TCW - The Dating Checklist

What qualities should really be on your list

The dating checklist: Whether we admit it or not, we all have one, in our heads or already on paper (sometimes typed up and single spaced)! I love lists – they’re a great way to focus your search for your mate. But I’ve been a dating coach for a long time, and what I’ve found is most women who are unhappily single have been working off the wrong list. 

Our society (including us professional women) often obsesses about finding men who are good “on paper.” We want a man that our parents will like, and our friends will envy. We want him to be tall, smart, financially sound, and a scintillating dinner companion. But what you think you want is not always what you need in a husband.

Instead of focusing only on charming, tall and high IQ men, start looking for “High GHQ” men, men who are high in Good Husband Qualities. And it works. I figured out the GHQ thing in my early 20s, after I had dated one too many charming, high voltage, heartbreaker types – and really thought about what I needed to be happy. I made a two columned list, which I credit for helping me figure out what I needed versus what I just wanted.

I do this today with all of my clients. In the first meeting, we start off with some fun dreaming (and sometimes a little bit of wine!). I take out a sheet of paper divided into two columns. I say, “Jen, describe in detail your dream man – no holds barred. Everything.” Jen looks at me incredulously, thinking, “Oh, this is awesome!” Then she smiles, sits back, takes a sip and fires off a list so quickly that my pen can barely keep up. I write “Dream Guy List” in the left column:

Jen’s Dream Guy

➢ Tall

➢ Funny

➢ Confident

➢ Brown Hair

➢ Makes as much or more money than me

➢ Well-traveled

➢ Sophisticated

Now, in the next column, I tell Jen to switch gears completely. Think about the people in your life who make you the happiest. I call these our “elevator” people – because they bring us up. Jen sits back, deliberates for a few minutes, and says, “There are five of them. My elevator people are my mom, Katie, Sue, Anu, and Sona.”

On the right side of the list, I begin jotting down why they make her so happy – and come up with the following themes:

Jen’s Elevator People List (and why they make her so happy):

➢ Support me no matter what

➢ Always positive about me

➢ Listen undividedly and non-judgmentally

➢ Encourage me

➢ Always see the good in me, and get me

Then comes the secret sauce. I write word “WANTS” over the dream guy column, and “NEEDS” over the elevator side. And watch Jen’s expression change to “Oh, oh, oh…I’ve never thought of it that way. Eek, I get it.” She wasn’t “looking for love in all the wrong places” – she was looking at the left column versus the right. Tall instead of encouraging. Brown hair instead of positive about me.

It’s happened to all of us at some point. We bounce from guy to guy, chasing more and more of those “wants” without considering what really makes us happy. It’s usually not his job title, height, or car that does it. We chase the left side, and are left lacking every time – with a heart that needs mending.

Over several more sessions, we formalize Jen’s “High GHQ” list (in writing, typed, single spaced!), and I’m happy to report that she is getting married in January to a VERY high GHQ guy. She chased the right side and got everything she needed. Like most happily married people will tell you, our partners came in a different package than we expected (stay tuned for my next column!) – but we couldn’t be happier.

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