Are You a Picky Dater? Should You Settle?

Life if full of choices, especially in the dating world. We encounter multiple potential dates and are left with the decision to choose them or not. Sometimes they seem “good enough” but don’t meet all our needs, other times they are perfect, and, of course there are those who we write off completely. But, as time goes by and we are faced with loneliness and perpetual single life we might decide to overlook some of those points on our checklist.

The question is, should we challenge ourselves to date beyond our comfort zone, or, should we stick to our guns? If we do let go of some of our requirements, how do we know if we’re settling? Or, if we stick to our list, how do we know if we’re being too picky?  Two opposite extremes, right?  Well, yes.

Are You a Picky Dater?

Does this sound familiar?

  • You set high expectations and standards for your potential partner with no room for error
  • You only date one type of person (for example, uber successful people)
  • You find something wrong with every person who shows interest in you (for example, they’re attractive and successful, but they’re bald)
  • You have a “laundry list” of your ideal partner’s characteristics and don’t delineate from it
  • You make someone jump through hoops before you even consider them

So if any of those sound familiar, you are crossing the “picky” line. Another thing to ask yourself is why these things are so important to you OR are they excuses? Often times emotionally unavailable  people become picky daters in order to self-sabotage their dating lives, usually sub-consciously. If this is you, then perhaps you need to deal with whatever is holding you back before dating.

Should You Settle?

What settling is and isn’t

  • You are settling if:
    • You accept every offer for a date
    • You don’t bother to screen people you meet
    • You set your standards low
    • You desperately jump into relationships and latch on to the first person that you can
    • You turn a blind eye to a potential partner’s inconsistencies and deficiencies
    • You turn a blind eye to red flags
  • You are NOT settling if:
    • You keep an open mind about who you date
    • You give people a chance even if they aren’t exactly what you’re looking for
    • You see someone as an overall package rather than focusing on specific things about them
    • You assess a person’s suitability fairly

Why do we really settle?  It’s because we think that if we don’t we’ll be alone, plain and simple.  Who wants to be alone when their biological clock is ticking louder and louder every day and a potential mate seems “good on paper” and fit into the “expectations” box.  Bad idea.  I have been there and I know.  Don’t settle.  Be true to yourself.  You are happier alone than to be miserable with the wrong person.

Any normal person has to be picky to some degree, but also be lenient enough to keep their options open.  This isn’t necessarily settling if you keep an open mind. You need to find a happy place in the center. What this actually is isn’t being picky, it’s having standards.

Not Picky. Not Settling. Standards.

You need to have standards when you’re seeking out a potential partner.  You shouldn’t settle and date every person who approaches you just because you’re lonely. You also shouldn’t be overly picky and blinded by your fussiness about details.  You really aren’t doing yourselves any favours by going down those paths.

So what standards should you have?  These are some examples:

  • Good family values
  • Long-term goals for their life
  • A solid person who has their life in order
  • Honest and respectful
  • No excess baggage from previous relationships
  • Emotionally available
  • Attractive (to you)
  • Socially competent

You need to ask yourself what’s really important to you in a partner. It’s about realizing what’s a “must have” versus a “nice to have”. Just like we’d all love that expensive car most of us can’t afford but we can afford a nice reliable car nonetheless even if it doesn’t have an impressive name. So take some time to really pick apart your “list” and divide it into what is most important to you. Next time you meet a potential partner make sure they meet your standards but don’t be picky and never, ever, settle.

Have a dating dilemma? You can always Ask Single Dating Diva a confidential dating question on

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Originally appeared on eHarmony Canada.


  1. Great story, but the term “baggage” seems ambiguous and over used. In some cases it can be offensive, wheras I’d argue that in some cases it’s a good thing and if a person doesn’t have any it raises red flags. The only people on this earth that shouldn’t have any baggage are children.

    Many adults have had past relationships and life experiences, good and bad. In my case I have children. What exactly do they define as baggage? Whether it’s emotional, physical or otherwise we all have it and it’s made us who we are.

    Nothing offends me more than people referring to my children as baggage.

    At the end of the day I want to find someone that cares enough to help me unpack!


    • Thank you for your comment Carmen. The subject of baggage is obviously a touchy one for you. Yes your life experiences make you who you are and there is nothing wrong with that. Children aren’t baggage but not everyone wants to assume the responsibility of someone else’s children nor do they want the lifestyle requirements that comes with children, especially if they don’t have their own or theirs are grown nor should you expect that from someone. That is why compatibility is so important. Someone who isn’t willing to accept you as you are, kids and all, just isn’t a good match. It’s not personal, it’s preference. It’s really unfair and unrealistic to expect someone to “help you unpack” your baggage that’s your job. It’s tough I get it but the right person will come along who will love you as you are, kids, baggage and all. Just keep trying and manage your expectations accordingly.


    • The reality is if you have kids they are baggage and to some are non negotiable. It’s doesn’t mean they are bad or that parents are bad but it also means it limits your choices. I’m on the other side, I don’t have kids and men with kids is my absolute deal breaker. This doesn’t mean I hate kids (I don’t)or that I think single parents are bad (some are, some aren’t, like anyone else)it just means I don’t want to deal with someone else’s kids, or their ex. Honestly if people are referring to your kids as baggage they aren’t the one. As a childless woman nothing bothered me more in dating were men who would beg me to date them after I told them I don’t date dads. I was honest about it, they disrespected my views. It’s why I tell my friends with kids to seek out other single parents and that they are delusional if they don’t because most childless people I know don’t date single parents.


  2. Okay now onto this topic. I think some people as they get older get more rigid on what they want. My requirements are pretty loose: childless men around my age who want to get married. That’s not to say other things aren’t important, they are but aren’t mentioned as much. For instance, I have a dog and cat and non animal lovers are a dealbreaker. People not into things like music would also be a questionable thing since I enjoy concerts. I would prefer a guy who prefers being active over sitting around and eating. Are these are dealbreakers? some are, but some are preferences. Then there are the superficial preferences, like I would prefer a white collar guy with dark hair (preferably Hispanic or Latin) who owns a house and a sports car. These are wishful thinking more than anything because these guys are in short supply. That is to say I wouldn’t reject a guy because he didn’t go to college (though having a high school diploma really is important to me since I have a MA), or a guy who doesn’t have dark hair (at my age I am finding increasingly grey haired men), or a professional (though I probably wouldn’t date a fast food worker).

    I know several women though who have dealbreakers who are superficial, like I know several women who won’t date short men or men who drive older cars, or they have a long laundry list of things that shouldn’t matter. I don’t think they should settle if they mean that much but they also have to realize it’s a slim pool. Even I know that my limiting it to childless men limits my pool, but I am fine with that. Being childless is extremely important.


    • Thanks Dawn! There are certain things that are attached to our values and others that are absolute deal breakers that we shouldn’t back down from, but you’re right, superficial things that no place on these lists. People need to look inside themselves and know what’s most important to them.


      • Exactly. Me not dating dads is many reasons and it’s mostly morals and values. Yes there are the financial aspects too but those can be morals and values as well. For example I am religious and a guy who is divorced or never married the mom may not share my views. Plus if he seeks me out to support his kids or babysit that means he’s looking at me for selfish reasons and it doesn’t make me selfish if I don’t like that. However if I wanted to only date wealthy men for their money or a tall guy so I would look good to me those are superficial. Then again if they are important then they should attempt for them because otherwise they will be heartbroken and may hurt someone else.


  3. You can’t find a perfect person in this world, can you? Some people postpone settling down hoping that the perfect person will turn up. Once you meet someone who understands you and is willing to make sacrifices to make the relationship work, I think you can take your chances.


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