other non-negotiables.

    I’m proud – and quite happy – to say that she’s a few years older, has three WONDERFUL kids that I love as much as her, and even though she’s always busy and on the go, and I don’t know that we’ll ever live together (at least, as she says, for the foreseeable future since she has kids), we’re still very realistic about our feelings for each other and wanting to continue dating.

    A list of what you want is great. A list of what you have to offer is GREAT. A willingness to compromise on some things – even non-negotiables, I feel – is a must. Just my opinion.

    Glad you found your “20.”

  2. January 3, 2012 6:47 pm

    This is an intriguing post. Although, I think it’s possible to fall in love with people who possess little to none of our “non-negotiables” and remain happy (in which case, are they really ‘non-negotiables’ or are they just what we THINK we need in a partner?). Of course, certain non-negotiables are much more important than others– ‘like must love dogs’ versus ‘must want to be in a relationship with me’ — it’s pretty clear which of the two is absolutely necessary.

    I dated a guy for three years and we recently ended things because we’re simply not in the same place (geographically and otherwise). When I first met him I never in a million years thought I’d date him. I wasn’t physically attracted to him, found him to be a bit annoying, and didn’t seem to have much in common with him. Well, to date, he’s been my longest relationship yet and I DID fall deeply in love with him. I don’t know what my non-negotiables are but I know he must have lacked some of them. In a perfect world with perfect timing, I honestly think I could have had the potential to remain happy with him because I learned what an amazing person he is through my years of being with him. I think once you fall in love with someone, you are able to see past their flaws and embrace other traits of theirs that you didn’t realize you even wanted in a someone. With that said, is he the one for me? I don’t know. Is there someone else in the world who has the potential to make me even more happy than he did by possessing traits I wish he’d had? I’m sure there is.

    Now, the question is, WHERE in the world is he? Ha- just kidding. Kinda.

    • January 4, 2012 9:12 am

      Hi Mallory,

      Good points. I think sometimes our non-negotiables are just what we THINK we need in a partner, as you said, so it’s best to make a list of things that really, really matter to you. For instance, if my list would have been solely based on shallow things like physical appearance, then it would have limited my ability to fall in love with many great guys who didn’t have blond hair or blue eyes. I also agree that some things on the list are more important than others. “Must want to be in a relationship with me” was my biggest non-negotiable because I kept dating people who didn’t want to call me their girlfriend. Everyone’s list varies.

      Thanks for reading my post,

  3. January 3, 2012 8:55 pm

    Hi Zak,

    I’m glad to see that your “serial dating experiment” worked out and you found someone great. You mentioned that one of your non-negotiables was “must be younger,” which you discovered wasn’t so necessary after you met an older woman you liked. Everyone’s situation is different, and it sounds like despite not following your non-negotiables list, you still ended up discovering what you wanted in a partner. For me personally, I established a list of things that I absolutely could not budge on — even the “must love dogs” thing :). For instance, I cannot date someone who doesn’t believe in God or never wants to get married/have kids. I think it’s all about making sure you are with a person whose values align with yours, which the list helped me to establish. Everyone’s system is different, but I think the most important thing is really making your standards clear to yourself and sticking to them — and writing them down certainly helped me.

    Thanks for reading the post,

  4. January 4, 2012 8:05 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post because I am 30, single and while I have an idea of what I want out of a man/relationship – I have very little actual dating experience because I have been in two 5 year relationships. I am struggling to meet guys I like and who like me, but I have faith that it will happen. Maybe I’ll go write out my non-negotiable list so I have it when I do meet someone!

    • January 4, 2012 9:19 am

      Hi Niki,

      Thanks for reading my post. I think this dating exercise would be great for you. I especially found it helpful to rank my exes using this list (since most only got 4 out of 20 MAX!) It made me see that I was dating people who couldn’t give me what I wanted and deserved.

      Also, have you tried online dating? I found that it was great practice because I already knew a lot about the guys just from reading their profiles.

      Best of wishes for finding someone great this year!

  5. January 6, 2012 11:24 pm

    Refreshing to read as I re-assess my criteria after coming out of an 8 month relationship that was very wrong for me.

    • January 7, 2012 9:18 pm

      Hi Stacia,

      Glad you found the post helpful! I also found dating books very useful in my search for a good guy. Good luck!

  6. January 12, 2012 8:42 pm

    I’m currently trying to find someone in a fairly small town, about 20 miles from where I grew up (which is even smaller), and am having a tough time finding someone who is interested in more that just sex but doesn’t spend the first date talking about wanting kids and how badly he misses his ex in the first date.
    I’ve had a non-negotionable list for a while (about a year and a half, since I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly 7 years), and am finding it tough to stick to it as I keep striking out. But, that being said, I also know I won’t be happy if someone doesn’t meet some of the criteria I’ve set, and I don’t want to settle for the first guy who doesn’t try to talk me into bed within 5 minutes or ask what ring size I take on the first date.

  7. January 20, 2012 11:48 am

    Re: Single Library Gal,

    Good idea on sticking to your criteria. I’ve found that a lot of the time when people go against their criteria, the relationship ends up failing in the end, even if it lasts for awhile. Because the fact is, your values and criteria probably won’t change and you definitely want someone who meets those values and agres with them so you can have a happy life together. Good luck!


  8. Jay permalink
    January 22, 2012 11:35 pm

    I don’t see what the difficulty is in dating. You don’t like someone, you tell them. If it’s not working out, then end it immediately. If you’re looking for something serious, then be up front about it. The problem is men and women are going into the field blind, reciprocating interest in the first person they find desirable. Plus, dating isn’t always about forming a lasting relationship. Some people date for 10+ years without even the hint of marriage or children.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: